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.
F13 Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 37.
F14 Plutarch. Sympos. p. 730.
F15 Orat. 5. p. 330.
F16 So Bootius.
F17 Hilchot Maacolot Asurot, l. 1. sect. 24.