Under Jewish dietary laws, fish are permitted as food provided they have fins and
scales. The children of Israel fondly remembered the fish they ate in Egypt (Numbers
11: 5) as they wandered hungrily in the desert after the Exodus. Fish were abundant
in Egypt, and were also easy to catch when the frequently flooding Nile waters receded,
leaving them stranded in shallow pools.
The Hebrews were not seafaring people by tradition, but they imported fish, probably
sun-dried, salted, or pickled, from the Phoenicians in Tyre (Nehemiah 13: 6). Isaiah
(19: 8), and Habbakkuk (1: 15-17) make reference to various types of fishing gear.
Jesus's first disciples were fishermen whom He promised He would make "fishers of
men." Fish appear many times in the Gospel narratives, eg: Jesus's feeding of the
5,000 (Matthew 14: 19); the feeding of the multitude (Matthew 14: 36); and the fish
with the coin in its mouth (Matthew 17: 27). Twice Jesus leads the disciples to, or miraculously
causes, great catches of fish (Luke 5: 6; John 21: 6-8). Jesus ate fish at least
once after His Resurrection (Luke 24: 42-43), and perhaps again (John 21: 9-13).
The Greek word for fish (pronounced in English: "ichthus") in a fish logo or graphic,
was a popular symbol used by the early Church. The five Greek letters of the word
from an acrostic for the five Greek words meaning "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior."