What the scriptures say about
BUSINESS, COMMERCE
commercial activity, trade, merchant, profession, task, firm, factory, store, work, making a living
References:
Easton's Bible Dictionary | Smith's Bible Dictionary | International Standard Bible Encyclopedia | Thompson Chain Reference

BUSINESS in scriptures [BibleGateway Search]

select Cross Reference Bible links
Ezekiel 27:12, 16, 18, 21 - (merchants, trade)
Zechariah 8:10 - (wages paid for work on the Temple)
Matthew 22:5 - (merchandise)
John 15:15 - (knowing what the lord does)
Acts 19:24-25 - (trade union)
1 Thessalonians 4:11 - (do your own business; work with your hands)
James 1:11 - (rich man's pursuits)
James 4:13 - (trading for a profit)


MERCHANT [Easton's Bible Dictionary]

The Hebrew word so rendered is from a root meaning "to travel about," "to migrate," and hence "a traveller." In the East, in ancient times, merchants travelled about with their merchandise from place to place (Genesis 37:25; Job 6:18), and carried on their trade mainly by bartering (Genesis 37:28; 39:1). After the Hebrews became settled in Palestine they began to engage in commercial pursuits, which gradually expanded (49:13; Deuteronomy 33:18; Judges 5:17), till in the time of Solomon they are found in the chief marts of the world (1 Kings 9:26; 10:11,26,28; 22:48; 2Chr. 1:16; 9:10,21). After Solomon's time their trade with foreign nations began to decline. After the Exile it again expanded into wider foreign relations, because now the Jews were scattered in many lands.


COMMERCE [Smith's Bible Dictionary]

From the time that men began to live in cities, trade, in some shape, must have been carried on to supply the town-dwellers with necessaries from foreign as well as native sources, for we find that Abraham was rich, not only in cattle, but in silver, gold and gold and silver plate and ornaments. (Genesis 13:2; 24:22,53) Among trading nations mentioned in Scripture, Egypt holds in very early times a prominent position. The internal trade of the Jews, as well as the external, was much promoted by the festivals, which brought large numbers of persons to Jerusalem. (1 Kings 8:63) The places of public market were chiefly the open spaces near the gates, to which goods were brought for sale by those who came from the outside. (Nehemiah 13:15,16; Zephaniah 1:10) The traders in later times were allowed to intrude into the temple, in the outer courts of which victims were publicly sold for the sacrifice. (Zechariah 14:21; Matthew 21:12; John 2:14)


BUSINESS [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

biz'-nes: Is the rendering of four Hebrew words:
(1) mela'khah, in Genesis 39:11 (the American Standard Revised Version "work"); 1 Chronicles 26:29-30; 2 Chronicles 13:10 (the American Standard Revised Version "in their work"); 2 Chronicles 17:13 (the American Standard Revised Version "many works"); Nehemiah 11:16,22; 13:30 (the American Standard Revised Version "in his work"); Esther 3:9; Psalms 107:23; Proverbs 22:29; Daniel 8:27.

(2) dabhar, literally "a word," is so translated in Deuteronomy 24:5; Joshua 2:14,20; Judges 18:7 (the American Standard Revised Version "dealings"); Judges 18:28 (the American Standard Revised Version "dealings"); 1 Samuel 21:2,8.

(3) ma`aseh, "an action" (1 Samuel 20:19).

(4) `inyan, "employment" (Ecclesiastes 5:3; 8:16).

In the New Testament

"business" in Luke 2:49 is the rendering of the phrase en, tois, tou patros mou, literally "in the things of my Father," which the American Standard Revised Version renders "in my Father's house," with "about my Father's business" as the marginal reading.

"Business" is also used in the translation of chreia, literally "need," of Acts 6:3;

as the translation of spoude, literally "haste" of Romans 12:11 (the American Standard Revised Version "diligence");

of pragma, literally "thing done," of Romans 16:2 (the American Standard Revised Version "matter");

of prassein ta idia, literally "tend to one's own business," of 1 Thessalonians 4:11.

In Acts 19:24-25 in Paul's account of the riot in Ephesus, ergasia, literally "working," "performing," is translated "little business" in Acts 19:24 (the King James Version "small gain"), and "by this business" in Acts 19:25 (the King James Version "by this craft").

