fish'-er fish'-er-man (dayyagh, dawwagh; halieus; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek haleeus): Although but few references to fishermen are made in the Bible, these men and their calling are brought into prominence by Jesus' call to certain Galilee fishermen to become His disciples (Mt 4:18-19; Mr 1:16-17). Fishermen, then as now, formed a distinct class. The strenuousness of the work (Lu 5:2) ruled out the weak and indolent. They were crude in manner, rough in speech and in their treatment of others (Lu 9:49,54; Joh 18:10). James and John before they became tempered by Jesus' influence were nicknamed the "sons of thunder" (Mr 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. They often toiled for hours without success, and yet were always ready to try once more (Lu 5:5; Joh 21:3). Such men, when impelled by the same spirit as filled their Master, became indeed "fishers of men" (Mt 4:19; Mr 1:17).
One of the striking instances of the fulfillment of prophecy is the use by the Syrian fishermen today of the site of ancient Tyre as a place for the spreading of their nets (Eze 26:5,14).
Figurative: Fish were largely used as food (Hab 1:16), hence, the lamentation of the fishermen, who provided for all, typified general desolation (Isa 19:8). On the other hand, abundance of fish and many fishermen indicated general abundance (Eze 47:10). Our modern expression, "treated like a dog," had its counterpart in the language of the Old Testament writers, when they portrayed the punished people of Judah as being treated like fish. Yahweh would send many fishers to fish them up and put sticks or hooks through their cheeks as a fisherman strings his fish (Jer 16:16; Job 41:2). Such treatment of the people of Judah is depicted on some of the Assyrian monuments.
James A. Patch