House (בִּיַת, ba'yith, which is used with much latitude, and in the "construct" form בֵּית, beyth, Anglicized "Beth," [q.v.] enters into the composition of many proper names; Gr. οικος, or some derivative of it), a dwelling in general, whether literally, as house, tent, palace, citadel, tomb, derivatively as tabernacle, temple, heaven, or metaphorically as family. SEE PALACE.
I. History and Sources of Comparison. — Although, in Oriental language, every tent (see Gesen. Thes. p. 32) may be regarded as a house (Harmer, Obs. 1, 194), yet the distinction between the permanent dwelling-house and the tent must have taken rise from the moment of the division of mankind into dwellers in tents and builders of cities, i.e. of permanent habitations (Ge 4:17,20; Isa 38:2). The agricultural and pastoral forms of life are described in Scripture as of equally ancient origin. Cain was a husbandman, and Abel a keeper of sheep. The former is a settled, the latter an unsettled mode of life. Hence we find that Cain, when the murder of his brother constrained him to wander abroad, built a town in the land where he settled. At the same time, doubtless, those who followed the same mode of life as Abel, dwelt in tents, capable of being taken from one place to another, when the want of fresh pastures constrained those removals which are so frequent among people of pastoral habits. We are not required to suppose that Cain's town was more than a collection of huts. SEE CITY. Our information respecting the abodes of men in the ages before the Deluge is however, too scanty to afford much ground for notice. The enterprise at Babel, to say nothing of Egypt, shows that the constructive arts had made considerable progress during that obscure but interesting period; for we are bound in reason to conclude that the arts possessed by man in the ages immediately following the Deluge existed before that great catastrophe. SEE ANTEDILUVIANS.
The observations offered under ARCHITECTURE will preclude the expectation of finding among this Eastern people that accomplished style of building which Vitruvius requires, or that refined taste by which the Greeks and Romans excited the admiration of foreign nations. The tents in which the Arabs now dwell are in all probability the same as those in which the Hebrew patriarchs spent their lives. It is not likely that what the Hebrews observed in Egypt, during their long sojourn in that country, had in this respect any direct influence upon their own subsequent practice in Palestine. SEE TENT. Nevertheless, the information which may be derived from the figures of houses and parts of houses in the Egyptian tombs is not to be overlooked or slighted. We have in them the only representations of ancient houses in that part of the world which now exist; and however different may have been the state architecture of Egypt and Palestine, we have every reason to conclude that there was considerable resemblance in the private dwellings of these neighboring countries. The few representations of buildings on the Assyrian monuments may likewise be of some assistance in completing our ideas of Hebrew dwellings. The Hebrews did not become dwellers in cities till the sojourn in Egypt and after the conquest of Canaan (Ge 47; Ge 3; Ex 12:7; Heb 11:9), while the Canaanites, as well as the Assyrians, were from an earlier period builders and inhabitants of cities, and it was into the houses and cities built by the former that the Hebrews entered to take possession after the conquest (Ge 10:11,19; Ge 19:1; Ge 23:10; Ge 34:20; Nu 11:27; De 6:10-11). The private dwellings of the Assyrians and Babylonians have altogether perished, but the solid material of the houses of Syria, east of the Jordan, may perhaps have preserved entire specimens of the ancient dwellings, even of the original inhabitants of that region (Porter, Damascus, 2:195, 196; C. C. Graham in "Camb. Essays," 1859, p. 160, etc.; comp. Buckingham Arab Tribes, p. 171,172).
