|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
22:5-12 God's providence extends itself to the smallest affairs, and his precepts do so, that even in them we may be in the fear of the Lord, as we are under his eye and care. Yet the tendency of these laws, which seem little, is such, that being found among the things of God's law, they are to be accounted great things. If we would prove ourselves to be God's people, we must have respect to his will and to his glory, and not to the vain fashions of the world. Even in putting on our garments, as in eating or in drinking, all must be done with a serious regard to preserve our own and others' purity in heart and actions. Our eye should be single, our heart simple, and our behaviour all of a piece.
Verse 8. - Still less was human life to be exposed to danger through neglect of proper precautions. The houses in Palestine, as in other parts of the East, had flat roofs, and, as these were much frequented by the inhabitants for various purposes (cf. Joshua 2:6; 2 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 18:24; Nehemiah 8:16; Matthew 10:27; Acts 10:9), it was necessary that a battlement or balustrade should surround the roof, in order to prevent persons falling over. Hence the direction here given.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
When thou buildest a new house,.... Which is to be understood of a house to dwell in, not of a granary, barn, or stable, or such like, and every house that is not four cubits square, as Maimonides observes (f):
then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof; in the Talmud (g) it is asked, what is the meaning of, or why is it said, "thy roof?" to except synagogues and schools; the gloss upon which is, synagogues, &c. do not belong to any single person, and besides are no dwelling place. A battlement, as Jarrift describes it, was a fence round the roof; or, as more fully described by Kimchi (h), it was an edifice made for a roof round about it, ten hands high, or more, that a person might not fall from it; so Ben Melech from him. The reason of this law was, because the roofs of houses in those countries were flat, on which they used to walk for diversion and recreation, or retire for devotion, meditation, prayer, and social conversation; such they were in the times of the Canaanites, Joshua 2:6 and in the times of Saul and David, 1 Samuel 9:25 and in the times of the New Testament; See Gill on Matthew 10:27; see Gill on Matthew 24:17; see Gill on Mark 2:4; see Gill on Acts 10:9, and so in later times, and to this day. Rauwolff (i), traveller in those parts, relates, that at Tripoli in Phoenicia,"they have low houses, ill built, and flat at the top, as they are generally in the east; for they cover their houses with a flat roof or floor, so that you may walk about as far as the houses go, and the neighbours walk over the tops of their houses to visit one another; and sometimes in the summer they sleep on the top of them.''Now to prevent falling from thence, and mischief thereby, such a battlement as before described was ordered:
that thou bring not blood upon thy house; be not the occasion of blood being shed, or contract guilt of blood through negligence of such a provision the law directs to, the guilt of manslaughter, or of shedding innocent blood in thy house, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; hence the Talmudists (k) extend this to other things, and by this law also they suppose men are bound to guard against all dangers in any other way; as if a man had a well or pit of water in his courtyard, he ought either to put a cover over it, or to make a fence round it as high as this battlement (l):
if any man fall from thence; that is, if a man walking on the roof of an house should make a slip or a false step, and stumble and reel, and so be falling, and fall from thence; which might have been prevented, even his falling from thence or to the ground, if such a battlement had been made.
(f) Hilchot Rotzeach, c. 11. sect. 1.((g) T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 136. 1. So Maimonides, ib. sect. 2.((h) Sepher Shorash. rad. (i) Travels, par. 1. c. 2. p. 17. Ed. Ray. (k) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 15. 2.((l) Maimon. Hilchot Rotzeach, c. 11. sect. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence—The tops of houses in ancient Judea, as in the East still, were flat, being composed of branches or twigs laid across large beams, and covered with a cement of clay or strong plaster. They were surrounded by a parapet breast high. In summer the roof is a favorite resort for coolness, and accidents would frequently happen from persons incautiously approaching the edge and falling into the street or court; hence it was a wise and prudent precaution in the Jewish legislator to provide that a stone balustrade or timber railing round the roof should form an essential part of every new house.
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