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Smith's Bible Dictionary

The houses of the rural poor in Egypt, as well as in most parts of Syria, Arabia and Persia, are generally mere huts of mud or sunburnt bricks. In some parts of Palestine and Arabia stone is used, and in certain districts caves in the rocks are used as dwellings. (Amos 5:11) The houses are usually of one story only, viz., the ground floor, and often contain only one apartment. Sometimes a small court for the cattle is attached; and in some cases the cattle are housed in the same building, or the live in a raised platform, and, the cattle round them on the ground. (1 Samuel 28:24) The windows are small apertures high up in the walls, sometimes grated with wood. The roofs are commonly but not always flat, and are usually formed of plaster of mud and straw laid upon boughs or rafters; and upon the flat roofs, tents or "booths" of boughs or rushes are often raised to be used as sleeping-places in summer. The difference between the poorest houses and those of the class next above them is greater than between these and the houses of the first rank. The prevailing plan of eastern houses of this class presents, as was the case in ancient Egypt, a front of wall, whose blank and mean appearance is usually relieved only by the door and a few latticed and projecting windows. Within this is a court or courts with apartments opening into them. Over the door is a projecting window with a lattice more or less elaborately wrought, which, except in times of public celebrations is usually closed. (2 Kings 9:30) An awning is sometimes drawn over the court, and the floor is strewed with carpets on festive occasions. The stairs to the upper apartments are in Syria usually in a corner of the court. Around part, if not the whole, of the court is a veranda, often nine or ten feet deep, over which, when there is more than one floor, runs a second gallery of like depth, with a balustrade. When there is no second floor, but more than one court, the women's apartments --hareems, harem or haram --are usually in the second court; otherwise they form a separate building within the general enclosure, or are above on the first floor. When there is an upper story, the kaah forms the most important apartment, and thus probably answers to the "upper room," which was often the guest-chamber. (Luke 22:12; Acts 1:13; 9:37; 20:8) The windows of the upper rooms often project one or two feet, and form a kiosk or latticed chamber. Such may have been "the chamber in the wall." (2 Kings 4:10,11) The "lattice," through which Ahasiah fell, perhaps belonged to an upper chamber of this kind, (2 Kings 1:2) as also the "third loft," from which Eutychus fell. (Acts 20:9) comp. Jere 22:13 Paul preached in such a room on account of its superior rise and retired position. The outer circle in an audience in such a room sat upon a dais, or upon cushions elevated so as to be as high as the window-sill. From such a position Eutychus could easily fall. There are usually no special bed-rooms in eastern houses. The outer doors are closed with a wooden lock, but in some cases the apartments are divided from each other by curtains only. There are no chimneys, but fire is made when required with charcoal in a chafing-dish; or a fire of wood might be made in the open court of the house (Luke 22:65) Some houses in Cairo have an apartment open in front to the court with two or more arches and a railing, and a pillar to support the wall above. It was in a chamber of this size to be found in a palace, that our Lord was being arraigned before the high priest at the time when the denial of him by St. Peter took place. He "turned and looked" on Peter as he stood by the fire in the court, (Luke 22:56,61; John 18:24) whilst he himself was in the "hall of judgment." In no point do Oriental domestic habits differ more from European than in the use of the roof. Its flat surface is made useful for various household purposes, as drying corn, hanging up linen, and preparing figs and raisins. The roofs are used as places of recreation in the evening, and often as sleeping-places at night. (1 Samuel 9:25,26; 2 Samuel 11:2; 16:22; Job 27:18; Proverbs 21:9; Daniel 4:29) They were also used as places for devotion and even idolatrous worship. (2 Kings 23:12; Jeremiah 19:13; 32:29; Zephaniah 1:6; Acts 10:9) At the time of the feast of tabernacles booths were erected by the Jews on the top of their houses. Protection of the roof by parapets was enjoined by the law. (22:8) Special apartments were devoted in larger houses to winter and summer uses. (Jeremiah 36:22; Amos 3:15) The ivory house of Ahab was probably a palace largely ornamented with inlaid ivory. The circumstance of Samson's pulling down the house by means of the pillars may be explained by the fact of the company being assembled on tiers of balconies above each other, supported by central pillars on the basement; when these were pulled down the whole of the upper floors would fall also. (Judges 16:26)

ATS Bible Dictionary

Is often put for dwelling, residence; and hence the temple, and even the tabernacle, are called the house of God.

The universal mode of building houses in the East, is in the form of a hollow square, with an open court or yard in the center; which is thus entirely shut in by the walls of the house around it. Into this court all the windows open, there being usually no windows towards the street. Some houses of large size require several courts, and these usually communicate with each other. These courts are commonly paved; and in many large houses parts of them are planted with shrubs and trees, Psalm 84:3 128:3; they have also, when possible, a fountain in them, often with a jet d- eau, 2 Samuel 17:18. It is customary in many houses to extend an awning over the whole court in hot weather; and the people of the house then spend much of the day in the open air, and indeed often receive visits there. In Aleppo, at least, there is often on the south side of the court an alcove in the wall of the house, furnished with divans or sofas, for reclining and enjoying the fresh air in the hot seasons.

In the middle of the front of each house is usually an arched passage, leading into the court-not directly, lest the court should be exposed to view from the street, but by turning to one side. The outer door of this passage was, in large houses, guarded by a porter, Acts 12:13. The entrance into the house is either from this passage or from the court itself.

The following extracts from Dr. Shaw will interest the reader, and at the same time serve to illustrate many passages of Scripture. He remarks, "the general method of building, both in Barbary and the Levant, seems to have continued the same from the earliest ages, without the least alteration or improvement. Large doors, spacious chambers, marble pavements, cloistered courts, with fountains sometimes playing in the midst, are certainly conveniences very well adapted to the circumstances of these climates, where the summer heats are generally so intense. The jealously likewise of these people is less apt to be alarmed, while all the windows open into their respective courts, if we except a latticed window or balcony which sometimes looks into the streets", 2 Kings 9:30.