II. Materials and general Character. — There is no reason to suppose that many houses in' Palestine were constructed with wood. A great part of that country was always very poor in timber, and some parts of it had scarcely any wood at all. But of stone there was no want, and it was consequently much used in the building of houses. The law of Moses respecting leprosy in houses (Le 14:33-40) seems to prove this, as the characteristics there enumerated could only occur in the case of stone walls. Still, when the Hebrews intended to build a house in the most splendid style and in accordance with the taste of the age, as much wood as possible was used. Houses in the East were frequently built of burnt or merely dried clay bricks, which were not very durable (Job 4:19; Mt 7:26). Such were very liable to the attacks of burglars (Job 24:16; Mt 6:19; Mt 24:16. See Hackett's Illust. of Script. p. 94). The better class of houses were built of stone, the palaces of squared stone (1Ki 7:9; Isa 9:10), and some were of marble (1Ch 29:2). Lime or gypsum (probably with ashes or chopped straw) was used for mortar (Isa 33:12; Jer 43:9); perhaps also asphaltum (Ge 11:3). A plastering or whitewashing is often mentioned (Le 14:41-42; Eze 13:10; Mt 23:27); a wash of colored lime was chosen for palaces (Jer 22:14). The beams consisted chiefly of the wood of the sycamore from its extreme durability (Isa 9:10); the acacia and the palm were employed for columns and transverse beams, and the cypress for flooring-planks (1Ki 6:15; 2Ch 3:5). The fir, the olive-tree, and cedars were greatly esteemed (1Ki 7:2; Jer 22:14); but the most precious of all was the almug-tree: this wood seems to have been brought through Arabia from India (1Ki 10:11-12). Wood was used in the construction of doors and gates, of the folds and lattices of windows, of the flat roofs, and of the wainscoting with which the walls were ornamented. Beams were inlaid in the walls to which the wainscoting was fastened by nails to render it more secure (Ezr 6:4). Houses finished in this manner were called ceiled houses and ceiled chambers (Jer 22:14; Hag 1:4). The lower part of the walls was adorned with rich hangings of velvet or damask dyed of the liveliest colors, suspended on hooks, and taken down at pleasure (Es 1:6). The upper part of the walls was adorned with figures in stucco, with gold, silver, gems, and ivory; hence the expressions "ivory houses," "ivory palaces," and "chambers ornamented with ivory" (1Ki 22:39; 2Ch 3:6; Ps 45:8; Amos, 3:15). Metals were also employed to some extent, as lead, iron, and copper are mentioned among building materials; but especially gold and silver for various kinds of solid, plated, and inlaid work (Ex 36:34,38). The ceiling, generally of wainscot, was- painted with great art. In the days of Jeremiah these chambers were ceiled with costly and fragrant wood, and painted with the richest colors (Jer 22:14). (See each of these parts and materials in their alphabetical place.) The splendor and magnificence of an edifice seems to have been estimated in a measure by the size of the square stones of which it was constructed (1Ki 7:9-12). In some cases these were of brilliant and variegated hues (1Ch 29:2). The foundation stone, which was probably placed at the corner, and thence called the corner stone, was an object of peculiar regard, and was selected with great care from among the others (Ps 118:22; Isa 28:16; Mt 21:42; Ac 4:11; 1Pe 2:6). The square stones in buildings, as far as we can ascertain from the ruins which yet remain, were held together, not by mortar or cement of any kind, except a very small quantity indeed might have been used, but by cramp ions. Walls in some cases appear to have been covered with a composition of chalk and gypsum (De 27:2; comp. Da 5:5; Ac 23:3. See Chardin's Voyages, ed. Langles, vol. 4). The tiles dried in the sun were at first united by mud placed between them, afterwards by lime mixed with sand to form mortar. The latter was used with burnt tiles (Le 14:41-42; Jer 43; Jer 9). For the external decoration of large buildings marble columns were employed (Song 5:15). The Persians also took great delight in marble. To this not only the ruins of Persepolis testify, but the Book of Esther, where mention is made of white, red, and black marble, and likewise of veined marble. The Scriptural allusions to houses receive no illustration from the recently discovered monuments of the Mesopotamian mounds, as no private houses, either of Assyria or Babylonia, have been preserved; owing doubtless to their having been constructed of perishable mud walls, at most enclosed only with thin slabs of alabaster (Layard's Nineveh, 2, 214). SEE TEMPLE.
The Hebrews at a very ancient date, like the Orientals, had not only summer and winter rooms (Jer 36; Jer 22; see Chardin. 4:119), but palaces (Jg 3:20; 1Ki 7:2-6; Am 3:15). The houses, or palaces so called, made for summer residence, were very spacious. The lower stories were frequently under ground. The front of these buildings faced the north, so as to secure the advantage of the breezes, which in summer blow from that direction. They were supplied with a current of fresh air by means of ventilators, which consisted of perforations made through the upper part of the northern wall, of considerable diameter externally, but diminishing in size as they approached the inside of the wall. SEE DWELLING.
Houses for jewels and armor were built and furnished under the kings (2Ki 20:13). The draught-house (מִחֲרָאוֹת; κοπρών latrinae) was doubtless a public latrine, such as exists in modern Eastern cities (2Ki 10:27; Russell, 1, 34).
