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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

House . The history of human habitation in Palestine goes back to the undated spaces of the palæolithic or early stone age (see especially the important chapter on ‘Prehistoric Archæology’ in Vincent, Canaan d’après l’exploration récente , 1907, pp. 373 ff.). The excavations and discoveries, of the last few years in particular, have introduced us to the pre-historic inhabitants whom the Semitic invaders, loosely termed Canaanites or Amorites, found in occupation of the country somewhere in the third millennium before our era ( circa b.c. 2500). The men of this early race were still in the neolithic stage of civilization, their only implements being of polished flint, bone, and wood. They lived for the most part in the natural limestone caves in which Palestine abounds. In the historical period such underground caves (for descriptions and diagrams of some of the more celebrated, see Schumacher, Across the Jordan , 135 146; Bliss and Macalister, Excavations in Palestine , 204 270) were used by the Hebrews as places of refuge in times of national danger (  Judges 6:2 ,   1 Samuel 13:6 ) and religious persecution ( 2Ma 6:11 ,   Hebrews 11:38 ). But it is not with these, or with the tents in which the patriarchs and their descendants lived before the conquest of Canaan, that this article has to deal, but with the houses of clay and stone which were built and occupied after that epoch.

1 . Materials . The most primitive of all the houses for which man has been indebted to his own inventiveness is that formed of a few leafy boughs from the primeval forest, represented in Hebrew history to this day by the booths of OT (see Booth). Of more permanent habitations, the earliest of which traces have been discovered are probably the mud huts , whose foundations were found by Mr. Macalister in the lowest stratum at Gezer, and which are regarded by him as the work of the cave-dwellers of the later stone age ( PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1904, 110). Clay in the form of bricks, either sun-dried or, less frequently, baked in a kiln (see Brick), and stone (  Leviticus 14:40 ff.,   Isaiah 9:10 etc.), have been in all ages the building materials of the successive inhabitants of Palestine. Even in districts where stone was available the more tractable material was often preferred. Houses built of crude brick are the ‘houses of clay,’ the unsubstantial nature of which is emphasized in   Job 4:19 f., and whose walls a thief or another could easily dig through (  Ezekiel 12:5 ,   Matthew 6:19 f.).

The excavations have shown that there is no uniformity, even at a given epoch, in the size of bricks, which are both rectangular and square in shape. The largest, apparently, have been found at Taanach, roughly 21 inches by 15 3 / 4, and 4 3 /4 inches in thickness. At Gezer a common size is a square brick 15 inches in the side and 7 inches’ thick ( PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1902, 319). In the Mishna the standard size is a square brick 9 inches each way ( Erubin , i. 3).

The stone used for house building varied from common field stones and larger, roughly shaped, quarry stones to the carefully dressed wrought stone ( gâzith ,   1 Kings 5:17 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) or ‘hewn-stone, according to measure, sawed with saws’ (7:9), such as was used by Solomon in his building operations. Similarly rubble, wrought stone, and brick are named in the Mishna as the building materials of the time ( Baba bathra , i. 1). For mortar clay was the usual material, although the use of bitumen [wh. see] (  Genesis 11:3 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] , EV [Note: English Version.] ‘slime’) was not unknown. Wood as a building material was employed mainly for roofing, and to a less extent for internal decoration (see below).

2 . General plan of Hebrew houses . The recent excavations at Gezer and elsewhere have shown that the simplest type of house in Palestine has scarcely altered in any respect for four thousand years. Indeed, its construction is so simple that the possibility of change is reduced to a minimum. In a Syrian village of to-day the typical abode of the fellah consists of a walled enclosure, within which is a small court closed at the farther end by a house of a single room. This is frequently divided into two parts, one level with the entrance, assigned at night to the domestic animals, cows, ass, etc.; the other, about 18 in. higher, occupied by the peasant and his family. A somewhat better class of house consists of two or three rooms, of which the largest is the family living and sleeping room, a second is assigned to the cattle, while a third serves as general store-room (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] closet ).

The Canaanite houses, which the Hebrews inherited ( Deuteronomy 6:10 ) and copied, are now known to have been arranged on similar lines (see the diagram of a typical Canaanite house in Gezer, restored by Mr. Macalister in his Bible Sidelights from Gezer [1906], fig. 25). As in all Eastern domestic architecture, the rooms were built on one or more sides of an open court (  2 Samuel 17:18 ,   Jeremiah 32:2 etc.). These rooms were of small dimensions, 12 to 15 feet square as a rule, with which may be compared the legal definition of ‘large’ and ‘small’ rooms in the late period of the Mishna. The former was held to measure 15 ft. by 12, with a height, following the model of the Temple (  1 Kings 6:2 ff.), equal to half the sum of the length and breadth, namely, 13 1 / 2 ft.; a ‘small’ room measured 12ft. by 9, with a height of 10 1 /2 ft. ( Baba bathra , vi. 4).

Should occasion arise, through the marriage of a son or otherwise, to enlarge the house, this was done by building one or more additional rooms on another side of the court. In the case of a ‘man of wealth’ ( 1 Samuel 9:1 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ), the house would consist of two or even more courts, in which case the rooms about the ‘inner court’ (  Esther 4:11 ) were appropriated to the women of the family. The court, further, often contained a cistern to catch and retain the precious supply of water that fell in the rainy season (  2 Samuel 17:18 ). For the question of an upper storey see § 4 .

3 . Foundation and dedication rites . In building a house, the first step was to dig out the space required for the foundation (cf.   Matthew 7:24 ff.), after which came the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone , the ‘ corner stone of sure foundation’ of   Isaiah 28:16 (see, further, Corner-Stone). The ‘day of the foundation’ (  2 Chronicles 8:16 ), as we learn from the poetic figure of   Job 38:6 ff., was, as it is at the present day, one of great rejoicing (cf.   Ezra 3:11 ).

With the exception of a passage to be cited presently, the OT is silent regarding a foundation rite on which a lurid light has been cast by the latest excavations in Palestine. It is now certain that the Canaanites, and the Hebrews after them, were wont to consecrate the foundation of a new building by a human sacrifice . The precise details of the rite are still uncertain, but there is already ample evidence to show that, down even to ‘the latter half of the Hebrew monarchy’ ( PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1903, 224), it was a frequent practice to bury infants, whether alive or after previous sacrifice is still doubtful, in large jars ‘generally under the ends of walls, that is, at the corners of houses or chambers or just under the door jambs’ ( ibid. 306). At Megiddo was found the skeleton of a girl of about fifteen years, who had clearly been built alive into the foundation of a fortress; at Taanach was found one of ten years of age; and skeletons of adults have also been discovered.

An interesting development of this rite of foundation sacrifice can be traced from the fifteenth century b.c. onwards. With the jar containing the body of the victim there were at first deposited other jars containing jugs, howls, and a lamp, perhaps also food, as in ordinary burials. Gradually, it would seem, lamps and bowls came to be buried alone, as substitutes and symbols of the human victim, most frequently a lamp within a bowl, with another bowl as covering. Full details of this curious rite cannot be given here, but no other theory so plausible has yet been suggested to explain these ‘lamp and bowl deposits’ (see Macalister’s reports in PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , from 1903 esp. p. 306 ff. with illustrations onwards, also his Bible Sidelights , 165 ff.; Vincent, Canaan , 50 f., 192, 198ff.). The only reference to foundation sacrifice in OT is the case of Hiel the Bethelite, who sacrificed his two sons for that such is the true interpretation can now scarcely be doubted his firstborn at the re-founding of Jericho, and his youngest at the completion and dedication of the walls and gates (  1 Kings 16:34 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ).

Here by anticipation may be taken the rite of the formal dedication of a private house, which is attested by   Deuteronomy 20:5 , although the references in Hebrew literature to the actual ceremony are confined to sacred and public buildings (  Leviticus 8:10 ff.,   1 Kings 8:1 ff.,   1 Kings 8:10 ff.,   Ezra 6:16 f.,   Nehemiah 3:1;   Nehemiah 12:27 , 1Ma 4:52 ff.). It is not improbable that some of the human victims above alluded to may have been offered in connexion with the dedication or restoration of important buildings (cf.   1 Kings 16:34 above).

On the whole subject it may be said, in conclusion, that, judging from the ideas and practice of the Bedouin when a new tent or ‘house of hair’ is set up, we ought to seek the explanation of the rite of foundation sacrifice a practice which obtains among many races widely separated in space and time in the desire to propitiate the spirit whose abode is supposed to be disturbed by the new foundation (cf. Trumbull, Threshold Covenant , 46 ff.), rather than in the wish to secure the spirit of the victim as the tutelary genius of the new building. This ancient custom still survives in the sacrifice of a sheep or other animal, which is indispensable to the safe occupation of a new house in Moslem lands, and even to the successful inauguration of a public work, such as a railway, or as the other day in Damascus of an electric lighting installation. In the words of an Arab sheik: ‘Every house must have its death man, woman, child, or animal’ (Curitiss, Primitive Semitic Religion To-day ).

4 . Details of construction, walls and floor . The walls of Canaanite and Hebrew houses were for the most part, as we have seen, of crude brick or stone. At Tell el-Hesy (Lachish), for example, we find at one period house walls of ‘dark-brown clay with little straw’; at another, walls of ‘reddish-yellow clay, full of straw’ (Bliss, A Mound of Many Cities , 44). At Gezer Mr. Macalister found a wall that was ‘remarkable for being built in alternate courses of red and white bricks, the red course being four inches in height, the white five inches’ ( PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1903, 216). As a rule, however, the Gezer house walls consisted of common field stones, among which dressed stones even at corners and door posts are of the rarest possible occurrence. The joints are wide and irregular, and filled with mud packed in the widest places with smaller stones’ ( ibid. 215). The explanation of this simple architecture is that in early times each man built his own house, expert builders (  Psalms 118:22 ) or masons (see Arts and Crafts, § 3 ) being employed only on royal residences, city walls, and other buildings of importance. Hence squared and dressed stones are mentioned in OT only in connexion with such works (  1 Kings 5:17;   1 Kings 7:9 ) and the houses of the wealthy (  Amos 5:11 ,   Isaiah 9:10 ). In the Gezer houses of the post-exilic period, however, ‘the stones are well dressed and squared, often as well shaped as a modern brick’ ( PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1904, 124, with photograph, 125). Between these two extremes are found walls of rubble, and quarry stones of various sizes, roughly trimmed with a hammer. Mud was ‘universally used as mortar .’

In ordinary cases the thickness of the outside walls varied from 18 to 24 inches; that of partition walls, on the other hand, did not exceed 9 to 12 inches ( ib. 118). In NT times the thickness varied somewhat with the materials employed (see Baba bathra , i. 1). It is doubtful if the common view is correct, which finds in certain passages, especially   Psalms 118:22 and its NT citations, a reference to a corner stone on the topmost course of masonry (see Corner). In most cases the reference is to the foundation stone at the corner of two walls, as explained above.

The inside walls of stone houses received a ‘ plaister’ (EV [Note: English Version.] ) of clay (  Leviticus 14:41 ff., AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘dust,’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘mortar’), or, in the better houses, of lime or gypsum (  Daniel 5:5 ). The ‘untempered mortar’ of   Ezekiel 13:11;   Ezekiel 22:28 was some sort of whitewash applied to the outside walls, as is attested for NT times (  Matthew 23:27 ,   Acts 23:3 ‘thou whited wall’). In the houses of the wealthy, as in the Temple, it was customary to line the walls with cypress (  2 Chronicles 3:5 , EV [Note: English Version.] ‘fir’), cedar, and other valuable woods (  1 Kings 6:15;   1 Kings 6:18;   1 Kings 7:7 ). The ‘cieled houses’ of EV [Note: English Version.] (  Jeremiah 22:14 ,   Haggai 1:4 etc.) are houses panelled with wood in this way (Cieled). The acme of elegance was represented by cedar panels inlaid with ivory, such as earned for Ahab’s pleasure kiosk the name of ‘the ivory house’ (  1 Kings 22:39 ) and incurred the denunciation of Amos (  Amos 3:15 ). We also hear of the panelled ‘ cielings ’ of the successive Temples (  1 Kings 6:15 , 2Ma 1:16 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ).

The floors of the houses were in all periods made of hard beaten clay, the permanence of which to this day has proved to the excavators a precious indication of the successive occupations of the buried cities of Palestine. Public buildings have been found paved with slabs of stone. The better sort of private houses were no doubt, like the Temple (  1 Kings 6:15 ), floored with cypress and other woods.

The presence of vaults or cellars , in the larger houses at least, is shown by   Luke 11:33 RV [Note: Revised Version.] . The excavations also show that when a wholly or partly ruined town was rebuilt, the houses of the older stratum were frequently retained as underground store-rooms of the new houses on the higher level. The reference in   1 Chronicles 27:27-28 to wine and oil ‘cellars’ (EV [Note: English Version.] ) is to ‘stores’ of these commodities, rather than to the places where the latter were kept.