Arthur J. Kinsella



COMMERCE [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

kom'-ers (emporia):

I. Old Testament Times.

1. Early Overland Commerce:
There were forces in early Hebrew life not favorable to the development of commerce. Intercourse with foreigners was not encouraged by Israel's social and religious customs. From the days of the appearance of the Hebrews in Canaan, however, some commercial contact with the peoples around was inevitable. There were ancient trade routes between the East and the West, as well as between Egypt and the Mesopotamian valley. Palestine lay as a bridge between these objective points. There were doubtless traveling merchants from very remote times, interchanging commodities of other lands for those of Palestine Some of the Hebrew words for "trading" and "merchant" indicate this (compare cachar, "to travel," rakhal, "to go about"). In the nomadic period, the people were necessarily dependent upon overland commerce for at least a part of their food supply, such as grain, and doubtless for articles of clothing, too. Frequent local famines would stimulate such trade. Companies or caravans carrying on this overland commerce are seen in Genesis 37:25,28, "Ishmaelites" and "Midianites, merchantmen," on their way to Egypt, with spices, balm and myrrh. Jacob caused his sons to take certain products to Egypt as a present with money to Joseph in return for grain:
balsam, spices, honey, myrrh, nuts, almonds (Genesis 43:11).
The presence of a "Bab mantle" among the spoils of Ai (Joshua 7:21) indicates commerce between Canaan and the East.
2. Sea Traffic:
While there are slight indications of a possible sea trade as early as the days of the Judges (Judges 5:17; compare Genesis 49:13), we must wait till the days of the monarchy of David and especially Solomon for the commerce of ships. Land traffic was of course continued and expanded (1 Kings 10:15,28,29; 2 Chronicles 1:16). Sea trade at this time made large strides forward. The Philistines were earlier in possession of the coast. Friendship with Hiram king of Tyre gave Solomon additional advantages seaward (1 Kings 5; 9:26; 10:19-29; 2 Chronicles 8:17; 9:14), since the Phonicians were pre-eminently the Miditerranean traders among all the people of Palestine Later, commerce declined, but Jehoshaphat attempted to revive it (1 Kings 22:48; 2 Chronicles 20:36), but without success. Tyre and Sidon as great commercial centers, however, long impressed the life of Israel (Isaiah 23; Ezekiel 26-27). Later, in the Maccabean period, Simon acquired Joppa as a Jewish port (1 Macc 14:5), and so extended Mediterranean commerce.
3. Land Traffic in the Time of the Kings:
During the peaceful reign of Solomon, there came, with internal improvements and foreign friendships, a stimulus to traffic with Egypt and the Far East over the ancient trade routes as well as with Phoenicia on the northwest. He greatly added to his wealth through tariffs levied upon merchantmen (1 Kings 10:15). Trade with Syria in the days of Omri and Ahab is indicated by the permission Benhadad gave to Israelites to open streets, or trading quarters, in Damascus, as Syrians had in Samaria (1 Kings 20:34). The prophets disclose repeatedly the results of foreign commerce upon the people in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, and of Jeroboam II, under whom great material prosperity was attained, followed by simple luxury (Isaiah 2:6,7,16; Hosea 12:1,7,8; Amos 6:3-6). The people in their greed of gain could not observe Sabbaths and feast days (Amos 8:5); compare Sabbath trading and its punishment in the days of the restoration (Nehemiah 13:15-22). "Canaanite" became the nickname for traffickers (Zechariah 14:21; compare Isaiah 23:8).
II. New Testament Times.
After the conquests of Alexander 333 BC, trade between East and West was greatly stimulated. Colonies of Jews for trade purposes had been established in Egypt and elsewhere. The dispersion of the Jews throughout the Greek and Roman world added to their interest in commerce. The Mediterranean Sea, as a great Roman lake, under Roman protection, became alive with commercial fleets. The Sea of Galilee with its enormous fish industry became the center of a large trading interest to all parts. The toll collected in Galilee must have been considerable. Matthew was called from his collectorship to discipleship (Matthew 9:9); Zaccheus and other publicans became rich collecting taxes from large commercial interests like that of balsam. Jesus frequently used the commerce of the day as illustration (Matthew 13:45; 25:14-30). Along the Palestinian coast there were several ports where ships touched:
Lydda, Joppa, Caesarea; and further north Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon and Antioch (port Seleucia).
The apostle Paul made use of ships touching at points on the coast of Asia Minor, and the islands along the coast, and also doing coast trade with Greece, Italy and Spain, to carry on his missionary emterprises (Acts 13:4-13; 16:11; 18:18; 20:13-16; 21:1-8; 27:1-44; 28:1-14). The rapidity with which the gospel spread throughout the Roman world in the 1st century was due no little to the use of the great Roman highways, built partly as trade routes; as well as to the constant going to and fro of tradesmen of all sorts; some of whom like Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2,18,26), Lydia, (Acts 16:14,40) and Paul himself (who was a traveling tent-maker) were active in disseminating the new faith among the Gentiles. In James 4:13 we have a good representation of the life of a large number of Jews of this period, who would "go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain" (the King James Version).

