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Firmament From the Vulgate firmamentum, which is used as the translation of the Hebrew raki a. This word means simply "expansion." It denotes the space or expanse like an arch appearing immediately above us. They who rendered raki a by firmamentum regarded it as a solid body. The language of Scripture is not scientific but popular, and hence we read of the sun rising and setting, and also here the use of this particular word. It is plain that it was used to denote solidity as well as expansion. It formed a division between the waters above and the waters below (Gen 1:7). The raki a supported the upper reservoir (Psa 148:4). It was the support also of the heavenly bodies (Gen 1:14), and is spoken of as having "windows" and "doors" (Gen 7:11; Isa 24:18; Mal 3:10) through which the rain and snow might descend.

First-born Sons enjoyed certain special privileges (Deu 21:17; Gen 25:23, Gen 25:31, Gen 25:34; Gen 49:3; Ch1 5:1; Heb 12:16; Psa 89:27). (See BIRTHRIGHT.) The "first-born of the poor" signifies the most miserable of the poor (Isa 14:30). The "church of the first-born" signifies the church of the redeemed. The destruction of the first-born was the last of the ten plagues inflicted on the Egyptians (Exo 11:1; Exo 12:29, Exo 12:30). Menephtah is probably the Pharaoh whose first-born was slain. His son did not succeed or survive his father, but died early. The son's tomb has been found at Thebes unfinished, showing it was needed earlier than was expected. Some of the records on the tomb are as follows: "The son whom Menephtah loves; who draws towards him his father's heart, the singer, the prince of archers, who governed Egypt on behalf of his father. Dead."

First-born, Sanctification of the A peculiar sanctity was attached to the first-born both of man and of cattle. God claimed that the first-born males of man and of animals should be consecrated to him, the one as a priest (Exo 19:22, Exo 19:24), representing the family to which he belonged, and the other to be offered up in sacrifice (Gen 4:4).

First-born, Redemption of From the beginning the office of the priesthood in each family belonged to the eldest son. But when the extensive plan of sacrificial worship was introduced, requiring a company of men to be exclusively devoted to this ministry, the primitive office of the first-born was superseded by that of the Levites (Num 3:11), and it was ordained that the first-born of man and of unclean animals should henceforth be redeemed (Num 18:15). The laws concerning this redemption of the first-born of man are recorded in Exo 13:12; Exo 22:29; Exo 34:20; Num 3:45; Num 8:17; Num 18:16; Lev 12:2, Lev 12:4. The first-born male of every clean animal was to be given up to the priest for sacrifice (Deu 12:6; Exo 13:12; Exo 34:20; Num 18:15). But the first-born of unclean animals was either to be redeemed or sold and the price given to the priest (Lev 27:11, Lev 27:27). The first-born of an ass, if not redeemed, was to be put to death (Exo 13:13; Exo 34:20).

First-fruits The first-fruits of the ground were offered unto God just as the first-born of man and animals. The law required, (1.) That on the morrow after the Passover Sabbath a sheaf of new corn should be waved by the priest before the altar (Lev 23:5, Lev 23:6, Lev 23:10, Lev 23:12; Lev 2:12). (2.) That at the feast of Pentecost two loaves of leavened bread, made from the new flour, were to be waved in like manner (Lev 23:15, Lev 23:17; Num 28:26). (3.) The feast of Tabernacles was an acknowledgment that the fruits of the harvest were from the Lord (Exo 23:16; Exo 34:22). (4.) Every individual, besides, was required to consecrate to God a portion of the first-fruits of the land (Exo 22:29; Exo 23:19; Exo 34:26; Num 15:20, Num 15:21). (5.) The law enjoined that no fruit was to be gathered from newly-planted fruit-trees for the first three years, and that the first-fruits of the fourth year were to be consecrated to the Lord (Lev 19:23). Jeremiah (Jer 2:3) alludes to the ordinance of "first-fruits," and hence he must have been acquainted with the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, where the laws regarding it are recorded.

Fish Called dag by the Hebrews, a word denoting great fecundity (Gen 9:2; Num 11:22; Jon 2:1, Jon 2:10). No fish is mentioned by name either in the Old or in the New Testament. Fish abounded in the Mediterranean and in the lakes of the Jordan, so that the Hebrews were no doubt acquainted with many species. Two of the villages on the shores of the Sea of Galilee derived their names from their fisheries, Bethsaida (the "house of fish") on the east and on the west. There is probably no other sheet of water in the world of equal dimensions that contains such a variety and profusion of fish. About thirty-seven different kinds have been found. Some of the fishes are of a European type, such as the roach, the barbel, and the blenny; others are markedly African and tropical, such as the eel-like silurus. There was a regular fish-market apparently in Jerusalem (Ch2 33:14; Neh 3:3; Neh 12:39; Zep 1:10), as there was a fish-gate which was probably contiguous to it. Sidon is the oldest fishing establishment known in history.

Fisher Besides its literal sense (Luk 5:2), this word is also applied by our Lord to his disciples in a figurative sense (Mat 4:19; Mar 1:17).

Fish-hooks Were used for catching fish (Amo 4:2; compare Isa 37:29; Jer 16:16; Eze 29:4; Job 41:1, Job 41:2; Mat 17:27).

Fish-pools (Sol 7:4) should be simply "pools," as in the Revised Version. The reservoirs near Heshbon (q.v.) were probably stocked with fish (Sa2 2:13; Sa2 4:12; Isa 7:3; Isa 22:9, Isa 22:11).

Fishing, The Art of Was prosecuted with great industry in the waters of Palestine. It was from the fishing-nets that Jesus called his disciples (Mar 1:16), and it was in a fishing-boat he rebuked the winds and the waves (Mat 8:26) and delivered that remarkable series of prophecies recorded in Matt. 13. He twice miraculously fed multitudes with fish and bread (Mat 14:19; Mat 15:36). It was in the mouth of a fish that the tribute-money was found (Mat 17:27). And he "ate a piece of broiled fish" with his disciples after his resurrection (Luk 24:42, Luk 24:43; compare Act 1:3). At the Sea of Tiberias (Joh 21:1), in obedience to his direction, the disciples cast their net "on the right side of the ship," and enclosed so many that "they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." Two kinds of fishing-nets are mentioned in the New Testament: (1.) The casting-net (Mat 4:18; Mar 1:16). (2.) The drag-net or seine (Mat 13:48). Fish were also caught by the fishing-hook (Mat 17:27). (See NET.)