The Bible is full of references to trade, from the time of Jacob (Gen. 34: 10) to the merchants and sailors of Babylon (Rev. 18: 15, 17). Palestine was criss-crossed by trade routes—especially north to south, but also west to east: great powers to the south and the NE inevitably used the roads of Palestine in war and peace. Isaiah refers to a route that ran along the coast (Isa. 9: 1); there was a route through the Transjordanian hills of Edom and Moab to Damascus; and a third route to Israel linked Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Beersheba in the south, and proceeded north through Shechem and Bethshan towards the Sea of Galilee. From east to west, there were routes through the passes at Shechem and Beersheba. The routes were not necessarily safe (Luke 10: 29–37) but they had staging-posts and also customs posts where taxes were levied on goods passing through.

With such facilities for transport, and the availability of donkeys and camels, trade flourished (Ezek. 27: 12–25) bringing wealth (Ezek. 28: 5) but also vandalism (Ezek. 28: 16, 18) and financial scandals (Hos. 12: 7), as well as financial rewards (Luke 19: 20–26).