The houses of the Jews, like those of the Greeks and Romans, were built on a flat roof, so that a person could walk on them. The roofs were made of branches and dried clay laid over wooden beams. Travelers often see grass growing on the housetops, the roofs being flat and coated with earth trodden hard. Such grass quickly withers when the rainy season is over. They were generally provided with stairs on the outside of the house, furnishing a chance to go up and down from the roof without going into the house. In the oriental cities these flat-roofed houses made a walk from one end of the city to another, and these walks ended at the city gate. In the last day prophecy Jesus could then say that he that was on the housetop should then continue to walk on the roofs and flee throughout the city gate as soon as possible.

A battlement is a breastwork, of wall or lattice, surrounding the flat roofs of Eastern houses, required as a protection against accidents. The battlement was a balustrade around the roofs where resorted to for fresh air, amusement, or retirement by day, and for sleep at night, sometimes even for work. The Mosaic law required a battlement for each house. Moses - When you build a new house, then you shall make a battlement (railing) that you bring not blood upon your house, if any man fall from there.

Many of the houses were simple and made of stone or brick. Often times, they would be shared with the animals. The ancients took great pains to ornament the ceilings of their best apartments; sometimes of a fine plaster with beautiful moldings, tinted and relieved by gilding, small mirrors, etc. Vermilion was a pigment used in fresco paintings for decorating the walls and beams of houses. Window lattice, as the houses were without chimneys.

Almost every house in Jerusalem, of any size, is understood to have at least one or more cisterns, excavated in the soft limestone rock on which the city is built. The water is conducted into them during the rainy season, and with proper care remains pure and sweet during the whole summer and autumn. They are properly called tanks or pools for irrigation and at intervals along the highways for travelers. The cisterns in Jerusalem in case of siege would furnish a tolerable supply.

Those not so well-to-do may live in a small one room house made of unbaked clay bricks and would have an earthen floor, maybe just one window and the air of poverty. [306, 380, Deuteronomy, BD, 383, 392]

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