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A Jew likes fish? - Chapter three - Tiberias: the capital of the Galilean fishing

Part three in a mini-series about fishing in ancient Israel

Photochromic photograph of fishermen in the Sea of ​​Galilee between 1890 and 1905. Source: Library of Congress.
Photochromic photograph of fishermen in the Sea of ​​Galilee between 1890 and 1905. source: Library of Congress.

Chapter three: Tiberias - the capital of Galilean fishing

Simultaneously with the development of the ports and the shipping profession with its many consequences, the Sage sources, as expected, reveal many testimonies about the fishermen and their work in Tiberias, Acre, Jordan, Jaffa, Caper Nahum, Samcho Sea, Caesarea, Sidon and Ein Gedi. Two interesting sources testify to the dimensions of abundance in the field of fishing. The first, from the Tosefta (Sukkah 9:6), says that "... from Ein Gedi to Ein Agalim, a surface for the boycotters (that is, the fishermen) will be for Minna (its port... from the Greek - "Lyman". And it is very interesting how in the sources they brought the term with the inflection of Hebrew proximity. And in any case, this indicates the influence of the subject of fishing, which was common in the Hellenistic polis cities that were located along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Sea of ​​Galilee on the other), their fish, like the fish of the Great Sea, would be very large." Whether the text is delivered from the point of view of a heart's thought or from an observation, however superficial, of the craft of fishing, it is undoubtedly interesting. It should be noted that the same bearer of the testimony - Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya'akov - testifies in the Midrash (Deuteronomy Rabbah 300:400) that the Acre fish that were caught in the net weighed between XNUMX and XNUMX liters. The midrash by its very nature tends to exaggerate, but despite the exaggeration it is possible to extract some kind of situational picture from it, both on the development of the subject of fishing and perhaps even on competitions between the fishermen that took place in the city of Acre).

At the disposal of the fishermen - the "prohibitors" - was the "zoto", which is the bag for receiving the fish, as well as the "trawl", the "castle" - all synonymous names for the fishermen's net, and the "sling", when the latter was thrown, that is, the sling At a distance with the skill of swinging, turning and retreating, towards a school of fish. The fishermen also placed mesh barriers which directed the movement of the fish towards the mesh barrier. Another expression was - "putting the ship in place" (Talmud Babili, Yavmot page XNUMX p. XNUMX), meaning the fisherman's departure to the area after preparing all the accessories, including the ship, the boat, and "putting" the vessel motionless while waiting for the shoals moving fish, or alternatively renting a fishing boat from its owner.

An important step in the organization of the fishing industry and those involved in it was summarized in a professional association. The fishermen, like other professionals, were united in professional associations that were formed in Latin "collegia professionalis", usually on a family basis for various reasons: reliable protection, mutual obligation, protection of certain fishing areas, just division of work shifts, protection of the "secrets of the profession" (if There were those, and... there were) and more.

Professional associations of Jews in various occupations, here fishing, determined for themselves, as was customary in Hellenistic and Roman society, special, somewhat permanent places in their houses of prayer, both in the social, community, family and professional aspects, and famous was the building of the great and magnificent synagogue of the Jews of Alexandria , until the year 115/6 when there was a Jewish revolt in Alexandria, where members of professional associations such as financiers or goldsmiths sat in fixed places, probably also there, beyond the unique social aspect, the members of the various associations ran businesses. And similarly, the synagogue in Dora-Europos, a Hellenistic-Roman city, near the Euphrates River, which was uncovered a few years ago.

The first evidence in this regard, specifically archaeological-epigraphic, was found in Jaffa, and perhaps in reference to it, Rabbi Haya bar Abba emphasizes in the Jerusalem Talmud in an interesting text: "...and we are the fishermen..." (Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin Chapter XNUMX, XNUMX p. XNUMX). Maybe teach us about the professional association. This union adapted itself to the production policy in the Roman provinces and the Roman taxation system and accordingly the fishermen lived in a special quarter. And so is the Jewish Shippers' Union.

