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Morrish Bible Dictionary
There are but few things mentioned in scripture that throw light upon the construction of the houses in the East. Of modern eastern houses it may be said the backs of the houses are in the street. There is a door, with perhaps a lattice over it, and one or two lattices high up, with all the rest a blank wall. A house may be watched all day, and not a soul be seen, unless some one comes to the door, though all going on in the street may be seen from the lattices. The door opens into a porch or passage, which leads into an open court, but so arranged that no one can see into the court when the door is opened. The court is large, sometimes open to the sky, in which visitors are received and business transacted: some have two courts, or even three. Often there is a fountain and trees in the court. Around the court are entrances to more private rooms, where meals are served and to chambers where the inmates repose. The 'parlour' where Samuel entertained Saul would be one of such rooms.
Stairs in the corner of the court lead to upper private rooms; and often there are stairs outside the house that lead to the roof. These enabled the sick man to be carried to the roof in Mark 2:4 , when entrance could not be obtained by the door. The roof is often made of sticks, thorn bushes, mortar and earth; which often have to be rolled to consolidate the structure after rain. A hole could easily be broken through such a roof to let down the paralytic. Other roofs were more substantial, with a parapet round them for safety. On such roofs persons retired for private conversation and for prayer, 1 Samuel 9:25; Acts 10:9; and in the evening for coolness. 2 Samuel 11:2 .
The Lord speaks of the disciples publishing on the housetop what He had told them privately. Matthew 10:27; Luke 12:3 . This mode of proclamation may often be seen in the East when the public crier calls out from the housetop the information he has to make known.
Houses were mostly built of stone, that being plentiful and wood comparatively scarce. In Bashan there are still numbers of ancient houses, solidly built of stone, some with the ancient stone doors still on their hinges, or rather pivots, many of the houses having no inhabitant. Temporary houses and those for the poor were often built of mud, which could easily be dug through by a thief, and which left to themselves soon became a heap of rubbish. Job 4:19; Job 15:28; Job 24:16; Matthew 24:43 . Cattle were often kept in some part of the house, as they are to this day, for safety. 1 Samuel 28:24 .
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Morrish, George. Entry for 'House'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/mbd/h/house.html. 1897.