Manners & Customs : Market Places

Ancient Market Place THE MARKET PLACE The market place is not only a place for the purchase of goods, it is also a place for the people to gather for many other purposes. It is one of the most popular places in an Oriental city. (See section on "Merchants" p. 221 ff. especially: The merchant's place of business.) [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Children in Market Places Children in the market place. In the Orient children always love to go to the market place, where so many interesting things are happening. They watch with keen interest everything that happens there. They may play pranks, and of course they have their games. JESUS used a crowd of such youngsters as an illustration in one of his sermons. When the suggestion was made by some of them that they "play wedding," and later that they "play funeral," the rest of them balked at both suggestions. JESUS said: "But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented" (Matthew 11:16,17). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

City Rulers in the Market Place Rulers in the market place. At certain times members of the city council will be found there, and they will listen to the case of those who are in trouble. What is done there is of course unofficial because the real court is at the city gates, or as we would say, the courthouse.11 Paul and Silas were taken before the magistrates in Philippi: "They caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market place unto the rulers" (Acts 16:19). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Friendly Social Gathering Place The market place as a social gathering place. Business transactions are usually preceded by a social visit with the customer. The important people as well as the ordinary people love to come there and meet their friends and greet them in true Oriental fashion, which always takes much time. JESUS said to his disciples: "Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the market places" (Mark 12:38). Discussions of various kinds are entered into at the market. The Apostle Paul took advantage of such an opportunity when he was at Athens. "Therefore disputed he . . . in the market [place] daily with them that met with him" (Acts 17:17). The market place was an ideal location for heralding the gospel. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Place to Find Employment Laborers in the market place. In the Eastern city men who want employment stand in groups in the market place, waiting for someone to hire them. It was here that the man in the parable of JESUS went to secure workmen for his vineyard. "And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market place, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard" (Matthew 20:3, 4). These men do not apply for work as is done in the Occident, rather they wait in the market place for some man to come and hire them. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Porters and Heavy Burdens The heavy-laden porter in the market place. In many Eastern cities, carriages or carts are not allowed to enter the city gates and carry loads to the market place. These loads of produce are carried by porters. These men are, as a role, taken from the poorest of men. What a sight it is to see them laden down with tremendous burdens on their backs! Sometimes two of these porters will stand back to back with their loads locked together and thus rest their tired bodies for a time before proceeding on their way. JESUS condemned the lawyers of his day with words that doubtless refer to their treatment of these porters. "Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers" (Luke 11:46). Perhaps Paul was thinking of porters when he said to the Galatians, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). And JESUS must have had in mind especially the poor porters of his day so laden down with burdens, when he gave that most gracious invitation, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]