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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(עַזְכוֹנַים; Sept. ἀγορά,Vulg. nun. din, forum), a word which occurs only in Ezekiel 27, and there no less than seven times (Ezekiel 27:12; Ezekiel 27:14; Ezekiel 27:16; Ezekiel 27:19; Ezekiel 27:22; Ezekiel 27:27; Ezekiel 27:33) in the last of these verses it is rendered "wares," and this appears to be the true meaning of the word throughout (so Furst, Hebrews Handwb. s.v.; but Gesenius, Hebrews Lex. s.v., thinks it means traffic in general, and also gains). It will be observed that the word stands in some sort of relation to מִעֲרָב, manab', throughout the whole of the chapter, the latter word also occurring seven times, and translated sometimes "market" (Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 27:17; Ezekiel 27:19), and elsewhere "merchandise" (Ezekiel 27:9; Ezekiel 27:27; Ezekiel 27:33-34). The words are used alternately, and represent the alternations of commercial business in which the merchants of Tyre were engaged. That the first of these words cannot signify "fairs" is evident from Ezekiel 27:12; for the inhabitants of Tarshish did not visit Tyre, but vice versa. Let the reader substitute "paid" or "exchanged for thy wares" for "occupied in thy fairs," and the sense is much improved. The relation which this term bears to maarab, which properly means barter, appears to be pretty much the same as exists between exports and imports. The sense of izzabon (עַזָּבוֹן the presumed sing. form) thus becomes essentially that proposed by Gousset (Commentarii Ling. Hebr. page 594) and adopted by Havernick (Commentar. page 464), namely, exchange, or equivalent. The requirements of the Tyrians themselves, such as slaves (Ezekiel 27:13), wheat (Ezekiel 27:17), steel (Ezekiel 27:19), were a matter of maarab; but where the business consisted in the exchange of Tyrian wares for foreign productions, it is specified in this form: "Tarshish paid for thy wares with silver, iron, tin, and lead" (see Hitzig, Commentar, in loc.). The use of the terms would probably have been more intelligible if the prophet had mentioned what the Tyrians gave in exchange: as it is, he only notices the one side of the bargain, viz. what the Tyrians received, whether they were buyers or sellers. (See COMMERCE). The natural sea-port of Western Asia, and the center of the commerce of the East, was Tyre, or, rather, the ports of Phoenicia, for Tyre was but one of them. Phoenicia early grasped this commerce, and retained it until the rise of Alexander. Sidon first rose to opulence; and then Tyre, her "daughter," better situated for commerce, soon eclipsed her glory, and became the mart of the world. The enumeration of the articles of traffic in Ezekiel 27 shows that a large part of the commerce of Tyre was in articles of luxury, though it was the grand mart for all the trade of the Eastern and Western world. (See TYPRE).

Fairs, however, although not directly referred to by the above Hebrews terms, were doubtless anciently common, as now, in the East. Dr. Thomson (Land and Book, 2:152 sq.) thus describes the scene at these Oriental mercantile gatherings: "On Monday of each week a great fair is held at the khans, when, for a few hours, the scene is very lively and picturesque. These gatherings afford an excellent opportunity to observe Syrian manners, customs, and costumes, and to become acquainted with the character and quality of her productions. Thousands of people assemble from all parts of the country either to sell, trade, or purchase. Cotton is brought in bales from Nablus; barley, and wheat, and sesamum, and Indian corn from the Humleb, the Hauran, and Esdraelon. From Gilead and Bashan, and the surrounding districts, come horses and donkeys, cattle and flocks, with cheese, milk, oil, honey, and similar articles. Then there are miscellaneous articles, such as chickens and eggs, figs, raisins, apples, melons, grapes, and all sorts of fruits and vegetables in their season. The peddlers open their packages of tempting fabrics; the jeweller is there with his trinkets; the tailor with his ready-made garments; the shoemaker with his stock, from rough, hairy sandals to yellow and red Morocco boots; the farrier is there with his tools, nails, and flat iron shoes, and drives a prosperous business for a few hours; and so does the saddler, with his coarse sacks and his gayly-trimmed cloths. And thus it is with all the arts and occupations known to this people. The noise is incessant, and at a distance sounds like that 'of many waters.' Every man is crying his wares at the top of his voice, chickens cackle and squall, donkeys bray and fight, and the dogs bark. Every living thing adds somewhat to the many-toned and prodigious uproar. It is now a miscellaneous comedy in full operation, where every actor does his best, and is supremely gratified with his own performance. The people find many reasons for sustaining these antiquated and very curious gatherings. Every man, woman, and child has inherited the itch for trading, and, of course, all classes meet at this grand bourse to talk over the state of the markets, from the price of a cucumber to that of cotton, or of a five-thousand dollar horse from the Hauran. Again, every Arab is a politician, and groups gather around the outskirts of the crowd to discuss the doings of the 'sallied powers,' the last firman from the sultan, or the new tax demanded by their own petty emir. Descending to more ordinary matters, these fairs are great places for gossip and scandal. Friends meet friends, and exchange the news of weddings, births, and deaths, and all the multifarious incidents and accidents between those grand extremes of human life. In a word, these fairs supply the places of mancy of the appliances of more civilized society. Theys are the daily newspaper, for there is one for everyday within a circuit of forty miles. They are the exchange and the forwarding office, and the political caucus, and the family gathering, and the grand festa and gala days, and underlying the whole is the ever-present idea and aim of making money." (See BAZAAR).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Fairs'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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