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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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KNOCKING.—The guarding of the Oriental house-door led to the more elaborate precautions with regard to entrance by the city gate.

1. During the daytime any unannounced approach is felt to be unneighbourly, and open to suspicion. It is regarded as an act of thoughtlessness or implied contempt to ride up to a Bedawî tent from behind. The privacy or domestic life forbids a visitor from entering even the walled enclosure round the house, without first knocking and asking permission. He must wait until his call is heard, and the bar of the door or gate, if closed, has been removed by a member or servant who can conduct him into the house.

2. It is, however, at night that the difficulty is greatest. The family have retired together into a room with closed doors, and on account of the habit of sleeping with the coverlet drawn over the head they usually are unable for a time to hear the sound of knocking at the door. In the still, elastic air it is also difficult to localize the sound. In this way one is often disturbed by the loud persistent knocking and summoning by name resorted to by a neighbour who has returned late at night to his house (Luke 12:36). The large wooden key of ancient times was too cumbersome to carry about, so that even one who had the right to enter, or was sure of being welcome, had to wait outside until the door was opened (Acts 12:16). It was to those already familiar with such obstacles and the way of overcoming them that Christ said with regard to a higher entrance, ‘Knock, and it shall be opened unto you’ (Matthew 7:7-8); cf. Revelation 3:20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.’

G. M. Mackie.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Knocking'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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