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Matthew 17:24 When Jesus and his disciples came to Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked, "Does your teacher pay the Temple tax?" "Of course," Peter answered. When Peter went in to the house, Jesus spoke up first, “Simon, what is your opinion? Who pays duties or taxes to the kings of this world? The citizens of the country or the foreigners?” "The foreigners," answered Peter. "Well, then," replied Jesus, "that means that the citizens don’t have to pay. But we don’t want to offend these people. So go to the lake and drop in a line. Pull up the first fish you hook and in its mouth you will find a coin worth enough for my Temple tax and yours. Take it and pay them our taxes."

Yeshua haMashiach/Jesus Christ taught that we should pay taxes to governing authorities, Matthew 22.21. The Temple Tax was part of the Law of Moses, found in Exodus 30.11-16. It involved the same amount of money for every male over 20 years of age. In the month of Adar (March-April) an announcement was made in all the towns and villages or Palestine. Between the 15th to the 25th booths were set up in the towns and villages to collect the tax. Afterward a man had to go to Jerusalem to pay the tax.


Peter was a fisherman by trade. Men who earn their wages in this way normally earn money by selling their catch, with the return in direct proportion to the effort they put in fishing and the success of the venture. Yeshua haMashiach spoke to Peter of using the skills he already had, and multiplying their value for a God's specific purpose, i.e. that God might supply all his needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Peter explained the need to the Lord. Yeshua/Jesus gave Peter very explicit instructions, saying: Go to the Sea of Galilee and cast a fishhook into the lake. In the mouth of the first fish he would catch, he would find a stater coin (valued at four drachmas), with which he would then pay the tax. To receive the answer to this need, Peter first of all, had to believe the peculiar statement that the Lord made to hism. He demonstrated his faith by going to the source Yeshua/Jesus sent him and in using the express method explained to him and in catching the fish. Then he was to use the money for the purpose intended. People pray! I am convinced that Yeshua/Jesus communicates with man with a good deal of frequency. But man's appropriate response is absolutely vital. There are some people who view their ability to make money by nothing. They will go where they want and do whatever they want in order to obtain it. Yeshua/Jesus said to Peter: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. (John 21:18) As surely as an individual seeks the Lord to supply finances, they should be willing to be limited to the way in which God leads them to obtain this work and supply.


There's an old proverb that states: There are more fish in the sea! But when God sends you to a specific location and gives you explicit instructions, He is after a very specific one. In the case of the tax money in this fishes mouth, any old lake or river would not do! Messiah had a very specific place in mind! Secondly the Lord wasn't nebulous as to the method to be used! Although fishing was conducted in various ways, here in this encounter with Messiah not a lot was left to Peter's own creativity. He was told to fish by using "A hook." And to take the "first fish that came up!" Peter would have known about the tilapia, indigenous to the Sea of Galilee. It is also called a musht and is now known as St. Peter’s fish. The male tilapia was known to carry its small young in its mouth until they were large enough to leave. This fish purportedly picked up small pebbles in its mouth, and, like many fish, was attracted to shiny objects. Both Jesus and Peter, having lived around the Sea of Galilee all of their lives, likely knew about the male tilapia. This involved far more than paying taxes. Yeshua/Jesus asserts His deity here and demonstrates it. He knows everything about you and is not unmindful of your needs. Believe in God's miraculous ability to meet your needs so that you aren't always "borrowing from Peter to pay Paul." The borrow becomes the servant of the lender the scriptures state. "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7) Does this negate the scriptural admonition that "Those who don't work don't eat?" No! But it's encouragment to seek the Lord for the way out of debt just like Peter did.


"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Rom. 8:14)

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea...(Genesis 1:6)

Peter was told by Yeshua haMashiach to go fishing at "The Sea," which has come to be known as "the cradle of the gospel." The word “sea” is used to refer to large bodies of salt water, such as the oceans and partially landlocked waters such as the Mediterranean Sea or landlocked bodies such as the Caspian Sea. However, “sea” is also occasionally used to refer to large fresh water bodies, such as the Sea of Galilee. The word “sea” appears 400 times in 352 verses in the King James Version of the Bible. The Hebrew word is “yam” - “from an unused root meaning “to roar.” The name is used in Hebrew to refer to a sea (as breaking in noisy surf) or a large body of water; specifically (with the article) the Mediterranean; sometimes a large river, or an artificial basin.”

When the Master told him "The Sea" it was a location readily recognizable by Peter. Fishing locations in the first century were loacated at Bethsaida (Mark 6:45; 8:22; Luke 9:10) Capernaum (Mark 1:21; 2:1; 9:33; Matt 4:13; 8:5; 11:23; 17:24; Luke 4:23, 31; 7:1; 10:15) Gennesaret (Mark 6:53) Magdala/Magadan/Tarichaeae (Matt 15:39) Gerasa (Mark 5:1) Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:24, 31.

