Fishing in the Sea of Galilee

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.” (Matthew 13:47–48)

Fishing for a living is hard work today, and it was hard work in the time of the New Testament. Rowing was heavy work, and hauling in weighted nets hanging heavy with fish is no easy task. In ancient Israel fishing was often done at night when it was cooler, and the fish couldn’t see you. The days were spent fixing nets and taking the fish to market. For far flung markets, time was taken to pickle the fish or lay them out in the sun to dry. Other fish, especially sardines, would be taken to Magdala to be salted before export. They would have been a familiar scene for Mary Magdalene. There were a dozen or so harbours dotted around the Sea of Galilee, and archaeologists have discovered stone anchors, weights and even an entire first century boat.

Fishing itself was a varied task. Some would go out with hook and line, but more commonly nets were used. First there was a cast net which was large, circular and had weights around the edge. They looked like large versions of those doilies with beads around the edges which used to sit over the water glasses of aged grandmas. Larger was the dragnet, about a hundred metres long and three metres wide. One long edge had floats, and the other was weighted with large stones. It was simple in concept: stretch it out about one hundred metres from the shore, and then drag it in. Once hauled up onto the shore, you could then pick through the fish caught up as it came in.

The most complicated net was the trammel net, and it is still used on Galilee today. This was a sandwich of three nets, with the middle layer being a fine net with a one inch grid. About thirty metres long, three or four would be tied together to make one longer net. Once set out, people would splash into the water from the shore scaring the fish into the mesh where they would become tangled.

There was money to be made from fishing, but it was hard-earned. The work was heavy, difficult and tiring. It took time and preparation. When Jesus promised the disciples they would be fishers of men, he didn’t have in mind a pleasant day casting a line into the Wye. This was work.

We Preach Christ Crucified

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19) - May I beg you to put the cross back into its rightful place. Will you place the cross at the centre of all that you do and believe? Because the cross is where you were put right with God. The cross is where you find comfort and strength.

Gregory of Nyssa

“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” (Acts 16:30–34) - On this day in AD395 Gregory of Nyssa breathed his last, aged around sixty. He was the son of aristocratic, Christian parents and his father’s mother was venerated as a saint: St Macrina the Elder. His mother’s mother had been martyred for her faith by the Romans.

  1. Blog
  2. The Rectory Bulletin
  3. 2021
  4. March
  5. Fishing in the Sea of Galilee