"The streets of eastern cities, the better to shade them from the sun, are usually narrow, with sometimes a range of shops on each side. If from these we enter into one of the principal houses, we shall first pass through a porch or gateway with benches on each side, there the master of the family receives visits and dispatches business; few persons, not even the nearest relations, having a further admission, except upon extraordinary occasions. From hence we are received into the court, or quadrangle, which, lying open to the weather, is, according to the ability of the owner, paved with marble, or such materials as will immediately carry off the water into the common sewers. When many people are to be admitted, as upon the celebration of marriage, the circumcising of a child, or occasions of the like nature, the company is rarely or never received into one of the chambers. The court is the usual place of their reception, which is strewed accordingly with mats and carpets for their more commodious entertainment. Hence it is probable that the place where our Savior and the apostles were frequently accustomed to give their instructions, was in the area, or quadrangle, of one of this kind of houses. In the summer season, and upon all occasions when a large company is to be received, this court is commonly sheltered from the heat or inclemency of the weather by a veil or awning, which, being expanded upon ropes from one side of the parapet wall to the other, may be folded or unfolded at pleasure. The psalmist seems to allude either to the tents of the Bedaween, or to some covering of this kind, in that beautiful expression, of spreading out the heavens like a curtain, Psalm 140:2. The court is for the most part surrounded with a cloister or colonnade; over which, when the house has two or three stories, there is a gallery erected, of the same dimensions with the cloister, having a balustrade, or else a piece of carved or latticed work going round about it to prevent people from falling from it into the court. From the cloister and galleries we are conducted into large spacious chambers, of the same length with the court, but seldom or never communicating with one another. One of them frequently serves a whole family; particularly when a father indulges his married children to live with him; or when several person join in the rent of the same house. From whence it is, that the cities of these countries, which in general are much inferior in bigness to those of Europe, yet are so exceedingly populous, that great numbers op people are always swept away by the plague, or any other contagious distemper."

The chambers of the rich were often hung with velvet or damask tapestry, Esther 1:6; the upper part adorned with fretwork and stucco; and the ceilings with wainscot or mosaic work or fragrant wood, sometimes richly painted, Jeremiah 22:14. The floors were of wood or of painted tiles, or marbles; and were usually spread with carpets. Around the walls were mattresses or low sofas, instead of chairs. The beds were often at one end of the chamber, on a gallery several feet above the floor, with steps and a low balustrade,

2 Kings 1:4,16. The stairs were usually in a corner of the court, beside the gateway, Matthew 24:17.

"The top of the house," says Dr. Shaw, "which is always flat, is covered with a strong plaster of terrace; from whence, in the Frank language, it has attained the name of the terrace. It is usually surrounded by two walls; the outermost whereof is partly built over the street, partly makes the partition with the contiguous houses, being frequently so low that one may easily climb over it. The other, which I call the parapet wall, hangs immediately over the court, being always breast high; we render it the ´┐Żbattlements,- De 22:8. Instead of this parapet wall, some terraces are guarded in the same manner the galleries are, with balustrades only, or latticed work; in which fashion probably, as the name seems to import, was the net, or ´┐Żlattice,- as we render it, that Ahaziah, 2 Kings 1:2, might be carelessly leaning over, when he fell down from thence into the court. For upon these terraces several office of the family, are performed; such as the drying of linen and flax, Joshua 2:6, the preparing of figs and raisins; here likewise they enjoy the cool, refreshing breezes of the evening; converse with one another, 1 Samuel 9:25 2 Samuel 11:2; and offer up their devotions, 2 Kings 23:12 Jeremiah 19:13 Acts 10:9. In the feast of Tabernacles booths were erected upon them, Nehemiah 8:16. When one of these cities is built upon level ground, we can pass from one end of it to the other, along the tops of the houses, without coming down into the street."

"Such, in general, is the manner and contrivance of the eastern houses. And if it may be presumed that our Savior, at the healing of the paralytic, was preaching in a house of this fashion, we preaching in a house of this fashion, we may, by attending only to the structure of it, give no small light to one circumstance of that history, which has given great offence to some unbelievers. Among other pretended difficulties and absurdities relating to this fact, it has been urged that the uncovering or breaking up on the roof, Mark 2:4, or the letting a person down through it, Luke 5:19, suppose that the crowd being so great around Jesus in the court below, that those who brought the sick man could not come near him, they went upon the flat roof, and removing a part of the awning, let the sick man down in his mattress over the parapet, quite at the feet of Jesus."

Dr. Shaw proceeds to describe a sort of addition to many oriental houses, which corresponds probably to the upper chambers often mentioned time the Bible. He says, "To most of these houses there is a smaller one annexed, which sometimes rises one story higher than the house; at other times it consists of one or two rooms only and a terrace; while others that are built, as they frequently are, over the porch or gateway, have (if have not) all the conveniences that belong to the house, properly so called. There is a door of communication from them into the gallery of the house, kept open or shut at the discretion of the master of the family; besides another door, which opens immediately from a privy stairs down into the porch, without giving the least disturbance to the house. These smaller houses are known by the name alee, or oleah, and in them strangers are usually lodged and entertained; and thither likewise the men are wont to retire, from the hurry and noise of their families, to be more at leisure for meditation or devotion, Matthew 6:6; besides the use they are at other times put to, in serving for wardrobes and magazines."

This then, or something like this, we may suppose to have been the ali-yah or upper chamber of the Hebrews. Such was the "little chamber upon the wall," which the Shunammite had built for Elisha, 2 Kings 4:10; the "summer parlor" of Eglon, Jud 3:20; and the "chamber over the gate," where David retired to weep, 2 Samuel 18:33; and perhaps in the New Testament the "upper chamber" where Tabitha was laid out, Acts 9:37, and whence Eutychus fell from the window of the third loft into the court, Acts 20:9.

