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A friend of mine told me that with the exception of the Leviasan, everything we might colloquially call "fish" nowadays are merely called "דג" (or "דגה" if its female) in Tanach. I asked several Rabbis and they couldn't think of any other species of fish named in Tanach. Is this true? If yes, why would that be?

I want to know because this friend was using this to explain why Shach Y.D. 107:1 writes that a Treif fish mixed into Kosher fish is Min Bemino if you hold that Min Bemino goes by the name "משום דשם דג אחד הוא." Is that a valid explanation? (Note that Treif fish probably won't be getting mixed into your Leviyasan anytime soon.)

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    What about the תנין – Double AA Jun 12 '17 at 3:50
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    @DoubleAA Rashi on Shemos 7:9 says that Tanin means snake. – Eliyahu Jun 12 '17 at 3:53
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    Rashi to Gen 1:21 says it's a fish. But anyway maybe it's a water snake? Or some sort of marine slithery thing like an eel? Or maybe there are other opinions besides Rashi which are closer to peshat? – Double AA Jun 12 '17 at 3:55
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    I'm not sure you're right that דגה is female for fish... – Loewian Jun 12 '17 at 14:09
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    We should also remember that the language of Tanakh is artificially kept to a small vocabulary so that we aren't left with words whose translations are lost. Given that we've been continuously been farmers until a little over a century ago, tzon may have been a safer word to use than whatever the Tanakh-era word was for halibut. – Micha Berger Jun 12 '17 at 16:24
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Basically, I think you're right. But, for what it's worth, the 19th century linguist Emmanuel Löw suggested that the last two words of Tehillim 74:14,

"אַתָּה רִצַּצְתָּ רָאשֵׁי לִוְיָתָן תִּתְּנֶנּוּ מַאֲכָל לְעָם לְצִיִּים"

should be read as the plural of a sea-creature called Amaletz. In modern Hebrew, this is the name for a type of shark.

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Besides for perhaps the very first animal mentioned in Tanach, the תנינים (Genesis 1:21), overall, there do not appear to be any fish given other names in Tanach (see e.g. here). Some commentators suggest בהמות (Job 40) refers to a quasi-aquatic creature, such as the hippopotamus. Also, some of the שרצים may be aquatic or quasi-aquatic, such as the צב (Leviticus 11:29; see also Leviticus 11:10 "שרץ המים"; and צפרדע - Exodus 8 ). Some also interpret the תחש (e.g. Exodus 25:5) as a seal or narwhal. Proverbs 30:15 also refers to the עלוקה, interpreted as a leech.

  • Also זה הים גדול ורחב ידים שם רמש ואין מספר חיות קטנות עם גדלות כו שם אניות יהלכון לויתן זה יצרת לשחק בו – Double AA Jun 12 '17 at 17:28

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