"The Sea of Galilee" is 12 1/2 miles long, and from 4 to 7 1/2 broad with a surface area of 64 square miles. It lies in the Jordan gorge, 682 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. The Sea of Galilee, also Lake of Gennesaret, Lake Kinneret, Sea of Tiberias or Tiberias Lake (Hebrew: ים כנרת‎, Arabic: بحيرة طبريا‎), located near the Golan Heights, is the largest freshwater lake in Israel. The historian Josephus reported a thriving fishing industry at this time, with 230 boats regularly working in the lake. One of Yeshua haMashiach's/Jesus' famous teachings, the Sermon on the Mount, is believed to have been given on a hill overlooking this lake. Many of his miracles are also said to have occurred here including his walking on water, calming a storm, and his feeding five thousand people.

“An angel of the Lord” told Philip the evangelist to go down a “desert road” (Acts 8:27). In obedience “he rose and went” and along the way he met a court official to the queen of the Ethiopians. God had prepared the official’s heart as he sat in his chariot reading Isaiah 53. The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot” (v. 29). Philip explained the meaning of Isaiah 53:7-8, “and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him” (v. 35). Guided and directed by the Holy Spirit Philip “kept preaching the gospel to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea” (v. 40).


35That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" 39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

41They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"

(Mark 4:35-41)

It was at Yeshua/Jesus command that the disciples took the Lord with them and took the boat out at night. The Greek word "opsios" translated as "even" in this verse usually signifies late evening. This voyage that would take him into Gentile controlled territory was part of the divine plan and purpose for it was a vital and necessary part of the gradual expansion of Jesus’ message and ministry into the community beyond Jews and to the Gentile world.

The Jews, as part of their daily schedule, divided evening into two sections. The first was from 3 p.m. to sunset and the second part of the evening was after sunset. The fierce gale of wind that arose didn't mean that it wasn't God's will for them to go. Luke’s “came down” shows that the storm fell suddenly from Mount Hermon down into the Jordan Valley and smote the Sea of Galilee violently at its depth of 682 feet below the Mediterranean Sea. The hot air at this depth draws the storm down with sudden power. This wind was not just a sudden squall. The disciples who fished for an occupation and were not unaccustomed even to night fishing, did not feel threatened at the onset. It was at the very peak of the that they felt threatened.

The miracles of Yeshua/Jesus were not merely deeds to authenticate the message of Messiah, but to reveal who God is, in and through Messiah.

The terms describing the "fierce gale of wind" are the Greek words seismos megas from which we get the word seismic, which is used to describe the tumultuous upheaval of the plates of the earth causing earthquakes.

The waves beat into the boat [ta kumata epeballen eis to ploion]. Imperfect tense (were beating) vividly picturing the rolling over the sides of the boat “so that the boat was covered with the waves” (Mt 8:24). Mark has it: “insomuch that the boat was now filling” [hôste çdç gemizesthai to ploion]. Graphic description of the plight of the disciples, showing the plight of the disciples. 4:37 Asleep on the cushion [epi to proskephalaion katheudôn]. Mark also mentions the cushion or bolster and the stern of the boat [en tçi prumnçi]. Mt 8:24 notes that Jesus was sleeping [ekatheuden], Luke that he fell asleep [aphupnôsen], ingressive aorist indicative). He was worn out from the toil of this day. They awake him [egeirousin auton]. So Mark’s graphic present. Matthew and Luke both have “awoke him.” Mark has also what the others do not: “Carest thou not?” [ou melei soi;]. It was a rebuke to Jesus for sleeping in such a storm. We are perishing [apollumetha], linear present middle). Precisely this same form also in Mt 8:25 and Lu 8:24. 4:39 Rebuked the wind [epetimçsen tôi anemôi] as in Mt 8:26 and Lu 8:24. He spoke to the sea also. All three Gospels speak of the sudden calm [galçnç] and the rebuke to the disciples for this lack of faith.

4:40 Why are ye fearful? [Ti deiloi este;]. They had the Lord of the wind and the waves with them in the boat. He was still Master even if asleep in the storm. Have ye not yet faith? [Oupô echete pistin;]. Not yet had they come to feel that Jesus was really Lord of nature. They had accepted his Messiaship, but all the conclusions from it they had not yet drawn. How like us in our troubles they were!

4:41 They feared exceedingly [ephobçthçsan phobon megan]. Cognate accusative with the first aorist passive indicative. They feared a great fear. Mt 8:27 and Lu 8:22 mention that “they marvelled.”