5 . The roof . The ancient houses of Canaan, like their modern representatives, had flat roofs , supported by stout wooden beams laid from wall to wall. Across these were laid smaller rafters (  Song of Solomon 1:17 ), then brushwood, reeds, and the like, above which was a layer of earth several inches thick, while on the top of all came a thick plaster of clay or of clay and lime. It was such a roofing (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] tiling , RV [Note: Revised Version.] tiles ,   Luke 5:19 ) that the friends of the paralytic ‘broke up’ in order to lower him into the room below (  Mark 2:4 ). The wood for the roof-beams was furnished mostly by the common sycamore, cypress (  Song of Solomon 1:17 ) and cedar (  1 Kings 6:9 ) being reserved for the homes of the wealthy. Hence the point of Isaiah’s contrast between the humble houses of crude brick, roofed with sycamore, and the stately edifices of hewn stone roofed with cedar (  Isaiah 9:10 ).

It was, and is, difficult to keep such a roof watertight in the rainy season, as  Proverbs 27:15 shows. In several houses at Gezer a primitive drain of jars was found for carrying the water from the leaking roof (  Ecclesiastes 10:18 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) through the floor to the foundations beneath ( PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1904, 14, with illust.). In the Mishna there is mention of at least two kinds of spout or gutter (  2 Samuel 5:8 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , but the sense here is doubtful) for conveying the rain water from the roof to the cistern. Evidence has accumulated in recent years showing that even in the smallest houses it was usual to have the beams of the roof supported by a row of wooden posts, generally three in number, resting on stone bases, ‘from 1 foot 6 inches to 2 feet in diameter’ ( PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1904, 115, with photo.). The same method was adopted for the roofs of large public buildings (see Bliss, Mound of Many Cities , 91 f., with plan), and Mr. Macalister has ingeniously explained Samson’s feat at the temple of Dagon, by supposing that he slid two of the massive wooden pillars (  Judges 16:29 f.) supporting the portico from their stone supports, thus causing its collapse ( Bible Sidelights , 136 ff. with illust.).

The roof was required by law to be surrounded by a battlement , or rather a parapet, as a protection against accident (  Deuteronomy 22:8 ). Access to the roof was apparently obtained, as at the present day, by an outside stair leading from the court. Our EV [Note: English Version.] finds winding stairs in the Temple (  1 Kings 6:8 ), and some sort of inner stair or ladder is required by the reference to the secret trapdoor in 2Ma 1:16 . The roof or housetop was put to many uses, domestic (  Joshua 2:6 ) and other. It was used, in particular, for recreation (  2 Samuel 11:2 ) and for sleeping (  1 Samuel 9:25 f.), also for prayer and meditation (  Acts 10:9 ), lamentation (  Isaiah 15:3 ,   Jeremiah 48:38 ), and even for idolatrous worship (  Jeremiah 19:13 ,   Zephaniah 1:5 ). For these and other purposes a tent (  2 Samuel 16:22 ) or a booth (  Nehemiah 8:16 ) might be provided, or a permanent roof-chamber might be erected. Such were the ‘chamber with walls’ (  2 Kings 4:10 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ) erected for Elisha, the ‘summer parlour ’ (  Judges 3:20 , lit. as RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘upper chamber of cooling’) of Eglon, and the ‘ loft ’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘chamber’) of   1 Kings 17:19 .

Otherwise the houses of Palestine were, as a rule, of one storey. Exceptions were confined to the houses of the great, and to crowded cities like Jerusalem and Samaria. Ahaziah’s upper chamber in the latter city ( 2 Kings 1:2 ) may well have been a room in the second storey of the royal palace, where was evidently the window from which Jezebel was thrown (  2 Kings 9:33 ). The same may be said of the ‘upper room’ in which the Last Supper was held (  Mark 14:15 ||; cf.   Acts 1:13 ). It was a Greek city, however, in which Eutychus fell from a window in the ‘ third story ’ (  Acts 20:9 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ).

6 . The door and its parts . The door consisted of four distinct parts: the door proper, the threshold , the lintel (  Exodus 12:7 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), and the two doorposts . The first of these was of wood, and was hung upon projecting pivots of wood, the hinges of   Proverbs 26:14 , which turned in corresponding sockets in the threshold and lintel respectively. Like the Egyptians and Babylonians, the Hebrews probably cased the pivots and sockets of heavy doors with bronze; those of the Temple doors were sheathed in gold (  1 Kings 7:50 ). In the Hauran, doors of a single slab of stone with stone pivots are still found in situ. Folding doors are mentioned only in connexion with the Temple (  1 Kings 6:34 ).

The threshold (  Judges 19:27 ,   1 Kings 14:17 etc.) or sill must have been invariably of stone. Among the Hebrews, as among so many other peoples of antiquity, a special sanctity attached to the threshold (see Trumbull, The Threshold Covenant, passim ). The doorposts or jambs were square posts of wood (  1 Kings 7:5 ,   Ezekiel 41:21 ) or of stone. The command of   Deuteronomy 6:9;   Deuteronomy 11:20 gave rise to the practice, still observed in all Jewish houses, of enclosing a piece of parchment containing the words of   Deuteronomy 6:4-9;   Deuteronomy 11:13-21 in a small case of metal or wood, which is nailed to the doorpost, hence its modern name mezuzah (‘doorpost’).

Doors were locked ( Judges 3:23 f.) by an arrangement similar to that still in use in Syria (see the illust. in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] li. 836). This consists of a short upright piece of wood, fastened on the inside of the door, through which a square wooden bolt (  Song of Solomon 5:5 ,   Nehemiah 3:3 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , for AV [Note: Authorized Version.] lock) passes at right angles into a socket in the jamb of the door. When the bolt is shot by the hand, three to six small iron pins drop from the upright into holes in the bolt, which is hollow at this part. The latter cannot now be drawn back without the proper key . This is a flat piece of wood straight or bent as the case may be into the upper surface of which pins have been fixed corresponding exactly in number and position to the holes in the bolt. The person wishing to enter the house ‘puts in his hand by the hole of the door’ (  Song of Solomon 5:4 ), and inserts the key into the hollow part of the bolt in such a way that the pins of the key will displace those in the holes of the bolt, which is then easily withdrawn from the socket and the door is open.

In the larger houses it was customary to have a man ( Mark 13:34 ) or a woman (  2 Samuel 4:6 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ,   John 18:17 ) to act as a doorkeeper or porter . In the palaces of royalty this was a military duty (  1 Kings 14:27 ) and an office of distinction (  Esther 2:21;   Esther 6:2 ).

7 . Lighting and heating . The ancient Hebrew houses must have been very imperfectly lighted. Indeed, it is almost certain that, in the poorer houses at least, the only light available was admitted through the doorway (cf. Sir 42:11 [Heb. text], ‘Let there be no casement where thy daughter dwells’), in any case, such windows as did exist were placed high up in the walls, at least six feet from the ground, according to the Mishna. We have no certain monumental evidence as to the size and construction of the windows of Hebrew houses (but see for a probable stone window-frame, 20 inches high, Bliss and Macalister, Excavs. in Palest . 143 and pl. 73). They may, however, safely be assumed to have been much smaller than those to which we are accustomed, although the commonest variety, the challôn , was large enough to allow a man to pass out (  Joshua 2:15 ,   1 Samuel 19:12 ) or in (  Joel 2:9 ). Another variety ( ’arubbah ) was evidently smaller, since it is used also to designate the holes of a dovecot (  Isaiah 60:8 EV [Note: English Version.] ‘windows’). These and other terms are rendered in our versions by ‘window,’ lattice , and casement (  Proverbs 7:6 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] and RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘lattice’). None of these, of course, was filled with glass. Like the windows of Egyptian houses, they were doubtless closed with wood or lattice-work, which could be opened when necessary (  2 Kings 13:17 ). An obscure expression in   1 Kings 6:4 is rendered by RV [Note: Revised Version.] , ‘windows of fixed lattice-work.’ During the hours of darkness, light was supplied by the small oil lamp which was kept continually burning (see Lamp).

Most of the houses excavated show a depression of varying dimensions in the floor, either in the centre or in a corner, which, from the obvious traces of fire, was clearly the family hearth (  Isaiah 30:14 ). Wood was the chief fuel (see Coal), supplemented by withered vegetation of all sorts (  Matthew 6:30 ), and probably, as at the present day, by dried cow and camel dung (  Ezekiel 4:15 ). The pungent smoke, which was trying to the eyes (  Proverbs 10:26 ), escaped by the door or by the window, for the chimney of   Hosea 13:3 is properly ‘window’ or ‘casement’ ( ’arubbah , see above). In the cold season the upper classes warmed their rooms by means of a brasier (  Jeremiah 36:22 f. RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), or fire-pan (  Zechariah 12:6 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ).

8 . Furniture of the house . This in early times was of the simplest description. Even at the present day the fellahin sit and sleep mostly on mats and mattresses spread upon the floor. So the Hebrew will once have slept, wrapped in his simlah or cloak as ‘his only covering’ (  Exodus 22:27 ), while his household gear will have consisted’ mainly of the necessary utensils for the preparation of food, to which the following section is devoted. Under the monarchy, however, when a certain ‘great woman’ of Shunem proposed to furnish ‘a little chamber over the wall’ for Elisha, she named ‘a bed and a table and a stool and a candlestick’ (  2 Kings 4:10 ), and we know otherwise that while the poor man slept on a simple mat of straw or rushes in the single room that served as living and sleeping room, the well-to-do had not only beds but bedchambers (  2 Samuel 4:7 ,   2 Kings 11:2 , Jdt 16:19 etc.). The former consisted of a framework of wood, on which were laid cushions (  Amos 3:12 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), ‘carpets’ and ‘striped cloths’ (  Proverbs 7:16 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). We bear also of the ‘bed’s head’ (  Genesis 47:31 ) or curved end, as figured by Wilkinson, Anc. Egyp . i. 416, fig. 191 (where note the steps for ‘going up’ to the bed; cf.   1 Kings 1:4 ). Bolsters have rightly disappeared from RV [Note: Revised Version.] , which renders otherwise (see   1 Samuel 19:13;   1 Samuel 26:7 etc.); the pillow also from   Genesis 28:11;   Genesis 28:18 and   Mark 4:38 (RV [Note: Revised Version.] here, ‘cushion’), and where it is retained, as   1 Samuel 19:13 , the sense is doubtful. Reference may be made to the richly appointed bed of Holofernes, with its gorgeous mosquito curtain ( Jdt 10:21; Jdt 13:9 ).

The bed often served as a couch by day (  Ezekiel 23:41 ,   Amos 3:12 RV [Note: Revised Version.] see also Meals, § 3 ), and it is sometimes uncertain which is the more suitable rendering. In   Esther 1:6 , for example, RV [Note: Revised Version.] rightly substitutes ‘couches’ for ‘beds’ in the description of the magnificent divans of gold and silver in the palace of Ahasuerus (cf.   Esther 7:8 ). The wealthy and luxurious contemporaries of Amos had their beds and couches inlaid with ivory (  Amos 6:4 ), and furnished, according to RV [Note: Revised Version.] , with ‘silken cushions’ (  Amos 3:12 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ).

As regards the stool above referred to, and the seats of the Hebrews generally, it must suffice to state that the seats of the contemporary Egyptians (for illustt. see Wilkinson, op. cit. i. 408 ff.) and Assyrians were of two main varieties, namely, stools and chairs . The former were constructed either with a square frame or after the shape of our camp-stools; the latter with a straight or rounded back only, or with a back and arms. The Hebrew word for Elisha’s stool is always applied elsewhere to the seats of persons of distinction and the thrones of kings; it must therefore have been a chair rather than a stool, although the latter is its usual meaning in the Mishna (Krengel, Das Hausgerät in der Mishnah , 10 f. a mine of information regarding the furniture, native and foreign, to be found in Jewish houses in later times). Footstools were also in use (  2 Chronicles 9:18 and oft., especially in metaphors).

The tables were chiefly of wood, and, like those of the Egyptians (Wilkinson, op. cit. i. 417 f. with illustt.), were ‘round, square, or oblong,’ as the Mishna attests. They were relatively much smaller and lower than ours (see, further, Meals, § 4 ).

The fourth article in Elisha’s room was a candlestick , really a lampstand , for which see Lamp. It would extend this article beyond due limits to discuss even a selection from the many other articles of furniture, apart from those reserved for the closing section, which are named in Biblical and post-Biblical literature, or which have been brought to light in surprising abundance by the recent excavations. Mention can he made only of articles of toilet, such as the ‘molten mirror ’ of   Job 37:18 (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] looking-glass) , the paint-pot (  2 Kings 9:30 ), pins and needles, of which many specimens in bone, bronze, and silver have been found; of the distaff, spindle, and loom (see Spinning and Weaving), for the manufacture of the family garments, and the chest for holding them; and finally, of the children’s cradle (Krengel, op. cit . 26), and their toys of clay and bone.

