Going to Market #1

Monday, May 10, 2021

“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 KJV).

Let us look at verses to glimpse into the A.D. first century market!

We have a word adopted from Greek, “agoraphobia,” to describe the fear of places not easily escapable. Sufferers are anxious around crowds and/or other imposing situations or places in which bad things may happen. In the King James Bible, the word “agora” is often rendered “market” (today’s Scripture is the first reference) and would simply be a “town square” or large expanse bustling with activity.

As today’s Scripture suggests, the marketplace was where kids gathered to play with their friends: “They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace [agora], and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept” (Luke 7:32). Proprietors frequented the market to recruit hired help, the town square functioning as a crude employment office: “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard…. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace [agora],…” (Matthew 20:1,3).

The ancient town square was also where commodities—including food—were sold and purchased. See Mark 7:4: “And when they come from the market [agora], except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.” To say the least, the market of old times was so filthy it was the last place you wanted to buy food! In 1 Corinthians 10:25, the butcher’s stall is correctly termed “the shambles!”

Unfortunately, the primeval market was also a threatening place spiritually, and rightly to be feared in this respect. There are verses in the Bible to suggest agoraphobia was justified. Various spiritual hazards lingered and lurked in these town squares, and ill-fated souls suffered terrible destinies thereby….