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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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There are in Scripture several words denoting different kinds of nets, and this, with the frequency of images derived from them, shows that nets were much in use among the Hebrews for fishing, hunting, and fowling. Indeed, for the two latter purposes nets were used to an extent of which now, since the invention of fire-arms, a notion can scarcely be formed. The various terms applied by the Hebrews to nets had reference either to the construction of the article or to its use and objects. To the first of these we may assign the following terms:

(1.) מַכְמָר, milkmar, or מִכְמֹאּ, makmor, which occurs only in Psalms 141:10; Isaiah 52:20, where it denotes a hunter's net, is derived from כָּמִר, kamdr, to plait or interweave; but a longer word, from the same source, מַכְמֹרֶת, mnikmoreth (A.V. "drag"), denotes the net of fishermen (Isaiah 19:8; Habakkuk 1:15-16).

(2.) שְׂבָךְ , sebdk, or (in its fem. form) שְׂבָכָה, sebakdh, which is derived from שָׂבִךְ, sabdk, to twine, and designates an actual hunting-net in Job 18:6 (A.V. "snare"); but elsewhere is applied to network or latticework, especially around the capitals of columns ("network, wreathen-work," etc., 1 Kings 7:18; 1 Kings 7:20; 1 Kings 7:41-42; 2 Kings 25:17; 2 Chronicles 4:12-13; Jeremiah 52:22-23), and also before a window or balcony ("lattice," 2 Kings 1:2). To the second head we may assign the following:

(3.) חֵרֶם ", cherem, which denotes a net for either fishing or fowling. It is derived טרוֹמ חָרִםשׂהאאדמ, signifying to shut up; and the idea is. therefore, founded on its shutting in the prey. It occurs (in this sense) in Habakkuk 1:16-17; Ezekiel 26:5; Ezekiel 26:14; Ezekiel 47:10; Zechariah 14:11, etc. In Ecclesiastes 7:26 it is applied by an apt metaphor to female entanglements.

(4.) מָצוֹד, matsod, or מָצוּד, matsud (with the corresponding feminine forms, מְצוֹדָה, metsodah, and מְצוּדָה, metsudah), from the root צוּד tsud, to lie in wait, occurs in the sense of a net for fishes (Ecclesiastes 9:12) or animals (Job 19:6; Psalms 46:11; "snare," Ezekiel 12:13; Ezekiel 17:20; "to be hunted," Ezekiel 13:21); metaphorically of the prey caught (Proverbs 12:10), or of female blandishments ("snare," Ecclesiastes 7:26).

(5.) רֶשֶׁת , resheth, the most common term, from יָרִשׁ, yarash, to get possession of, is applied to a corded meshwork of any description, whether for catching birds (Proverbs 1:17) or other animals (Job 18:8; Psalms 9:15; Psalms 10:9; Psalms 25:15; Psalms 31:4; Psalms 35:7-8; Psalms 57:6; Psalms 140:5; Proverbs 29:5; Lamentations 1:13; Ezekiel 12:13; Ezekiel 19:8; Ezekiel 32:3; Hosea 5:1; Hosea 7:12), or as a screen for sifting ashes from the fire (Exodus 27:4-5; Exodus 38:4). What distinction other than these vague intimations there may have been between the various nets described by the Hebrew terms we are unable to decide. In the New Testament no other net than that for fishing is mentioned.

(6.) The most general word which describes it (δίκτυον, from δικεῖν, to throw, occurring in Matthew 4:20-21; Mark 1:18-19; Luke 5:2; Luke 5:4-6; John 21:6; John 21:8; John 21:11) is usually confined to fishing-nets by classical writers, although sometimes applied to the nets of hunters.

(7.) Another word to describe a net, ἀυφί βληστρον (from ἀμφιβάλλω , to cast around), occurs in Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16, which, like cherem above, is founded on the idea of enfolding or shutting in the prey.

(8.) A special kind was the σαγήνη (from σάττω , to load), whence our word seine, a large hauling or drawnet; it is the term used in the parable of the draw-net (Matthew 13:47).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Net'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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