9 . Utensils connected with food . Conspicuous among the ‘earthen vessels’ (  2 Samuel 17:28 ) of every household was the water-jar or pitcher ( kad ) the barrel of   1 Kings 18:33 , Amer. RV [Note: Revised Version.] jar in which water was fetched from the village well (  Genesis 24:15 ,   Mark 14:13 , and oft.). From this smaller jar, carried on head or shoulder, the water was emptied into the larger waterpots of   John 2:6 . Large jars were also required for the household provisions of wheat and barley one variety in NT times was large enough to hold a man. Others held the store of olives and other fruits. The cruse was a smaller jar with one or two handles, used for carrying water on a journey (  1 Samuel 26:11 f.,   1 Kings 19:6 ), also for holding oil (  1 Kings 17:12 ). (See, further, art. Pottery, and the elaborate studies, with illustrations, of the thousands of ‘potter’s vessels’ which the excavations have brought to light, in the great work of Bliss and Macalister entitled Excavations in Palestine , 1898 1900, pp. 71 141, with plates 20 55; also Vincent’s Canaan d’après l’exploration récente , 1907, pp. 296 360, with the illustrations there and throughout the book).

The bucket of   Numbers 24:7 ,   Isaiah 40:15 was a water-skin, probably adapted, as at the present day, for drawing water by having two pieces of wood inserted crosswise at the mouth. The main use of skins among the Hebrews, however, was to hold the wine and other fermented liquors. The misleading rendering bottles is retained in RV [Note: Revised Version.] except where the context requires the true rendering ‘ skins ’ or ‘ wine-skins ’ (  Joshua 9:4;   Joshua 9:13 ,   Matthew 9:17 ). For another use of skins see Milk. ‘After the water-skins,’ says Doughty, ‘a pair of mill-stones is the most necessary husbandry in an Arabian household,’ and so it was among the Hebrews, as may be seen in the article Mill.

No house was complete without a supply of baskets of various sizes and shapes for the bread (  Exodus 29:23 ) and the fruit (  Deuteronomy 26:2 ), and even in early times for the serving of meat (  Judges 6:19 ). Among the ‘vessels of wood’ of   Leviticus 15:12 was the indispensable wooden howl, which served as a kneading-trough (  Exodus 12:34 ), and various other bowls , such as the ‘lordly dish’ of the nomad Jael (  Judges 5:25 ) and the bowl of Gideon (  Judges 6:38 ), although the howls were mostly of earthenware (see Bowl).

As regards the actual preparation of food, apart from the oven (for which see Bread), our attention is drawn chiefly to the various members of the pot family, so to say. Four of these are named together in   1 Samuel 2:14 , the kiyyôr , the dûd , the qallachath , and the pârûr , rendered respectively the pan , the kettle , the caldron , and the pot . Elsewhere these terms are rendered with small attempt at consistency; while a fifth, the most frequently named of all, the sîr , is the flesh-pot of   Exodus 3:16 , the ‘great pot’ of   2 Kings 4:38 , and the ‘caldron’ of   Jeremiah 1:13 . In what respect these differed it is impossible to say. The sîr was evidently of large size and made of bronze (  1 Kings 7:45 ), while the pârûr was small and of earthenware, hence ben-Sira’s question: ‘What fellowship hath the [earthen] pot with the [bronze] caldron?’ ( Sir 13:2 , Heb. text). The kiyyôr , again, was wide and shallow, rather than narrow and deep. Numerous illustrations of cooking-pots from OT times may be seen in the recent works above referred to. The only cooking utensils known to be of iron are the baking-pan (  Leviticus 2:5 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), probably a shallow iron plate (see   Ezekiel 4:3 ), and the frying-pan (  Leviticus 2:7 ). A knife , originally of flint (  Joshua 5:2 ) and later of bronze, was required for cutting up the meat to be cooked (  Genesis 22:6;   Genesis 22:10 ,   Judges 19:29 ), and a fork for lifting it from the pot (  1 Samuel 2:13 EV [Note: English Version.] fleshhook [wh. see]).

In the collection of pottery figured in Bliss and Macalister’s work one must seek the counterparts of the various dishes, mostly wide, deep howls, in which we read of food being served, such as the ‘ dish ’ from which the sluggard is too lazy to withdraw his hand (  Proverbs 19:24 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), and the chargers of   Numbers 7:13 , though here they are of silver (see, further, Meals, § 5 ). In the same work the student will find an almost endless variety of cups , some for drawing the ‘cup of cold water’ from the large water-jars, others for wine flagons , jugs, and juglets. The material of all of these will have ascended from the coarsest earthenware to bronze (  Leviticus 6:28 ), and from bronze to silver (  Numbers 7:13 , Jdt 12:1 ) and gold (  1 Kings 10:21 ,   Esther 1:7 ), according to the rank and wealth of their owners and the purposes for which they were designed.

A. R. S. Kennedy.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

In this article the references in the NT to the structure and appointments of a house will be collected together, and a description of a house in apostolic times will be given, with illustrations from the present writer’s observations in his Eastern travels. For ‘house’ in the sense of those who inhabit the building, and of descendants, see Family.

1. Foundations and materials .-Great attention was paid to the foundations; they were if possible of stone, even if the walls were of mud. The foundations (the apostles and prophets) and the cornerstone (Christ) are the principal elements in the spiritual house ( Ephesians 2:20). The importance of the foundations of the wall of the holy city is illustrated in  Revelation 21:14 ff. by their being adorned with precious stones. It thus happens in the present day that in the ordinary Eastern house the foundations often cost as much as all the rest of the building put together. In places where stone is plentiful all houses are built of that material; otherwise only the very rich men’s houses are of stone and all others are built of sun-dried bricks (sometimes of kiln-dried bricks, which are more expensive), or even of mud set in layers, each layer being left to dry hard before the next layer is placed on the top of it. The sun-dried bricks are made simply of clay with which chopped straw is mixed ( Exodus 5:7), and are set to dry in the sun for a few days before they are wanted for the building. Thus brick-making and house-building go on together on the same ground. The perishable nature of the material explains why, with the exception of the royal palaces, which were built of stone, nearly all Nineveh has completely vanished. If Layard’s rather doubtful theory is correct ( Nineveh and its Remains , London, 1849, vol. ii. p. 236ff.), that vast city of ‘three days’ journey’ [round the walls] ( Jonah 3:3) occupied the large area between the fortresses, which alone remain to this day, and was some 75 miles in circumference; but of the buildings in the centre of the area there is not a trace. The same thing also explains the references to ‘digging through’ houses in  Matthew 6:19;  Matthew 24:43,  Luke 12:39; this is quite an easy thing to do.

2. The roof (δῶμα; sometimes στέγη,  Matthew 8:8,  Luke 7:6).-This is flat, made of mud laid on beams of wood, crossed by laths, and covered with matting. It is used in summer as a sleeping-place, and by day (especially in the evening) as a sitting-room, or often as a promenade, for roofs of adjacent houses in the villages are frequently joined together. It is possible sometimes to walk from one end of the village to the other without descending the ladders or staircases to the courtyards and streets. Hence in time of persecution the fugitive would do well to flee along the roofs rather than fall a prey to the enemy in the streets ( Matthew 24:17,  Mark 13:15,  Luke 17:31). So St. Peter goes to the roof to pray ( Acts 10:9). The roof is a favourite place for village gossip; this is the ‘proclamation on the housetops’ of  Matthew 10:27,  Luke 12:3. The nature of the material of the roof explains how easy it was to dig through it ( Mark 2:4, ἐξορύξαντες; cf.  Galatians 4:15) in order to let the paralytic down; the mention of tiles in ||  Luke 5:19 is merely a paraphrase adopted by St. Luke for the comprehension of his more Western readers-or at least of readers less acquainted with the customs of Palestine than those of St. Mark (W. M. Ramsay, Was Christ born at Bethlehem? , 1898, p. 57f.).

3. The windows (θυρίδες).-In the East these now usually look into the courtyard, not into the street, as privacy is of the greatest importance. Such was probably the case in  Acts 20:9, where Eutychus, sitting in a window, falls from the third story (ἀπὸ τοῦ τριστέγου); as Eastern houses are usually of two stories (for the kitchen see below), we must here have an exception to the general rule. It is not common for windows to be in the outside wall of a town; yet this must have been the case in  Acts 9:25,  2 Corinthians 11:33, where St. Paul is let down through the town wall and escapes, in both cases from Damascus, for both passages seem to refer to the same incident (cf. also Rahab,  Joshua 2:15). Except in the better houses, no glass is used in the windows; oiled cotton or paper serves instead of glass in the winter, being removed in the summer. Glass (other than that used for mirrors) is mentioned in the NT only in  Revelation 4:6;  Revelation 15:2;  Revelation 21:18;  Revelation 21:21; its costliness in ancient times, as in the modern East, is seen by its being coupled with gold in  Job 28:17 Revised Version.

4. The house-gate .-The door or gate itself is θύρα ( Mark 2:2,  John 18:16, figuratively in  Revelation 3:20), but πυλών is the gateway or entry of a house, especially if large, as well as of a city ( Matthew 26:71,  Luke 16:20,  Acts 10:17;  Acts 12:13 f.; in the last passage the full expression ‘door of the gate’ (θύρα τοῦ πυλῶνος) is used, but in  Acts 12:14 πυλών includes θύρα, for it is ‘opened’ by Rhoda; cf. articles Door and Gate). For a house-gate πύλη is not ordinarily used; it is the gate of a city, and so of a public building like the Temple or a prison ( Acts 3:10;  Acts 12:10, but  Acts 3:2 has θύρα). The house-gate was naturally kept locked in troublous times, as in  Acts 10:17;  Acts 12:13-16, and was guarded by a porter ( Mark 13:34, ὁ θυρωρός) or a portress ( John 18:16, ἡ θυρωρός; cf.  Mark 14:69,  Acts 12:13 f.), just as the figurative sheepfold in  John 10:3 is guarded by ‘the porter,’ probably the Holy Spirit (H. B. Swete, The Holy Spirit in the NT , 1909, p. 146). The entry (πυλών) is either the same as, or else leads into, the fore-court (προαύλιον) of  Mark 14:68, where ||  Matthew 26:71 has πυλών. Outside the gate of the great houses the beggars sit ( Luke 16:20, Lazarus), as they did at the gate of the Temple ( Acts 3:2;  Acts 3:10). Inside the gate, perhaps in the fore-court, were the water-pots for washing ( John 2:6); evidently not in the guest-room.

5. The courtyard (αὐλή).-This occupied the centre of the house ( Matthew 26:69,  Mark 14:54;  Mark 14:66). We read of a charcoal fire in it-a brazier in the open air ( Mark 14:54;  Mark 14:67,  Luke 22:55 f.,  John 18:18;  John 18:25), in the middle ( Luke 22:55). On this courtyard the rooms opened; our Lord inside was visible to Peter in the court ( Luke 22:61). The rooms, in places where there is little cold weather, might be entirely open to the court, as may be seen at the present day, e.g. at Mosul; or, in colder places, might open on the court with doors and windows, with or without a covered gallery.

6. The kitchen .-The kitchen itself is not mentioned in the NT, though the oven ( Matthew 6:30) and kitchen utensils ( Mark 7:4) are referred to. Yet in all but the richer houses it is the most commonly used part of the house, and the family ordinarily live in it; in some Eastern countries it is emphatically called ‘the house’ as opposed to ‘the rooms.’ The oven is a hole in the floor; the fire, of dried manure, is kindled at the bottom; and the sides are made of hardened clay, to which the flaps of dough adhere until they are baked and ready to be hooked out as bread. Other food is cooked over the fire in pots. As there is no chimney (in our sense of the word), the kitchen must necessarily be of one story only, to allow of a hole in the roof for the escape of the smoke.

7. The rooms .-( a ) There is not in the East, in the ordinary houses, the distinction usually found in the West between bedrooms and sitting-rooms. The latter are turned into bedrooms by spreading the bedclothes on the floor. Thus the ‘bed-chamber’ (κοιτών,  Acts 12:20) of which Blastus was guardian would be unusual except in a great house such as that of Herod.

