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.
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.
Bibliography InformationEaston, Matthew George. "Entry for Dwellings". "Easton's Bible Dictionary".