Leprosy in the house was probably a nitrous efflorescence on the walls, which was injurious to the salubrity of the house, and whose removal was therefore strictly enjoined by the law (Le 14:34,55; Kitto, Phys. Geogr. of Pal. p. 112).
III. Details of Hebrew Dwellings. — In inferring the plan and arrangement of ancient Jewish or Oriental houses, as alluded to in Scripture, from existing dwellings in Syria, Egypt, and the East in general, allowance must be made for the difference in climate between Egypt, Persia, and Palestine, a cause from which would proceed differences in certain cases of material and construction, as well as of domestic arrangement.
1. The houses of the rural poor in Egypt, as well as in most parts of Syria, Arabia, and Persia, are for the most part mere huts of mud, or sun burnt bricks. In some parts of Palestine and Arabia stone is used, and in certain districts caves in the rock are used as dwellings (Am 5:11; Bartlett, Walks, p. 117). SEE CAVE. The houses are usually of one story only, viz. the ground floor, and sometimes contain only one apartment. Sometimes a small court for the cattle is attached; and in some cases the cattle are housed in the same building, or the people live on a raised platform, and the cattle round them on the ground (1Sa 28:24; Irby and Mangles, p. 70; Jolliffe, Letters, 1, 43; Buckingham, Arab Tribes, p. 170; Burckhardt, Travels, 2, 119). In Lower Egypt the oxen occupy the width of the chamber farthest from the entrance: it is built of brick or mud, about four feet high, and the top is often used as a sleeping place in winter. The windows are small apertures high up in the walls, sometimes grated with wood (Burckhardt, Travels, 1, 241; 2:101, 119, 301, 329; Lane, Mod. Egyptians, 1, 44). The roofs are commonly, but not always, flat, and are usually formed of a plaster of mud and straw laid upon boughs or rafters; and upon the flat roofs, tents or "booths" of boughs or rushes are often raised to be mused as sleeping-places in summer (Irby and Mangles, p. 71; Niebuhr, Descr. p. 49, 53; Layard, Nin. and Bab. p. 112; Nineveh, 1. 176; Burckhardt, Syria, p. 280; Travels, 1, 190; Van Egmont, 2:32; Malan, Magdala and Bethany, p. 15). To this description the houses of ancient Egypt, and also of Assyria, as represented in the monuments, in great measure correspond (Layard Mon. of Nin. p. 2, p. 49,50; Wilkinson, Ancient Eg.1, 13; Martiineau, East. Life, 1, 19, 97). In the towns the houses of the inferior kind do not differ much from the above description, but they are sometimes of more than one story, and the roof terraces are more carefully constructed. In Palestine they are often of stone (Jolliffe, 1, 26). In the inferior kinds of Oriental dwellings, such as are met with in villages and very small towns, there is no central court, but there is generally a shaded platform in front. The village cabins and abodes of the peasantry are, of course, of a still inferior description; and, being the abodes of people who live much in the open air, will not bear comparison with the houses of the same class in Northern Europe, where the cottage is the home of the owner. (See Jahn, Bibl. Archaeol. translated by Prof. Upham, pt. 1, ch. 2.)
2. The difference between the poorest houses and those of the class next above them is greater than between these and the houses of the first rank. The prevailing plan of Eastern houses of this class presents, as was the case in ancient Egypt, a front of wall, whose blank and mean appearance is usually relieved only by the door and a few latticed and projecting windows (Views in Syria, 2, 25). The privacy of Oriental domestic habits would render our plan of throwing the front of the house towards the street most repulsive. The doorway or door bears an inscription from the Koran as the ancient Egyptian houses lad inscriptions over their doors, and as the Israelites were directed to write sentences from the Law over their gates. SEE MEZUZAH. Over the door is usually the kiosk (sometimes projecting like a bay-window), or screened balcony, probably the "summer parlor" in which Ehud smote the king of Moab (Jg 3:20), and the "chamber on the wall," which the Shunammite prepared for the prophet (2Ki 4:10). Besides this, there may be a small latticed window or two high up in the wall, giving light and air to upper chambers, which, except in times of public celebrations, is usually closed (2Ki 9:30; Shaw, Travels, p. 207; Lane, Mod. Eg. 1, 27). The entrance is usually guarded within from sight by a wall or some arrangement of the passages. In the passage is a stone seat for the porter and other servants (Lane, Mod. Eg.1 32; Chardin, Voy. 4, 111). SEE DOOR.