Because Jesus was a Jew, he would have followed Old Testament dietary laws -- for instance, laws governing clean and unclean animals and fish. Yeshua haMashiach/Jesus Christ considered these scripturally specified fish good for food. He fed the multitudes with fish as well as bread (Matthew 14:19; Matthew 15:36. They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43) and he took it and ate it in their presence. (Luke 24:42-43)

Fellowship with Messiah was as integral during the disciples work as in those times they shared at the synagogue or praying and sharing the scriptures on their journeys from place to place. He probably was there when they entertained clients. The Lord ate broiled fish after His resurrection (Luke 24:42-43; again, John 21:9-13).

The scriptures indicate that some of the time he may have fried the fish over open coals: "Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Fishes abound in the inland waters of Israel as well as the Mediterranean. God gave them for food in the scripture. They were taken from the Sea of Galilee, the Nile River when the Israelites were living in the Goshen area of Egypt, the Jordan River, and the Mediterranean Sea.

The importance of fish in the Bible is well substantiated. In the Book of Genesis, we find that fish are the first creatures to appear (1:2). In Leviticus we read of laws indicating which fish are kosher and which are not. The Mosaic law, Le 11:9,10 pronounced unclean such fish as were devoid of fins and scales. Creation of Ge 1:20-22 -Appointed for food Ge 9:2,3 -Clean and unclean Le 11:9-12; De 14:9,10. All fish that "have not fins and scales" are forbidden.

In Israel the main fishing places have been along the Mediterranean coast, and in the Sea of Galilee, with some little done in the perennial brooks or streams of water. The Israelites in the wilderness said: "We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt" (Numbers 11:5). Most interest centers in the Galilee fishing, because of the Gospel incidents connected with the Lord Jesus and his early fishermen disciples. The Jews engaged in a large fishing business in the days of Yeshua/Jesus in the waters of Galilee. Fishing methods have changed little from those used by the disciples of Yeshua/Jesus.

Galilean fishermen frequently fished at night. They would light their way with a blazing torch or fire-basket”, and when fish were sighted they'd spear them, or throw out their net into the sea. At times they fished all night with no results, as was the case with Simon Peter and his comrades. "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing" (Luke 5:5).

Descriptions of fishing methods are provided in the Book of Habakkuk, where a hook, net and seine are used. (1:15). The book of Job 41:7 alludes to fishing with spears: Can you fill his skin with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?

In 1 Kings, fish are associated with the wisdom of Solomon (5:13). When Jerusalem was rebuilt by Nehemiah after the Babylonian captivity, a Fish Gate was built into its wall (Neh 3:3). Fishermen are mentioned by Jeremiah, when speaking of bringing back the Israelites from Babylon: “Look! I will send many fishermen, says the Lord, to catch them” (16:16). And a large fish prevents Jonah from going on his cruise of the Mediterranean and lands him back where he should have gone in the first place. The Prophet Zephaniah declared the following: And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.(Zeph 1:10) When God renews the creation, the salty Dead Sea will become fresh water and will be filled with fish (Ezek 47:7-10). The Fish Gate was an ancient gate on the eastern wall of the temple, just west of the Gihon spring, where men gathered to sell fish, sometimes in violation of the Sabbath (2 Chronicles 33:14, Nehemiah 3:3, 13:16). It may be the same as the Middle Gate (Jeremiah 39:3).

Yeshua's preaching utilized fishing terms at times. He said to Peter and the other fishermen: “From now on you will be catching men” (Lk 5:11). Two miraculous catches of fish are related in Luke 5:1-11 and John 21:1-8). All of the gospel writers attest that he fed thousands with fish and bread. He compares the kingdom of heaven to a dragnet (Mt 13:47-48). He paid taxes with a coin found in the mouth of a fish (Mt 17:27). Jesus is depicted as preaching from fishing boats and sailing in fishing boats. The crowds that followed him carried bread and fish (Mk 6:35-40). The hungry asked for fish (Lk 11:1). Yeshua/Jesus was given fish to eat after his resurrection in Jerusalem (Lk 24:42), and he cooked fish for his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Jn 21:9). He traveled to and from places in the company of fishermen. And, most importantly, Yeshua/Jesus choose fishermen for the important job of spreading his word and building his church.


What fish were available usually came from Lake Galilee and the Jordan River. The Sea of Galilee has been renowned for its fish from ancient times, with 18 species that are indigenous to the lake. These are classified into 3 main groups: sardines, biny and musht, or tilapia fish. The musht fish is noted for it's long dorsal fin which resembles a comb and is known in moern times as “St. Peter’s fish.” This flavorful fish can measure up to a foot and a half long (0.5 m.) weighing 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg.). In the spring, the fish couple off and laying eggs on the bottom of the lake. After fertilization, the parents incubate the eggs into their mouths for three weeks or until they hatch. They then watch over them for a few days. To prevent offspring from entering the mouth again, the parent fish take in pebbles so that “home” will no longer provide the same comfortable accomodation. At times they swallow objects such as coins along with the pebbles and many coins have actually been found in the mouths of these musht fish. This may have been what occured when Yeshua/Jesus asked Peter to find a coin in the mouth of a fish to pay taxes.

