International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(karah, laqach, qena’, qanah, shabhar; agorazo, oneomai, emporeuomai):
I. IN THE EARLIEST PERIODS AND AMONG NOMADS 1. The Primitive Stage (the "Shop")
II. ORIENTAL BUYING A TEDIOUS PROCESS
III. SHOPS AND BAZAARS
1. Oriental Shops
2. The Market-Place
IV. BUYING ON CREDIT PAYING CASH (MONEY)
V. OPEN-AIR MARKETS AND FAIRS
I. In the Earliest Periods and among Nomads.
1. The Primitive Stage; (the "Shop"):
Among primitive races and nomads there can be, of course, no organized commerce. Yet they buy and sell, by barter and exchange, in rude and simple ways. When tribes become settled and live in villages the "shop" is established--usually at first the simple "stall" of the grocer (bakkal) where one can buy bread; cheese, salt and dried fish, olives, oil, bundles of wood or charcoal, and even earthenware vessels for the passing traveler. At a later stage the village will have also, according to demand, other shops, as, for instance, those of the baker, the blacksmith, the cobbler, and, today, will be found in many obscure places in the East the butcher’s shop, and the coffee house.
2. In Old Testament Times:
These gradations and the gradual rise to the more organized commerce of the Greek-Roman period are indicated in a way by the succession of words for "buying" used in the Bible and the conditions and circumstances pictured and implied in the various accounts of buying and selling. Even as early as Abraham’s time, however, there were buying and weighing of silver in exchange. "Hear me," pleads Abraham with the children of Heth, "and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah .... which is in the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me." And Ephron said, "Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein." But Abraham said, "If thou wilt .... I will give the price of the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there. And Ephron answered .... My lord, hearken unto me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead ..... And Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver .... four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. So .... the field, and the cave, and all the trees that were in the field, .... were made sure unto Abraham for a possession" (
3. In New Testament Times:
In New Testament times things have so changed that the word most commonly used for buying (agorazo) means "to use the market-place," and another (emporeuomai) points to a class of traders or merchants who go on, from city to city--"continue" here or there "and buy and sell" (
II. Oriental Buying a Tedious Process.
Something of this is seen even in the fine examples given above. Doubtless, however, eastern buyers and sellers of old haggled over prices with controversy and heat, even as such buyers do today. Every where you find them now keen for bargains, but "striking a bargain" is a tedious process. They grow warm and then cool off; they are swept into a frenzy by some new turn of the strife and then calm down; but soon the haggling and arguing begin over again, becoming more heated and seemingly more hopeless than ever, and often they become so excited as to threaten to come to blows. But they don’t mean it all, and at last they find a common basis; the sale is made with flattering compliments to one another, and, if we may believe appearances, to the rapturous delight of both parties to the bargain.
The native Oriental clearly takes pleasure in such exercise, and sees great possibilities before him. He graciously assures you at the outset that the bargain shall be "just as you like it--just as you like it!" Is he not a servant of God? What cares he for money? What he most wants is your happiness and good will--that is the sweetest thing in life--the love and favor of brothers. After a while you offer a price. He says, "What is such a trifle between us? Take it for nothing!" But he is far from meaning it, and so the haggling begins and the fire and heat of controversy follow--perhaps for hours.
III. Shops and Bazaars.
1. Oriental Shops:
Oriental shops are all of a pattern--the workshop and the place to store and sell goods is one and the same. It is on the street, of course, and a platform, usually about 2 ft. high, extends along the whole front. A small door opens to a room back, which, as far as such a thing is possible in the Orient, is private. The goods, particularly the best articles, are displayed in front, somewhat as they are in the windows of our department stores. In the center of the platform is a sejadeh, a rug or mat. Upon this the keeper sits in true oriental fashion--cross-legged. He is never too busy with his accounts to let the passerby escape his keen eye. He will give up his nargileh any time to hail the stranger, display his goods, and coaxingly invite him to look at the special beauty and quality of his articles.
2. The Market-Place:
All the shops or storerooms of the oriental village line the "market," which as a rule, is in the center of the village, or on the chief street. This the Arabs call suk, sookh (compare
Professor Elihu Grant tells of a shop in a Syrian village--"a small room, 6 to 12 ft. square, with a door, but no window, a counter or bench, and shelves and bins along the sides, where sugar, flour, oil, matches, candies, spice, starch, coffee, rice, dried figs, etc., were found, but no wrapping-paper. The buyer must bring his own dish for liquids; other things he carries away in the ample folds of his skirt or in a handkerchief." "Every considerable Turkish town," says Van Lennep, "has a bazaar, bezesten, or `arcade’: a stone structure, open at both ends, a narrow alley or street running through it, covered with an arched roof, the sides pierced with openings or windows. This covered street is lined on both sides with shops, narrow and shallow. Dealers in similar goods and articles flock together here, as do the artisans of like trades in all oriental cities." Such shops can yet be seen in quite characteristic form in Damascus, Bagdad, Cairo and Constantinople, as in ancient days they were found in Babylon, Jerusalem and Noph (see
IV. Buying on Credit.
The shop-keeper does not always get cash from the native buyer. Dr. Post found that debt was well-nigh universal in Syria. The peasant sows "borrowed" seed, in "borrowed" soil, plants and reaps with "borrowed" tools, and lives in a "borrowed" house. Even in case of an abundant harvest the proportion of the crop left by the landlord and the tax-gatherer leaves the man and his family but the barest living at best; at times he can barely pay the debt accumulated in making and gathering in the crop, and sometimes fails in doing this.
Paying Cash (Money):
In the rare cases when the buyer pays cash for his purchases, he makes payment, after a true oriental fashion, in coin of the most various or varying values, or in rings of copper, silver or gold, such as are now common in the market-places of China. This throws light upon some Scriptural passages, as, for example,
V. Open-Air Markets and Fairs.
In inland towns and cities, markets and market-places are often found in the open air, as well as under cover. Great fairs are held thus on certain days of the week. Several towns will agree upon different days as market days and will offer in turn whatever they have for sale: lambs, sheep, cattle, horses, mules, chickens, eggs, butter, cheese, vegetables, fruits, and even jewelry and garments. In such a case it is as if the whole town for the day was turned into a market or exhibition, where everything is for sale. On such days peasants and townspeople come together in much larger numbers than is ordinary, and mingle freely together. The day thus chosen now, as in olden times, is often a holy day--Friday, which is the Moslem Sabbath, or the Christian Sunday, where Christians abound. Such instances form a side-light on such passages as
George B. Eager