The flat roof of oriental houses often afford a place of retirement and meditation; here Samuel communed with Saul, 1 Samuel 9:25; and from /1Sa 9:26, they would seem also to have slept there, as is still common in the East, 2 Samuel 11:2 Daniel 4:30. Mr. Wood says, "It has ever been a custom with them," the Arabs in the East, "equally connected with health and pleasure, to pass the nights in summer upon the house-tops, which for this very purpose are made flat, and divided from each other by walls. We found this way of sleeping extremely agreeable; as we thereby enjoyed the cool air, above the reach of gnats and vapors, without any other covering than the canopy of heaven, which unavoidably presents itself in different pleasing forms, upon every interruption of rest, when silence and solitude strongly dispose the mid to contemplation, Acts 10:9. The roof of an ancient house was the best and often the only place, from which to get a view of the region around; hence the resort to it in times of peril, Isaiah 15:3 22:1. In many cases roofs were coated with hardened earth, through which, when cracked or soaked through by rain, the water dripped, Proverbs 27:15; and in which, when neglected, the grass grows in spring, but soon withers after the rains have ceased, Psalm 129:6,7 Isaiah 37:27."

The common material for building the best oriental houses is stone. Brick is also used. But the houses of the people in the East in general are very bad constructions, consisting of mud walls, reeds, and rushes; whence they become apt illustrations of the fragility of human life, Job 4:19; and as mud, pebbles, and slime, or at best unburnt bricks are used informing the walls, the expression, "digging through houses," Job 24:16 Matthew 6:19 24:14, is easily accounted for; as is the behavior of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 12:5, who dug through such a wall in the sight of the people; whereby, as may be imagined, he did little injury to his house; notwithstanding which, the symbol was very expressive to the beholders. So also the striking illustration in Ezekiel 13:10-16. On the sites of many ancient cities of Syria and Babylonia only the ruins of public edifices disappeared ages ago. Travellers near the Ganges and the Nile speak of multitudes of huts on the sandy banks of those rivers being swept away in a night by sudden freshets, leaving not a trace behind. This may illustrate our Savior's parable, in Matthew 7:24-27. See TENT.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Till their sojourn in Egypt the Hebrews dwelt in tents. They then for the first time inhabited cities (Genesis 47:3; Exodus 12:7; Hebrews 11:9). From the earliest times the Assyrians and the Canaanites were builders of cities. The Hebrews after the Conquest took possession of the captured cities, and seem to have followed the methods of building that had been pursued by the Canaanites. Reference is made to the stone (1 Kings 7:9; Isaiah 9:10) and marble (1 Chronicles 29:2) used in building, and to the internal wood-work of the houses (1 Kings 6:15; 7:2; 10:11, 12; 2 Chronicles 3:5; Jeremiah 22:14). "Ceiled houses" were such as had beams inlaid in the walls to which wainscotting was fastened (Ezra 6:4; Jeremiah 22:14; Haggai 1:4). "Ivory houses" had the upper parts of the walls adorned with figures in stucco with gold and ivory (1 Kings 22:39; 2 Chronicles 3:6; Psalm 45:8).

The roofs of the dwelling-houses were flat, and are often alluded to in Scripture (2 Samuel 11:2; Isaiah 22:1; Matthew 24:17). Sometimes tents or booths were erected on them (2 Samuel 16:22). They were protected by parapets or low walls (Deuteronomy 22:8). On the house-tops grass sometimes grew (Proverbs 19:13; 27:15; Psalm 129:6, 7). They were used, not only as places of recreation in the evening, but also sometimes as sleeping-places at night (1 Samuel 9:25, 26; 2 Samuel 11:2; 16:22; Dan. 4:29; Job 27:18; Proverbs 21:9), and as places of devotion (Jeremiah 32:29; 19:13).

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) A structure intended or used as a habitation or shelter for animals of any kind; but especially, a building or edifice for the habitation of man; a dwelling place, a mansion.

2. (n.) Household affairs; domestic concerns; particularly in the phrase to keep house. See below.

3. (n.) Those who dwell in the same house; a household.

4. (n.) A family of ancestors, descendants, and kindred; a race of persons from the same stock; a tribe; especially, a noble family or an illustrious race; as, the house of Austria; the house of Hanover; the house of Israel.

5. (n.) One of the estates of a kingdom or other government assembled in parliament or legislature; a body of men united in a legislative capacity; as, the House of Lords; the House of Commons; the House of Representatives; also, a quorum of such a body. See Congress, and Parliament.

6. (n.) A firm, or commercial establishment.

7. (n.) A public house; an inn; a hotel.

8. (n.) A twelfth part of the heavens, as divided by six circles intersecting at the north and south points of the horizon, used by astrologers in noting the positions of the heavenly bodies, and casting horoscopes or nativities. The houses were regarded as fixed in respect to the horizon, and numbered from the one at the eastern horizon, called the ascendant, first house, or house of life, downward, or in the direction of the earth's revolution, the stars and planets passing through them in the reverse order every twenty-four hours.

9. (n.) A square on a chessboard, regarded as the proper place of a piece.

10. (n.) An audience; an assembly of hearers, as at a lecture, a theater, etc.; as, a thin or a full house.

11. (n.) The body, as the habitation of the soul.

12. (n.) The grave.

13. (v. t.) To take or put into a house; to shelter under a roof; to cover from the inclemencies of the weather; to protect by covering; as, to house one's family in a comfortable home; to house farming utensils; to house cattle.

14. (v. t.) To drive to a shelter.

15. (v. t.) To admit to residence; to harbor.

16. (v. t.) To deposit and cover, as in the grave.

17. (v. t.) To stow in a safe place; to take down and make safe; as, to house the upper spars.

18. (v. i.) To take shelter or lodging; to abide to dwell; to lodge.

19. (v. i.) To have a position in one of the houses. See House, n., 8.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

a-sup'-im, (beth ha-'acuppim):

King James Version, margin "gatherings"; the Revised Version (British and American) "the storehouses." In Nehemiah 12:25, the King James Version renders the same word thresholds(King James Version, margin "treasuries, assemblies"). A storehouse most probably at the southern gate of the temple (1 Chronicles 26:15, 17 Nehemiah 12:25).




The marginal explanation in the Revised Version (British and American) of Beth-merhak (beth ha-merchaq, "house of distance"), which is given in the text of 2 Samuel 15:17 instead of "a place that was far off."