Sardines inhabit the lake and were the most common fish. At the peak of the fishing season tens of tons of sardines are caught nightly. Sardines were sometimes used as bait to catch larger fish. Biny fish consist of three species of the carp family. Because they are “fleshy” they are served at feasts and for Sabbath.


Among the fishing-implements mentioned are the "mikmeret," a drag-net thrown out from a boat, and which, loaded, sank to the bottom (Isa. xix. 8; Hab. i. 15); and the "ḥerem," a smaller net which was thrown either from the boat or the shore (Ezek. xxvi. 5, 14; Hab. i. 16, 17). Hook and line were also in use ("ḥakkah," "sir," "ẓinnah"; Amos iv. 2; Isa. xix. 8; Hab. i. 15). The "ẓilẓal daggim" mentioned in Job xl. 31 seems to have been a harpoon.

Additional: Amos 4:2; Isa. 37:29; Jer. 16:16; Ezek. 29:4; Job. 41:1, 2; Matt. 17:27). Hakkah, a fish “hook” (Job 41:2, Hebrew Text, 40:25; Isa. 19:8; Hab. 1:15). Tsinnah, a fish-hooks (Amos 4:2).

(1) Hooks:

The term fish'-hook (cir dughah, chakkah) in (Job 41:1; Amos 4:2. In other passages the word hook or "angle" is applied to this instrument for fishing (Isa 19:8; Job 41:2). The ancient Egyptian noblemen used to amuse themselves by fishing from their private fishpools with hook and line. The Egyptian monuments show that the hook was quite commonly used for catching fish. The hook is still used in Bible lands, although not as commonly as nets. It is called a cinnarat, probably from the same root as tsinnah, the plural of which is translated hooks in Am 4:2. In Mt 17:27, agkistron (literally, "fishhook"), is rendered "hook."

Angling- It is not thought probable that the disciples in Galilee used this method of fishing very extensively. That it was use on occasions is seen from the account of Peter's catching a fish with a hook and discovering the coin in its mouth with which he paid the temple tax (Matthew 17:27). Isaiah speaks of it in connection with fishing in the streams: "The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament" (Isaiah 19:8). Amos makes reference to this type of fishing when he says, "He will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks" (Amos 4:2). The excavation at the mound of Gezer brought to light an actual fishhook, indicating the ancient use of the angling method of fishing. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Fishing is done with hooks and lines, or either on poles when fishing from shore, or on trawls in deep-sea fishing. The fishhooks now used are of European origin, but bronze fishhooks of a very early date have been discovered. That fishing with hooks was known in Jesus' time is indicated by the Master's command to Peter (Matthew 17:27).

(2) Spears:

Job 41:7 probably refers to an instrument much like the barbed spear still used along the Syrian coast. It is used at night by torchlight.

(3) Nets:

With Nets: In the most familiar Bible stories of fisherman life a net was used. Today most of the fishing is done in the same way. These nets are homemade. Frequently one sees the fishermen or members of their families making nets or repairing old ones during the stormy days when fishing is impossible. Nets are used in three ways: (a) A circular net, with small meshes and leaded around the edge, is cast from the shore into the shallow water in such a manner that the leaded edge forms the base of a cone, the apex being formed by the fisherman holding the center of the net in his hand. The cone thus formed encloses such fish as cannot escape the quick throw of the fisher. (b) A long net or seine of one or two fathoms depth, leaded on one edge and provided with floats on the other, is payed out from boats in such a way as to surround a school of fish. Long ropes fastened to the two ends are carried ashore many yards apart, and from five to ten men on each rope gradually draw in the net. The fish are then landed from the shallow water with small nets or by hand. This method is commonly practiced on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. (c) In deeper waters a net similar to that described above, but four or five fathoms deep, is cast from boats and the ends slowly brought together so as to form a circle. Men then dive down and bring one portion of the weighted edge over under the rest, so as to form a bottom. The compass of the net is then narrowed, and the fish are emptied from the net into the boat. Sometimes the net with the fish enclosed is towed into shallow water before drawing.

Nets are used in the following 3 ways:

(a) A circular net, with small meshes and leaded around the edge, is cast from the shore into the shallow water in such a manner that the leaded edge forms the base of a cone, the apex being formed by the fisherman holding the center of the net in his hand. The cone thus formed encloses such fish as cannot escape the quick throw of the fisher.

