The Hebrew word so rendered is from a root meaning "to travel about," "to migrate," and hence "a traveller." In the East, in ancient times, merchants travelled about with their merchandise from place to place (Genesis 37:25; Job 6:18), and carried on their trade mainly by bartering (Genesis 37:28; 39:1). After the Hebrews became settled in Palestine they began to engage in commercial pursuits, which gradually expanded (49:13; Deuteronomy 33:18; Judges 5:17), till in the time of Solomon they are found in the chief marts of the world (1 Kings 9:26; 10:11,26,28; 22:48; 2Chr. 1:16; 9:10,21). After Solomon's time their trade with foreign nations began to decline. After the Exile it again expanded into wider foreign relations, because now the Jews were scattered in many lands.
These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.
Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for 'Merchant'". "Easton's Bible Dictionary".