These shall ye eat of all that [are] in the waters
In the waters of the sea, or in rivers, pools, and ponds; meaning fishes; for though some persons abstain from eating them entirely, as the Egyptian priests, as Herodotus F13 relates; and it was a part of religion and holiness, not with the Egyptians only, but with the Syrians and Greeks, to forbear eating them F14; and Julian F15 gives two reasons why men should abstain from fishes; the one because what is not sacrificed to the gods ought not to be used for food; and the other is, because these being immersed in the deep waters, look not up to heaven; but God gave the people of Israel liberty of eating them, under certain limitations:
whatsoever hath fins and scales, in the waters, in the seas, and in
the rivers, them shall ye eat;
some render it disjunctively, "fins or scales" F16; but as Maimonides F17 observes, whatsoever has scales has fins; and who also says, if a fish has but one fin and one scale, it was lawful to eat: fins to fishes are like wings to birds, and oars to boats, with which they swim and move swiftly from place to place; and scales are a covering and a protection of them; and such fishes being much in motion, and so well covered, are less humid and more solid and substantial, and more wholesome: in a spiritual sense, fins may denote the exercise of grace, in which there is a motion of the soul, Godward, Christward, and heavenward; and scales may signify good works, which adorn believers, and protect them from the reproaches and calumnies of men.