"These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters:
whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas and in
the rivers, them shall ye eat" (Lev.11:9).
The mackerel is directly responsible for this series of
articles (those written by P. Bennett - Keith Hunt).
As a child I was taught that the mackerel was unclean.....By
some, the mackerel was claimed to be a scavenger, and they
re-enforced their claim by pointing out that this was the reason
why mackerel does not keep well.
There was a period in my life when I greatly enjoyed sea
fishing. During the summer months there was the thrill of fishing
for the larger fish, such as tope spurdog and possibly the
occasional blue shark. The bait used to lure these fish was
always fresh mackerel. As we steamed for the deep water fishing
grounds all eyes would search for the telltale signs of feeding
mackerel. Then would come a hectic five minutes as six rods
brought aboard strings of writhing mackerel. In a short time the
bait boxes would be full and as we continued out journey, came
the task of cleaning up. As the mackerel thrashed around the
decks, scales were shed everywhere. Since it appeared clear to me
that mackerel had both fins and scales, were we correct to
exclude it from our diets? Were we correct to label it as a
The mackerel is of genuine 'Scomber" and is closely related
to the tunny, which end up on our table as tuna.
The mackerel enters the waters around our southern and
western coasts (Bennett is writing from the British Isles - Keith
Hunt) during the warm summer months, where they follow and feed
upon the shoals of sprats, white bait and other small fish. They
are in the main, top and middle surface eaters, and cannot be
described as scavengers. The mackerel is designed for speed in
order to catch its pray. It has been claimed that, weight for
weight, it is the fastest fish in the sea. Be that as it may, it
is interesting to note that in order for the mackerel to sustain
its great speeds, it has a blood temperature that is higher than
most fish and the muscles in its body receive a far greater
amount of blood. Also, the nervous system of the mackerel is more
complete than in other species. These factors may help to explain
why this fish deteriorates more rapidly, especially when exposed
to the sun's heat for long periods before being landed.
Although it seemed to me that mackerel fell within God's
definition of clean fish, conformation was necessary. Both the
Zoological Society and the Natural History Museum stated that
mackerel has both fins and scales.
During my fishing trips I have also caught plaice, dab,
flounder and on the odd occasion, sole. Although these fish
obviously have fins, it is not so obvious that they have scales.
However, the two above mentioned bodies also confirm that they do
The orthodox Jew also considers these fish as 'kosher.' When
I wrote for confirmation of this fact. I was informed that as a
general guideline, a Jew can eat all fish with fins, scales and a
backbone. The inclusion of backbone appears to be a Talmudic
addition. However it does help to distinguish those fish of the
group Actinopterygii (bony fish) from those of group
Elasmobranches (cartilage fish), which groups includes the
skate, and the dogfish, (which is eaten as rock salmon). Also
from the class Marsipobranchii (jawless vertebrates) which
includes lampreys and hagfish.
The command to eat only fish having both fins and scales
would appear to be straightforward, and uncomplicated. HOWEVER,
in this age when so many SCIENTISTS and TEACHERS openly SCORN the
fact that God created all living creatures as separate beings,
BUT RATHER WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE in the theory of EVOLUTION,
there is another THREAT to OUR teachings.
In simple terms, the NEW breed of marine biologist TEACHES
that ALL fish, of whatever group, have SCALES. These scales, they
claim, range from the PLACIOD scale of the shark to the THIN
flexible and transparent types found on the cod and herring.
Some scales, they claim, such as those on the EEL, are so minute
they can only be seen through a MICROSCOPE. Other scales, during
evolution, have become ENLARGED, FUSED together with others, or
become modified for special use, as in the sword of the
swordfish, and the thorns of the thornback rays, or the spines of
To the orthodox Jew, such teachings present little
difficulty, as his definition, as already mentioned, excludes
these because they lack a bony skeleton or backbone.
Are we able to answer these assertions which in effect claim
ALL fish to be clean, especially as these claims are made at a
time when the Muslim religion is influencing western thought, and
culture? To the Muslim, ALL fish, including shellfish can be
END of P. Bennett's article (all captial letter words were mine
for emphasis - Keith Hunt)
Now, we have yet one more argument that I had never heard of
until May 2003. The argument goes like this: The food laws of
Israel under Moses were never really food laws at all, but laws
to make Israel different than other nations, and make then a holy
special people, set apart from other nations.
I guess God giving out such laws somehow meant to
God.....something, well to Him it made them holy in some way to
observe these "eating restrictions" shall we then call them.
Of course such a thought and such a teaching means that
there never was any real food laws of vegetation, animals,
insects, birds, fish, AT ALL EVER, and so there is none today, as
the days of Moses and ancient B.C. Israel are over with.
Well of course, against such an argument there is no real
answer per se, for it is a complete "other way" of theological
reading of the Bible, just as the Jehovah Witnesses read the
verses about the literal return of Jesus in a way that for them
there is no Bible teaching that Jesus will return in a literal
But for you who still believe in the food law of fish, with
fins and "scales" I hope this article has been of some benefit.
Entered on Keith Hunt's Website, May 2003