Thursday, May 28, 2009

Faith and Fishing

I enjoy collecting information that helps me understand the background and context of the stories told in the Scriptures.
Here is one that I read many years ago, and when I was in Israel, I asked some local people about this. They assured me it was true, and said that the fish today is generally called St. Peter's fish. The unnamed person who wrote the material below referenced a book called "Light From an Eastern Window." by K.C. Pillai. I don't have the book, so I can't give a page number.

And when they were come to Capernaum , they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
Matthew 17: 24-27

"In Western culture, the idea of finding money in the mouth of a fish is rather far-fetched, but not so in the East. In the middle east, there is a fish called Musht. It is about 6 inches long and has a large head with a bag under its mouth. This fish will pick up shiny and sparkling items like gold coins and jewels from the bottom of a lake or river, and hold them in the bag. [Note: Today those shiny items are more likely to be foil gum wrappers and coke bottle caps!] The Musht is very difficult to catch however. Some may fish in the waters for years and never catch one. Some men have become rich by hooking just one of them.

How do money and jewels end up in the water? Good question. That is another eastern custom. To them, part of praying is also making an offering to God. In order to give an offering in secret, and not receive the praise of men, valuables are often thrown into the water. This is how the Musht gets the money in its mouth.

Peter was a fisherman, and he knew how difficult it was to catch such a fish. He had probably never caught one before in his life. Yet he did not doubt Jesus or make an argument. He went out with his hook and caught a fish. That fish was a Musht, and it had enough tribute money in its mouth for both him and Jesus. This is what we need to do every day in our lives. We must believe God's Word, that He will bring it to pass. If God tells us to 'go fishing', we go get our fishing pole."