Mark 2:4
And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
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(4) They uncovered the roof . . . when they had broken it up.—The strong expressions of the injury done to the roof are peculiar to St. Mark. St. Luke gives, “through the tiles.”

They let down the bed.—St. Mark uses a different word from St. Matthew, the Greek form of the Latin word grabatus, the pallet or camp-bed used by the poor. The same word appears in John 5:8-10, and in Acts 5:15; Acts 9:33, but not at all in St. Matthew or St. Luke.

2:1-12 It was this man's misery that he needed to be so carried, and shows the suffering state of human life; it was kind of those who so carried him, and teaches the compassion that should be in men, toward their fellow-creatures in distress. True faith and strong faith may work in various ways; but it shall be accepted and approved by Jesus Christ. Sin is the cause of all our pains and sicknesses. The way to remove the effect, is to take away the cause. Pardon of sin strikes at the root of all diseases. Christ proved his power to forgive sin, by showing his power to cure the man sick of the palsy. And his curing diseases was a figure of his pardoning sin, for sin is the disease of the soul; when it is pardoned, it is healed. When we see what Christ does in healing souls, we must own that we never saw the like. Most men think themselves whole; they feel no need of a physician, therefore despise or neglect Christ and his gospel. But the convinced, humbled sinner, who despairs of all help, excepting from the Saviour, will show his faith by applying to him without delay.The press - The crowd, the multitude of people. Jesus was probably in the large open area or hall in the center of the house. See the notes at Matthew 9:2. The people pressed into the area, and blocked up the door so that they could not have access to him.

They uncovered the roof where he was - See the notes at Matthew 9:2.

When they had broken it up - When they had removed the awning or covering, so that they could let the man down. See the notes at Matthew 9:2.

4. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press—or, as in Luke (Lu 5:19), "when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude," they "went upon the housetop"—the flat or terrace-roof, universal in Eastern houses.

they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed—or portable couch

wherein the sick of the palsy lay—Luke (Lu 5:19) says, they "let him down through the tilling with his couch into the midst before Jesus." Their whole object was to bring the patient into the presence of Jesus; and this not being possible in the ordinary way, because of the multitude that surrounded Him, they took the very unusual method here described of accomplishing their object, and succeeded. Several explanations have been given of the way in which this was done; but unless we knew the precise plan of the house, and the part of it from which Jesus taught—which may have been a quadrangle or open court, within the buildings of which Peter's house was one, or a gallery covered by a veranda—it is impossible to determine precisely how the thing was done. One thing, however, is clear, that we have both the accounts from an eye-witness.

See Poole on "Mark 2:1"

And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press,.... To the room where Jesus was, nor into the house, nor even to the door, the crowd about it was so great,

they uncovered the roof where he was. The Arabic version reads it, "they went up to the roof"; and the Persic thus, "they carried him up upon the roof". The place where Christ was, seems to be an upper room; for in such an one the Jewish doctors used to meet, and discourse together about religious matters; see Acts 1:13. Though some think this was a mean house in which Christ was, and had no upper room, but the ground floor was open to the roof, through which the man, sick of the palsy, was let down on his bed to Christ; and the rather, because the people crowded about the door to get in, and there was no room to receive them, no not about it: but even from this circumstance it seems most reasonable, that there was an upper room in which Christ was, and at a window in which he might preach to the people, with much more convenience, than at, or about the door, where they were pressing: for, certain it is, that he did preach the word to them, Mark 2:2, and many instances may be given of the above mentioned doctors, whose usages, when indifferent, and not sinful, might be complied with by Christ, as these were, of their meeting and conversing together in upper rooms. Instead of many, take the few following (a):

"It happened to Rabban Gamaliel, and the elders, who were sitting "in an upper room in Jericho", that they brought them dates, and they did eat, &c,''

Again (b),

"these are some of the traditions which they taught, "in the upper chamber" of Hananiah ben Hezekiah, ben Garon.''

So it is likewise said (c), that

"R. Tarphon, or Tryphon, and the elders, were sitting "in the chamber" of the house of Nithzah, in Lydda, and this question was asked before them, is doctrine greatest, or practice greatest?''

Once more (d),

"the elders of the house of Shammai, and the elders of the house of Hillell, went up, "to the upper chamber" of Jochanan ben Bethira, and said, that the Tzitzith, or fringes, had no measure, &c.''

Now, over this upper room, was a flat roof, with battlements about it; for so the Jews were obliged to build their houses, Deuteronomy 22:8, to which they had a way of going to and from, both within and without side their houses; See Gill on Matthew 24:17. Hence we so often read (e) of , "the way of the roofs", in distinction from "the way of the doors"; by which they entered into their houses, and by which means, things might be carried from a court to a roof, and from a roof to a court; about which the doctors dispute, saying, that on a sabbath day (f),

"it is forbidden to ascend and descend from the roofs to the court, and from the court to the roofs; and the vessels, whose abode is in the court, it is lawful to move them in the court, and which are in the roofs, it is lawful to move them in the roofs.--Says Rabbi, when we were learning the law with R. Simeon at Tekoah, we brought up oil, and a confection of old wine, water, and balsam, from roof to roof, and from roof to court, and from court to court, and from the court to a close, and from one close to another, till we came to the fountains, in which they washed. Says R. Judah, it happened in a time of danger, and we brought the book of the law from court to roof, and from roof to court, and from court to a close, to read in it.''