( b ) Most houses, even of the comparatively poor, have a fairly large room or rooms, often, but not always, on the first floor, to entertain guests who come unexpectedly, for Eastern hospitality is great (see Home). Hence we read that the upper room (ἀνώγεον or ἀνώγαιον or ἀνωγεών or ἀνάγαιον) of  Mark 14:14 f.,  Luke 22:11 f. was large, and it is expressly called a ‘guest-chamber,’ κατάλυμα, i.e. a place where the guests unpack their baggage; it may be doubted if κατάλυμα in  Luke 2:7 is rightly rendered ‘inn,’ for this in  Luke 10:34 is called πανδοχεῖον. Probably the κατάλυμα was a guest-chamber in a house where Joseph expected to lodge, but it is a word elastic in meaning (see A. Plummer, St. Luke 2 [ International Critical Commentary , 1898], 54). The upper room of the Last Supper was very probably the place where the Ten and the rest were assembled on Easter Day, and if so must have been somewhat large, though the word used (ἠθροισμένους,  Luke 24:33 Revised Version; cf.  Luke 24:9) suggests crowding, just as the compounds συνηθροισμένοι, συναθροίσας in  Acts 12:12;  Acts 19:25 suggest a large assembly. In Acts the word used for such an upper room is ὑπερῷον,  Acts 1:13;  Acts 9:37;  Acts 9:39 (Dorcas)  Acts 20:8 (at Troas). The room mentioned in  Acts 1:13 must have been large, for it held 120 people; and it was perhaps the same as the coenaculum of  Mark 14:14 f., for it is called ‘ the upper room’ (Revised Version). It has been suggested that as different words are used, the rooms must have been different; yet this would not account for St. Luke’s using ἀνώγεον in his Gospel, and always ὑπερῷον in Acts. It was no doubt in such a guest-chamber on the first floor that Jesus healed the paralytic, for it was under the roof. (With this arrangement for an upper room we may compare the ordinary provision in a caravanserai of a room or rooms over the gateway for the guests, while the stables are below, and round the courtyard.) Such an upper room is probably the ξενία in  Philemon 1:22,  Acts 28:23 -a lodging in a private house. In response to St. Paul’s request, Philemon would doubtless offer his own guestroom. When the Apostle arrived in Rome he probably at first lodged, guarded by soldiers, in the guest-room of a friend, though afterwards he hired a private house (μίσθωμα,  Acts 28:30). For the use of these guest-rooms as the first Christian churches, see Family.

( c ) Besides the above rooms we read in the NT of a ταμεῖον (better ταμιεῖον) and an ἀποθήκη. The latter is a barn or granary ( Matthew 3:12;  Matthew 6:26;  Matthew 13:30,  Luke 3:17;  Luke 12:18;  Luke 12:24). The former is properly a store-chamber ( Luke 12:24), and is usually used in that sense in the Septuagint( Deuteronomy 28:8, etc.). All Eastern houses have such chambers, and for security they are usually placed so as not to have an outside wall, but to open off the kitchen. Hence any inner chamber used for living in came to be so called ( Matthew 6:6;  Matthew 24:26,  Luke 12:3). The Latin translations of ταμεῖον vary greatly (Plummer, St. Luke 2, 318).

8. Paving of the rooms .-This is very seldom of wood (except in Solomon’s Temple,  1 Kings 6:15;  1 Kings 6:30, where the wood was overlaid with gold), but, even on the upper floors, of beaten mud, sometimes of a sort of cement. In rich houses pavements of stone or marble were used; thus the Gabbatha (Λιθόστρωτον) of  John 19:13 was probably a hall paved with stone.

9. Furniture of the rooms .-Very little is said of this in the NT; and, in truth, Eastern houses need little furniture. Carpets (with straw mats under them to protect them from the mud floor), mattresses, and bedclothes are practically the only necessaries. When we read in the NT the various words for a ‘bed’ as used for sleeping in-κλίνη ( Matthew 9:2,  Luke 5:18), κλινίδιον ( Luke 5:19;  Luke 5:24; the same as κλίνη,  Luke 5:18), κράββατον ( Mark 2:4;  Mark 6:55,  John 5:8)-only mattresses and bedclothes are meant. The man who rises in the morning ‘takes up his bed,’ and, rolling it up in an outer cover, places it against the wall, where it serves as a cushion in the day-time. The same is probably true of κλίνη in  Mark 7:30,  Luke 17:34,  Revelation 2:22, where either sense is possible; and of the κλινἀρια καὶ κράββατα in  Acts 5:15 (inferior Manuscriptssubstitute κλίναι for the former word), where the sick are laid in the streets. On the other hand, the low couches (κλίναι, triclinia , τρικλίνια [the last not in the NT] used for meals are clearly articles of furniture in  Mark 4:21;  Mark 7:4 (here a ‘Western’ addition, but it may be genuine),  Luke 8:16; for a lamp may be put under them (cf. ἀρχιτρίκλινος,  John 2:6). On these couches the people reclined; hence ἀνάκειμαι is ‘to sit at meat’ ( Matthew 9:10, etc.), and the guests are ἀνακείμενοι ( Matthew 22:10). It seems doubtful if bedsteads are ever mentioned in the NT; see, further, articleBed, Couch. The ‘candlestick’ or lamp-stand (λυχνία) mentioned in the above passages is also a piece of furniture, set in the middle of the room to hold the light. Chairs and tables are not much used by non-westernized Orientals to this day; but sometimes a low stand is placed on the floor to hold food at meals, though more often the meats are placed on a tablecloth on the ground. Thus ‘table’ in the Bible does not usually denote an article of furniture, except in the case of the money-changers in  Matthew 21:12,  Mark 11:15,  John 2:15, where a house is not being spoken of. The throne (βῆμα), of a king is mentioned in  Acts 12:21, and figuratively the θρόνος of God and the θρόνοι of angels or men ( Matthew 19:28,  Revelation 20:4, etc.) are spoken of; but ordinary people sat, as they still sit in the true East, on the ground, of on cushions, though chairs or seats (καθέδραι) were not unknown ( Matthew 21:12,  Mark 11:15).

Literature.-C. Warren in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) ii. 431, article‘House (especially for the Ot); A. J Maclean and W. H. Browne, The Catholicos of the East and his People , London, 1892; A. H. Layard, Nineveh and its Remains , do. 1849, especially pt. i. ch. vi. and vii., pt. ii. ch. ii.

A. J. Maclean.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

Known to man as early at least as Cain; the tent not until Jabal, the fifth in descent from Cain ( Genesis 4:7;  Genesis 4:17;  Genesis 4:20). The rude wigwam and the natural cave were the abodes of those who, being scattered abroad, subsequently degenerated from the primitive civilization implied in the elaborate structure of Babel ( Genesis 11:3;  Genesis 11:31). It was from a land of houses that Abram, at God's call, became a dweller in tents ( Genesis 12:1;  Hebrews 11:9). At times he still lived in a house ( Genesis 17:27); so also Isaac ( Genesis 27:15), and Jacob ( Genesis 33:15). In Egypt the Israelites resumed a fixed life in permanent houses, and must have learned architectural skill in that land of stately edifices. After their wilderness sojourn in tents they entered into possession of the Canaanite goodly cities. The parts of the eastern house are:

(1) The porch; not referred to in the Old Testament save in the temple and Solomon's palace ( 1 Kings 7:6-7;  2 Chronicles 15:8;  Ezekiel 40:7;  Ezekiel 40:16); in Egypt (from whence he derived it) often it consisted of a double row of pillars; in  Judges 3:23 the Hebrew word (the front hall) is different. The porch of the high priest's palace ( Matthew 26:71; Puloon , which is translated "gate" in  Acts 10:17;  Acts 12:14;  Acts 14:13;  Revelation 21:12) means simply "the gate." The five porches of Bethesda ( John 5:2) were cloisters or a colonnade for the use of the sick.

(2) The court is the chief feature of every eastern house. The passage into it is so contrived that the court cannot be seen from the street outside. An awning from one wall to the opposite shelters from the heat; this is the image,  Psalms 104:2, "who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain." At the side of the court opposite the entrance was the:

(3) guest chamber ( Luke 22:11-12), Hebrew Lishkah , from Laashak , "to recline"; where Samuel received his guests ( 1 Samuel 9:22). Often open in front, and supported by a pillar; on the ground floor, but raised above the level. A low divan goes round it, used for sitting or reclining by day, and for placing beds on by night. In the court the palm and olive were planted, from whence the psalmist writes, "I am like a green olive tree in the house of God"; an olive tree in a house would be a strange image to us, but suggestive to an eastern of a home with refreshing shade and air. So  Psalms 92:13, "those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God." Contrast the picture of Edom's desolation, "thorns in the palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses ... a court for owls" ( Isaiah 34:13).

(4) The stairs. Outside the house, so that Ehud could readily escape after slaying Eglon ( Judges 3:23), and the bearers of the paralytic, unable to get to the door, could easily mount by the outside stairs to the roof, and, breaking an opening in it, let him down in the midst of the room where Jesus was ( Mark 2:4). The Israelite captains placed Jehu upon their garments on the top of the stairs, as the most public place, and from them proclaimed "Jehu is king" ( 2 Kings 9:13).

(5) The roof is often of a material which could easily be broken up, as it was by the paralytic's friends: sticks, thorn bushes ( Bellan ), with mortar, and marl or earth. A stone roller is kept on the top to harden the flat roof that rain may not enter. Amusement, business, conversation ( 1 Samuel 9:25), and worship ( Acts 10:9) are carried on here, especially in the evening, as a pleasant and cool retreat ( 2 Samuel 11:2) from the narrow filthy streets of an eastern town. Translated  1 Samuel 9:26, "about daybreak Samuel called (from below, within the house, up) to Saul upon the top (or roof) of the house (where Saul was sleeping upon the balcony, compare  2 Kings 4:10), Rise up," etc. On the flat roof it was that Rahab spread the flax to dry, hiding the spies ( Joshua 2:6).

Here, in national calamities, the people retired to bewail their state ( Isaiah 15:3;  Jeremiah 48:38); here in times of danger they watched the foe advancing ( Isaiah 22:1, "thou art wholly gone up to the housetops"), or the bearer of tidings approaching ( 2 Samuel 18:24;  2 Samuel 18:33). On the top of the upper chamber, as the highest point of the house, the kings of Judah made idolatrous altars to the sun and heavenly hosts ( 2 Kings 23:12;  Jeremiah 19:13;  Jeremiah 32:29). Retributively in kind, as they burnt incense to Baal the god of fire, the Chaldeans should burn the houses, the scene of his worship, with fire ( Zephaniah 1:5). On the top of the house the tent was spread for Absalom's incestuous act with his father's concubines, to show the breach with David was irreparable ( 2 Samuel 16:21-22).

On the housetop publicly the disciples should proclaim what Jesus privately taught them ( Matthew 10:27;  Luke 12:3). Here Peter in prayer saw the vision ( Acts 10:9). From the balustraded vast roof of Dagon's temple the 3,000 Philistines witnessed Samson's feats ( Judges 16:27). By pulling down the two central pillars on which in front the roof rested, he pulled down the whole edifice. Here the people erected their booths for the feast of tabernacles ( Nehemiah 8:16). The partly earth materials gave soil for grass to spring in rain, speedily about to wither, because of the shallowness of soil, under the sun's heat like the sinner's evanescent prosperity ( 2 Kings 19:26;  Psalms 129:6).

Though pleasant in the cool evening and night, at other times the housetop would be anything but pleasant; so "it is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop (though there exposed to wind, rain, heat, and cold) than with a brawling woman in a wide house" (a house of community, i.e. shared with her) ( Proverbs 21:9).

(6) The "inner chamber."  1 Kings 20:30;  1 Kings 22:25 should be translated (fleeing) "from chamber to chamber." The "guest chamber" was often the uppermost room (Greek Huperoon , Hebrew Aliyeh ), a loft upon the roof ( Acts 1:13;  Acts 9:37;  Acts 20:8-9), the pleasantest room in the house. Eutychus from "the third loft" fell down into the court. Little chambers surround the courtyard, piled upon one another, the half roof of the lower forming a walking terrace of the higher, to which the ascent is by a ladder or flight of steps.

Such "a little chamber" the Shunammite woman made (built) "on the wall" of the house for Elisha ( 2 Kings 4:10, compare  1 Kings 17:19). Ahaziah fell down from such an "upper chamber" with a projecting latticed window ( 2 Kings 1:2). The "summer house" was generally the upper room, the "winter house" was the lower room of the same house ( Jeremiah 36:22;  Amos 3:15); or if both were on the same floor the "summer house" was the outer, the "winter house" the inner apartment. An upper room was generally over gateways ( 2 Samuel 18:33). Poetically, "God layeth the beams of His upper chambers (Hebrew) in the waters, whence "He watereth the hills" ( Psalms 104:3;  Psalms 104:13).

(7) Fireplaces are seldom in the houses; but fire pans in winter heated the apartment.  Jeremiah 36:22 translated he stove (a brazen vessel, with charcoal) was burning before him." Chimneys were few ( Hosea 13:3), simple orifices in the wall, both admitting the light and emitting the smoke. Kitchens are first mentioned in  Ezekiel 46:23-24. A fire was sometimes burned in the open court ( Luke 22:55-56;  Luke 22:61); Peter warmed himself at such a fire, when Jesus on His trial in the large hall, open in front to the court, with arches and a pillar to support the wall above, "turned and looked" on him. Cellars often were made under the ground floor for storage, "secret chambers" ( Matthew 24:20). Sometimes the granary was "in the midst of the house" ( 2 Samuel 4:6).

(8) The cisterns cut in the limestone rock are a leading feature in the houses at Jerusalem, varying from 4 ft. to 30 ft. in width, 8 inches to 30 inches length, 12 inches to 20 inches depth. Almost every house has one, and some as many as four. The rain water is conducted from the roofs into them. Hence the inhabitants within Jerusalem never suffered from want of water in the longest sieges, whereas the besiegers have often suffered. So  Nehemiah 9:25, "cisterns hewn" margin, compare  2 Kings 18:31;  2 Chronicles 26:10 margin," Uzziah cut out many cisterns." Israel's forsaking God for earthly trusts is called a "forsaking of the fountain of living waters" for "broken cisterns that can hold no water" ( Jeremiah 2:13).  Proverbs 5:15, "drink waters out of thine own cistern," means, enjoy thine own wife's love, seek none else. So the heavenly spouse is called "a fountain sealed" ( Song of Solomon 4:12).

