The materials used in buildings were commonly bricks, sometimes also stones ( Leviticus 14:40 Leviticus 14:42 ), which were held together by cement ( Jeremiah 43:9 ) or bitumen ( Genesis 11:3 ). The exterior was usually whitewashed ( Leviticus 14:41 ; Ezekiel 13:10 ; Matthew 23:27 ). The beams were of sycamore ( Isaiah 9:10 ), or olive-wood, or cedar ( 1 Kings 7:2 ; Isaiah 9:10 ).
The form of Eastern dwellings differed in many respects from that of dwellings in Western lands. The larger houses were built in a quadrangle enclosing a court-yard ( Luke 5:19 ; 2 Sam 17:18 ; Nehemiah 8:16 ) surrounded by galleries, which formed the guest-chamber or reception-room for visitors. The flat roof, surrounded by a low parapet, was used for many domestic and social purposes. It was reached by steps from the court. In connection with it ( 2 Kings 23:12 ) was an upper room, used as a private chamber ( 2 Samuel 18:33 ; Daniel 6:11 ), also as a bedroom ( 2 Kings 23:12 ), a sleeping apartment for guests ( 2 Kings 4:10 ), and as a sick-chamber ( 1 Kings 17:19 ). The doors, sometimes of stone, swung on morticed pivots, and were generally fastened by wooden bolts. The houses of the more wealthy had a doorkeeper or a female porter ( John 18:16 ; Acts 12:13 ). The windows generally opened into the courtyard, and were closed by a lattice (Judg. 5:28 ). The interior rooms were set apart for the female portion of the household.