(beth 'abh, beth 'abhoth): Father's house in the Old Testament is

(1) a dwelling, the family home (Genesis 12:1; Genesis 31:14, 30; 38:11 1 Samuel 18:2);

(2) a family or household (Genesis 41:51; Genesis 46:31 Exodus 12:3, the Revised Version (British and American) "fathers' houses");

(3) the group of households, of several of which the "family' or "clan" was constituted, aggregations of which formed the "tribe," generally "fathers' houses" (Numbers 1:18, 20; Numbers 17:2 Ezra 2:59 Nehemiah 10:34, etc.);

(4)the "family" (clan), mishpachah, "fathers' houses" (Exodus 6:14 Numbers 3:20);

(5) the tribe, "fathers' house," "houses" (Numbers 7:2; Numbers 17:1-3, etc.).

In the New Testament "father's house" (oikos tou patros) occurs in the sense of dwelling, house (Luke 16:27; compare 16:4). our Lord also uses the phrase

(1) of the earthly temple-dwelling of God at Jerusalem (John 2:16, "Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise"; compare Psalm 11:4 Isaiah 63:15);

(2) of heaven as the abode of God and His children (John 14:2, "In my Father's house are many mansions," the Revised Version, margin "abiding places," oikia "house," "dwelling," also household, family; compare Psalm 33:13 Isaiah 63:15 Matthew 6:9). The phrase occurs also (Acts 7:20) of Moses, "nourished. in his father's house" (oikos).

Revised Version has "father's hquse" for "principal household" (1 Chronicles 24:6), "heads of the fathers' houses" for "chief fathers" (Numbers 31:26; Numbers 32:28; Numbers 36:1 1 Chronicles 9:34, etc.); "one prince of a father's house," for "each of" (Joshua 22:14); "the heads of the fathers' (houses)" for "the chief of the fathers," and "the fathers' houses of the chief," for "the principal fathers" (1 Chronicles 24:31).

W. L. Walker


hous (bayith; oikos, in classical Greek generally "an estate," oikia, oikema (literally, "habitation"), in Acts 12:1, "prison"):



1. Details of Plan and Construction

(1) Corner-Stone

(2) Floor

(3) Gutter

(4) Door

(5) Hinge

(6) Lock and Key

(7) Threshold

(8) Hearth

(9) Window

(10) Roof

2. Houses of More than One Story

(1) Upper Chambers and Stairs

(2) Palaces and Castles

3. Internal Appearance



I. Cave Dwellings.

The earliest permanent habitations of the prehistoric inhabitants of Palestine were the natural caves which abound throughout the country. As the people increased and grouped themselves into communities, these abodes were supplemented by systems of artificial caves which, in some cases, developed into extensive burrowings of many adjoining compartments, having in each system several entrances. These entrances were usually cut through the roof down a few steps, or simply dropped to the floor from the rock surface. The sinking was shallow and the headroom low but sufficient for the undersized troglodites who were the occupiers.

II. Stone-built and Mud/brick-built Houses.

There are many references to the use of caves as dwellings in the Old Testament. Lot dwelt with his two daughters in cave (Genesis 19:30). Elijah, fleeing from Jezebel, lodged in a cave (1 Kings 19:9). The natural successor to the cave was the stone-built hut, and just as the loose field-bowlders and the stones, quarried from the caves, served their first and most vital uses in the building of defense walls, so did they later become material for the first hut. Caves, during the rainy season, were faulty dwellings, as at the time when protection was most needed, they were being flooded through the surface openings which formed their entrances. The rudest cell built of rough stones in mud and covered a with roof of brushwood and mud was at first sufficient. More elaborate plans of several apartments, entering from what may be called a living-room, followed as a matter of course, and these, huddled together, constituted the homes of the people. Mud-brick buildings (Job 4:19) of similar plan occur, and to protect this friable material from the weather, the walls were sometimes covered with a casing of stone slabs, as at Lachish. (See Bliss, A Mound of Many Cities.) Generally speaking, this rude type of building prevailed, although, in some of the larger buildings, square dressed and jointed stones were used. There is little or no sign of improvement until the period of the Hellenistic influence, and even then the improvement was slight, so far as the homes of the common people were concerned.

1. Details of Plan and Construction:

One should observe an isometric sketch and plan showing construction of a typical small house from Gezer. The house is protected and approached from the street by an open court, on one side of which is a covered way. The doors enter into a living-room from which the two very small inner private rooms, bedchambers, are reached. Builders varied the plan to suit requirements, but in the main, this plan may be taken as typical. When members of a family married, extra accommodation was required. Additions were made as well as could be arranged on the cramped site, and in consequence, plans often became such a meaningless jumble that it is impossible to identify the respective limits of adjoining houses. The forecourt was absorbed and crushed out of existence, so that in many of the plans recovered the arrangement is lost.

(1) Corner-stone:

Corner-stone (pinnah, Isaiah 28:16 Jeremiah 51:26; lithos akrogoniaios, 1 Peter 2:6).-In the construction of rude boulder walls, more especially on a sloping site, as can be seen today in the highlands of Scotland and Wales, a large projecting boulder was built into the lower angle-course. It tied together the return angles and was one of the few bond-stones used in the building. This most necessary support claimed chief importance and as such assumed a figurative meaning frequently used (Isaiah 28:16 1 Peter 2:6; see CORNER-STONE). The importance given to the laying of a sure foundation is further emphasized by the dedication rites in common practice, evidence of which has been found on various sites in Palestine (see Excavations of Gezer). The discovery of human remains placed diagonally below the foundations of the returning angle of the house gives proof of the exercise of dedication rites both before and after the Conquest. Hiel sacrificed his firstborn to the foundations of Jericho and his youngest son to the gates thereof (1 Kings 16:34). But this was in a great cause compared with a similar sacrifice to a private dwelling. The latter manifests a respect scarcely borne out by the miserable nature of the houses so dedicated. At the same time, it gives proof of the frequent collapse of structures which the winter rains made inevitable and at which superstition trembled. The fear of pending disaster to the man who failed to make his sacrifice is recorded in Deuteronomy 20:5: "What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle." See illustration, p. 550.

(2) Floor:

Floor (qarqa`).-When houses were built on the rock outcrop, the floor was roughly leveled on the rock surface, but it is more common to find floors of beaten clay similar to the native floor of the present day. Stone slabs were sparingly used, and only appear in the houses of the great. It is unlikely that wood was much used as a flooring to houses, although Solomon used it for his temple floor (1 Kings 6:15).