(9) The foundation was an object of great care. "Great stones" were brought for that of the temple. Often they dug down to the rock and by arches (though not mentioned in Scripture,  Ezekiel 40:16 should be translated "porches") built up to the surface. Metaphorically, man's foundation is in the dust ( Job 4:10). The wise man digs down to the rock ( Luke 6:48), hearing and doing Christ's savings. Christ is the only foundation ( 1 Corinthians 3:11, etc.). The apostles become "foundations" only by identification with Him, confessing and building themselves, and others on Him ( Ephesians 2:20). Simon became the "rock" by identifying himself with Him; but when he identified himself with "Satan" in his dislike of the cross, Jesus called him so ( Matthew 16:16-19;  Matthew 16:22-23).

(10) The windows were small and latticed, in the sense of glass. Metaphorically the eyes, looking out from the eyelids which open and shut like the casement of a window ( Ecclesiastes 12:3). Christ "looketh forth at the windows ... showing Himself through the lattice," the types and prophecies were lattice glimpses of Him to the Old Testament congregation ( Song of Solomon 2:9;  John 8:56). The legal "wall of partition" was only removed by Christ's death ( Hebrews 10:20). Even still He shows Himself only to faith, through the windows of His word and the lattice of ordinances and sacraments ( John 14:21), not full vision ( 1 Corinthians 13:12); an incentive to our looking for His coming in person ( Isaiah 33:17).

(11) The walls being often of mud can be easily dug through by a robber ( Job 4:19;  Job 24:16;  Job 15:28). When deserted they soon become "heaps." So hopes of peace with God which rest on no scriptural promises are like walls built with "untempered mortar" ( Tapheel ) ( Ezekiel 13:10-16). The mortar with which the leper's house was to be re-plastered is appropriately (as leprosy would mostly appear among the poor) called "mud mortar" ( Aaphaar ) ( Leviticus 14:42). In many houses the cattle are in a lower part of the same dwelling ( Genesis 24:32;  1 Samuel 28:24  Luke 2:7). Drafted or beveled stones with a rustic boss are not, as was supposed, peculiar to Jewish architecture; but stones of enormous length (as in the Haram wall, and in the base of the tower of David) compared to their height generally are. Roman work on the contrary has often the height greater than the length.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [4]

Is often put for dwelling, residence; and hence the temple, and even the tabernacle, are called the house of God.

The universal mode of building houses in the East, is in the form of a hollow square, with an open court or yard in the center; which is thus entirely shut in by the walls of the house around it. Into this court all the windows open, there being usually no windows towards the street. Some houses of large size require several courts, and these usually communicate with each other. These courts are commonly paved; and in many large houses parts of them are planted with shrubs and trees,  Psalm 84:3   128:3; they have also, when possible, a fountain in them, often with a jet d' eau,  2 Samuel 17:18 . It is customary in many houses to extend an awning over the whole court in hot weather; and the people of the house then spend much of the day in the open air, and indeed often receive visits there. In Aleppo, at least, there is often on the south side of the court an alcove in the wall of the house, furnished with divans or sofas, for reclining and enjoying the fresh air in the hot seasons.

In the middle of the front of each house is usually an arched passage, leading into the court-not directly, lest the court should be exposed to view from the street, but by turning to one side. The outer door of this passage was, in large houses, guarded by a porter,  Acts 12:13 . The entrance into the house is either from this passage or from the court itself.

The following extracts from Dr. Shaw will interest the reader, and at the same time serve to illustrate many passages of Scripture. He remarks, "the general method of building, both in Barbary and the Levant, seems to have continued the same from the earliest ages, without the least alteration or improvement. Large doors, spacious chambers, marble pavements, cloistered courts, with fountains sometimes playing in the midst, are certainly conveniences very well adapted to the circumstances of these climates, where the summer heats are generally so intense. The jealously likewise of these people is less apt to be alarmed, while all the windows open into their respective courts, if we except a latticed window or balcony which sometimes looks into the streets",  2 Kings 9:30 .

"The streets of eastern cities, the better to shade them from the sun, are usually narrow, with sometimes a range of shops on each side. If from these we enter into one of the principal houses, we shall first pass through a porch or gateway with benches on each side, there the master of the family receives visits and dispatches business; few persons, not even the nearest relations, having a further admission, except upon extraordinary occasions. From hence we are received into the court, or quadrangle, which, lying open to the weather, is, according to the ability of the owner, paved with marble, or such materials as will immediately carry off the water into the common sewers. When many people are to be admitted, as upon the celebration of marriage, the circumcising of a child, or occasions of the like nature, the company is rarely or never received into one of the chambers. The court is the usual place of their reception, which is strewed accordingly with mats and carpets for their more commodious entertainment. Hence it is probable that the place where our Savior and the apostles were frequently accustomed to give their instructions, was in the area, or quadrangle, of one of this kind of houses. In the summer season, and upon all occasions when a large company is to be received, this court is commonly sheltered from the heat or inclemency of the weather by a veil or awning, which, being expanded upon ropes from one side of the parapet wall to the other, may be folded or unfolded at pleasure. The psalmist seems to allude either to the tents of the Bedaween, or to some covering of this kind, in that beautiful expression, of spreading out the heavens like a curtain,  Psalm 140:2 . The court is for the most part surrounded with a cloister or colonnade; over which, when the house has two or three stories, there is a gallery erected, of the same dimensions with the cloister, having a balustrade, or else a piece of carved or latticed work going round about it to prevent people from falling from it into the court. From the cloister and galleries we are conducted into large spacious chambers, of the same length with the court, but seldom or never communicating with one another. One of them frequently serves a whole family; particularly when a father indulges his married children to live with him; or when several person join in the rent of the same house. From whence it is, that the cities of these countries, which in general are much inferior in bigness to those of Europe, yet are so exceedingly populous, that great numbers op people are always swept away by the plague, or any other contagious distemper."

The chambers of the rich were often hung with velvet or damask tapestry,  Esther 1:6; the upper part adorned with fretwork and stucco; and the ceilings with wainscot or mosaic work or fragrant wood, sometimes richly painted,  Jeremiah 22:14 . The floors were of wood or of painted tiles, or marbles; and were usually spread with carpets. Around the walls were mattresses or low sofas, instead of chairs. The beds were often at one end of the chamber, on a gallery several feet above the floor, with steps and a low balustrade,

  2 Kings 1:4,16 . The stairs were usually in a corner of the court, beside the gateway,  Matthew 24:17 .

"The top of the house," says Dr. Shaw, "which is always flat, is covered with a strong plaster of terrace; from whence, in the Frank language, it has attained the name of the terrace. It is usually surrounded by two walls; the outermost whereof is partly built over the street, partly makes the partition with the contiguous houses, being frequently so low that one may easily climb over it. The other, which I call the parapet wall, hangs immediately over the court, being always breast high; we render it the battlements,'  Deuteronomy 22:8 . Instead of this parapet wall, some terraces are guarded in the same manner the galleries are, with balustrades only, or latticed work; in which fashion probably, as the name seems to import, was the net, or lattice,' as we render it, that Ahaziah,  2 Kings 1:2 , might be carelessly leaning over, when he fell down from thence into the court. For upon these terraces several office of the family, are performed; such as the drying of linen and flax,  Joshua 2:6 , the preparing of figs and raisins; here likewise they enjoy the cool, refreshing breezes of the evening; converse with one another,  1 Samuel 9:25   2 Samuel 11:2; and offer up their devotions,  2 Kings 23:12   Jeremiah 19:13   Acts 10:9 . In the feast of Tabernacles booths were erected upon them,  Nehemiah 8:16 . When one of these cities is built upon level ground, we can pass from one end of it to the other, along the tops of the houses, without coming down into the street."

"Such, in general, is the manner and contrivance of the eastern houses. And if it may be presumed that our Savior, at the healing of the paralytic, was preaching in a house of this fashion, we preaching in a house of this fashion, we may, by attending only to the structure of it, give no small light to one circumstance of that history, which has given great offence to some unbelievers. Among other pretended difficulties and absurdities relating to this fact, it has been urged that the uncovering or breaking up on the roof,  Mark 2:4 , or the letting a person down through it,  Luke 5:19 , suppose that the crowd being so great around Jesus in the court below, that those who brought the sick man could not come near him, they went upon the flat roof, and removing a part of the awning, let the sick man down in his mattress over the parapet, quite at the feet of Jesus."

Dr. Shaw proceeds to describe a sort of addition to many oriental houses, which corresponds probably to the upper chambers often mentioned time the Bible. He says, "To most of these houses there is a smaller one annexed, which sometimes rises one story higher than the house; at other times it consists of one or two rooms only and a terrace; while others that are built, as they frequently are, over the porch or gateway, have (if have not) all the conveniences that belong to the house, properly so called. There is a door of communication from them into the gallery of the house, kept open or shut at the discretion of the master of the family; besides another door, which opens immediately from a privy stairs down into the porch, without giving the least disturbance to the house. These smaller houses are known by the name alee, or oleah, and in them strangers are usually lodged and entertained; and thither likewise the men are wont to retire, from the hurry and noise of their families, to be more at leisure for meditation or devotion,  Matthew 6:6; besides the use they are at other times put to, in serving for wardrobes and magazines."

This then, or something like this, we may suppose to have been the ali'yah or upper chamber of the Hebrews. Such was the "little chamber upon the wall," which the Shunammite had built for Elisha,  2 Kings 4:10; the "summer parlor" of Eglon,  Judges 3:20; and the "chamber over the gate," where David retired to weep,  2 Samuel 18:33; and perhaps in the New Testament the "upper chamber" where Tabitha was laid out,  Acts 9:37 , and whence Eutychus fell from the window of the third loft into the court,  Acts 20:9 .

The flat roof of oriental houses often afford a place of retirement and meditation; here Samuel communed with Saul,  1 Samuel 9:25; and from /  1 Samuel 9:26 , they would seem also to have slept there, as is still common in the East,  2 Samuel 11:2   Daniel 4:30 . Mr. Wood says, "It has ever been a custom with them," the Arabs in the East, "equally connected with health and pleasure, to pass the nights in summer upon the house-tops, which for this very purpose are made flat, and divided from each other by walls. We found this way of sleeping extremely agreeable; as we thereby enjoyed the cool air, above the reach of gnats and vapors, without any other covering than the canopy of heaven, which unavoidably presents itself in different pleasing forms, upon every interruption of rest, when silence and solitude strongly dispose the mid to contemplation,  Acts 10:9 . The roof of an ancient house was the best and often the only place, from which to get a view of the region around; hence the resort to it in times of peril,  Isaiah 15:3   22:1 . In many cases roofs were coated with hardened earth, through which, when cracked or soaked through by rain, the water dripped,  Proverbs 27:15; and in which, when neglected, the grass grows in spring, but soon withers after the rains have ceased,  Psalm 129:6,7   Isaiah 37:27 ."

The common material for building the best oriental houses is stone. Brick is also used. But the houses of the people in the East in general are very bad constructions, consisting of mud walls, reeds, and rushes; whence they become apt illustrations of the fragility of human life,  Job 4:19; and as mud, pebbles, and slime, or at best unburnt bricks are used informing the walls, the expression, "digging through houses,"  Job 24:16   Matthew 6:19   24:14 , is easily accounted for; as is the behavior of Ezekiel,  Ezekiel 12:5 , who dug through such a wall in the sight of the people; whereby, as may be imagined, he did little injury to his house; notwithstanding which, the symbol was very expressive to the beholders. So also the striking illustration in  Ezekiel 13:10-16 . On the sites of many ancient cities of Syria and Babylonia only the ruins of public edifices disappeared ages ago. Travellers near the Ganges and the Nile speak of multitudes of huts on the sandy banks of those rivers being swept away in a night by sudden freshets, leaving not a trace behind. This may illustrate our Savior's parable, in  Matthew 7:24-27 . See Tent .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

House. The houses of the rural poor in Egypt, as well as in most parts of Syria, Arabia and Persia, are generally mere huts of mud or sunburnt bricks. In some parts of Palestine and Arabia, stone is used, and, in certain districts, caves in the rocks are used as dwellings.  Amos 5:11. The houses are usually of one story only, namely, the ground floor, and often 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 they live in a raised platform, and, the cattle round them on the ground.  1 Samuel 28:24. The windows are small apertures high up in the walls, sometimes grated with wood. 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 used as sleeping-places in summer.

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. Within this, is a court or courts with apartments opening into them. Over the door is a projecting window with a lattice more or less elaborately wrought, which, except in times of public celebrations, is usually closed.  2 Kings 9:30.