See also TRADE.

Edward Bagby Pollard

BUSINESS LIFE [Thompson Chain Reference]
 
    * MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS relating to
          o Merchandise
                + Nehemiah 10:31
                + Nehemiah 13:16
                + Ezekiel 27:16
                + John 2:16
                + Revelation 18:12
          o Goods
                + Genesis 14:16
                + Genesis 31:18
                + Numbers 31:9
                + Ezra 1:6
                + Nehemiah 9:25
                + Luke 12:13
                + Luke 15:12
          o Barter
                + Genesis 47:17
                + 1 Kings 5:10
                + Hosea 3:2
          o Trading
                + Genesis 34:10
                + Genesis 42:34
                + 1 Kings 10:15
                + Proverbs 20:14
                + Ezekiel 17:4
                + Ezekiel 27:12
                + Luke 19:15
          o Merchants
                + Genesis 37:25
                + 1 Kings 10:15
                + Nehemiah 13:20
                + Isaiah 23:8
                + Revelation 18:11
                + Various Avocations, Trades, &c
                + SEE Arts and Crafts
    * BUSINESS CARES result in
          o Neglect of Duty
                + 1 Kings 20:39
                + 1 Kings 20:40
          o A Restless Life
                + Psalms 39:6
          o Disappointment
                + Ecclesiastes 2:20
          o Sleeplessness
                + Ecclesiastes 5:12
          o Presumption
                + Luke 12:16-18
                + Luke 12:20
    * BUSINESS ENGAGEMENTS take precedence with worldly men
          o Matthew 22:4
          o Matthew 22:5
          o Luke 14:16-20
    * BUSINESS VIRTUES
          o Diligence
                + Proverbs 10:4
                + Proverbs 13:4
                + Romans 12:8
                + Hebrews 6:11
                + 2 Peter 1:10
                + 2 Peter 3:14
          o Fidelity
                + Of Joseph
                      # Genesis 39:6
                + The Workmen Under Jehoiada
                      # 2 Kings 12:15
                + The Workmen Under Hilkiah
                      # 2 Chronicles 34:11
                      # 2 Chronicles 34:12
                + Nehemiah's Treasurers
                      # Nehemiah 13:13
                + Of Daniel
                      # Daniel 6:4
                + Required of Stewards
                      # 1 Corinthians 4:2
                + Of Moses
                      # Hebrews 3:5
          o Honesty, enjoined
                + Leviticus 19:35
                + Leviticus 19:36
                + Deuteronomy 25:15
                + Proverbs 11:1
                + Romans 12:17
                + Romans 13:8
                + 2 Corinthians 8:21
                + Philippians 4:8
                + SEE Dishonesty
                + SEE Extortion Condemned
                + SEE Fraud
                + SEE Gain, Unjust
          o Giving of Just Weights
                + Leviticus 19:36
                + Deuteronomy 25:13
                + Proverbs 11:1
                + Proverbs 16:11
                + Proverbs 20:10
                + Ezekiel 45:10
                + Micah 6:11
          o Industry
                + (Commended)
                + Genesis 2:15
                + Proverbs 6:6
                + Proverbs 10:5
                + Proverbs 12:11
                + Proverbs 13:11
                + Proverbs 20:13
                + Proverbs 31:13
                + Romans 12:11
                + SEE Redeeming the Time
                + SEE Work, Physical 
          o Industry
                + Examples of
                + Genesis 31:40
                + Ruth 2:17
                + 1 Kings 11:28
                + Nehemiah 4:21
                + Proverbs 31:27
                + Acts 18:3
                + 1 Corinthians 4:12
                + SEE Early Rising 
          o Integrity
                + General References to
                      # Psalms 41:12
                      # Proverbs 11:3
                      # Proverbs 19:1
                      # Proverbs 20:7
                      # SEE Fidelity
                + Examples of
                      # Numbers 16:15
                      # 1 Samuel 12:4
                      # 2 Samuel 18:12
                      # 1 Kings 13:8
                      # 2 Kings 5:16
                      # 2 Kings 12:15
                      # 2 Kings 22:7
                      # Nehemiah 5:15
                      # 2 Corinthians 7:2
                      # SEE Restitution
    * VICES FOUND IN,
          o Breach of Trust
                + Leviticus 6:2
