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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Door and Door-Post

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Doors were suspended and moved by means of pivots of wood ("potot") which projected from the ends of the two folds above and below. The pivots were inserted in sockets ("ẓirim," Proverbs 26:14). Doors were fastened by a lock, ( Song of Solomon 5:5; Nehemiah 3:3) or by a bar (, Judges 16:3; Job 38:10), and were opened by a key, called "mafteaḥ" (Judges 3:25), generally of wood. The rich and powerful probably used keys of metal, which may sometimes have been adorned with an ivory handle. Such a key may have been the one assigned to the steward of the royal palace as a mark of his office, and which he carried on his shoulder (Isaiah 22:22).

The expression "door-post" occurs twice in the Old Testament, rendering two different terms; viz., "saf" (Ezekiel 41:16), "sill," or, as translated in Judges 19:27, "threshold," and "mashḳof" (Exodus 12:7), also rendered (Exodus 12:22,23) as "lintel." In Exodus 12:7,22 the Israelites were commanded to sprinkle the blood of the Passover lamb on the lintel and side-posts of their houses; and in Deuteronomy 6:9 Moses enjoined the Israelites to write the divine commands "upon the posts ["mezuzot"] of thy house."

E. G. H.
B. P.

These injunctions prove that among the Hebrews, as among many other peoples, the door-posts were an important feature in the religious and superstitious rites, the purpose of which was to protect the house and its inmates against evil spirits and notably against the evil eye. The Deuteronomic law clearly presupposes the practise, and intends the replacing of obnoxious idolatrous inscriptions by the words here given. In modern Mohammedan countries it is still the custom to write over or on the door quotations from the Koran (Lane, "Modern Egyptians," 5th ed., 1871, 1:7,319, quoted by Driver, "Deuteronomy," p. 93). A similar device to secure "a good abode" is reported of the ancient Egyptians (Wilkinson-Birch, "Ancient Egyptians," 2d ed., 1878, p. 361, in Driver, c.).

The nailing over the door of a horseshoe, or the hanging of a sprig with appropriate inscriptions, has been generally in vogue among the Teutonic races, and survived even after the introduction of Christianity. Of the Sephardic Jews in Palestine and Africa it is reported that they paint on their door in red a hand with five outspread fingers to secure immunity from the evil eye (Luncz, "Jerusalem," p. 19 of Hebrew part, Vienna, 1882). For the rabbinical interpretation of the Deuteronomic law see MEZUZAH.

E. G. H.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Door and Door-Post'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/d/door-and-door-post.html. 1901.

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