An awning is sometimes drawn over the court, and the floor is strewed with carpets on festive occasions. The stairs to the upper apartments are, in Syria, usually in a corner of the court. 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. When there is no second floor, but more than one court, the women's apartments - hareems, harem or haram - are usually in the second court; otherwise, they form a separate building within the general enclosure, or are above on the first floor.

When there is an upper story, the ka'ah forms the most important apartment, and thus, probably, answers to the "upper room," which was often the guest-chamber.  Luke 22:12;  Acts 1:13;  Acts 9:37;  Acts 20:8. The windows of the upper rooms often project one or two feet, and form a kiosk or latticed chamber. Such may have been "the chamber in the wall."  2 Kings 4:10-11. The "lattice," through which Ahasiah fell, perhaps belonged to an upper chamber of this kind,  2 Kings 1:2, as also the "third loft," from which Eutychus fell.  Acts 20:9. Compare  Jeremiah 22:13.

Paul preached in such a room on account of its superior rise and retired position. The outer circle in an audience in such a room sat upon a dais, or upon cushions elevated so as to be as high as the window-sill. From such a position, Eutychus could easily fall. There are usually no special bed-rooms in eastern houses. The outer doors are closed with a wooden lock, but, in some cases, the apartments are divided from each other by curtains only. There are no chimneys, but fire is made, when required, with charcoal in a chafing-dish; or a fire of wood might be made in the open court of the house.  Luke 22:65.

Some houses in Cairo have an apartment open in front to the court with two or more arches and a railing, and a pillar to support the wall above. It was in a chamber of this size to be found in a palace, that our Lord was being arraigned, before the high priest, at the time when the denial of him, by St. Peter, took place. He "turned and looked" on Peter as he stood by the fire in the court,  Luke 22:56;  Luke 22:61;  John 18:24, whilst he himself was in the "hall of judgment."

In no point do Oriental domestic habits differ more from European than in the use of the roof. Its flat surface is made useful for various household purposes, such as drying corn, hanging up linen, and preparing figs and raisins. The roofs are used as places of recreation in the evening, and, often, as sleeping-places at night.  1 Samuel 9:25-26;  2 Samuel 11:2;  2 Samuel 16:22;  Job 27:18;  Proverbs 21:9;  Daniel 4:29. They were also used as places for devotion and even idolatrous worship.  2 Kings 23:12;  Jeremiah 19:13;  Jeremiah 32:29;  Zephaniah 1:6;  Acts 10:9.

At the time of the Feast of Tabernacles , booths were erected by the Jews, on the top of their houses. Protection of the roof by parapets was enjoined by the law.  Deuteronomy 22:8. Special apartments were devoted in larger houses to winter and summer uses.  Jeremiah 36:22;  Amos 3:15. The ivory house of Ahab was probably a palace largely ornamented with inlaid ivory. 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.  Judges 16:26.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [6]

A — 1: Οἶκος (Strong'S #3624 — Noun Masculine — oikos — oy'-kos )

denotes (a) "a house, a dwelling," e.g.,  Matthew 9:6,7;  11:8; it is used of the Tabernacle, as the House of God,  Matthew 12:4 , and the Temple similarly, e.g.,  Matthew 21:13;  Luke 11:51 , AV, "temple," RV, "sanctuary;"  John 2:16,17; called by the Lord "your house" in  Matthew 23:38;  Luke 13:35 (some take this as the city of Jerusalem); metaphorically of Israel as God's house,   Hebrews 3:2,5 , where "his house" is not Moses', but God's; of believers, similarly, ver. 6, where Christ is spoken of as "over God's House" (the word "own" is rightly omitted in the RV);  Hebrews 10:21;  1—Peter 2:5;  4:17; of the body,  Matthew 12:44;  Luke 11:24; (b) by metonymy, of the members of a household or family, e.g.,  Luke 10:5;  Acts 7:10;  11:14;  1—Timothy 3:4,5,12;  2—Timothy 1:16;  4:19 , RV (AV, "household");  Titus 1:11 (plural); of a local church,   1—Timothy 3:15; of the descendants of Jacob (Israel) and David, e.g.,  Matthew 10:6;  Luke 1:27,33;  Acts 2:36;  7:42 . See Home , A, No. 1. Note (1), Household

A — 2: Οἰκία (Strong'S #3614 — Noun Feminine — oikia — oy-kee'-ah )

is akin to No. 1, and used much in the same way; in Attic law oikos denoted the whole estate, oikia stood for the dwelling only; this distinction was largely lost in later Greek. In the NT it denotes (a) "a house, a dwelling," e.g.,  Matthew 2:11;  5:15;  7:24-27;  2—Timothy 2:20;  2—John 1:10; it is not used of the Tabernacle or the Temple, as in the case of No. 1; (b) metaphorically, the heavenly abode, spoken of by the Lord as "My Father's house,"  John 14:2 , the eternal dwelling place of believers; the body as the dwelling place of the soul,  2—Corinthians 5:1; similarly the resurrection body of believers (id.); property, e.g.,  Mark 12:40; by metonymy, the inhabitants of a house, a household, e.g.,  Matthew 12:25;  John 4:53;  1—Corinthians 16:15 . See Household.

B — 1: Πανοικεί (Strong'S #3832 — Adverb — panoikei — pan-oy-kee' )

denotes "with all the house,"  Acts 16:34 , i.e., "the household."

 2—Corinthians 5:2 1—Timothy 5:13 Acts 5:42  Acts 2:46Home.  1—Corinthians 1:11Household.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [7]

Israel’s conquest of Canaan under Joshua led to a new way of life for the Israelite people. One feature of this new way of life was a change in their domestic accommodation. Instead of being a wandering people who lived in tents and other temporary shelters, they were now a settled people who lived in houses (cf.  Numbers 24:5; see Tent ).

The Israelites built some of these houses themselves, but others they took over from the Canaanites. Often the houses were grouped together in villages or towns, where a surrounding wall protected them against attack. Farmers went out of the town and farmed their fields during the day, and returned to the safety of their homes at night ( Judges 9:42-45;  1 Samuel 6:18;  1 Chronicles 27:25).

The Israelite house

An ancient Israelite house was usually rectangular in plan, two storeyed, made of either stones or bricks, and covered on the inside walls with plaster ( Leviticus 14:40-42; cf.  Exodus 5:7). The house had to be built on a solid foundation, and the whole structure was held together by being built into huge stones at the corners of the building ( Isaiah 28:16;  Matthew 7:24-27;  Matthew 21:42; see Cornerstone ).

Outside the house, steps led up to the roof, which was a flat area used as a place to relax, sleep, pray and worship ( Jeremiah 32:29;  Mark 2:4;  Mark 13:15;  Acts 10:9). A railing or low wall around the edge of the roof prevented people from accidentally falling off ( Deuteronomy 22:8).

Inside the larger houses was a central courtyard where women did much of the cooking, washing and other household work. Water pots, jars and household utensils were usually kept in this courtyard ( Isaiah 44:16;  Jeremiah 25:10;  Ezekiel 24:3-5;  Mark 7:4;  Luke 22:55). People stored their family food and valuable possessions in the house, along with their farm tools and, at times, food for their animals ( Judges 19:21). Windows were usually covered with lattice for security (Song of  Song of Solomon 2:9).

The upper floor of a house may have consisted of one large room or may have been divided into several smaller rooms. This upper floor was used for sleeping, for accommodating guests, or for holding large gatherings ( Luke 22:12;  Acts 1:12;  Acts 20:8). In most houses furniture was simple, consisting only of those articles that were necessary ( 2 Kings 4:10). The houses of the rich, by contrast, were furnished lavishly ( Amos 3:15;  Amos 6:4-6).

Making good use of the house

God’s people are expected to use their houses, as they should use all things, for the glory of God ( Colossians 3:17). The house should, above all, be a home, where children and adults can live together in a healthy and enjoyable family life ( 1 Timothy 3:4;  1 Timothy 3:12;  1 Timothy 5:14; see Family ).

But Christians must not use their houses solely for their own benefit. Their houses should be places where other Christians can enjoy fellowship ( Acts 2:46;  Acts 16:15;  Acts 16:34;  Acts 21:8) and perhaps have regular meetings ( Romans 16:5;  1 Corinthians 16:19;  Colossians 4:15). They should use their houses to practise hospitality at all times – not just in entertaining friends, but in providing generous help and friendship to the lonely, the poor and the needy ( Isaiah 58:7;  Matthew 25:35;  Hebrews 13:2; see Hospitality ).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [8]

Bayith ( בַּיִת , Strong'S #1004), “house or building; home; household; land.” The noun has cognates in most other Semitic languages including biblical Aramaic. Bayith appears about 2,048 times in biblical Hebrew (44 times in Aramaic) and in all periods.

First, this noun denotes a fixed, established structure made from some kind of material. As a “permanent dwelling place” it is usually distinguished from a tent (2 Sam. 16:21, cf. v. 22). This word can even be applied to a one-room dwelling: “And he [Lot] said [to the two angels], Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house …” (Gen. 19:2). Bayith is also distinguished from temporary booths or huts: “And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him a house, and made booths for his cattle …” (Gen. 33:17). In Ps. 132:3 the word means “dwelling-living-place” and is used in direct conjunction with “tent” (literally, “tent of my house”): “Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed.” A similar usage appears in 1 Chron. 9:23 (literally, “the tent house”): “So they and their children had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Lord, namely, the house of the tabernacle, by wards.”

Second, in many passages (especially when the word is joined to the word God) bayith represents a place of worship or “sanctuary”: “The first of the first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God” (Exod. 23:19). Elsewhere this noun signifies God’s temple in Jerusalem: “And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle …” (1 Kings 6:5). Sometimes the word has this meaning although it is not further defined (cf. Ezek. 41:7).

Third, bayith can signify rooms and/or wings of a house: “And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the [harem] (literally, to the house of the women; Esth. 2:3).…” In this connection bayith can also represent the inside of a building or some other structure as opposed to the outside: “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” (Gen. 6:14—the first biblical occurrence).

Fourth, bayith sometimes refers to the place where something or someone dwells or rests. So the underworld (Sheol) is termed a “home”: “If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness” (Job 17:13). An “eternal home” is one’s grave: “… Man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets” (Eccl. 12:5). “House” can also mean “place” when used with “grave,” as in Neh. 2:3: “Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers.…” Bayith means a receptacle (NASB, “box”) in Isa. 3:20. In 1 Kings 18:32 the “house of two seeds” is a container for seed: “And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain [literally, “a house of”] two measures of seed.” Houses for bars are supports: “And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places [literally, “houses”] for the bars” (Exod. 26:29). Similarly, see “the places [house] of the two paths,” a crossing of two paths, in Prov. 8:2. The steppe is termed the “house of beasts”: “… whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings [house of beasts]” (Job 39:6).

Fifth, bayith is often used of those who live in a house, i.e., a “household”: “Come thou and all thy house into the ark …” (Gen. 7:1). In passages such as Josh. 7:14 this word means “family”: “… And it shall be, that the tribe which the Lord taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the Lord shall take shall come by households [literally, by house or by those who live in a single dwelling].…” In a similar nuance this noun means “descendants”: “And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi” (Exod. 2:1). This word can be used of one’s extended family and even of everyone who lives in a given area: “And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah” (2 Sam. 2:4). Gen. 50:4, however, uses bayith in the sense of “a royal court” or all the people in a king’s court: “And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh.…” The ideas “royal court” and “descendant” are joined in 1 Sam. 20:16: “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David.…”

In a few passages bayith means “territory” or “country”: “Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord …” (Hos. 8:1; 9:15; Jer. 12:7; Zech. 9:8).

Holman Bible Dictionary [9]

Abraham left Mesopotamia where he lived in houses made of mud brick (compare  Genesis 11:3 ) and became a tent dweller ( Hebrews 11:9 ). Tents were made of goat hair and were suitable to nomadic life. His descendants apparently lived in tents until the time of Joshua, when they captured Canaan and began to build houses like the Canaanites. In the lowlands of the Jordan Valley the houses were built of mud brick because stone was not readily available. This type of construction may still be seen in the refugee camps of modern Jericho. In the hill country field stones were used. Although slight differences existed in house construction over centuries of time, those which have been excavated manifest a similar style. The homes of the poor were small and modest, consisting of one to four rooms, usually, and almost always including a courtyard on the east of the house so that the prevailing westerly winds would blow the smoke away from the house. In this courtyard the family carried on most of its activity. Food was prepared here in an oven built of clay. Storage jars were kept here, and animals were often housed here. However, the house only met the essential needs of family life such as shelter, a place to prepare food, make clothing and pottery, care for animals, etc. Social life was normally conducted at the community well or spring, the city gate, the marketplace, or in the fields at work. Because of the heat in summer and the cold in the winter, houses were built with few, if any, windows. This also provided more protection from intruders, but it meant that the houses were dark and uninviting. The only escape from the dim, cramped interior of the house was the courtyard and especially the flat roof. Here, the women of the house could do many of their daily chores—the washing, weaving, drying of figs and dates, and even the cooking. It was a wonderful place to enjoy the cool breezes in the heat of the day and to sleep in the summer ( Acts 10:9; compare  2 Kings 4:10 ). The roof was supported by beams laid across the tops o narrow rooms, which were then covered by brush and mud packed to a firm and smooth surface. The paralytic at Capernaum was let down to Jesus through a hole “dug out” of such a roof ( Mark 2:4; it was covered with clay tiles— Luke 5:19 ). In the time of Moses, the Israelites were required to build a bannister around the roof to prevent falling off ( Deuteronomy 22:8 ).