(3) Gutter:

Gutter (tsinnor).-The "gutter" in 2 Samuel 5:8 the King James Version is obviously difficult to associate with the gutter of a house, except in so far as it may have a similar meaning to the water duct or "water course" (Revised Version (British and American)) leading to the private cistern, which formed part of the plan. Remains of open channels for this purpose have been found of rough stones set in clay, sometimes leading through a silt pit into the cistern.

(4) Door:

Door (deleth, pethach; thura).-Doorways were simple, square, entering openings in the wall with a stone or wood lintel (mashqoph, Exodus 12:22, 23; 'ayil, 1 Kings 6:31) and a stone threshold raised slightly above the floor. It is easy to imagine the earliest wooden door as a simple movable boarded cover with back bars, fixed vertically by a movable bar slipped into sockets in the stone jambs. Doorposts (caph, Ezekiel 41:16) appear to have been in use, but, until locks were introduced, it is difficult to imagine a reason for them. Posts, when introduced, were probably let into the stone at top and bottom, and, unlike our present door frame, had no head-piece. When no wood was used, the stone jambs of the opening constituted the doorposts. To the present day the post retains its function as commanded in Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20, and in it is fitted a small case containing a parchment on which is written the exhortation to obedience.

(5) Hinge:

Hinge (poth, 1 Kings 7:50; tsir, Proverbs 26:14).-Specimens of sill and head sockets of stone have been discovered which suggest the use of the pivot hinge, the elongated swinging stile of the door being let into the sockets at top and bottom. A more advanced form of construction was necessary to this type of door than in the previous instance, and some little skill was required to brace it so that it would hold together. The construction of doors and windows is an interesting question, as it is in these two details that the joinery craft first claimed development. There is no indication, however, of anything of the nature of advancement, and it seems probable that there was none.

(6) Lock and key:

Lock and key ("lock," man`ul, Nehemiah 3:3; Songs 5:5; "key," maphteach, Judges 3:25; figurative. Isaiah 22:22; kleis, Matthew 16:19, etc.).-In later Hellenic times a sort of primitive lock and key appeared, similar to the Arabic type. See Excavations of Gezer, I, 197, and illustration in article KEY.

(7) Threshold:

Threshold (caph, 1 Kings 14:17 Ezekiel 40:6; miphtan, 1 Samuel 5:4, 5 Ezekiel 9:3, etc.).-Next to the corner-stone, the threshold was specially sacred, and in many instances foundation-sacrifices have been found buried under the threshold. In later times, when the Hebrews became weaned of this unholy practice, the rite remained with the substitution of a lamp enclosed between two bowls as a symbol of the life.


(8) Hearth:

Hearth ('ach, Jeremiah 36:22, 23, the Revised Version (British and American) "brazier"; kiyyor).-The references in the Old Testament and the frequent discovery of hearths make it clear that so much provision for heating had been made. It is unlikely, however, that chimneys were provided. The smoke from the wood or charcoal fuel was allowed to find its way through the door and windows and the many interstices occurring in workmanship of the worst possible description. The "chimney" referred to (Hosea 13:3) is a doubtful translation. The "fire in the brazier" (Jeremiah 36:22 the Revised Version (British and American)) which burned before the king of Judah in his "winter house" was probably of charcoal. The modern natives, during the cold season, huddle around and warm their hands at a tiny glow in much the same way as their ancient predecessors. The use of cow and camel dung for baking-oven (tannur) fires appears to have continued from the earliest time to the present day (Ezekiel 4:15).

See also HEARTH.

(9) Window:

Window (thuris, Acts 20:9 2 Corinthians 11:33).-It would appear that windows were often simple openings in the wall which were furnished with some method of closing, which, it may be conjectured, was somewhat the same as the primitive door previously mentioned. The window of the ark (challon, Genesis 8:6), the references in Genesis 26:8 Joshua 2:15, and the window from which Jezebel looked (2 Kings 9:30), were presumably of the casement class. Ahaziah fell through a lattice (cebhakhah) in the same palace, and the same word is used for the "networks" (1 Kings 7:41) "covering the bowls of the capitals," and in Songs 2:9, "through the lattice" (charakkim). It would appear, therefore, that some variety of treatment existed, and that the simple window opening with casement and the opening filled in with a lattice or grill were distinct. Windows were small, and, according to the Mishna, were kept not less than 6 ft. from floor to sill. The lattice was open, without glass filling, and in this connection there is the interesting figurative reference in Isaiah 54:12 the King James Version, "windows of agates," translated in the Revised Version (British and American) "pinnacles of rubies." Heaven is spoken of as having "windows" ('arubbah) for rain (Genesis 7:11; Genesis 8:2 2 Kings 7:2, etc.).

(10) Roof:

Roof (gagh; stege).-These were flat. Compare "The beams of our house are cedars, and our rafters are firs" (Songs 1:17). To get over the difficulty of the larger spans, a common practice was to introduce a main beam (qurah) carried on the walls and strengthened by one or more intermediate posts let into stone sockets laid on the floor. Smaller timbers as joists ("rafters," rahiT) were spaced out and covered in turn with brushwood; the final covering, being of mud mixed with chopped straw, was beaten and rolled. A tiny stone roller is found on every modern native roof, and is used to roll the mud into greater solidity every year on the advent of the first rains. Similar rollers have been found among the ancient remains throughout the country; see Excavations of Gezer, I, 190; PEFS, Warren's letters, 46. "They let him down through the tiles (keramos) with his couch into the midst before Jesus" (Luke 5:19) refers to the breaking through of a roof similar to this. The roof ("housetop," gagh; doma) was an important part of every house and was subjected to many uses. It was used for worship (2 Kings 23:12 Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29 Zephaniah 1:5 Acts 10:9). Absalom spread his tent on the "top of the house" (2 Samuel 16:22). In the Feast of the Tabernacles temporary booths (cukkah) were erected on the housetops. The people, as is their habit today, gathered together on the roof as a common meeting-place on high days and holidays (Judges 16:27). The wild wranglings which can be heard in any modern native village, resulting in vile accusations and exposure of family secrets hurled from the housetops of the conflicting parties, illustrate the passage, "And what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed upon the housetops" (Luke 12:3).

