Page images

door, each person having his separate apartment.

A more recent traveller informs us, that when in the East he often slept on the housetops. • We found,' says he, this way of sleeping extremely agreeable, as we by this means enjoyed the cool air, without any other covering than the canopy of the heavens, which presents itself in pleasing forms on every interruption of rest, when silence and solitude strongly dispose the mind to contemplation.' Mr. Barker, our Consul at Aleppo, was sleeping at the top of the house when the late earthquake happened ; and from thence he descended into the street, without passing through the house. So, you see, houses in the East had often stairs, or fixed ladders, on the outside ; and for the convenience of going up and down within-side of the house, they

had often a trap-door, or a lattice, with a covering, on the flat of the roof.

Dr. Shaw thinks that the expressions of the Evangelist, they let the paralytic down in the midst, mean the court-yard round about which the house was built, and that Our Lord was preaching there. He supposes that the bearers of the paralytic might carry him up the stairs, which commonly went from the gateway, and having got to the flat roof, might take down inwards a part of the balustrade or parapet wall, and so let down the bed with cords by the side of the glazed and perhaps painted tiles, which might beautify the walls of the house towards this court."

“ They could easily get on such a house, father, and so let the poor man down in the midst.”

“Truly, they could; and you see how plain and natural the history now appears to you, though this morning it seemed so singular and strange.

" Houses in the East are built of various materials; some are formed of stone or brick; but those of the poor are commonly of wood or of mud. The heat often cracks the walls which are formed of the latter material, and serpents frequently find a shelter in them. To this the prophet alludes where he says: 'As if a man went into his house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.” (Amos, v. 19.)

“ It is said in the Gospels, that our Lord's disciples prepared an

upper room' in which they might celebrate the Passover. These, with us, are regarded as the meanest parts of the habitation; but this is not the case in the East;

even to the present day, the



upper rooms are valued as the principal apartments.”

“Was their furniture, father, similar to our's ?” “ Certainly not, Harry. The walls of their

were often adorned with beautiful hangings of cloth, or silk of different colours; and the ceilings of their best mansions were sometimes painted, or gilt, or carved. This is alluded to in Jer. xxii. 14. Hag. i. 4.

“ The floors of the dwellings of the rich are usually of tiles or plaster, and are covered with fine carpets. Mattresses and cushions are placed by the sides of the walls, on which any one may recline: these are referred to in Amos, vi. 4.; and Ezek. xiii. 18. Thus, also, we are told that Hezekiah, resting on his mattress or couch, turned his face from his attendants towards the wall when he prayed, 2 Kings, XX. 2.

“ Chairs are not used by the people in the East. They usually sit on couches, or carpets, or on skins. These also commonly serve them to sleep on, whilst they cover themselves with their garments. For this reason, a man was commanded to return the garment he had borrowed before night. — (Exod. xxii. 26. Deut. xxiv. 12.)

The furniture of the prophet's chamber (mentioned, 2 Kings, iv. 10.) consisted only of a bed, which was most likely a sort of mattress on the floor, and “ a table, a stool, and a candlestick.”

“ But to return to the structure of buildings. Some houses mentioned in Scripture seem to have been of a very peculiar construction ; such must have been the building which Samson pulled down on himself and his foes. In considering what this fabric was,' says Sir

« PreviousContinue »