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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Roofs

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The letting down of the paralytic through the roof of the house where Jesus was, is satisfactorily explained by the following extract from Shaw's Travels: "The houses throughout the east are low, having generally a ground floor only, or one upper story, and flat-roofed, the roof being covered with a strong coat of plaster of terrace. They are built round a paved court, into which the entrance from the street is through a gateway or passage room furnished with benches, and sufficiently large to be used for receiving visits or transacting business. The stairs which lead to the roof are never placed on the outside of the house in the street, but usually in the gateway, or passage room to the court, sometimes at the entrance within the court. This court is now called, in Arabic, el woost, or ‘the middle of the house,' literally answering to το μ εσον of St. Luke 5:19 . It is customary to fix cords from the parapet walls, Deuteronomy 22:8 , of the flat roofs across this court, and upon them to expand a veil or covering, as a shelter from the heat. In this area, probably, our Saviour taught. The paralytic was brought on to the roof by making a way through the crowd to the stairs in the gateway, or by the terraces of the adjoining houses. They rolled back the veil, and let the sick man down over the parapet of the roof into the area or court of the house, before Jesus." The windows of the eastern houses being chiefly within, facing the court, in order to see what was going on without in the streets of the city, the only way was to run up to the flat roof. Hence the frequent expression in Scripture, when allusion is made to sudden tumults and calamities, to get up to "the house top." See HOUSES .


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Roofs'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/r/roofs.html. 1831-2.

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