Fishing the Sea of Galilee

In previous posts we have looked at the fish of the Sea of Galilee, ports of the Sea of Galilee, and Tabgha (Heptapegon) which has been called the fishermen’s suburb of Capernaum.

In this post we will concentrate on how the fishing was done.

  • Some fishing was done by casting a hook into the sea (Matthew 17:27).
  • The cast-net could be thrown by an individual fisherman (Matthew 4:18).
  • The seine or dragnet required several workers (Matthew 13:47).
  • The trammel net involved tying together several nets (Mark 1:19-20).

The Hook. I suppose fish hooks are common enough not to need a photo but I will include them in this photo made in the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. it shows a cast-net and some fishing hooks in the lower right corner. Note the lead weights on the bottom of the net. Lead weights such as these have been found at various archaeological excavations.

Cast-Net and fish hooks. Eretz Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cast-Net and fish hooks. Eretz Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Cast-Net. This photo shows a fisherman casting a net in the warm, shallow water near Tabgha. The cast-net can be thrown from the edge of the water or from a boat.

Fisherman casting a net in the warm water at Tabgha. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fisherman casting a net in the warm water at Tabgha. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Seine or Dragnet. In the parable of the net in Matthew 13:47-50, the Greek word for net is sagene. I note that the NAU and the NKJ use the term dragnet, while other versions use the generic net. This is clearly the seine which gathers all kinds of fish that must then be sorted by the fishermen.

I understand about the seine. As a youngster I visited an uncle and aunt who lived near New Hope, Alabama. My uncle set a seine on the Flint River. In the morning he would say, “Let’s go down to the river and see if we have caught anything.” But, I have not seen the seine in use on the Sea of Galilee except in older photos. Here is a photo from the American Colony and Eric Matson collection available from Life in the Holy Land.

Fishermen bringing in a seine (or dragnet). Photo: Life in the Holy Land.

Fishermen bringing in a seine (or dragnet). Photo: Life in the Holy Land.

The next photo is one that I have enhanced from the Eric Matson collection at the Library of Congress.

Fishermen using a seine. Photo: Eric Matson Collection, LOC.

Fishermen using a seine. Photo: Eric Matson Collection, LOC.

A modern adaptation of the seine or dragnet is seen in modern times. I learned that it is called the Purse Seine. The first photo, scanned from a 1992 slide, shows the seine is heavy with the catch of the night.

Fishing boat getting ready to unload a purse seine at Tiberias. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, 1992.

Fishing boat getting ready to unload a purse seine. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo shows the fishermen getting ready to unload the catch.

Fishing boat using purse-seine on Sea of Galilee - March 1992

Fishing boat using purse-seine on Sea of Galilee – March 1992

The Trammel Net. Nun says that the net being used by the early disciples of Jesus is the trammel net (Mark 1:19-20). This type of net was made by tying together several cast-nets. You can locate many photo illustrations by searching for “trammel nets” in Google. Here is another photo from the Matson collection showing the mending of nets at Ain Geb (En Gev).

Girls of Ain Geb, a Jewish settlement on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Girls of the settlement mending fishing nets. Photo: Eric Matson collection LOC.

Girls of Ain Geb, a Jewish settlement on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Girls of the settlement mending fishing nets. Photo: Eric Matson collection LOC.

 

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