The buildings which form the house front towards an inner square or court. Small houses have one of these courts, but superior houses have two, and first-rate houses three, communicating with each other; for the Orientals dislike ascending stairs or steps. It is only when the building-ground is confined by nature or by fortifications that they build high houses, but, from the loftiness of the rooms, buildings of one story are often as high as houses of three stories among ourselves. If there are three or more courts, all except the outer one are much alike in size and appearance; but the outer one, being devoted to the more public life of the occupant, and to his intercourse with society, is materially different from all the others. If there are more than two, the second is devoted chiefly to the use of the master, who is there attended only by-his eunuchs, children, and females, and sees only such persons as he calls from the third or interior court, in which they reside. In the history of Esther, she incurs danger by going from her interior court to that of the king, to invite him to visit her part of the palace; but she would not, on any account have gone to the outermost court, in which the king held his public audiences. Some of the finest houses in the East are to be found at Damascus, where in some of them are seven such courts. When there are only two courts, the innermost is the harem, in which the women and children live, and which is the true domicile of the master, to which he withdraws when the claims of business, of society, and of friends have been satisfied, and where no man but himself ever enters, or could be induced to enter, even by strong persuasions (Burckhardt, Travels, 1, 188; Van Egmont, 2 246, 253; Shaw, p. 207; Porter, Damascus, 1, 34, 37, 60; Chardin, Voyages, 6, 6; Lane, Modern Eg. 1 179, 207). See below.
Entering at the street door, the above-named passage, usually sloping downwards, conducts to the outer court; the opening from the passage to this, as before observed, is not opposite the gate of entrance, but by a side turn, to preclude any view from the street into the court when the gate is opened. This open court corresponds to the Romali impluvium, and is often paved with marble. Into this the principal apartments look, and are either open to it in front, or are entered from it by doors. An awning is sometimes drawn over the court and the floor strewed with carpets on festive occasions (Shaw, p. 208). Around part, if not the whole, of the court is a veranda, often nine or ten feet deep, over which, when there is more than one floor, runs a second gallery of like depth, with a balustrade (Shaw, p. 208). The stairs to the upper apartments or to the roof are often shaded by vines or creeping-plants, and the courts, especially the inner ones — planted with trees. The court has often a well or tank in it (Ps 128:3; 2Sa 17:18; Russell, Aleppo, 1, 24, 32; Wilkinson, 1, 6, 8; Lane; Mod. Eg. 1, 32; Views in Syria, 1, 56). SEE COURT.
On entering the outer court through this passage we find opposite to us the public room, in which the master receives and gives audience to his friends and clients. This is entirely open in front, and, being richly fitted up, has a splendid appearance when the first view of it is obtained. A refreshing coolness is sometimes given to this apartment by a fountain throwing up a jet of water in front of it. This is' the κατάλυμα, or guest-chamber, of Lu 22:11; not necessarily an ἀνάγαιον, or upper chamber, as in verse 12. A large portion of the other side of the court is occupied with a frontage of lattice-work filled with colored glass, belonging to a room as large as the guest-chamber, and which in winter is used for the same purpose or serves as the apartment of any visitor of distinction, who cannot, of course, be admitted into the interior parts of the house. The other apartments in this outer court are comparatively small, and are used for the accommodation of visitors, retainers, and servants. SEE GUEST- CHAMBER.
In the better class of houses in modern Egypt, the above ground-floor room is generally the apartment for male visitors, called mandarah, having a portion of the floor sunk below the rest, called durka'ah. This is often paved with marble or colored tiles, and has in the center a fountain. The rest of the floor is a raised platform called liwan, with a mattress and cushions at the back on each of the three sides. This seat or sofa is called
diwan. Every person, on entrance, takes off his shoes on the durka'ah before stepping on the liwan (Ex 3:5; Jos 5:15; Lu 7:38). The ceilings over the λι2ωΧδν and durka'ah are often richly paneled and ornamented (Jer 22:14). SEE DIVAN.