Now, in these roofs, there was a door, which they call, , "the door of the roofs" (g); now when they had brought up the sick man to the roof of the house, by a ladder fastened on the outside, which was common (h); they took up this door, and let him down in his bed into the room where Jesus was: and because they wrenched the roof door open with violence, therefore it is said,

and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay: opening the door, and perhaps taking up the frame of it, and removing some tiles about it, to make the way wider, they let down with ropes, the bed, and the man on it, together. The Persic version thus renders it, "and the paralytic man being put upon a bed, at the four corners of the bed so many ropes being fastened, they let him down through a window to Jesus, into the place where he was sitting"; which is rather a paraphrase, or exposition of the words, than a translation.

(a) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 37. 1.((b) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 12. 1. & Misn. Sabbat, c. 1. sect. 4, (c) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 40. 2. Vid. T. Hieros. Pesachim, fol. 30. 2. & T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 74. 1.((d) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 41. 2. Vid. Targum in Cant. iii. 4. (e) T. Pesach. fol. 92. 1. Moed. Katon, fol. 25. 1. Cetubot, fol. 10. 2. Gittin, fol. 81. 1. Bava Metzia, fol. 88. 1, in 117. 1.((f) T. Bab. Erubin, fol. 91. 1. & Hieros. ib. fol. 25. 3.((g) T. Hieros. Erubin, fol. 26. 2.((h) Gloss. in T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 117. 1.

And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they {c} let down the {d} bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

(c) They broke up the upper part of the house which was made simply, and let down the man that was sick from paralysis into the lower part where Christ preached, for they could not come before Christ in any other way.

(d) The word signifies the poorest kind of bed, upon which men used to lay down at noon, and at such other times to refresh themselves; we call it a couch.

Mark 2:4. The particulars in this verse not in Mt., who did not care how they found their way to Jesus; enough for him that they succeeded somehow.—προσεγγίσαι (T. R.): here only in N. T. to approach; προσενέγκαι (W.H[8]), to bring near (the sick man understood) to Him, Jesus.—ἀπεστέγασαν τ. σ., removed the roof, to which they would get access by an outside stair either from the street or from the court.—ὅπου ἦν, where He was; where was that? in an upper room (Lightfoot and Vitringa), or in a room in a one-storied house (Holtz., H. C.), or not in a room at all, but in the atrium or compluvium, the quadrangle of the house (Faber, Archäol., Jahn, Archäol.). In the last-mentioned case they would have to remove the parapet (battlement, Deuteronomy 22:8) and let the man down into the open space.—ἐξορύξαντες: not something additional to but explanatory of ἀπεστέγασαν = they unroofed by digging through the material—tiles, laths, and plaster.—κράβαττον: a small portable couch, for the poor, for travellers, and for sick people; condemned by Phryn., p. 62; σκίμπους the correct word. Latin grabatus, which may have led Mk. to use the term in the text.

[8] Westcott and Hort.

4. they uncovered the roof] They appear (1) to have ascended to the flat roof probably by a flight of steps outside (Luke 5:19); (2) to have broken up the tiling or thin stone slabs, sometimes used at this day; (3) to have lowered the paralytic upon his bed through the opening into the presence of the Great Healer. The room was probably an upper-chamber, which often extended over the whole area of the house. For other notices of such upper-rooms compare Acts 1:13; Acts 9:37; Acts 20:8.

Mark 2:4. Ἀπεστέγασαν) they took off the roof) out of love, without doing injury. [So faith penetrates through all obstacles (Mark 2:5) to reach Christ.—V. g.] It is probable that it was a cottage [tugurium, hut], not a large house.—ἐξορύξαντες, digging out) the ceiling, beneath the tiles of the roof, so as to make a large aperture. The people crowding in numbers, had caused great delay in reaching Christ.

Mark 2:4Come nigh unto him (προσεγγίσαι)

The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. But some read προσενέγκαι, bring him unto him. So Rev., in margin.

They uncovered (ἀπεστέγασαν)

The only use of the word in New Testament.

Broken it up (ἐξορύξαντες)

Lit., scooped it out. Very graphic and true to fact. A modern roof would be untiled or unshingled; but an oriental roof would have to be dug to make such an opening as was required. A composition of mortar, tar, ashes, and sand is spread upon the roofs, and rolled hard, and grass grows in the crevices. On the houses of the poor in the country the grass grows more freely, and goats may be seen on the roofs cropping it. In some cases, as in this, stone slabs are laid across the joists. See Luke 5:19, where it is said they let him down through the tiles; so that they would be obliged, not only to dig through the grass and earth, but also to pry up the tiles. Compare Psalm 129:6.

The bed (κράβαττον)

One of Mark's Latin words, grabatus, and condemned by the grammarians as inelegant. A rude pallet, merely a thickly padded quilt or mat, held at the corners, and requiring no cords to let it down. They could easily reach the roof by the steps on the outside, as the roof is low; or they could have gone into an adjoining house and passed along the roofs. Some suppose that the crowd was assembled in an upper chamber, which sometimes extended over the whole area of the house. It is not possible accurately to reproduce the details of the scene. Dr. Thomson says that Jesus probably stood in the lewan or reception-room, a hall which is entered from the court or street by an open arch; or he may have taken his stand in the covered court in front of the house itself, Which usually has open arches on three sides, and the crowd was around and in front of him.

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