Unlike the poor, wealthy families built larger houses which sometimes utilized cut stone. They furnished them with chairs, tables, and couches which could double as beds. The poor had neither the space nor money for furniture. They ate and slept on floor mats which could be rolled out for that purpose. Most floors consisted of beaten earth, although some were made of mud and lime plaster and occasionally even limestone slabs. The wealthy in the time of the New Testament were able to cover their floors with beautiful mosaics and adorn their plastered walls with lovely frescoes. By this time, many of the better homes, under Roman influence, included atria, which added to the concept of outdoor living already experienced in the courtyards and on the roofs. There is evidence that two story houses were built throughout biblical times, the upper floor being reached by outside stairs or ladders.

John McRay

King James Dictionary [10]

HOUSE, n. hous. L. casa Heb. to put on, to cover.

1. In a general sense, a building or shed intended or used as a habitation or shelter for animals of any kind but appropriately, a building or edifice for the habitation of man a dwelling place, mansion or abode for any of the human species. It may be of any size and composed of any materials whatever, wood, stone, brick, &c. 2. An edifice or building appropriated to the worship of God a temple a church as the house of God. 3. A monastery a college as a religious house. 4. The manner of living the table.

He keeps a good house, or a miserable house.

5. In astrology, the station of a planet in the heavens, or the twelfth part of the heavens. 6. A family of ancestors descendants and kindred a race of persons from the same stock a tribe. It particularly denotes a noble family or an illustrious race as the house of Austria the house of Hanover. So in Scripture, the house of Israel,or of Judah.

Two of a house few ages can afford.

7. One of the estates of a kingdom assembled in parliament or legislature a body of men united in their legislative capacity, and holding their place by right or by election. Thus we say, the house of lords or peers of Great Britain the house of commons the house of representatives. In most of the United States, the legislatures consist of two houses, the senate, and the house of representatives or delegates. 8. The quorum of a legislative body the number of representatives assembled who are constitutionally empowered to enact laws. Hence we say, there is a sufficient number of representatives present to form a house. 9. In Scripture, those who dwell in a house and compose a family a household.

Cornelius was a devout man, and feared God with all his house.  Acts 10

10. Wealth estate.

Ye devour widows' houses.  Matthew 23

11. The grave as the house appointed for all living.  Job 30 12. Household affairs domestic concerns.

Set thy house in order.  2 Kings 20

13. The body the residence of the soul in this world as our earthly house.  2 Corinthians 5 14. The church among the Jews.

Moses was faithful in all his house.  Hebrews 3

15. A place of residence. Egypt is called the house of bondage.  Exodus 13 16. A square, or division on a chess board.

HOUSE, houz. To cover from the inclemencies of the weather to shelter to protect by covering as, to house wood to house farming utensils to house cattle.

1. To admit to residence to harbor.

Palladius wished him to house all the Helots.

2. To deposit and cover, as in the grave. 3. To drive to a shelter.

HOUSE, houz. To take shelter or lodgings to keep abode to reside.

To house with darkness and with death.

1. To have an astrological station in the heavens.

Where Saturn houses.

Webster's Dictionary [11]

(1): ( n.) Those who dwell in the same house; a household.

(2): ( n.) A structure intended or used as a habitation or shelter for animals of any kind; but especially, a building or edifice for the habitation of man; a dwelling place, a mansion.

(3): ( n.) Household affairs; domestic concerns; particularly in the phrase to keep house. See below.

(4): ( n.) One of the estates of a kingdom or other government assembled in parliament or legislature; a body of men united in a legislative capacity; as, the House of Lords; the House of Commons; the House of Representatives; also, a quorum of such a body. See Congress, and Parliament.

(5): ( n.) A firm, or commercial establishment.

(6): ( n.) A public house; an inn; a hotel.

(7): ( n.) A twelfth part of the heavens, as divided by six circles intersecting at the north and south points of the horizon, used by astrologers in noting the positions of the heavenly bodies, and casting horoscopes or nativities. The houses were regarded as fixed in respect to the horizon, and numbered from the one at the eastern horizon, called the ascendant, first house, or house of life, downward, or in the direction of the earth's revolution, the stars and planets passing through them in the reverse order every twenty-four hours.

(8): ( n.) A family of ancestors, descendants, and kindred; a race of persons from the same stock; a tribe; especially, a noble family or an illustrious race; as, the house of Austria; the house of Hanover; the house of Israel.

(9): ( n.) An audience; an assembly of hearers, as at a lecture, a theater, etc.; as, a thin or a full house.

(10): ( n.) The body, as the habitation of the soul.

(11): ( n.) The grave.

(12): ( n.) A square on a chessboard, regarded as the proper place of a piece.

(13): ( v. t.) To take or put into a house; to shelter under a roof; to cover from the inclemencies of the weather; to protect by covering; as, to house one's family in a comfortable home; to house farming utensils; to house cattle.

(14): ( v. t.) To drive to a shelter.

(15): ( v. t.) To admit to residence; to harbor.

(16): ( v. t.) To deposit and cover, as in the grave.

(17): ( v. t.) To stow in a safe place; to take down and make safe; as, to house the upper spars.

(18): ( v. i.) To take shelter or lodging; to abide to dwell; to lodge.

(19): ( v. i.) To have a position in one of the houses. See House, n., 8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [12]

The word house, in Scripture, means somewhat more than the mere residence of a family; indeed, it hath various significations. Heaven is called the house of God, "an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." The grave is called "the house appointed for all living." ( Job 30:23) The church is called "the house of the living God." Ye also, saith Peter, speaking to the faithful, "are built up a spiritual house." ( 1 Peter 2:5;  Hebrews 3:6) But in a more general way, a family is called an house, such as the house of the Rechabites, ( Jeremiah 35:2) the house of David, ( Zechariah 13:1) But amidst all these, and more to the like import, that undoubtedly is the highest and the best sense of the word which considers the Lord Jesus Christ himself as the High Priest and Head of his body the church, and the bodies of his people the temple of his indwelling residence by his Spirit. And the conscious sense of his presence, in upholding, acting upon, comforting, refreshing, stengthening, and witnessing to the soul, and for the Lord in the soul, these are among the most blessed evidences in the enjoyment of the household of faith. Here, in the fullest sense of the expression, the church, and every individual believer forming a part in that church, may and is called the house of the living God. "Lo! I come, said Jehovah and I will dwell in the midst of thee;" ( Zechariah 2:11) and this scriptural sense of the word may serve to shew why it was the patriarchs, and holy men of old, were so anxious concerning their households and brailles. Thus the faithful Abraham, after that the Lord had revealed himself unto him in vision, and said, "Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield, and thine exceeding great reward;" the patriarch felt a boldness to ask of God concerning his household. Abram said, "Lord God! what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of ray house is this Eliezer of Damascus?" ( Genesis 15:1-2) meaning, that he was not born of his bowels, but Damascus born, probably a black. Now as it is well known, that every black slave when freed by his master, was always after known by the name of "the child" of the house, (for so the phrase steward of my house means,) it is likely, that Abram felt some jealousy concerning this freed slave being his heir. And the very name Eliezer was not a little in countenancing this idea, which signified the help of my God. But I leave the reader to his own views of this subject, only remarking farther, that the Lord's gracious answer concerning Isaac seems a confirmation, that it was in this, or some such like sense, the house or family was regarded. See  Genesis 15:4-6.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [13]

 Deuteronomy 7:8 (a) This is a reference to the nation of Egypt. (See also  Deuteronomy 8:14).

 Deuteronomy 25:10 (a) The type here is used to describe a family or the line of generation. (See also  Ruth 4:12;  Judges 8:35;  Judges 9:6;  Judges 10:9;  1 Samuel 3:14;  2 Samuel 3:1). In quite a number of places throughout the Scriptures the word "house" is used as a reference to a family in various generations, or to a nation.

 Isaiah 66:1 (b) This is a type of the building which the Lord expects each believer to construct in his life for the glory of GOD and the blessing of men. This house must have a right foundation, Jesus Christ:

  • a heating plant to keep the heart and soul on fire for GOD;
  • a kitchen so that the food may be prepared for the soul;
  • a library for the education and instruction of the mind;
  • a music room to keep the heart singing;
  • a parlor for hospitality;
  • a bedroom for rest;
  • a bath room for cleansing;
  • an attic for storage;

and also the light of the Word and the water of the Spirit.

 Matthew 7:26 (a) Refers to the kind of life one builds for eternity. If he builds on Christ his life will stand the tests of time and eternity. If he builds on character, morals, tradition or false religions, it will be destroyed under the storm of GOD's wrath.

 2 Corinthians 5:1 (a) This refers to the physical body in which we live.

 1 Timothy 3:15 (a) This is a name applied to the entire church of GOD composed of all believers.

 2 Timothy 2:20 (b) This type refers to the church of GOD in which there are some who are very valuable, and other people who do not seem to be so important. In every home there are beautiful vases, and other valuable vessels in the parlor. They are expensive, attractive, and receive much attention from the visitors. In the kitchen of the same home there are the skillet, the tea kettle, the baking pans, and other such inferior vessels. They are just as essential, or more so, than those in the parlor. We could keep house without those in the parlor, but we would not get along very well without those in the kitchen. Our Lord is telling us that if we purge ourselves from the sins that are mentioned in the early part of this chapter, the entangling with the world, the attractiveness of sins, the mishandling of the Word of GOD, profane babbling, and false teachings, then we shall be vessels unto honor. Some of us will serve in the kitchen, and others in the parlor.

 Hebrews 3:5-6 (b) In verse5 the type represents the nation of Israel. In verse6 it represents the church of GOD, of which the Lord Jesus is the head.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [14]

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 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [15]

 Genesis 47:3 Exodus 12:7 Hebrews 11:9 1 Kings 7:9 Isaiah 9:10 1 Chronicles 29:2 1 Kings 6:15 7:2 10:11,12 2 Chronicles 3:5 Jeremiah 22:14 Ezra 6:4 Jeremiah 22:14 Haggai 1:4 1 Kings 22:39 2 Chronicles 3:6 Psalm 45:8

The roofs of the dwelling-houses were flat, and are often alluded to in Scripture ( 2 Samuel 11:2;  Isaiah 22:1;  Matthew 24:17 ). Sometimes tents or booths were erected on them ( 2 Samuel 16:22 ). They were protected by parapets or low walls ( Deuteronomy 22:8 ). On the house-tops grass sometimes grew ( Proverbs 19:13;  27:15;  Psalm 129:6,7 ). They were used, not only as places of recreation in the evening, but also sometimes as sleeping-places at night ( 1 Samuel 9:25,26;  2 Samuel 11:2;  16:22;  Daniel 4:29;  Job 27:18;  Proverbs 21:9 ), and as places of devotion ( Jeremiah 32:29;  19:13 ).

People's Dictionary of the Bible [16]

House. See Dwelling.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [17]

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [18]

hous ( בּית , bayı̄th  ; οῖκος , oı́kos , in classical Greek generally "an estate," οἰκία , oikı́a , οἲκημα , oı́kēma (literally, "habitation"), in   Acts 12:1 , "prison"):

I. Cave Dwellings

II. Stone-Built and Mud/Brick-Built Houses

1. Details of Plan and Construction

(1) Corner-Stone

(2) Floor

(3) Gutter

(4) Door

(5) Hinge

(6) Lock and Key

(7) Threshold

(8) Hearth

(9) Window

(10) Roof

2. Houses of More than One Story

(1) Upper Chambers and Stairs

(2) Palaces and Castles

3. Internal Appearance

III. Other Meanings


I. Cave Dwellings

The earliest permanent habitations of the prehistoric inhabitants of Palestine were the natural caves which abound throughout the country. As the people increased and grouped themselves into communities, these abodes were supplemented by systems of artificial caves which, in some cases, developed into extensive burrowings of many adjoining compartments, having in each system several entrances. These entrances were usually cut through the roof down a few steps, or simply dropped to the floor from the rock surface. The sinking was shallow and the headroom low but sufficient for the undersized troglodites who were the occupiers.