(b) A long net or seine of one or two fathoms depth, leaded on one edge and provided with floats on the other, is payed out from boats in such a way as to surround a school of fish. Long ropes fastened to the two ends are carried ashore many yards apart, and from five to ten men on each rope gradually draw in the net. The fish are then landed from the shallow water with small nets or by hand. This method is commonly practiced on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

(c) In deeper waters a net similar to that described above, but four or five fathoms deep, is cast from boats and the ends slowly brought together so as to form a circle. Men then dive down and bring one portion of the weighted edge over under the rest, so as to form a bottom. The compass of the net is then narrowed, and the fish are emptied from the net into the boat. Sometimes the net with the fish enclosed is towed into shallow water before drawing. The above method is probably the one the disciples used (Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16; Luke 5:2-10; John 21:3-11). Portions of nets with leads and floats, of early Egyptian origin, may be seen in the British Museum.


The dragnet is the most ancient variety of net. When Yeshua/Jesus wanted to describe the Kingdom of Heaven, He used the analogy of the dragnet. This net was usually 400 meters long (1,312 feet) and had a fine mesh. The top of the net floated on the surface by means of corks while the bottom hung down with lead weights. The net was laid out in a large semicircle by a crew of up to 16 men held the strong rope attached to the dragnet. Another crew held the other end on the shore. After this was done, the net was pulled to shore and the fish were sorted, the good fish from the bad fish. The netting was shaped like a long wall 300 feet long and 12 feet high. The bottom of the net had weights with sinkers, and the top rope had cork floats. Then the boat sailed out with another team until the net was fully stretched and then circled around and back to shore. Here the second team alighted and held the ropes. Both teams then dragged the net and its contents (hopefully a large number of fish), back to the shore. This method enabled one to catch the fish who were hiding out at the bottom of the lake. The fish were then handed over to be sorted and the operation performed again, as many as eight times in one day.

The cast net is circular, about 20 feet in diameter, with weights of lead attached to the border. One man usually throws out the net in a round circle from the shore but it is also done from boats. This requires tremendous skill because it has to open completely when it lands on the water trapping the fish underneath. Peter and Andrew were occupied with this type of fishing when Jesus’ summons came to them. The weights come together as the nets sink and encircle the fish. Sometimes, the fishermen on a boat had to jump into the water to retrieve the net and so they often fished naked. They were probably fishing with cast nets when they spied Jesus standing on the shore (Jn 21:7).

The third method is the trammel net, which was actually composed of three nets, two large mesh walls about five feet high with a finer net in between. The boat went out into deep waters where there are no rocks so that the nets would not be torn. It was usually done by night. One end of the net was let down into the sea, then the boat made a circle creating a sort of tub in the water. The net gathered in every kind of fish, as they were unable to escape through the three layers of netting. When the fish were brought to shore, they had to be extricated from the nets and this took time and skill. The nets were spread out on the rocks to dry and be mended. Only in emergency situations were they mended on the boats themselves. Yet we find James and John mending their net in a boat in Matthew’s Gospel (4:21). And they abandoned this activity to follow Jesus—emergency or not—and left their father with the hired men.

The last method, still used, is the familiar hook and line. Peter and Andrew were said to be fishing with a line and hook when they caught the fish with the coin in its mouth (Mt 17:27).


The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

Matthew 13:47-50

Leviticus 11:9 “These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. Deuteronomy 14:9 “Of all that are in the waters you may eat these: whatever has fins and scales you may eat.

Laws regarding fishing were stringent. As the haul was brought ashore, the fish had to be sorted into clean and unclean fish. According to Leviticus 11:9-12, fish with scales and fins were regarded as clean, but those without them, such as catfish and eel, were unclean. The majority of fishes have scales and fins, and therefore belong to the clean class. The fish were counted, as this was also necessary for tax purposes and in order to ensure that each party received his due. Fish had to be sold while the water still remained on them.

The large seafish are collectively denoted as "tannin. Much of the catch was taken to the village of Magdala, where it was salted for preservation, a custom from ancient times. Magdala was the center of the fishing industry and here fish were dried and transported through out the Roman Empire. The name Magdala in Greek is Tarichaea, meaning “dried fish.” The fish were packed into baskets for export and fishermen placed baskets on wagons pulled by mules to the shops in Jerusalem, or to a seaport where they were loaded onto ships and transported to Rome. Dried fish from Galilee was considered a great delicacy among the Roman aristocracy. Fish from Galilee were also popular in Damascus.

Fishing in Galilee was a prosperous and thriving industry. The work ethic required more than just the focus on the skill involved. Fish was a major source of protein, and the market for fish extensive. The population of Palestine at the time of Jesus was about 500,000. The ordinary masses depended on fish along with bread as a staple food. Satisfying the epicurean appetites of the upper classses at home and abroad with dried fish was a profitable business.

At the archaeological site at Bethsaida (which means “house of the fishermen”), numerous fishing implements have been found: a clay seal, which was probably used to stamp jar handles, depicting two fishermen in a small boat; lead weights, hooks, bronze and iron needles, basalt and iron weights and anchors. There is no doubt that fishing was a major occupation of the people of Bethsaida. An unfinished fishing weight suggests that there may have been a factory in Bethsaida for the making of fishing equipment. Flax spores have been found in abundance. Fishing nets were made of flax, as were the sails for fishing boats.