Bearing in mind that the reception-room is raised above the level of the court (Chardin, 4:118: Views in Samaria, 1, 56), we may, in explaining the circumstances of the miracle of the paralytic (Mr 2:3; Lu 5:18), suppose,
1. either that our Lord was standing under the veranda, and the people in front in the court. The bearers of the sick man ascended the stairs to the roof of the house, and, taking off a portion of the boarded covering of the veranda, or removing the awning over the impluvium, τὸ μέσον, ill the former case let down the bed through the veranda roof, or in the latter, down by Unay of the roof, διὰ τῶν κεράμων, and deposited it before the Savior (Shaw, p. 212).
2. Another explanation presents itself in considering the room where the company were assembled as the ὑπερῷον, and the roof opened for the bed to be the true roof of the house (Crench, Miracles, p. 199 Lane, Modern Eg. 1, 39). 3.
And one still more simple is found in regarding the house as one of the rude dwellings now to be seen near the Sea of Galilee, a mere room "ten or twelve feet high, and as many or more square," with no opening except the door. The roof, used as a sleeping-place, is reached by a ladder from the outside, and the bearers of the paralytic, unable to approach the door, would thus have ascended the roof, and, having uncovered it (ἐξορύξαντες), let him down into the room where our Lord was (Malan, 1. c.). See below.
Besides the mandarah some houses in Cairo have an apartment called mak'ad, open in front to the court, with two or more arches, and a railing; and a pillar to-support the wall above (Lane, 1, 38). It was in a chamber of this kind, probably one of the largest size to be found in a palace, that our Lord was arraigned before the high-priest at the time when the denial of him by Peter took place. He "turned and looked" on Peter as he stood by the fire in tile court (Lu 22:56,61; Joh 18:24), while he himself was in the "hall of judgment," the mak'ad. Such was the "porch of judgment" built by Solomon (1Ki 7:7), which finds a parallel in the golden alcove of Mohammed Uzbek (Ibn Batuta, Travels, p. 76, ed. Lee). SEE PRAETORIUM. The circumstance of Samson's pulling down the house by means of the pillars, may be explained by the fact of the company being assembled on tiers of balconies above each other, supported by central pillars on the basement; when these were pulled down, the whole of the upper floors would fall also (Jg 16:26; see Shaw, p. 211). SEE PILLAR.
When there is no second floor, but more than one court, the women's apartments (Arabic harem or hamran, secluded or prohibited, with which maybe compared the Hebrew Armon, אִרמוֹן, Stanley, S. and P. App. § 82), are usually in the second court; otherwise they form a separate building within the general enclosure, or are above on the first floor (Views in Syria, 1, 56). The entrance to the harem, as observed above, is crossed by no one but the master of the house and the domestics belonging to the female establishment. Though this remark would not apply in the same degree to Jewish habits, the privacy of the women's apartments may possibly be indicated by the "inner chamber" (חֶדֶר, ταμιεῖον; cubiculum), resorted to as a hiding-place (1Ki 20:30; 1Ki 22:25; see Jg 15:1). Solomon, in his marriage with a foreigner, introduced also foreign usage in this respect, which was carried further in subsequent times (1Ki 7:8; 2Ki 24:15). The harem, of the Persian monarch (בֵּית נָשַׁים; ὅ γυναικών; domus feminarum) is noticed in the book of Esther (2, 3) SEE WOMAN.
Sometimes the diwan is raised sufficiently to allow of cellars underneath for stores of all kinds (ταμιεῖα, Mt 24:26; Russell, 1, 32). This basement is occupied by various offices, stores of corn and fuel, places for the water-jars to stand in, places for grinding corn, baths, kitchens, etc. In Turkish Arabia most of the houses have underground cellars or vaults, to which the inhabitants retreat during the midday heat of summer, and there - enjoy a refreshing coolness. We do not discover any notice of this usage in Scripture. But at Acre the substructions of very ancient houses were some years ago discovered, having such cellars, which were very probably subservient to this use. In the rest of the year, these cellars, or serdaubs, as they are called, are abandoned to the bats, which swarm in them in scarcely credible numbers (Isa 2:20).
