But it is mostly in contexts of hunting and fishing that nets are found in the OT. Both hunting and fishing were pursued, not so much for sport as for livelihood. The gazelle, hart, roebuck and wild goat were best for food among the surface creatures, and the partridge among the birds. Nets were particularly needed in fishing, because sufficient quantities for commercial purposes could not be caught in any other way. Fishing was limited to the inland bodies of water in Bible history, since the Mediterranean did not offer convenient opportunities.
The NT terminology for nets is limited to fishing and is descriptive of three types: (1) The casting net (
(2) The dragnet (seine, sweep-net) was supported on one side at the water’s surface by floats, while the other side was kept at the lake’s bottom by weights. Thus was formed a vertical wall of netting between its two ends. If one end of the net were secured at the shore, a boat would carry the other in a great semicircular arc and drag along all underwater life in its path, until all was swept ashore. On the other hand, if both ends were secured to boats, the boats would be maneuvered so as to form a circular shape with the net, which would then be dragged ashore with the catch. Dragnets often were immense in size and could be used fig. of vastness and all-inclusiveness. They retrieved all types of fish, large and small, choice and worthless, living and dead. How appropriate that the Lord should choose this method to describe a gathering for judgment in the kingdom of heaven (
(3) The general word for net is used in
Trench (1880), 235-237; W. K. Eddy, “Fishing,” HDB, II (1901), 12, 13; A. E. Ross, “Nets,” HDCG (1908), 241, 242; W. S. McCullough, “Net,” IDB, III (1962), 539, 540.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
See nodetitle; Fowler.