Early used in foreign commerce by the Phoenicians (Genesis 49:13). Moses (Deuteronomy 28:68) and Job (9:26) make reference to them, and Balaam speaks of the "ships of Chittim" (Numbers 24:24). Solomon constructed a navy at Ezion-geber by the assistance of Hiram's sailors (1 Kings 9:26-28; 2 Chronicles 8:18). Afterwards, Jehoshaphat sought to provide himself with a navy at the same port, but his ships appear to have been wrecked before they set sail (1 Kings 22:48, 49; 2 Chronicles 20:35-37).
In our Lord's time fishermen's boats on the Sea of Galilee were called "ships." Much may be learned regarding the construction of ancient merchant ships and navigation from the record in Acts 27, 28.