The kitchens are always in this inner court, as the cooking is performed by women; and the ladies of the family superintend or actually assist in the process. The kitchen, open in front, is on the same side as the entrance from the outer court; and the top of it forms a terrace, which affords a communication between the first floor of both courts by a private door, seldom used but by the master of the house and attendant eunuchs. There are usually no fireplaces except in the kitchen, the furniture of which consists of a sort of raised platform of brick, with receptacles in it for fire, answering to the "boiling-places" (מבִשּׁלוֹת; μαγειρεῖα; culinae of Ezekiel (Eze 46:23; see Lane, 1, 41; Gesenius, Thes. p. 249). In these different compartments the various dishes of an Eastern feast may be at once prepared at charcoal fires. This place being wholly open in front, the half-tame doves, which have their nests in the trees of the court, often visit it, in the absence of the servants, in search of crumbs, etc. As they sometimes blacken themselves, this perhaps explains the obscure passage in Ps 68:13, "Though ye have lien among the pots [but Gesenius renders "sheepfolds"], ye shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver," etc.
Besides the mandarah, there is sometimes a second room, either on the ground or the upper floor, called ka'ah, fitted with diwans, and at the corners of these rooms portions taken off and enclosed form retiring rooms (Lane, 1, 21; Russell, 1, 31, 33). While speaking of the interior of the house we may observe, that on the diwan, the corner is the place of honor, which is never quitted by the master of the house in receiving strangers (Russell, 1, 27; Malan, Tyre and Sidon, p. 38). When there is an upper story, the ka'ah forms the most important apartment, and thus probably answers to the ὑπερῷον, which was often the "guest-chamber" (Lu 22:12; Ac 1:13; Ac 9:37; Ac 20:8; Burckhardt, Travels, 1, 154). The windows of the upper rooms often project one or two feet, and form a kiosk or latticed chamber, the ceilings of which are elaborately ornamented (Lane, 1, 27; Russell, 1, 102; Burckhardt, Trat. 1, 190). Such may have been the "chamber in the wall" (לֲַיָּה, ὑπερῷον, conaculum, Gesen. p. 1030) made, or rather set apart for Elisha by the Shunammite woman (2Ki 4:10-11). So, also, the "summer parlor" of Eglon (Jg 3:20,23; but see Wilkinson, 1, 11), the "loft" of the widow of Zarephath (1Ki 17:19). The "lattice" (שׂבָכָה, δικτυωτός, cancelli) through which Ahaziah fell perhaps belonged to an upper chamber of this kind (2Ki 1; 2Ki 2), as also the "third loft" (τρίστεγον) from which Eutychus fell (Ac 20:9; compare Jer 22:13). SEE UPPER ROOM. The inner court is entered by a passage and door similar to those on the street, and usually situated at one of the innermost corners of the outer court. The inner court is generally much larger than the former. It is for the most part paved, excepting a portion in the middle, which is planted with trees (usually two) and shrubs, with a basin of water in the midst. That the Jews had the like arrangement of trees in the courts of their houses, and that the birds nested in them, appears from Ps 84:2-3. They had also the basin of water in the inner court or harem, and among them it was used for bathing as is shown by David's discovering Bathsheba bathing as he walked on the roof of his palace. The arrangement of the inner court is very similar to that of the outer, but the whole is more open and airy. The buildings usually occupy two sides of the square, of which the one opposite the entrance contains the principal apartments. They are upon what we should call the first floor, and open into a wide gallery or veranda which in good houses is nine or ten feet deep, and covered by a wooden penthouse supported by a row. of wooden columns. This terrace or gallery is furnished with a strong wooden balustrade, and is usually paved with squared stones, or else floored with boards. In the center of the principal front is the usual open drawing room, on which the best art of the Eastern decorator is expended. Much of one of the sides of the court front- is usually occupied by the large sitting room, with the latticed front covered with colored glass, similar to that in the outer court. The other rooms, of smaller size, are the more private apartments of the mansion.
No ancient houses had chimneys. The word so translated in Ho 13:3, means a hole through which the smoke escaped; and this existed only in the lower class of dwellings, where raw wood was employed for fuel or cooking, and where there was an opening immediately over the hearth to let out the smoke. In the better sort of houses the rooms were warmed in winter by charcoal in braziers (Jer 36; Jer 22; Mr 14:54; Joh 18:18), as is still the practice (Russell, 1; 21; Lane, 1, 41; Chardin, 4:120), or a fire of wood might be kindled in the open court of the house (Lu 22:55). SEE FIRE.
There are usually (no doors to the sitting or drawing rooms of Eastern houses: they are closed by curtains, at least in summer, the opening and shutting of doors being odious to most Orientals. The same seems to have been the case among the Hebrews, as far as we may judge from the curtains which served instead of doors to the tabernacle, and which separated the inner and outer chambers of the Temple. The outer doors are closed with a wooden lock (Lane, 1, 42; Chardin, 4:123; Russell, 1, 21). SEE LOCK; SEE CURTAIN.