The Tosefta opens before us a window to an interesting testimony regarding fishing: "In the beginning there were tribes in their own right, they said: No man spreads his haram (fishing net) and places his ship inside his friend's, but they hunt (fish) with hakin (rods) and machanars. In any case, there is no avoiding it, (and) provided that he does not deploy the sling (flying net) and set the ship up. The tribes do not fish (fish) from the water of Tiberias (Kinneret) because it is part of (the tribe of) Naphtali. And no more, but let him be given a full rope (and in the Babylonian Talmud it is said: "a full rope of boycott (fishing) to the south of Yam...". Baba Kama 17 p. 18) to the south of Yam (Kinneret). It is said: The sea and the south will inherit - the words of Rabbi Yossi HaGalili" (Tosefta baba kama XNUMX:XNUMX-XNUMX). The Jerusalem Talmud (Bava Batra, Chapter XNUMX, XNUMX, p. XNUMX) reports: "And Natanin gave Naphtali a full rope to the south of Yam."

According to these sources, it is possible to point to a monopolistic division of fishing complexes as well as the organization of the fishing industry, while making an interesting distinction between fishing accessories in the context of what is permitted and what is prohibited. The connection to the ancient, biblical era, came to highlight the importance of the ruling. It can be assumed that during the time of Rabbi Yossi HaGalili, around the second half of the second century AD, Tiberias fishermen were united in a trade union that oversaw the distribution of fishing rights, at the same time as emphasizing the regional monopoly. On the one hand, it can be assumed that the installation of these instructions was accepted by the leadership of the city of Tiberias, who wanted on the one hand to prevent disputes between the fishermen and, on the other hand, to manage a system of taxation related to the fishing areas.

The Mishnah, as in the proximity of matters to the above, rules that "these things were said against peaceable ways... forts of animals and fowls and fish are considered robbery, against peaceable ways. Rabbi Yossi says: "Gazel Gomor" (Gittin 8:XNUMX), and in the Babylonian Talmud Rabbi Yossi adds as follows: "I hunt (hunters) animals and fowls and (fishermen) hunt fish in austerity for the purpose of the festival. Rabbi Yossi says: The sides of Acre made it worse for themselves that they would not be a sider at all..." (Moed Ketan XNUMX p. XNUMX). And the Jerusalem Talmud also adds to the picture the boycotts (fishermen) of Tiberias, implying that "they accepted boycotts of Tiberias (perhaps in their association)... not to do any work (in the field of fishing) during the time of Moed" (Moed Ketan Chapter XNUMX PA p. XNUMX). Regardless of whether the strict regulation concerns the affairs of a professional association, regarding the regulation of hunting and fishing areas, or whether the regulation concerns mutual agreements between those involved in the craft, there is a trend of animal cruelty, a moral approach, somewhat reminiscent of the commandment of "moving the nest". In any case, Alah's evidence also points to the organization of the fishing industry among the Jewish settlement in the ancient era.

The following testimony describes Tiberias as the center of the Galilean fishing, where it had the right to rule regarding the prices of fish and the prices of the produce of this branch. The Tosefta emphasizes in this context that "there is no puskin on the fruits until the gate is out... nor on the fish in Tiberias... but puskin on the eggs... and on the fish in all (the) other places" (Tosefta Baba Metzia 1:XNUMX), and the Jerusalem Talmud clarifies this by saying that "every The towns near Tiberias. Because a book by Tiberias Fuskin came out" (Yerushalmi Baba Metzia XNUMX, p. XNUMX). In other words, the city of Tiberias, the eastern capital of the Galilee and a famous maritime center, held prerogative when it came to the produce gates. As soon as this was established, it served as a sign and model for other places and especially for the towns near Tiberias.

It should be noted that the issue of prices in the markets and the supervision of the reliability of the scales was by virtue of the role of a special inspector who was called in the sources of the Sage "Agornomos", from the Greek of course, in consideration of a tempting job that was expected by Eve, established families in the city. The connection between the agronomist and the activity of the professional associations was quite brave.

In any case, and with reference to the above pair of sources, it will be emphasized that Tiberias was an established and stable economic unit. This is a central fishing city which not only stopped with regard to the produce gates, but organized the fishing industry and ensured its proper production.

The prevalence of the fishing industry and its specialization will also be learned from the large number of laws discussing this subject as well as from the large number and variety of types of fish and their species as they were known and common among fishermen such as tarit, palmida, binit, collis, ellith, flying fish, saffron, catfish, atons, dogfish, Sandal, foil, eel, kippon, dogfish and more. And apart from the fact that those laws were pending with them during the period in question, evidence was also found of many parables from the life of fishing and fishermen as a faithful picture describing the establishment of the fishing branch and the tradition that became unique among the fishermen, which is nothing but the fruit of the development of the branch over the years.

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