At Bethsaida the government of Philip Herod sold fishing rights to wealthy individuals with the means of underwriting a large business, and they sublet the rights to fishermen. The fishermen paid a hefty tax to the investors and little love was lost between them. Matthew, the tax collector, may have been one of these. Five of the apostles—Peter, Andrew, James, John and Philip—came from Bethsaida.

Zebedee as a net fisher had two hard working sons working in his business, but hired laborers as well. (Mark 1:19-20) Involvment in the fishing industry brought the crew into contact with suppliers of all sorts, such as farmers and artisans to provide flax for nets, cut stone for anchors, wood for boat building and repairs, and baskets for fish. In 1986 a first century boat was discovered on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was common for fishermen to oversee all aspects of the fishing industry. They furnished boats and equipment for fishing, and paid their workers as well as paying the tax paid to the tax collector. They were involved in the sales, were accountable for preserving fish and transportation of shipments, and did their own bargaining.

Where sufficient number of family members were lacking in the business, fishermen hired laborers to help with all the responsibilities of manning the oars and sails, mending nets, sorting fish hiring the sailors and fishers (day laborers) to do the work, caring for the boats, mending the nets, sifting and counting the fish. These fishermen operated in legal partnership with others. They belonged to guilds (much like trade unions).

Zebedee, the father of James and John, owned his boats and hired day laborers. This leads to the presumption that he and his sons had a sizeable business, which would have required travel. Peter and Andrew were partners with them.

Yeshua haMashiach/Jesus Christ traveled to Jerusalem and to other places with fishermen. The places in which they went were villages or towns where fishermen took their fish to sell them. In the Gospel of Mark Yeshua/Jesus is observed taking a journey to Tyre, a major seaport, where fishing business took fishermen. Tyre was been built by the Egyptian Ptolemies and was an important Greek-speaking port on the Phoenician coast. Fluency in Greek would have been required of those doing business there. That the early Christian community lived here is evidenced from the Book of Acts (21:3-7). It is most likely that Jesus went there with his friends to export their fish.

James and John, according to the gospels, traveled frequently to Jerusalem where fish was utilized for the pilgrim feasts. Some sources believe that they supplied fish for the high priestly family (the gospel says that John was known to the High Priest, Caiaphas). Was it on these trips that Yeshua/Jesus went to Jerusalem? In John’s Gospel we find him there for many of the feasts, which would have been the times when fishermen went with their fish.


4:18 As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). 4:19 He said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” 4:20 They left their nets immediately and followed him. 4:21 Going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. Then Yeshua/Jesus called them. 4:22 They immediately left the boat and their father and followed him.

—Matthew 4:18-22

Yeshua/Jesus entrusted the spreading of the gospel message to commercial fishermen from Bethsaida. Several of the apostles were fishermen. He helped Peter catch fish and then recruited several fishermen to be apostles, Luke 5:1-11, 6:13-16 and Matthew 4:18-22. These were the people he commissioned to be fishers of men and to teach all nations. The scriptures in Acts 4:13 describe Peter and John as “ignorant and unlearned men,” they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. Peter's Hebrew name was Simon. The name Petros or Peter means "Rock." A native of Bethsaida (John 1:44) brother of Andrew, living in the fishing town of Capernaum (Mark 1:9) He was a fisherman by occupation on the Sea of galilee. He was a married man. (Mark 1:30, I Cor. 9:5) John's name means "God is gracious. John was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. (John 1:35) and we see he was introduced to Yeshua/Jesus in John 1:35-39. He was the brother of James and the son of Zebedee. He lived at Capernaum in Galilee, probably a native of Bethsaida. He was one of the three disciples who were closest to Yeshua/Jesus, the other two being Peter and James. James name is similar to Jacob. He was the son of Zebedee (Mark 4:21) The elder brother of John (Matt 17:1) by occupation a fisherman with his brother and father at the Sea of galilee, in partnership with Peter and Andrew. (Luke 5:10) He was the first disciple to be martyred. (Acts 12:2) Andrew's name means "manly." He was the brother of Simon, son of Jonas, and like his brother resided in Capernaum, a fisherman by trade. He brought Peter his brother to Yeshua haMashiach/Jesus Christ. (John 1:25-42) Peter, James and John or their families owned their own boats.