2. Houses of More than One Story:

(1) Upper Chambers and Stairs:

It is certain that there were upper chambers (`aliyah; huperoon, Acts 9:37, etc.) to some of the houses. Ahaziah was fatally injured by falling from the window of his palace, and a somewhat similar fate befell his mother, Jezebel (2 Kings 1:2; 2 Kings 9:33). The escape of the spies from the house on the wall at Jericho (Joshua 2:15) and that of Paul from Damascus (2 Corinthians 11:33) give substantial evidence of window openings at a considerable height. Elijah carried the son of the widow of Zarephath "up into the chamber." The Last Supper was held in an upper chamber (Mark 14:15). Some sort of stairs (ma`alah) of stone or wood must have existed, and the lack of the remains of stone steps suggests that they were wood steps, probably in the form of ladders. (2) Palaces and Castles:

Palaces and castles ('armon, birah, hekhal; aule, parembole).-These were part of every city and were more elaborate in plan, raised in all probability to some considerable height. The Canaanite castle discovered by Macalister at Gezer shows a building of enormously thick walls and small rooms. Reisner has unearthed Ahab's palace at Samaria, revealing a plan of considerable area. Solomon's palace is detailed in 1 Kings 7 (see TEMPLE). In this class may also be included the megalithic fortified residences with the beehive guard towers of an earlier date, described by Dr. Mackenzie (PEF, I).

3. International Appearance:

Walls were plastered (Leviticus 14:43, 18), and small fragments of painted (Jeremiah 22:14) plaster discovered from time to time show that some attempt at mural decoration was made, usually in the form of crudely painted line ornament. Walls were recessed here and there into various forms of cupboards (which see) at various levels. The smaller cuttings in the wall were probably for lamps, and in the larger and deeper recesses bedmats may have been kept and garments stored.

III. Other Meanings.

The word has often the sense of "household," and this term is frequently substituted in the Revised Version (British and American) for "house" of the King James Version (e.g. Exodus 12:3 2 Kings 7:11; 2 Kings 10:5; 2 Kings 15:5; Isaiah 36:3 1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Timothy 5:14); in certain cases for phrases with "house" the Revised Version (British and American) has "at home". (Acts 2:46; Acts 5:42).



Macalister, Excavations at Gezer; PEFS; Sellin, Excavations at Taanach; Schumacher, Excavations at Tell Mutesellim; Bliss, Mound of Many Cities; articles in Dictionaries and Encyclopedias.

Arch. C. Dickie


In Genesis 28:17, 22 = BETHEL (which see). In Judges, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Psalms, etc. (beth ha-'elohim), a designation of the sanctuary = "house of Yahweh" (of the tabernacle, Judges 18:31; Judges 20:18, 26 the King James Version; of the temple, 1 Chronicles 9:11; 1 Chronicles 24:5 the King James Version; 2 Chronicles 5:14 Psalm 42:4 Isaiah 2:3, etc.; of the 2nd temple, Ezra 5:8, 15 Nehemiah 6:10; Nehemiah 13:11; compare Matthew 12:4). Spiritually, in the New Testament, the "house of God" (oikos theou) is the church or community of believers (1 Timothy 3:15 Hebrews 10:21 1 Peter 4:17; compare 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16, 17 1 Peter 2:5).


sher'-ing (beth `eqedh ha-ro`im, "house of binding of the shepherds"; Codex Vaticanus Baithakath (Codex Alexandrinus Baithakad) ton poimenon): Here in the course of his extinction of the house of Ahab, Jehu met and destroyed 42 men, "the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah" (2 Kings 10:12-14). Eusebius (in Onomasticon) takes the phrase as a proper name, Bethacath, and locates the village 15 miles from Legio in the plain. This seems to point to identification with Beit Kad, about 3 miles East of Jenin.


(oikos pneumatikos, "house spiritual"): A body of Christians (a church), as pervaded by the Spirit and power of God (1 Peter 2:5); a term applicable to God's house: "house of prayer," the temple (Matthew 21:13); to heaven: "my Father's house" (John 14:2); to the tabernacle: "Moses.... faithful in all his house" (Hebrews 3:2); to saints: as "the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19), and "the temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:19); hence, any "habitation of God in the spirit" (Ephesians 2:22) in which His glory dwells and His power and grace are manifest.





3617. oikodespotes -- the master of a house
... the master of a house. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: oikodespotes
Phonetic Spelling: (oy-kod-es-pot'-ace) Short Definition: a head of a ...
// - 6k

3614. oikia -- a house, dwelling
... a house, dwelling. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: oikia Phonetic
Spelling: (oy-kee'-ah) Short Definition: a house, household Definition: a house ...
// - 6k

3410. misthoma -- rent, a rented house
... rent, a rented house. Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter Transliteration: misthoma Phonetic
Spelling: (mis'-tho-mah) Short Definition: a rented house Definition: a ...
// - 6k

1430. doma -- a house, a housetop
... a house, a housetop. Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter Transliteration: doma Phonetic
Spelling: (do'-mah) Short Definition: the top of the house Definition: the roof ...
// - 6k

3624. oikos -- a house, a dwelling
... a house, a dwelling. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: oikos Phonetic
Spelling: (oy'-kos) Short Definition: a house, household Definition: (a) a ...
// - 6k

3618. oikodomeo -- to build a house
... to build a house. Part of Speech: Verb Transliteration: oikodomeo Phonetic Spelling:
(oy-kod-om-eh'-o) Short Definition: I build, build up, edify Definition: I ...
// - 9k

963. Bethania -- "house of affliction" or "house of dates ...
... 962, 963. Bethania. 964 . "house of affliction" or "house of dates,"
Bethany, the name of two cities in Palestine. Part of Speech ...
// - 6k

966. Bethsaida -- "house of fish," Bethsaida, the name of two ...
... 965, 966. Bethsaida. 967 . "house of fish," Bethsaida, the name of two
cities on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Part of Speech ...
// - 6k

967. Bethphage -- "house of unripe figs," Bethphage, a village on ...
... "house of unripe figs," Bethphage, a village on the Mt. ... Word Origin of Aramaic origin
Definition "house of unripe figs," Bethphage, a village on the Mt. ...
// - 6k