The windows had no glass; they were only latticed, and thus gave free passage to the air and admitted light, while birds and bats were excluded. In winter the cold air was kept out by veils over the windows, or by shutters with holes in them sufficient to admit light (1Ki 7:17; Song 2:9). The apertures of the windows in Egyptian and Eastern houses generally are small, in order to exclude heat (Wilkinson, Anc e.g. 2, 124). They are closed with folding valves, secured with a bolt or bar. The windows often project considerably beyond the lower part of the building, so as to overhang the street. The windows of the courts within also project (Jowett, Christian Res. p. 66, 67). The lattice is generally kept closed, but can be opened at pleasure, and is opened on great public occasions (Lane, Mod. Egypt. 1, 27). Those within can look through the lattices, without opening them or being seen themselves; and in some rooms, especially the large upper room, there are several: windows. From the allusions in Scripture we gather, that while there was usually but one window in each room, in which invariably there was a lattice (Jg 5:28, where "a window" is in Heb. "the window;" Jos 2:15; 2Sa 6:16, in Hebrews the window;" 2Ki 9:30, do.; Ac 20:9, do.), there were sometimes several windows (2Ki 13:17). The room here spoken of was probably such an upper room as Robinson describes above with many windows (Res. 3, 417). Daniel's room had several windows, and his lattices were opened when his enemies found him in prayer (Da 6:10). The projecting nature of the window, and the fact that a divan, or raised seat, encircles the interior of each, so that usually persons sitting in the window are seated close to the aperture, easily explains how Ahaziah may have fallen through the lattice of his upper chamber, and Eutychus from his window-seat, especially if the lattices were open at the time (2Ki 1; 2Ki 2; Ac 20:9). SEE WINDOW.
There are usually no special bedrooms in Eastern houses, and thus the room in which Ishbosheth was murdered was probably an ordinary room with a diwan, on which he was sleeping during the heat of the day (2 Samuel 4:5, 6; Lane, 1, 41). SEE BEDCHAMBER.
The stairs to the upper apartments are in Syria usually in a corner of the court (Robinson, 3:302). When there is no upper story the lower rooms are usually loftier. In Persia they are open from top to bottom, and only divided from the court by a low partition (Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 1, 10; Chardin, 4:119; Burckhardt, Travels, 1, 18, 19; Views in Syria, 1, 6). This flight of stone steps conducts to the gallery, from which a plainer stair leads to the housetop. If the house be large, there are two or three sets of steps to the different sides of the quadrangle, but seldom more than one flight from the terrace to the house-top of any one court. There is, however, a separate stair from the outer court to the roof, and it is usually near the entrance. This will bring to mind the case of the paralytic, noticed above, whose friends, finding they could not get access to Jesus through the people who crowded the court of the house in which he was preaching, took him up to the roof, and let him down in his bed through the tiling to the place where Jesus stood (Lu 5:17-26). If the house in which our Lord then was had more than one court, he and the auditors were certainly in the outer one; and it is reasonable to conclude that he stood in the veranda addressing the crowd below. The men bearing the paralytic, therefore, perhaps went up the steps near the door; and finding they could not even then get near the person of Jesus, the gallery being also crowded, continued their course to the roof of the house, and, removing the boards over the covering of the gallery, at the place where Jesus stood, lowered the sick man to his feet. But if they could not get access to the steps near the door, as is likely, from the door being much crowded, their alternative was to take him to the roof of the next house, and there hoist him over the parapet to the roof of the house which they desired to enter. (See Strong's Harm. and Expos. of the Gospels, p. 64.) SEE STAIRS.