These men were savvy businessmen. The strenuousness of the work (Lk 5:2) ruled out the weak and slothful. They they sometimes toiled all night without success, yet they were always willing to try once more (Lk 5:5; Jn 21:3). They were crude in manner, rough in speech and in their treatment of others (Lk 9:49,54; Jn 18:10). Though Yeshua's/Jesus' influence James and John were nicknamed the "sons of thunder" (Mk 3:17). The fishermen's exposure to all kinds of weather made them hardy and fearless. They were accustomed to bear with patience many trying circumstances. Though their native tongue was Aramaic they were multilingual. They would also have known Hebrew. A knowledge of Greek would have been essential for people like Peter and his co-workers who were involved in the fishing business. The gospels themselves suggest that they could carry on conversations with Greek speakers, the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mk 7:26), people in the Decapolis where the curing of the deaf man took place (Mk 7:31), and the incident of Philip and Andrew conversing with the Greeks (Jn 12:20-23). They may also have even spoken a little Latin as Peter conversed with the Roman centurion, Cornelius in Acts 10:25.


da'-gon (daghon; apparently derived from dagh, "fish"):

Name of the god of the Philistines (according to Jerome on Isaiah 46:1 of the Philistines generally); in the Bible, Dagon is associated with Gaza (Judges 16) but elsewhere with Ashdod (compare 1 Samuel 5 and 1 Macc 10:83; 11:4); in 1 Chronicles 10:10 there is probably an error (compare the passage 1 Samuel 31:10). The god had his temple ("the house of Dagon") and his priests. When the ark was captured by the Philistines, it was conducted to Ashdod where it was placed in the house of Dagon by the side of the idol. But on the morrow it was found that the idol lay prostrate before the ark of the Lord. It was restored to its place; but on the following day Dagon again lay on the ground before the ark, this time with the head and both hands severed from the body and lying upon the miphtan (the word is commonly interpreted to mean "threshold"; according to Winckler, it means "pedestal"); the body alone remained intact. The Hebrew says: "Dagon alone remained." Whether we resort to an emendation (dagho, "his fish-part") or not, commentators appear to be right in inferring that the idol was half-man, half-fish. Classic authors give this form to Derceto. The sacred writer adds that from that time on the priests of Dagon and all those that entered the house of Dagon refrained from stepping upon the miphtan of Dagon. See 1 Samuel 5:1-5.

The prophet Zephaniah (Zechariah 1:9) speaks of an idolatrous practice which consisted in leaping over the miphtan. The Septuagint in 1 Samuel indeed adds the clause: "but they were accustomed to leap." Leaping over the threshold was probably a feature of the Philistine ritual which the Hebrews explained in their way. On the doorway of Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik there is still in bas-relief representations of Dagon, with the body of a fish but under the fish's head a man's head, and to its tail women's feet joined; and in all the four gigantic slabs the upper part has perished, exactly as 1 Samuel 5:4's margin describes: now in the British Museum.

The cutting off of Dagon's head and hands before Jehovah's ark, and their lying on the threshold (from whence his devotees afterward did not dare to tread upon it), prefigure the ultimate cutting off of all idols in the great day of Jehovah (Isaiah 2:11-22). Beth-Dagon in Judah and another in Asher (Joshua 15:41; Joshua 19:27) show the wide extension of this worship. In his temple the Philistines fastened up Saul's head (1 Chronicles 10:10).


"Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness" (KJV). (Psalm 74:14) "In that day of the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea" (KJV). Isaiah 27:1

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old; are you not he that has cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon? 10 Are you not he which has dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that has made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? (Isaiah 51:9)

In Isaiah 51:9 "The personification of the Pillar of Fire is continued here in Isaiah 51:9 as in other places couched in poetic hyperbole. (See Isa 63 where the manifestation of God as the Angel of his Presence is the pillar that guided Israel in their wilderness sojourn and is linked to blood redemption in that chapter. (Ps 68:16-18) Often referred to as the Theophany. It refers to the Manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period often, but not always, in human form. The Lord appears to Abraham on his arrival in the land, wherein God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants ( Gen 12:7-9 ); God reaffirmed his promises of land and progeny when Abraham was ninety-nine years old ( Gen 17:1 ), and on the Plains of Mamre on his way to destroy Sodom ( Gen 18:1 ). God appeared to Moses alone on the mountain ( Exod 19:20 ; 33:18-34:8 ). God also appeared to Moses, with Aaron and his sons and the seventy elders ( Exod 24:9-11 ) and in the transfer of leadership to Joshua ( Deut 31:15 ). Every theophany wherein God takes on human form foreshadows the incarnation, both in matters of grace and judgment.

Rahab" is used in parallel to tannin, sea monster. In Isaiah 30:7 and Psalm 87:4 "Rahab" is used as a designation for Egypt. This word, Rahab means pride or arrogance and is a synonym for Egypt. Ps. 87:2 refers to the nations among whom Israel has sojourned, and in verse 4 mentions Rahab and Babylon. Rahab meaning Egypt. In speaking of Egypt in Isa. 30:7 the word is translated "strength" or pride. Isaiah's use of play on words linking Rahab to Egypt is obvious there.