                + Song of Solomon 1:6
                + Ezekiel 16:17
                + Luke 16:12
          o Dishonesty
                + Condemned
                      # Deuteronomy 25:13
                      # Proverbs 11:1
                      # Proverbs 20:10
                      # Proverbs 20:14
                      # Proverbs 21:6
                      # Jeremiah 17:11
                      # Jeremiah 22:13
                      # Hosea 12:7
                      # Micah 6:11
                      # SEE Crookedness
                      # SEE Deceit
                      # SEE Dissimulation
                      # SEE Theft Forbidden
                      # SEE Bribery
                + Examples of
                      # Genesis 21:25
                      # Genesis 26:20
                      # Genesis 31:41
                      # Joshua 7:11
                      # Judges 17:2
                      # Judges 18:17
                      # 1 Kings 21:7
          o Extortion
                + Isaiah 10:2
                + Ezekiel 22:12
                + Amos 5:11
                + Matthew 18:28
                + Matthew 23:25
                + Luke 3:13
                + 1 Corinthians 5:10
                + SEE Oppression
                + SEE Injustice
                + SEE Poor, The
          o Fraud
                + Leviticus 19:13
                + Mark 10:19
                + 1 Corinthians 6:8
                + SEE Dishonesty
                + SEE Deceit
          o Unjust Gain
                + Proverbs 16:8
                + Proverbs 21:6
                + Proverbs 22:16
                + Proverbs 28:8
                + Jeremiah 17:11
                + Jeremiah 22:13
                + Ezekiel 22:13
                + James 5:4
                + SEE Greed
                + SEE Poor, The
          o Slothfulness
                + Proverbs 18:9
                + Proverbs 19:15
                + Proverbs 22:13
                + Proverbs 24:30
                + Proverbs 24:31
                + Proverbs 26:13
                + Ecclesiastes 10:18
                + Matthew 25:26
                + Romans 12:11
                + 2 Thessalonians 3:11
                + Hebrews 6:12
                + SEE Indolent Sleep
                + SEE Sluggard, The
                + SEE Poverty
    * THE CREDIT SYSTEM
          o Borrowing
                + Exodus 22:14
                + 2 Kings 4:3
                + 2 Kings 6:5
                + Psalms 37:21
                + Proverbs 22:7
                + Matthew 5:42
          o Lending enjoined
                + Deuteronomy 15:8
                + Psalms 37:26
                + Psalms 112:5
                + Matthew 5:42
                + Luke 6:35
                + SEE Benevolence
                + SEE Kindness
          o Creditors, General References to
                + Deuteronomy 24:6
                + 2 Kings 4:1
                + Job 24:3
          o Debts
                + Not to be repudiated
                      # 2 Kings 4:7
                + Secured by mortgages
                      # Nehemiah 5:3
                + Insolvency acknowledged
                      # Matthew 18:24
                      # Matthew 18:25
                + Fraudulent settlement of
                      # Luke 16:5
                      # Luke 16:6
                + Obligation to pay
                      # Romans 13:8
          o Pledges, (security of debt) laws concerning
                + Exodus 22:26
                + Deuteronomy 24:6
                + Job 22:6
                + Job 24:3
                + Amos 2:8
          o Suretyship, (indorsement), the dangers of
                + Proverbs 6:1
                + Proverbs 6:2
                + Proverbs 11:5
                + Proverbs 17:18
                + Proverbs 20:16
                + Proverbs 22:26
                + Proverbs 27:13
          o Usury, forbidden
                + Exodus 22:25
                + Leviticus 25:36
                + Nehemiah 5:7
                + Psalms 15:5
                + Proverbs 28:8
                + Ezekiel 18:8
                + SEE Extortion Condemned
                + SEE Oppression
    * CONTRACTS
          o Binding force of
                + Galatians 3:15
          o Examples of
                + Genesis 21:27
                + Genesis 23:20
                + Ruth 4:7
                + Ruth 4:8
                + 1 Kings 5:8-11
                + SEE Covenant
    * REAL ESTATE
          o Land Leased
                + Matthew 21:33-41
                + Mark 12:1-9
          o Land Purchased
                + Genesis 33:19
                + Proverbs 31:16
