Why would a fish be depicted inside a piece of art?
You've probably seen an image of a fish on different pieces of artwork and asked yourself why?
- Do they symbolize something in the Bible and what does a fish mean spiritually?
Let's take a closer look at this example, above:
There are three colorful fish in this hamsa hand wall hanging, which most likely would be overlooked-- but they shouldn't. They are deliberately drawn into the hamsa hand amulet and have a meaningful and spiritual purpose here
Rashi, the famous medieval commentator on the Tanach and the Talmud said that fish deter the evil eye, and if you're curious about what an evil eye is, there's a full blog on it: what is an evil eye, on our website.
But, let's delve a bit deeper-- like back to the Bible stories, where you'll remember in the Old Testament that our forefather, Jacob, who sent his son to the land of Egypt during the famine in Israel. The famous son, Joseph, was sold into slavery and later became the right-hand man of the Egyptian Pharaoh.
When Joseph and Jacob finally reunite after twenty years, and Jacob is on his death bed, Genesis 48:16 he blesses his grandchildren, Ephraim and Manasseh. The blessing says that all of the children of Israel shall all be blessed, “And may they proliferate abundantly like fish,”
Rashi explains that fish are fruitful and multiply.
They are also not affected by the evil eye — because they are hidden from the eyes of manBerachos 20a.
This passage reads, "Just as the fish in the sea, water covers them and the evil eye no dominion over them, so too the seed of Joseph, the evil eye has no dominion over them."
The Talmud makes its claim that fish are resistant from the evil eye because they are underwater and out of human contact.
Another analogy that a fish wards off evil, harm and is a protector is that a fish never closes its eyes so they are constantly watching.
Just like God.
May God always be there to watch over you and guide you in life.
This makes the fish an effective amulet.
Fish are like the presence of God all around you.
A fish also symbolizes fertility-- since they lay so many eggs. "May you be as plentiful as the fish in the ocean!"
So, yes for someone having fertility "issues" a fish is a lovely and very powerful amulet to gift.
May God bless them with fertility, and it is found in Genesis 1:22 "God blessed them, saying, "Be fertile and increase, fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth."
A fish also is representative of rebirth, good luck, health, happiness, strength, and endurance. The connection to the water is also representative of a deeper awareness of our selves.
Rebirth and transformation are also characteristics associated with fish. Their evolution throughout millions of years represents the power to change, adapt and grow.
Another strength of the fish is its sense of community. They swim in schools, in large groups, especially when threatened they will often swarm together.
As you can see fish are a strong symbol in Judaism and Christianity, interwoven throughout the Old Testament (Torah), Biblical commentary, and in the New Testament.
In Christianity, fish were one of the earliest symbols used by Greeks and Romans.
The sign of a fish was first used as a hidden symbol for Christians during the Roman persecution, in the first century BCE. It would "tell" people where to meet and congregate so no one else would know.
The Greek word for fish, ichthys, is as follows in meaning:
I – Iota or Iesous (which means Jesus)
X – Chi or Christos (which means Christ)
N – Theta or Theou (which means God)
Y – Upsilon or Yidos/Huios (which means Son)
Y – Sigma or Soter (which means Savior).
Christians were also referred to as Pisciculi, the Latin root word for fish.
Jesus called His disciples “fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19), Pisciculi.
As you can see, fish are very symbolic of both Judaism and Christianity. They are not only beautifully artistic creatures of the sea that lend to endless sources of drawing and depiction but also maintain a deep historical and spiritual representation from as far back as Biblical times.
So, the next time you see a fish within your wall art or piece of jewelry you'll know the intent of the artist.
Let us know if you have any pieces at your home with a fish in it? We'd love to know in the comments.
When you're done with this post you will enjoy reading our next blog: Will an amulet protect me during a time of crisis. As well as the following blog that discusses wearing an evil eye to grasp onto "something" during crisis, and why you'll keep wearing an evil eye even when the crisis ends.
What is a hamsa hand amulet?
Most commonly, it is just known as a hamsa or spelled as chamsa, even khamsa.
There are many interpretations of these particular usages.
The hand is often depicted with an eye in the center of its open palm, presumably to ward off negative energies, including the gaze of envy.