The business arrangments for suppliers to the Temple are mentioned in the mishnah in Shekalim 4 (9)

Once in thirty days, they would set the price paid by the treasury chamber. If one undertook to supply fine flour at four [se'ah per sela], and subsequently, the price rose to three [se'ah per sela], he must supply four [se'ah of flour]. But, if he undertook to supply three, and the price dropped to four, he supplies four, because the Temple has the upper hand. If the fine flour became infested with worms, the loss is his, and if the wine became sour, the loss is his. He does not receive his money until the altar atones.

“They” in the first sentence seems to refer to the Temple officers (see Yachin “אפ"ה כל ל' יום קבעו הגבאים שער למנחות ". So the price was set by the Temple and the supplier could only lose whichever way the market price went and had to take the risk of the produce deteriorating before use.

How did this work practically? Did the Temple officers set a price that gave a fair chance of suppliers making a profit or were suppliers happy to supply even at a loss for the honour of being suppliers to the Temple?

  • Why should the normal market price not include the normal profit that the merchant would receive? – sabbahillel Aug 14 '17 at 1:33
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    @sabbahillel (1) Was normal market price used? It seems that the Gabboim fixed the supply price. (2) Even if normal market price were used, did it cover the extra risks of trading with the Temple? – Avrohom Yitzchok Aug 14 '17 at 9:22

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