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Upper Room

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

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The principal rooms anciently in Judea were those above, as they are to this day at Aleppo; the ground floor being chiefly made use of for their horses and servants. "The house in which I am at present living," says Jowett, "gives what seems to be a correct idea of the scene of Eutychus' falling from the upper loft while St. Paul was preaching, Acts 20:6-12 . According to our idea of houses, the scene is very far from intelligible; and, beside this, the circumstance of preaching generally leaves on the mind of cursory readers the notion of a church. To describe this house, which is not many miles distant from the Troad, and perhaps, from the unchanging character of oriental customs, nearly resembles the houses then built, will fully illustrate the narrative. On entering my host's door, we find the first floor entirely used as a store: it is filled with large barrels of oil, the produce of the rich country for many miles round: this space, so far from being habitable is sometimes so dirty with the dripping of the oil, that it is difficult to pick out a clean footing from the door to the first step of the staircase. On ascending, we find the first floor, consisting of an humble suit of rooms, not very high; these are occupied by the family for their daily use. It is on the next story that all their expense is lavished: here my courteous host has appointed my lodging: beautiful curtains and mats, and cushions to the divan, display the respect with which they mean to receive their guest. Here, likewise, their splendour, being at the top of the house, is enjoyed by the poor Greeks with more retirement, and less chance of molestation from the intrusion of Turks: here, when the professors of the college waited upon me to pay their respects, they were received in ceremony, and sat at the window. The room is both higher and also larger than those below; it has two projecting windows; and the whole floor is so much extended in front beyond the lower part of the building, that the projecting windows considerably overhang the street. In such an upper room, secluded, spacious, and commodious, St. Paul was invited to preach his parting discourse. The divan, or raised seat, with mats or cushions, encircles the interior of each projecting window; and I have remarked that when the company is numerous, they sometimes place large cushions behind the company seated on the divan; so that a second tier of company, with their feet upon the seat of the divan, are sitting behind, higher than the front row. Eutychus, thus sitting, would be on a level with the open window; and, being overcome with sleep, he would easily fall out from the third loft of the house into the street, and be almost certain, from such a height, to lose his life. Thither St. Paul went down, and comforted the alarmed company by bringing up Eutychus alive. It is noted that ‘there were many lights in the upper chamber.' The very great plenty of oil in this neighbourhood would enable them to afford many lamps; the heat of these and so much company would cause the drowsiness of Eutychus, at that late hour, and be the occasion, likewise, of the windows being open."

Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Upper Room'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary.​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​u/upper-room.html. 1831-2.