Leviathan is often intimately connected to the idea of chaos and destruction. Job describes the beast as capable of breathing fire, which suggest more dragonlike characteristics. He saw leviathan the king of all those of the water, unconquerable by man. (xl. 14, xli. 17-26).

In Job 4: "Can you draw out the leviathan (the crocodile) with a fishhook? Or press down his tongue with a cord? 2) Can you put a rope into his nose? Or pierce his jaw through with a hook or a spike? 3) Will he make many supplications to you [begging to be spared]? Will he speak soft words to you [to coax you to treat him kindly]? 4) Will he make a covenant with you to take him for your servant forever? 5) Will you play with [the crocodile] as with a bird? Or will you put him on a leash for your maidens? 6) will traders bargain over him? Will they divide him up among the merchants? 7) Can you fill his skin with harpoons? Or his head with fishing spears? 8) Lay your hand upon him! Remember your battle with him; you will not do [such an ill-advised thing] again! 9) Behold, the hope of [his assailant] is disappointed; one is cast down even at the sight of him! 10) No one is so fierce [and foolhardy] that he dates to stir up [the crocodile]; who then is he who can stand before Me [the beast's Creator, or dares to contend with Me]? 11) who has first given to Me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heavens is Mine. {Therefore, who can have a claim against God, god Who made the unmastered crocodile?] [Romans 11:35.] 12) I will not keep silence concerning his limbs, nor his mighty strength, nor his goodly frame. 13) Who can strip off [the crocodile's] outer garment? [who can penetrate his double coat of mail?] Who shall come within his jaws? 14) Who can open the doors of his [lipless] mouth? His [extended jaws and bare] teeth are terrible round about. 15) his scales are [the crocodile's ] pride, [for his back is made of rows of shields] shut up together [as with] a tight seal; 16) One is so near to another that no air can come between them. 17) they are joined one to another; they stick together so that they cannot be separated. 18) His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the [reddish] eyelids of the dawn. 19) Out of his mouth go burning torches, [and] sparks of fire leap out. 20) Out of his nostrils goes forth smoke, as out of a seething pot over a fire of rushes. 21) His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes forth from his mouth. 22) in [the crocodile's] neck abides strength, and terror dances before him. 23) the folds of his flesh cleave together; they are firm upon him, and they cannot shake [when he moves]. 24) His heart is as firm as a stone, indeed, as solid as a nether millstone. 25) When [the crocodile] raises himself up, the mighty are afraid; because of terror and the crashing they are beside themselves. 26) Even if one strikes at him with the sword, it cannot get any hold, nor does the spear, the dart, or the javelin. 27) He counts iron as straw and bronze as rotten wood. 28) The arrow cannot make [the crocodile] flee; slingstones are treated by him as stubble. 29) Clubs [also] are counted as stubble; he laughs at the rushing and the rattling of the javelin. 30) His underparts are like sharp pieces of broken pottery; he spreads [grooves like] a threshing sledge upon the mire. 31) He makes the deep boil like a pot; he makes the sea like a [foaming] pot of ointment. 32) [His swift darting] makes a shining track behind him; one would think the deep to be hoary [with foam]. 33) upon earth there is not [the crocodile's] equal, a creature made without fear and he behaves fearlessly. 34) He looks all mighty [beasts of prey] in the face [without terror]; he is monarch over all the sons of pride. [And now, Job, who are you who dares not arouse the unmastered crocodile, yet who dares resist Me, the beast's Creator, to My face? Everything under the heavens is Mine; therefore, who can have a claim against God?]

Psalm 74:14 "You crushed the heads of Leviathan [Egypt]; You did give him as food for the creatures inhabiting the wilderness."

Isaiah 27:1 "In that day [the Lord will deliver Israel from her enemies and also from the rebel powers of evil and darkness] His sharp and unrelenting, and strong sword will visit and punish leviathan the swiftly fleeing serpent, leviathan the twisting and winding serpent; and He will slay the monster that is in the sea."

Fishermen develope attributes not possessed by others. Their trade necessitates their knowing when, where and why they fish. They also need to be patient people, who are not easy to discouraged, but strong, hard-working and community- oriented.

As businessmen they must to be keen judges of character, knowledgable regarding the fishing trade, and conscientious about civic and religious responsibilities. They require personal integrity and respect for laws and how to function within these restrictions. All of this is required in their enterprise. And in bringing the skills of their trade to Yeshua/Jesus, fisherman have changed the world.

Photos of fisherman and businessman Tom Campbell, who has worked in the fishing industry, as his own father did, and Frank J. Kuklenski, his wife Dorothy, mother, and daughter and foster daughters. He and his brother Tony, (whose wife was a professional artist;) owned their own boat, and particularly enjoyed salmon fishing together. The prayers of this godly family won our mother to the Lord. Their Christian witness showed us that Yeshua hamashiach/Jesus Christ is real!

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