MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE BIBLE “THE MARKETPLACE”

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We know little of the way that trading was done locally. There was normally an open place inside the city gate that served as a market square, and streets leading from the square would have served as dwellings for traders. There was a street of the bakers in Jeremiah’s time (Jeremiah 37:21), and the valley between the eastern and western ridges of Jerusalem was known as the valley of the cheesemakers. It is clear that there must have

been stalls to serve people who lived in the city, because flesh food had to be purchased each day. A weekly market was available for people from the surrounding villages to buy and to sell produce. Nehemiah had to regulate things so that there were no markets on the Sabbath (Nehemiah 13:15-22).

Goods were displayed at ground level, with the seller sitting among them. Special markets would be set up when a caravan arrived. Prices were seldom fixed, so every purchase needed some form of bargaining. Proverbs 20:14 sees the person who, while in the market, grumbled at the high price he had to pay, but when he got home boasted of the bargain. Goods in kind were accepted as exchange, as well as weighed amounts of metal or coinage (Luke 16:5-7). Measurement was always full. When Jesus was describing how a measure should be pressed down with grain, shaken together, and topped up until it overflowed, he was describing the standard practice for giving goods of dry measure in the market (Luke 6:38; “bosom” in old versions means “lap”)

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