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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
1. Natural History
Fishes abound in the inland waters of Palestine as well as the Mediterranean. They are often mentioned or indirectly referred to both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, but it is remarkable that no particular kind is distinguished by name. In Leviticus 11:9-12 and Deuteronomy 14:9 f, "whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters" is declared clean, while all that "have not fins and scales" are forbidden. This excluded not only reptiles and amphibians, but also, among fishes, siluroids and eels, sharks, rays and lampreys. For our knowledge of the inland fishes of Palestine we are mainly indebted to Tristram, NHB and Fauna and Flora of Palestine; Lortet, Poissons et reptiles du Lac de Tibériade; and Russegger, Reisen in Europa , Asien , Afrika , 1835-1841. The most remarkable feature of the fish fauna of the Jordan valley is its relationship to that of the Nile and of East Central Africa. Two Nile fishes, Chromis nilotica Hasselquist, and Clarias macracanthus Gunth., are found in the Jordan valley, and a number of other species found only in the Jordan valley belong to genera ( Chromis and Hemichromis ) which are otherwise exclusively African. This seems to indicate that at some time, probably in the early Tertiary, there was some connection between the Palestinian and African river systems. No fish can live in the Dead Sea, and many perish through being carried down by the swift currents of the Jordan and other streams. There are, however, several kinds of small fish which live in salt springs on the borders of the Dead Sea, springs which are as salt as the Dead Sea but which, according to Lortet, lack the magnesium chloride which is a constituent of the Dead Sea water and is fatal to the fish. Capoëta damascina Cuv. and Val., one of the commonest fishes of Syria and Palestine, has been taken by the writer in large numbers in the Arnon and other streams flowing into the Dead Sea. This is surprising in view of the fact that the Dead Sea seems to form an effective barrier between the fishes of the different streams flowing into it. The indiscriminate mention of fishes without reference to the different kinds is well illustrated by the numerous passages in which "the fishes of the sea, the birds of the heavens, and the beasts of the field," or some equivalent expression, is used to denote all living creatures, e.g. Genesis 1:26; Genesis 9:2; Numbers 11:22; Deuteronomy 4:18; 1 Kings 4:33; Job 12:8; Psalm 8:8; Ezekiel 38:20; Hosea 4:3; Zephaniah 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:39 .
2. Jonah's Fish
An unusually large shark might fulfill the conditions of Jonah's fish (
The present inhabitants of Moab and Edom make no use of the fish that swarm in the Arnon, the
Figurative: The fact that so many of our Lord's disciples were fishermen lends a profound interest to their profession. Christ tells Simon and Andrew ( Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17 ) that He will make them fishers of men. The Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:47 ) is likened unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was filled, they drew up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but the bad they cast away. Tristram (NHB ) says that he has seen the fishermen go through their net and throw out into the sea those that were too small for the market or were considered unclean. In Jeremiah 16:16 , we read: "Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith Yahweh, and they shall fish them up; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks." In the vision of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:9 f), the multitude of fish and the nets spread from
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Fish'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/f/fish.html. 1915.