MERCHANDISE, in the OT four Heb. words are so tr. in the vs(s). 1. Heb. סוֹחֵ֑ר, is the most common; it is philologically cognate to Akkad. saḥāru(m). They are not, however, semantically equal. The basic meaning of the Heb. seems to be “peddler,” “merchant,” and thus his merchandise (Isa 23:18, et al.). However, the same root must be tr. “trade” or “barter” in many passages (Gen 34:10, et al.).

2. Heb. עָמַר, H6683, commonly meaning to “bind” and in a very restrictive sense in the Hithpa’el (III) stem it apparently means “bind as a slave,” “treat harshly” (Deut 21:14; 24:7), KJV reads, “make merchandise of,” RSV “treat as a slave,” JPS “deal with as a slave.”

3. Heb. רְכֻלָּה, H8219, which appears only in Ezekiel 28:5, 16, 18 and as objective in 26:12, means “traffic,” “goods.”

4. Heb. מַעֲרָב, H5115, prob. “the west,” “location of the sunset,” it occurs only in Ezekiel 27:3, 32), in a context dealing with the fall of Tyre, the term must have been derived from “western goods” in the sense of “imports” and thus “merchandise.” In the NT two Gr. words are so tr., ἐμπορία, G1865, the classical term for a market place, Eng. “emporium” (Matt 22:5; John 2:16). It was a loan word in late Heb. also.

Gr. γόμος, G1203, “load,” “cargo” appears in LXX and Acts 21:3; KJV reads “burden” (RSV Rev 18:11 and 12).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


(1) `amar

(2) cachar,

(3) cachar,

(4) cechorach,

(5) rekhullah,

(6) ma`arabh,

(7) markoleth;

(8) emporia

(9) emporion,

(10) gomos)

There seem to be 4 distinct meanings of the word according to the Revised Version (British and American), namely: (1) The products, i.e. goods or things sold or exchanged, and so merchandise in the present-day usage:

(a) cachar is translated thus in Pr 31:18; Isa 23:18;

(b) cachar is translated thus in Isa 45:14; these two are from a root meaning "to travel around as a peddler";

(c) rekhullah, translated thus in Eze 26:12, from a root meaning "to travel for trading purposes";

(d) ma`arabh, translated thus in Eze 27:9,27,33,34, from a root meaning "to intermix, to barter";

(e) markoleth, translated thus in Eze 27:24 (the above 5 Hebrew words are all used to designate the goods or wares which were bartered);

(f) `amar, occurring in De 21:14; 24:7, translated in the King James Version "make merchandise of," but in the Revised Version (British and American) "deal with as a slave," or the Revised Version margin "deal with as a chattel";

(g) emporia, translated "merchandise" in Mt 22:5;

(h) emporion, likewise in Joh 2:16 (the same Greek word is used in 2Pe 2:3 for the American Standard Revised Version "make merchandise of you");

(i) gomos, "merchandise," margin "cargo."

(2) The process of trade itself, i.e. the business: rekhullah has in it the root meaning of "itinerant trading", and so in Eze 28:16 the correct translation is not "merchandise," as in the King James Version, but "traffic," "abundance of thy traffic," i.e. doing a thriving business: "trade was good."

(3) The place of trading, i.e. emporium, mart, etc.: cechorah in Eze 27:15 is translated "mart." In Joh 2:16 reference is made to the "house of merchandise."

(4) The profits of trading: In Pr 3:14, cachar is translated "gaining." Referring to wisdom, "For the gaining of it is better than the gaining of silver, and the profit thereof than fine gold"; the King James Version "merchandise."