The roof of the house is, of course, flat. It is formed by layers of branches, twigs, matting, and earth, laid over the rafters, and trodden down; after which it is covered with a compost that acquires considerable hardness when dry. Such roofs would not, however, endure the heavy and continuous rains of our climate; and in those parts of Asia where the climate is more than usually moist, a stone roller is usually kept on every root, and after a shower a great part of the population is engaged in drawing these rollers over the roofs. It is now very common, in countries where timber is scarce, to have domed roofs; but in that case the flat roof, which is indispensable to Eastern habits, is obtained by filling up the hollow intervals between the several domes, so as to form a flat surface at the top. These flat roofs are often alluded to in Scripture, and the allusions show that they were made to serve the same uses as at present. In fine weather the inhabitants resorted much to them to breathe the fresh air, to enjoy a fine prospect, or to witness any event that occurred in the neighborhood (2Sa 11:2; Isa 22:1; Mt 24:17; Mr 13:15). The dry air of the summer atmosphere enabled them, without injury to health, to enjoy the bracing coolness of the night-air by sleeping on the housetops; and in order to have the benefit of the air and prospect in the daytime, without inconvenience from the sun, sheds, booths, and tents were sometimes erected on the housetops (2Sa 16:22). SEE HOUSETOP.
The roofs of the houses are well protected by walls and parapets. Towards the street and neighboring houses is a high wall, and towards the interior courtyard usually a parapet or wooden rail.; Battlements" of this kind, for the prevention of accidents, are strictly enjoined in the law (Dent. 22:8); and the form of the battlements of Egyptian houses suggest some interesting analogies, if we consider how recently the Israelites had quitted Egypt when that law was delivered. SEE BATTLEMENT.
In the East, where the climate allows the people to spend so much of their time out of doors, the articles of furniture and the domestic utensils have always been few and simple. SEE BED; SEE LAMP; SEE POTTERY; SEE SEAT; SEE TABLE. The rooms, however, although comparatively vacant of movables, are far from having a naked or unfurnished appearance. This is owing to the high degree of ornament given to the walls and ceilings. The walls are broken up into various recesses, and the ceiling into compartments. The ceiling, if of wood and flat, is of curious and complicated joinery; or, if vaulted, is wrought into numerous coves and enriched with fretwork in stucco; and the walls are adorned with arabesques, mosaics, mirrors, painting, and gold, which, as set off by the marble-like whiteness of the stucco, has a truly brilliant and rich effect.
There is much in this to remind one of such descriptions of splendid interiors as that in Isa 54:11-12.Smith; Kitto; Fairbairn. SEE CEILING.
IV. Metaphori: ally. — The word house has some figurative applications in Scripture. Heaven- is considered as the house of God (Joh 14:2): "In my Father's house are many mansions." Here is an evident allusion to the Temple (q.v.), with its many rooms, which is emphatically styled in the Old Testament "the House of the Lord." The grave is the house appointed for all the living (Job 30:23; Isa 14:18). House is taken for the body (2Co 5:1): "If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved;" if our bodies were taken to pieces by death. The comparison of the body to a house is used by Mr. Harmer to explain the similes, Ecclesiastes 12:and is illustrated by a passage in Plautus (Mostell. 1, 2). The Church of God is his house (1Ti 3:15): "How thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, that is, the Church of the living God." In the same sense, Moses was faithful in all the house of God as a servant, but Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we (Christians). But this sense may include that of household, persons composing the attendants or retainers to a prince, etc. This intimate reference of house or dwelling to the adherents, intimates, or partisans of the householder, is probably the foundation of the simile used by the apostle Peter (1Pe 2:5): "Ye (Christians), as living stones, are built up into a spiritual house." Ge 43:16: "Joseph said to the ruler of his house;" i.e. to the manager of his domestic concerns. Isa 36; Isa 3: "Eliakim, who was over the house, or household;" i.e. his steward. Ge 30:30: "When shall I provide for mine own house also?" i.e. get wealth to provide for my family (see 1 Timoty 5:8). Ge 7:1: "Enter thou and all thy house (family) into the ark." Ex 1:21: "And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses;" i.e. he prospered their families. So also in 1Sa 2:35; 2Sa 7:27; 1Ki 11:38. Thus the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house (Ge 12:17). "What is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?" (2Sa 7:18). So Joseph (Luke 1, 27; 2:4) was of the house of David, but more especially he was of his royal lineage, or family; and, as we conceive, in the direct line or eldest branch of the family, so that he was next of kin to the throne, if the government had still continued in possession of the descendants of David (see also 1 Timothy 5, 8). 2Sa 7:11: "Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee a house;" i.e. he will give thee offspring, who may receive and may preserve the royal dignity. Ps 49; Ps 12: "Their inward thought is that their houses shall continue forever;" i.e. that their posterity shall always flourish. — Calmet; Wemyss. SEE HOUSEHOLD.