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The materials used in buildings were commonly bricks, sometimes also stones (Lev. 14:40, 42), which were held together by cement (Jer. 43:9) or bitumen (Gen. 11:3). The exterior was usually whitewashed (Lev. 14:41; Ezek. 13:10; Matt. 23:27). The beams were of sycamore (Isa. 9:10), or olive-wood, or cedar (1 Kings 7:2; Isa. 9:10).
The form of Eastern dwellings differed in many respects from that of dwellings in Western lands. The larger houses were built in a quadrangle enclosing a court-yard (Luke 5:19; 2 Sam. 17:18; Neh. 8:16) surrounded by galleries, which formed the guest-chamber or reception-room for visitors. The flat roof, surrounded by a low parapet, was used for many domestic and social purposes. It was reached by steps from the court. In connection with it (2 Kings 23:12) was an upper room, used as a private chamber (2 Sam 18:33; Dan. 6:11), also as a bedroom (2 Kings 23:12), a sleeping apartment for guests (2 Kings 4:10), and as a sick-chamber (1 Kings 17:19). The doors, sometimes of stone, swung on morticed pivots, and were generally fastened by wooden bolts. The houses of the more wealthy had a doorkeeper or a female porter (John 18:16; Acts 12:13). The windows generally opened into the courtyard, and were closed by a lattice (Judg. 5:28). The interior rooms were set apart for the female portion of the household.