965. Bethleem -- "house of bread," Bethlehem, a city near Jer.
... Bethleem. 966 . "house of bread," Bethlehem, a city near Jer. ... Word Origin of Hebrew
origin Beth Definition "house of bread," Bethlehem, a city near Jer. ...
// - 6k

Strong's Hebrew
1004. bayith -- a house
... 1003b, 1004. bayith. 1005 . a house. Transliteration: bayith Phonetic Spelling:
(bah'-yith) Short Definition: house. Word Origin a prim. ...
/hebrew/1004.htm - 7k

1005. bayith -- a house
... 1004, 1005. bayith. 1006 . a house. Transliteration: bayith Phonetic Spelling:
(bah-yith) Short Definition: house. Word Origin (Aramaic ...
/hebrew/1005.htm - 6k

1037. Beth Millo -- "house of earthwork," a place near Shechem ...
Beth Millo. 1036, 1037. Beth Millo. 1038 . "house of earthwork," a place near
Shechem, also a citadel in Jer. ... NASB Word Usage Beth-millo (3). house of Millo ...
/hebrew/1037.htm - 6k

1044. Beth-eqed -- "house of binding," a place in Palestine
... "house of binding," a place in Palestine. Transliteration: Beth-eqed Phonetic Spelling:
(bayth ay'-ked) Short Definition: Beth-eked. ... shearing house. ...
/hebrew/1044.htm - 6k

1036. Beth Leaphrah -- "house to dust," a place in Palestine
... "house to dust," a place in Palestine. Transliteration: Beth Leaphrah Phonetic Spelling:
(bayth le-af-raw') Short Definition: Beth-le-aphrah. ... house of Aphrah. ...
/hebrew/1036.htm - 6k

1010. Beth Baal Meon -- "house of Baal of (the) habitation," a ...
Beth Baal Meon. 1009, 1010. Beth Baal Meon. 1011 . "house of Baal of (the)
habitation," a place East of the Jordan. Transliteration: Beth Baal Meon Phonetic ...
/hebrew/1010.htm - 6k

1045. beth Ashtaroth -- house of Ashtaroth
... house of Ashtaroth. Transliteration: beth Ashtaroth Phonetic Spelling: (bayth
ash-taw-roth') Short Definition: Ashtaroth. ... house of Ashtaroth ...
/hebrew/1045.htm - 6k

4999. naah -- habitation, house, pasture, pleasant place
... 4998, 4999. naah. 5000 . habitation, house, pasture, pleasant place.
Transliteration: naah Phonetic Spelling: (naw-aw') Short Definition: pastures. ...
/hebrew/4999.htm - 6k

1047. Beth Peor -- "house of Peor," a place East of the Jordan
... Beth Peor. 1048 . "house of Peor," a place East of the Jordan. Transliteration:
Beth Peor Phonetic Spelling: (bayth pe-ore') Short Definition: Beth-peor. ...
/hebrew/1047.htm - 6k

1041. Beth-azmaveth -- "house of Azmaveth," a place near Jer.
... Beth-azmaveth. 1042 . "house of Azmaveth," a place near Jer. ... Word Origin from bayith
and Azmaveth Definition "house of Azmaveth," a place near Jer. ...
/hebrew/1041.htm - 6k


The Parable of the Tares: the House of Jesus.
... Book X. 1. The Parable of the Tares: the House of Jesus. "Then He left
the multitudes and went into His house, and His disciples ...
/.../origen/origens commentary on the gospel of matthew/1 the parable of the.htm

The Prison-House.
... SERMON LII. THE PRISON-HOUSE. (Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity.) Ephesians
4:1. "The prisoner of the Lord.". This is what Paul the ...
/.../the life of duty a years plain sermons v 2/sermon lii the prison-house.htm

Prayer and the House of God
... PRAYER AND THE HOUSE OF GOD. ... It has to do with God and with everything which is related
to God, and it has an intimate and special relationship to His house. ...
/.../bounds/the necessity of prayer/xiv prayer and the house.htm

The House Built Upon the Sand.
... THE HOUSE BUILT UPON THE SAND. What a foolish man the builder of the house
shown in our picture must have been! Of course, when ...
/.../anonymous/mother stories from the new testament/the house built upon the.htm

The House of Many Mansions.
... Chapter XIV. The House of Many Mansions. ... (John 14:2). 2. In my Father's house are
many mansions. By the "Father's house" is meant the heavenly abode. ...
/.../the new testament commentary vol iii john/the house of many mansions.htm

The Old House and the New
... V) THE OLD HOUSE AND THE NEW. ... Still further, my text suggests that to the Christian
soul the departure from the one house is the entrance into the other. ...
/.../maclaren/romans corinthians to ii corinthians chap v/the old house and the.htm

The House of Zacharias.
... II. The House of Zacharias. (Luke 1. ... So it is possible that from the lips of the
mother of our Lord we obtain these details of the House of Zacharias. ...
// the baptist/ii the house of zacharias.htm

The House of God.
... THE CHURCH. XLII. THE HOUSE OF GOD. Yn nh? ... Unto all men. The wisdom, Lord,
be given,. To seek thy house,. And learn the work of heaven. ...
// welsh hymns/xlii the house of god.htm

At the House of Martha --The Good Shepherd.
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem a lawyer came and asked Him questions. ...
/.../lathbury/childs story of the bible/chapter xxix at the house.htm

At the Governor's House
... Wesley Collects Money for the Poor; Visits the House of Lords; His Reasons for his
Long Life; "How is the Tide Turned;" Last Entries At the Governor's House. ...
/.../wesley/the journal of john wesley/at the governors house.htm

Banquet-house (1 Occurrence)
Banquet-house. Banquet, Banquet-house. Banqueting . Multi-Version
Concordance Banquet-house (1 Occurrence). Daniel 5 ...
/b/banquet-house.htm - 6k

Treasure-house (6 Occurrences)
Treasure-house. Treasured, Treasure-house. Treasurer . Noah Webster's Dictionary
(n.) A house or building where treasures and stores are kept. ...
/t/treasure-house.htm - 8k