II. Stone-Built and Mud/Brick-Built Houses

There are many references to the use of caves as dwellings in the Old Testament. Lot dwelt with his two daughters in cave ( Genesis 19:30 ). Elijah, fleeing from Jezebel, lodged in a cave ( 1 Kings 19:9 ). The natural successor to the cave was the stone-built hut, and just as the loose field-bowlders and the stones, quarried from the caves, served their first and most vital uses in the building of defense walls, so did they later become material for the first hut. Caves, during the rainy season, were faulty dwellings, as at the time when protection was most needed, they were being flooded through the surface openings which formed their entrances. The rudest cell built of rough stones in mud and covered a with roof of brushwood and mud was at first sufficient. More elaborate plans of several apartments, entering from what may be called a living-room, followed as a matter of course, and these, huddled together, constituted the homes of the people. Mud-brick buildings ( Job 4:19 ) of similar plan occur, and to protect this friable material from the weather, the walls were sometimes covered with a casing of stone slabs, as at Lachish. (See Bliss, A Mound of Many Cities .) Generally speaking, this rude type of building prevailed, although, in some of the larger buildings, square dressed and jointed stones were used. There is little or no sign of improvement until the period of the Hellenistic influence, and even then the improvement was slight, so far as the homes of the common people were concerned.

1. Details of Plan and Construction

One should observe an isometric sketch and plan showing construction of a typical small house from Gezer. The house is protected and approached from the street by an open court, on one side of which is a covered way. The doors enter into a living-room from which the two very small inner private rooms, bedchambers , are reached. Builders varied the plan to suit requirements, but in the main, this plan may be taken as typical. When members of a family married, extra accommodation was required. Additions were made as well as could be arranged on the cramped site, and in consequence, plans often became such a meaningless jumble that it is impossible to identify the respective limits of adjoining houses. The forecourt was absorbed and crushed out of existence, so that in many of the plans recovered the arrangement is lost.

(1) Corner-Stone

Corner-stone ( פנּה , pinnāh ,   Isaiah 28:16;  Jeremiah 51:26; λίθος ἀκρογωνιαῖος , lı́thos akrogōniaı́os ,  1 Peter 2:6 ). - I n the construction of rude boulder walls, more especially on a sloping site, as can be seen today in the highlands of Scotland and Wales, a large projecting boulder was built into the lower angle-course. It tied together the return angles and was one of the few bond-stones used in the building. This most necessary support claimed chief importance and as such assumed a figurative meaning frequently used (  Isaiah 28:16;  1 Peter 2:6; see Corner-Stone ). The importance given to the laying of a sure foundation is further emphasized by the dedication rites in common practice, evidence of which has been found on various sites in Palestine (see Excavations of Gezer ). The discovery of human remains placed diagonally below the foundations of the returning angle of the house gives proof of the exercise of dedication rites both before and after the Conquest. Hiel sacrificed his firstborn to the foundations of Jericho and his youngest son to the gates thereof ( 1 Kings 16:34 ). But this was in a great cause compared with a similar sacrifice to a private dwelling. The latter manifests a respect scarcely borne out by the miserable nature of the houses so dedicated. At the same time, it gives proof of the frequent collapse of structures which the winter rains made inevitable and at which superstition trembled. The fear of pending disaster to the man who failed to make his sacrifice is recorded in  Deuteronomy 20:5 : "What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle." See illustration, p. 550.

(2) Floor

Floor ( קרקע , ḳarḳa‛ ). - W hen houses were built on the rock outcrop, the floor was roughly leveled on the rock surface, but it is more common to find floors of beaten clay similar to the native floor of the present day. Stone slabs were sparingly used, and only appear in the houses of the great. It is unlikely that wood was much used as a flooring to houses, although Solomon used it for his temple floor ( 1 Kings 6:15 ).

(3) Gutter

Gutter ( צנּור , cinnōr ). - T he "gutter" in  2 Samuel 5:8 the King James Version is obviously difficult to associate with the gutter of a house, except in so far as it may have a similar meaning to the water duct or "water course" (Revised Version (British and American)) leading to the private cistern, which formed part of the plan. Remains of open channels for this purpose have been found of rough stones set in clay, sometimes leading through a silt pit into the cistern.

(4) Door

Door ( דּלת , deleth , פתח , pethaḥ  ; θύρα , thúra ). - Doorways were simple, square, entering openings in the wall with a stone or wood lintel ( mashḳōph ,   Exodus 12:22 ,  Exodus 12:23; 'ayı̄l ,  1 Kings 6:31 ) and a stone threshold raised slightly above the floor. It is easy to imagine the earliest wooden door as a simple movable boarded cover with back bars, fixed vertically by a movable bar slipped into sockets in the stone jambs. Doorposts ( ṣaph ,  Ezekiel 41:16 ) appear to have been in use, but, until locks were introduced, it is difficult to imagine a reason for them. Posts, when introduced, were probably let into the stone at top and bottom, and, unlike our present door frame, had no head-piece. When no wood was used, the stone jambs of the opening constituted the doorposts. To the present day the post retains its function as commanded in   Deuteronomy 6:9;  Deuteronomy 11:20 , and in it is fitted a small case containing a parchment on which is written the exhortation to obedience.

(5) Hinge

Hinge ( פת , pōth ,   1 Kings 7:50; ציר , cı̄r ,  Proverbs 26:14 ). - S pecimens of sill and head sockets of stone have been discovered which suggest the use of the pivot hinge, the elongated swinging stile of the door being let into the sockets at top and bottom. A more advanced form of construction was necessary to this type of door than in the previous instance, and some little skill was required to brace it so that it would hold together. The construction of doors and windows is an interesting question, as it is in these two details that the joinery craft first claimed development. There is no indication, however, of anything of the nature of advancement, and it seems probable that there was none.

(6) Lock and Key

Lock and key ("lock," man‛ūl ,   Nehemiah 3:3;  Song of Solomon 5:5; "key," maphtēaḥ ,  Judges 3:25; figurative.  Isaiah 22:22; κλείς , kleı́s ,  Matthew 16:19 , etc.). - I n later Hellenic times a sort of primitive lock and key appeared, similar to the Arabic type. See Excavations of Gezer , I, 197, and illustration in article Key .

(7) Threshold

Threshold ( סף , ṣaph ,   1 Kings 14:17;  Ezekiel 40:6; מפתּן , miphtān ,  1 Samuel 5:4 ,  1 Samuel 5:5;  Ezekiel 9:3 , etc.). - N ext to the corner-stone, the threshold was specially sacred, and in many instances foundation-sacrifices have been found buried under the threshold. In later times, when the Hebrews became weaned of this unholy practice, the rite remained with the substitution of a lamp enclosed between two bowls as a symbol of the life. See Gezer .

(8) Hearth

Hearth ( אח , 'āḥ ,   Jeremiah 36:22 ,  Jeremiah 36:23 , the Revised Version (British and American) "brazier"; כּיּור , kiyyōr ). - T he references in the Old Testament and the frequent discovery of hearths make it clear that so much provision for heating had been made. It is unlikely, however, that chimneys were provided. The smoke from the wood or charcoal fuel was allowed to find its way through the door and windows and the many interstices occurring in workmanship of the worst possible description. The "chimney" referred to (  Hosea 13:3 ) is a doubtful translation. The "fire in the brazier" (  Jeremiah 36:22 the Revised Version (British and American)) which burned before the king of Judah in his "winter house" was probably of charcoal. The modern natives, during the cold season, huddle around and warm their hands at a tiny glow in much the same way as their ancient predecessors. The use of cow and camel dung for baking- oven ( tannūr ) fires appears to have continued from the earliest time to the present day ( Ezekiel 4:15 ). See also Hearth .

(9) Window

Window ( θυρίς , thurı́s ,   Acts 20:9;  2 Corinthians 11:33 ). - I t would appear that windows were often simple openings in the wall which were furnished with some method of closing, which, it may be conjectured, was somewhat the same as the primitive door previously mentioned. The window of the ark ( ḥallōn ,  Genesis 8:6 ), the references in  Genesis 26:8;  Joshua 2:15 , and the window from which Jezebel looked ( 2 Kings 9:30 ), were presumably of the casement class. Ahaziah fell through a lattice ( ṣebhākhāh ) in the same palace, and the same word is used for the "networks" ( 1 Kings 7:41 ) "covering the bowls of the capitals," and in  Song of Solomon 2:9 , "through the lattice" ( ḥărakkı̄m ). It would appear, therefore, that some variety of treatment existed, and that the simple window opening with casement and the opening filled in with a lattice or grill were distinct. Windows were small, and, according to the Mishna, were kept not less than 6 ft. from floor to sill. The lattice was open, without glass filling, and in this connection there is the interesting figurative reference in   Isaiah 54:12 the King James Version, "windows of agates," translated in the Revised Version (British and American) "pinnacles of rubies." Heaven is spoken of as having "windows" ( 'ărubbāh ) for rain ( Genesis 7:11;  Genesis 8:2;  2 Kings 7:2 , etc.).

(10) Roof

Roof ( גּג , gagh  ; στέγη , stégē ). - T hese were flat. Compare "The beams of our house are cedars, and our rafters are firs" ( Song of Solomon 1:17 ). To get over the difficulty of the larger spans, a common practice was to introduce a main beam ( ה , ḳūrāh ) carried on the walls and strengthened by one or more intermediate posts let into stone sockets laid on the floor. Smaller timbers as joists ("rafters ," rāhı̄ṭ ) were spaced out and covered in turn with brushwood; the final covering, being of mud mixed with chopped straw, was beaten and rolled. A tiny stone roller is found on every modern native roof, and is used to roll the mud into greater solidity every year on the advent of the first rains. Similar rollers have been found among the ancient remains throughout the country; see Excavations of Gezer , I, 190; PEFS , Warren's letters, 46. "They let him down through the tiles (κέραμος , kéramos ) with his couch into the midst before Jesus" ( Luke 5:19 ) refers to the breaking through of a roof similar to this. The roof ("housetop ," gagh  ; δῶμα , dō̇ma ) was an important part of every house and was subjected to many uses. It was used for worship ( 2 Kings 23:12;  Jeremiah 19:13;  Jeremiah 32:29;  Zephaniah 1:5;  Acts 10:9 ). Absalom spread his tent on the "top of the house" ( 2 Samuel 16:22 ). In the Feast of the Tabernacles temporary booths ( ṣukkāh ) were erected on the housetops. The people, as is their habit today, gathered together on the roof as a common meeting-place on high days and holidays ( Judges 16:27 ). The wild wranglings which can be heard in any modern native village, resulting in vile accusations and exposure of family secrets hurled from the housetops of the conflicting parties, illustrate the passage, "And what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed upon the housetops" ( Luke 12:3 ).

2. Houses of More than One Story

(1) Upper Chambers and Stairs

It is certain that there were upper chambers ( ‛ălı̄yāh  ; ὑπερῷον , huperō̇on ,   Acts 9:37 , etc.) to some of the houses. Ahaziah was fatally injured by falling from the window of his palace, and a somewhat similar fate befell his mother, Jezebel ( 2 Kings 1:2;  2 Kings 9:33 ). The escape of the spies from the house on the wall at Jericho ( Joshua 2:15 ) and that of Paul from Damascus ( 2 Corinthians 11:33 ) give substantial evidence of window openings at a considerable height. Elijah carried the son of the widow of Zarephath "up into the chamber." The Last Supper was held in an upper chamber ( Mark 14:15 ). Some sort of stairs ( ה , ma‛̇ălāh ) of stone or wood must have existed, and the lack of the remains of stone steps suggests that they were wood steps, probably in the form of ladders.

(2) Palaces and Castles

Palaces and castles ( 'armōn , bı̄rah , hēkhāl  ; αὐλή , aulḗ , παρεμβολη , parembole ). - T hese were part of every city and were more elaborate in plan, raised in all probability to some considerable height. The Canaanite castle discovered by Macalister at Gezer shows a building of enormously thick walls and small rooms. Reisner has unearthed Ahab's palace at Samaria, revealing a plan of considerable area. Solomon's palace is detailed in  1 Kings 7 (see Temple ). In this class may also be included the megalithic fortified residences with the beehive guard towers of an earlier date, described by Dr. Mackenzie ( Pef , I) .

3. Internal Appearance

Walls were plastered (  Leviticus 14:43 ,  Leviticus 14:18 ), and small fragments of painted (  Jeremiah 22:14 ) plaster discovered from time to time show that some attempt at mural decoration was made, usually in the form of crudely painted line ornament. Walls were recessed here and there into various forms of cupboards (which see) at various levels. The smaller cuttings in the wall were probably for lamps, and in the larger and deeper recesses bedmats may have been kept and garments stored.

III. Other Meanings

The word has often the sense of "household," and this term is frequently substituted in the Revised Version (British and American) for "house" of the King James Version (e.g.  Exodus 12:3;  2 Kings 7:11;  2 Kings 10:5;  2 Kings 15:5;  Isaiah 36:3;  1 Corinthians 1:11;  1 Timothy 5:14 ); in certain cases for phrases with "house" the Revised Version (British and American) has "at home". (Acts 12:46;  Acts 5:42 ). See House Of God; Household .


Macalister, Excavations at Gezer  ; Pefs  ; Sellin, Excavations at Taanach  ; Schumacher, Excavations at Tell Mutesellim  ; Bliss, Mound of Many Cities  ; articles in Dictionaries and Encyclopedias.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [19]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'House'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.