Comprehensive coverage

A Jew likes fish? - Chapter four - Canned fish

About the fish canning industry in ancient Israel - fourth and last chapter in the series

Along with the establishment of the fishing industry, a fish canning industry developed in ancient Israel. Illustration: Lea von Littrow, c. 1914.
Along with the establishment of the fishing industry, a fish canning industry developed in ancient Israel. illustration: Lea von Littrow, c. 1914.

For the previous episodes in the series:

Along with the establishment of the fishing industry, a craft/industry of preserving fish developed in ancient Israel, with the help of this production were harnessed crafts such as ceramics, weaving/weaving (of baskets), salt production and more. During this period, good markets were found for the products in question in the cities that were founded, as well as fine customers such as the commissioner's court, the clerical apparatus and the presidency of the Land of Israel. And if many evidences were found relating to the preservation of the fish products, we could link this to the branching of the trade and the marketing of the products abroad, what is called in the language of the Sages "overseas countries".

The fish canning industry became famous mainly in Tiberias, when near it there is a site with a rich tradition when it comes to fish canning. This is a historical settlement, Migdal Mastama or Migdal Nunia, aka the fish salting place. The fish would be wrapped between leaves and reeds or in baskets that were caught from the shoots of the date palm and called "legs" and marketed within the province and outside it and even to Rome itself.

Among the canned goods, the following types can be distinguished: salted fish called "salty"; Terit, about which the Midrash explains as follows: "Temoni is terit" in his demand for the biblical verse - "For many days will be clean and the horses will be hidden", this is the blessing of Moses to Zebulun (Deuteronomy XNUMX). That is, they used to bury - to preserve in salt. The terit used to be preserved in two ways: when it is whole or when it is chopped, hence the difference between "freshly crushed" and "fresh that is not crushed" (Talmud Babilli Avoda Zera Lt. p. XNUMX).

Rav Dimi, born in the third century CE, testifies in the Babylonian Talmud that the king's linnai (an image borrowed from a rich man like Korach, in terms of his testimony) were in the "King's Mountain" (a rich geographical area also known as "Tor Malka" and "Gay Basilike" in Greek). This is probably about the Yehuda lowlands between Gedera and Hadera) who put fresh cups of reboiler into chopped figs. Beyond the imagined, legendary voyage, which, according to the moral of the testimony, is in its essence to indicate the abundance of the produce of the fish preserves, and since the above-mentioned place is within the domain of the Roman imperial lands, we can attribute to this subject a measure of the influence of the production of the Roman produce.

It can be assumed that Acre also served as an important production and marketing center for canned fish, which is why it was nicknamed the "Gate of Fish".

The relief "Fishermen" by Aharon Priber, 1956. Photograph by Y. hornbill Source: Wikimedia.
The relief "Fishermen" by Aharon Priber, 1956. Photograph by Y. a horn source: Wikimedia.

In addition to the preserves, they also prepared liquid delicacies of fish that came to be known as "stock", meaning the juice that comes out of fish pickled in salt, and with them various laws, and these required a lot of grammar in distinguishing between permitted stock and prohibited stock, such as: of pottery) that holds satayim, if it weighs ten (e) zoz (40 grams) in Judah, which are five (e) rocks (twenty zoz) (80 grams) (and all the rest are pure fish) in the Galilee, unclean fish is prohibited ( Because in the weight of a fish of one log there are 200 zoz which is about 800 grams. And in two hundred we find 9600 zoz which is 38,400 grams that is 38.4 kg. And ten zoz = 40 grams of unclean fish in 800 grams of pure fish is one divided by 960. And this is the ratio of The carcass of an unclean fish is prohibited by the majority, and if there is none of it according to this lesson, the carcass in the stocking is permitted) Rabbi Yehuda says: Fourth of the seven days (the fourth of the log of the unclean fish, and of the seven days the carcass is prohibited. That is, the carcass of an unclean fish is prohibited in one of 192) and Rabbi Yossi says: One of the sixteen In it (that is, an unclean fish that is one-sixteenth in a stocking, the stock is prohibited, and if the stocking holds satays, which is 48 log, then one of the sixteen contains three logs, and if there is an unclean fish in the stock as much as this rate, it is forbidden, and if it is less than that, such as there is in the stocking of a pure fish sixteen against it, after all, it is void, and the whole axis is permitted" (Mishnat Teromot XNUMX:XNUMX). At least three types of axis were known, such as: "Murays", whose name derives from the Latin (muries), "Hilke" and "Hilmi".

And lest the presidency house be consumed, in accordance with the Roman economic policy of the Severus emperors (from the end of the second century until the quarter of the third century AD) to supply the imperial court with salted fish as well. In any case, this is how the interesting tradition in the Jerusalem Talmud can be interpreted: "A deed in one ship belonging to the Rabbi's house (Rabbi Yehuda the Hanasi), which contained more than three hundred barrels..." (Jerusalem Talmud, Avoda Zerah, Chapter XNUMX, Mb, p. XNUMX). In any case, an interesting picture emerges before our eyes, which indicates the extent of the delivery of the hand of the Palestinian Authority, and its pull in the threads of international trade.

International trade? Indeed indeed. And Sage sources are not lacking in releasing information about the construction of ships, their launching and even their dimensions, such as: "...that a man should not make (build) a ship, which is standing in the dock (disabled due to its size not being suitable in the port). Let its width be one-sixth of its length, and its height one-tenth of its length" Tosefta Sukkah 7:3). Other evidence concerns the leasing of ships, their buying and selling. In the collection of inscriptions and paintings in the huge cemetery in Beit Shaarim, there were mentions of sailors, or perhaps many ship owners or actual ship owners. From the collection of Synzius's letters, from the end of the third century CE, it is recalled that on the voyage to Africa the captain and part of the crew of sailors were Jews (Apistolai, XNUMX:XNUMX).

Laws were also found regarding the transfer of goods from ship to ship or the instructions of the routers in the port and the preference for the passage of a "loaded ship" over an "empty ship", as well as on the merchant ship's equipment, methods of loading and unloading, sailing times, etc.

It should be noted that canned fish and dried fish were marketed outside Judea, mainly through the Port of Acre and from the Nunia-Tarikhai tower to the east.

One response

  1. Dr. Sorek. Finally take quotes from the Talmud. Leaving the Talmud only to ultra-Orthodox Jews is deficient. They keep the embers of a very precious literary source, but a historical secular point of view also refreshes the use of the Talmud.

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