Banqueting-house (1 Occurrence)
Banqueting-house. Banqueting, Banqueting-house. Banquetings .
Multi-Version Concordance Banqueting-house (1 Occurrence). ...
/b/banqueting-house.htm - 6k

Store-house (23 Occurrences)
Store-house. Storehouse, Store-house. Storehouses . Multi-Version
Concordance Store-house (23 Occurrences). Matthew ...
/s/store-house.htm - 13k

Prison-house (29 Occurrences)
Prison-house. Prisoners, Prison-house. Prison-houses . Multi-Version
Concordance Prison-house (29 Occurrences). Acts ...
/p/prison-house.htm - 15k

Tower-house (6 Occurrences)
Tower-house. Towered, Tower-house. Towerin . Multi-Version
Concordance Tower-house (6 Occurrences). Genesis 39:20 And ...
/t/tower-house.htm - 8k

Round-house (6 Occurrences)
Round-house. Rounded, Round-house. Roundings . Multi-Version
Concordance Round-house (6 Occurrences). Genesis 39:20 ...
/r/round-house.htm - 8k

Summer-house (4 Occurrences)
Summer-house. Summerhouse, Summer-house. Summer-parlor . Int. Standard
Bible Encyclopedia SUMMER-HOUSE. (beth ha-qayits ...
/s/summer-house.htm - 8k

Winter-house (2 Occurrences)
Winter-house. Winterhouse, Winter-house. Wintering . Int. ... WINTER-HOUSE. (beth
ha-choreph (Jeremiah 36:22 Amos 3:15)): See under SUMMER-HOUSE. ...
/w/winter-house.htm - 7k

Royal-house (1 Occurrence)
Royal-house. Royal, Royal-house. Royalty . Multi-Version Concordance
Royal-house (1 Occurrence). Esther 5:1 And it cometh ...
/r/royal-house.htm - 6k

What is a house blessing? Is a house blessing biblical? |

What is the House of Yahweh? |

Is a house dedication a biblical concept? |

House: Dictionary and Thesaurus |

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House (20110 Occurrences)

House occurs 20110 times in 12 translations.

You can narrow your search using the Advanced Bible Search.



House Blessing

House Churches

House Dedication

House of Asuppim

House of God

House of God: A Place of Prayer

House of God: Holy

House used for Worship

House Warming

House: "A Man's Castle"

House: Architecture of Altars On

House: Architecture of Battlements Required in Mosaic Law

House: Architecture of Booths On

House: Architecture of Ceiled and Plastered

House: Architecture of Chambers

House: Architecture of Chimneys of

House: Architecture of Cornerstone

House: Architecture of Courts

House: Architecture of Dedicated

House: Architecture of Figurative

House: Architecture of Foundations of Stone

House: Architecture of Guest Chamber

House: Architecture of Hinges

House: Architecture of Inner Chamber

House: Architecture of Lattice

House: Architecture of Laws Regarding Sale of

House: Architecture of Painted

House: Architecture of Pillars

House: Architecture of Porches

House: Architecture of Prayer On

House: Architecture of Roofs, Flat

House: Architecture of Summer Apartment

House: Architecture of Texts of Scripture on Doorposts of

House: Architecture of Used As Dwelling Place

House: Architecture of Used As Place to Sleep

House: Architecture of Windows

House: Architecture of With Courts

House: Built Into City Walls

House: Built of Brick

House: Built of Stone

House: Built of Wood

House: Figurative

Related Terms

Treasure-house (6 Occurrences)

Banqueting-house (1 Occurrence)

Store-house (23 Occurrences)

Prison-house (29 Occurrences)

Tower-house (6 Occurrences)

Round-house (6 Occurrences)

Summer-house (4 Occurrences)

Winter-house (2 Occurrences)

Royal-house (1 Occurrence)

Shearing-house (2 Occurrences)

Inner-house (2 Occurrences)

Garden-house (1 Occurrence)

Draught-house (1 Occurrence)

Cattle-house (2 Occurrences)

Idol-house (1 Occurrence)

Fowl-house (1 Occurrence)

Dwelling-house (1 Occurrence)

Dungeon-house (1 Occurrence)

Side-chambers (10 Occurrences)

Supervise (8 Occurrences)

Site (19 Occurrences)

Side-rooms (7 Occurrences)

Shields (44 Occurrences)

Spaces (15 Occurrences)

Vestibule (36 Occurrences)

Stairway (12 Occurrences)

Supports (25 Occurrences)

Showbread (18 Occurrences)

Show-bread (15 Occurrences)

Squares (25 Occurrences)

Ziba (13 Occurrences)

Supporting (31 Occurrences)

Sheweth (34 Occurrences)

Secretary (34 Occurrences)

Votive (13 Occurrences)

Knives (12 Occurrences)

Side-structure (3 Occurrences)


Son-in-law (14 Occurrences)

Spades (9 Occurrences)

Speedily (38 Occurrences)

Zerub'babel (23 Occurrences)

Shaphan (26 Occurrences)

Quarters (17 Occurrences)

Smashed (22 Occurrences)

Sheshbazzar (4 Occurrences)

Scissors (5 Occurrences)

Successive (4 Occurrences)

Spoons (11 Occurrences)

Snuffers (8 Occurrences)

Suffered (88 Occurrences)

Separately (7 Occurrences)

Shearing (6 Occurrences)

Squared (6 Occurrences)

Side-chamber (4 Occurrences)

Shrine (34 Occurrences)

Soever (24 Occurrences)

Valued (27 Occurrences)

Quantity (18 Occurrences)

Singers (41 Occurrences)

Section (22 Occurrences)

Seemeth (36 Occurrences)

Zimri (16 Occurrences)

Surrounded (51 Occurrences)

Supported (43 Occurrences)

Shutting (43 Occurrences)

Vine-garden (43 Occurrences)

Quarried (3 Occurrences)

Quality (14 Occurrences)

Quarantine (3 Occurrences)

Queen's (3 Occurrences)

Quarrelsome (9 Occurrences)

Zacchaeus (3 Occurrences)

Zebadiah (9 Occurrences)

Kinsman (29 Occurrences)

Several (40 Occurrences)

Sojourners (37 Occurrences)

Successfully (4 Occurrences)

Shovels (9 Occurrences)

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