                + Jeremiah 32:9
                + Matthew 27:7
                + Luke 14:18
                + Acts 1:18
          o Record and Witnesses
                + Jeremiah 32:11
                + Jeremiah 32:12
          o Land Sold
                + Genesis 23:15
                + Genesis 47:20
                + Ruth 4:3
                + 2 Samuel 24:24
          o Laws of Inheritance
                + Numbers 27:8
                + Numbers 33:54
                + Numbers 36:7
                + Deuteronomy 21:16
                + Ezekiel 46:16
                + SEE Heirs
          o Land Reverts to Original Owner in the Year of Jubilee
                + Leviticus 25:23
                + Leviticus 25:33
          o Landmarks, sacredness of
                + Deuteronomy 19:14
                + Deuteronomy 27:17
                + SEE Landmarks
    * CAPITAL AND LABOUR
          o EMPLOYERS (Masters)
                + Duties of
                      # Prompt Payment of Wages
                            * Leviticus 19:13
                            * Deuteronomy 24:15
                      # Consideration for Employees
                            * Job 31:13
                            * Job 31:14
                      # Refraining from Threats
                            * Ephesians 6:9
                      # Just Dealing
                            * Colossians 4:1
                + Sins of, Respecting Payment of Wages
                      # Delaying Payment
                            * Leviticus 19:13
                            * Deuteronomy 24:15
                      # Exacting Service with Wages
                            * Jeremiah 22:13
                      # Failing to Pay a Living Wage
                            * Malachi 3:5
                            * Luke 3:14
                      # Fraudulent Withholding of Wages
                            * James 5:4
                      # SEE Hireling
                + Examples of Good
                      # Genesis 18:19
                      # Genesis 35:2
                      # Joshua 24:15
                      # 2 Samuel 6:20
                      # Luke 7:2
                      # Acts 10:2
                + Examples of Bad
                      # Genesis 16:6
                      # Genesis 31:7
                      # Genesis 39:20
                      # Exodus 1:13
                      # 1 Samuel 30:13
                      # SEE Injustice
                      # SEE Oppression
                + Overseers
                      # Genesis 39:4
                      # 1 Chronicles 9:29
                      # 2 Chronicles 2:18
                      # 2 Chronicles 34:17
          o EMPLOYEES (servants)
                + Faithful
                      # Exodus 21:5
                      # Psalms 123:2
                      # Proverbs 17:2
                      # Proverbs 25:13
                      # Proverbs 27:18
                      # Matthew 24:45
                      # SEE Fidelity
                + Duties of
                      # Obedience
                            * Ephesians 6:5
                      # Faithfulness
                            * Colossians 3:22
                      # Respect for Masters
                            * 1 Timothy 6:1
                      # Desire to Please
                            * Titus 2:9
                      # Patience in Hard Places
                            * 1 Peter 2:18
          o LABOUR
                + Physical Enjoined
                      # Genesis 2:15
                      # Genesis 3:19
                      # Leviticus 23:3
                      # Proverbs 13:11
                      # Proverbs 14:23
                      # Ecclesiastes 9:10
                      # Ephesians 4:28
                      # 1 Thessalonians 4:11
                      # 2 Thessalonians 3:12
                      # SEE Diligence
                      # SEE Industry
                + Worldly, sometimes disappointing
                      # Ecclesiastes 1:3
                      # Ecclesiastes 1:14
                      # Ecclesiastes 2:11
                      # Ecclesiastes 4:8
                      # Ecclesiastes 5:16
                      # Isaiah 55:2
                      # Habakkuk 2:13
                      # John 6:27
                      # SEE Unsatisfied
          o LABOUR TROUBLES, general references to
                + Matthew 20:11
                + Matthew 20:12
                + Matthew 21:33-35
                + Mark 12:1-9
          o LABOUR UNIONS
                + Acts 19:25-28

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