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Jesus fed five thousand men with just five loaves of bread and two fishes

Updated on July 25, 2010

One of the most popular gospel tales tells that Jesus fed five thousand men with just five loaves of bread and two fishes. It has been believed that this happened in a desert. Though we are not sure if this desert is in an island or within continent far from the sea.

To understand how Jesus could feed five thousand men with two fishes, here we have to pay attention to this sentence (Mark 60:32), "they departed into a desert place by ship privately." There are two facts: first, these disciples went to the desert place by ship. Second, they departed into a "desert place" instead of "desert". We can also assume this desert place was just located in a dismal or remote area, or desolate place, such as in "a desert island". Now can we conclude that this desert place must be near the water, if not by the sea? and it could be reached by boat.

Most people has been taking these two fishes as symbolism instead food itself, but we can asume that two fishes were big enough to feed five thousand people, such big fish as whales. Although we now know whales are mammals, people in the past thought whales are fishes.

An ancient Chinese prince, once caught a huge fish, he fed the whole Middle Kindom, "from the Zhì river to the east, and from mount Chāng-Wú to the north, there was not one who did not eat his full from that fish." How could the prince do that? and what's his name? In Zhuāng Zǐ, chapter XXVI:

A son of the duke of Rén, having provided himself with a great hook, a powerful black line, and fifty steers to be used as bait, squatted down on mount Kuài Jī, and threw the line into the Eastern Sea. Morning after morning he angled thus, and for a whole year caught nothing. At the end of that time, a great fish swallowed the bait, and dived down, dragging the great hook with him.

Then it rose to the surface in a flurry, and flapped with its fins, till the white waves rose like hills, and the waters were lashed into fury. The noise was like that of imps and spirits, and spread terror for a thousand lî. The prince having got such a fish, cut it in slices and dried them. From the Zhì river to the east, and from Chāng-Wú to the north, there was not one who did not eat his full from that fish; and in subsequent generations, story-tellers of small abilities have all repeated the story to one another with astonishment.

Could we say that Jesus was a great fisherman? He caught a fish large enough to feed five thousand men? When the tale was repeated by story-tellers generation after generation, two whales became two small minnows or gobies, a desolate island became a desert, and of course there have to be some loaves of bread.


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    • Deaconess profile image

      Deaconess 7 years ago

      In Matthew 16:5-12, I think it is made clear to us, that it was not with fish and bread that the people were fed and made full... but with the spiritual teachings of Jesus:

      (NAV translation) And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring any bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.