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    In early times the Egyptians seem to have been the leading nation in trade, carrying on business with distant cities in Syria and elsewhere (Gen. 37:25; 41:57). Until the time of Solomon, the Israelites had little trade with foreign nations, such trade being discouraged by the Mosaic law (Deut. 17:16–17). Under Solomon, commerce grew rapidly (1 Kgs. 10:22, 28–29; 2 Chr. 1:16–17; 8:18; 9:13–14, 21). The Phoenicians were at this time the chief trading race, their ports being Tyre, Sidon, and Gebal, whence ships sailed to the most distant parts of the known world. Israelite foreign trade afterwards declined, and Jehoshaphat tried to revive it (1 Kgs. 22:48–49). It would be much interrupted by frequent wars, but the language of the prophets makes it clear that a good deal of wealth had found its way into the country, and Jerusalem, with its port Joppa, is spoken of as a road to Tyre, the great Phoenician trading port.

    The Law laid stress on fair dealing (Lev. 19:35–36; Deut. 25:13–16; Ezek. 27) and on the punishment that would follow the misuse of prosperity (Rev. 18:12–23).