this and kindred terms, as merchandise, etc., are properly expressed by some form of the Hebrews סָחִר, sachar', to travel about, Gr. ἔμπορος, a passenger to and fro; sometimes also by רָכִל, rakal', to go about; and occasionally by the title CANAANITE). Trade is of very great antiquity in the East (Niebuhr, Trav. 3:4 sq.), and was sometimes carried on by sea (Pr 31:14; Ps 107:23), but more commonly on land by means of a company associated for a mercantile journey (Ge 37:25; Job 6:18). SEE CARAVAN. The itinerant character and temporary location which appear in all the ancient notices of Oriental merchants, whether individuals or an association of several persons, is still a marked trait of the same class in the East (Hackett's Illustrat. of Script. p. 63). In the patriarchal times such parties of Ishmaelites passed through Canaan on their way to Egypt (Ge 37:25,28), and bartered with the nomades for various products of their herds in exchange for implements, apparel, and similar articles, and sometimes purchased slaves (Ge 37:28; Ge 39:1). After the Hebrews became settled in Palestine, they were drawn into those forms of commercial relations that early existed, but rather passively than actively, since the Mosaic law little favored this profession (Michaelis, Mos. Recht, 1:238 sq.; Josephus's denial of all mercantile pursuits by his nation, Apion, 1:12, is probably too strong an expression), although the geographical position of their country would seem to be in general advantageous for it; but the circumscribed extent of their territory, the prevailing direction of the population to agriculture, which left few poor, their almost total want of those natural and artificial products most in demand for general traffic, and the preoccupation of the trade between Asia and Africa by two mercantile nations (the Phoenicians and Arabians), mostly precluded them from an independent commerce, for which, indeed, they were further incapacitated by the continuance of their sea-coast for the most part in the hands of the Canaanites and Philistines, who had, more over, secured to themselves the great commercial route to Damascus, through the prominence of several cities in the northern part of Palestine (Bertheau, Isr. Gesch. p. 287). Yet the north-western Israelites appear quite early to have occupied a post in the Phoenician marts (Ge 49:13; De 33:18; Jg 5:17). Solomon not only (as a royal monopoly) imported horses from Egypt, and traded them away in Syria by governmental salesmen (1Ki 10:26; 2Ch 1:16-17), but formed a commercial treaty with the king of Tyre for maritime enterprise (1Ki 9:26), and launched from the Edomitish ports of Ezion-geber and Elath, which David had acquired on the Red Sea, a fleet that sailed under the pilotage of Tyrian seamen into the Indian Ocean, and, after a three years' voyage, brought back gold, silver, ivory, sandal-wood, ebony, apes, peacocks, and other products of Chin-India (1Ki 10:11; 1Ki 22:22,50; 2Ch 9:10,21). SEE OPHIR. After the death of Solomon this marine commerce shared the neglect of all the royal affairs, and the trade never revived,-with the 'single exception of Jehoshaphat's undertaking (1Ki 22:49), until these harbors passed entirely out of the control of the Israelites. SEE EDOMITE. What position the Jews held in the Phoenician traffic, or what profit the transit of Phoenician merchandise brought them, is only to be gleaned indirectly from the historical records- (Bertheau, Isr. Gesch. p. 354); but that both these were not inconsiderable is clear from Eze 26:2; Eze 27:17. The kingdom of Israel was probably more favored in this latter particular than that of Judah, as the principal thoroughfares of trade passed through its bounds. Commercial relations subsisted between Tyre and Judaea after the exile (Ne 13:16), and even in New- Testament times (Ac 12:20). From the Phoenicians the Hebrews imported, besides timber for edifices (1Ki 5; 1Ch 14:1), and sea-fish (Ne 13:16), a great many foreign necessaries, and even luxuries (such as variegated stuffs, unguents, and peltries, purple garments, etc.), which for the most part came from Arabia, Babylonia, and India (comp. Ezekiel 27), and sold in exchange wheat (comp. Ac 12:20), oil (1Ki 5:11), honey, dates, balsam (Ho 12:2; see Eze 27:17), and also a fine species of fancy fabric, which the diligent hands of the women had prepared (Pr 31:24)., Respecting the balance of trade we have no certain means of judging, and it is the more difficult to ascertain how this was adjusted, inasmuch as Palestine must have derived its supply of the metals likewise from foreigners. Yet we nowhere find any indication that the national wealth had sensibly diminished; on the contrary, the Israelites were able to endure an almost unbroken series of hostile attacks, often resulting in pillage, and always very exhaustive of money (1Ki 14:26; 1Ki 15:18; 2Ki 12:18; 2Ki 14:14; 2Ki 16:18, etc.), while certain periods (Isa 2:7),-and even individual tribes (Ho 12:9), were distinguished for opulence and luxury; perhaps the revenue was derived through the surrounding districts of Edom, Moab, and Phoenicia (see T. C. Tychsen, De commerciis et naigationibus Hebsrceor. ante exil Bab., in the Comment. Gott. vol. xvi; Class. Hist. p. 150 sq.; Hartmann, Ueb. Pentat. p. 751 sq.).' After the exile the Hebrew commerce had a wider range, especially as many Jews had become scattered in foreign countries where they experienced many favors, so that the nation took a greater relish in this avocation and in its safe emoluments. Prince Simon invited commercial intercourse by the improvement of the harbor of Joppa; the Palestinian Jews, however, being still restrained by the discouragement of their law and their early mercantile prejudices, appear not to have risen to any great degree of activity in trade; and Herod's improved port at Caesarea (Josephus, Ant. 15:9, 6) was mostly occupied by foreigners, while under the Romandominion traffic was encumbered by tolls and imposts, many commodities being even included in the list of government monopolies. Still Jewish love of gain prevailed wherever a favorable opportunity offered (Josephus, Life, p. 13), and laid claim to trading privileges (Josephus, War, 2:21, 2). Internal, especially retail trade (enactments relative to which are contained in Le 19:36; De 25:13 sq.; comp. Ho 12:8), was particularly promoted by the high festivals, to which every adult Israelite resorted in pursuance of the national religion. In the cities open spaces at the gates were designated for the exposure of wares, and even Tyrian merchants frequented the market at Jerusalem (Ne 13:16; see Hartman, ad loc.;' comp. Zephaniah i,.10; Zec 14:2; and see Movers, Phonic. 1:50); ;a mart for sacrificial victims and sacred shekels being established in the outer court of the Temple itself (Joh 2:14 sq.; Mt 21:12). The Mishna contains notices of the early practice of beating down in price (Nedar. 3:1), and of shop-keepers (Maaseroth. 2:3). For the commerce of the Phoenicians, Egyptians (Isa 45:14), Babylonians (Na 3:16), and Arabians, see those articles respectively. SEE COMMERCE. In modern Oriental cities the retail trade is chiefly carried on in small shops, usually gathered -together in a particular quarter or street, like the stalls in an Occidental market. SEE BAZAAR.

Bible concordance for MERCHANT.

Definition of merchant

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