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Verses 3-4

Mark 2:3-4. And they come, bringing one sick of the palsy See on Matthew 9:2, &c. Which was borne of four One at each corner of the sofa or couch. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press The great crowd of people collected together, and feared a delay might lose so precious an opportunity, they uncovered the roof Of the apartment where he was Which was a room that had no chamber over it, the houses in the East being low, having generally a ground floor only, or one upper story. This house also, like other houses in that country, had doubtless a flat roof with a battlement round it, (Deuteronomy 22:8,) and a kind of trap-door, by which persons within could come out upon it to walk and take the air, or perform their devotions. (See 2 Kings 23:12; Acts 10:9.) This door, when shut, lying even with the roof, made a part of it, and was probably well fastened to secure the house against thieves. The bearers therefore of the paralytic, prevented from bringing him in at the door by the crowd, bear him up by some other stair to the roof of this room, and finding this trap-door fastened below, were obliged to break it open before they could get entrance; and probably also, in order to let down the sick man and his couch, to make the opening wider, which they might do, either by removing the frame of the trap-door, or some of the tiles adjoining to it, with the laths supporting them; all which Mark fitly expresses by the words: απεστε γαδαν την στεγην οπου ην , και , εξορυξαντες χαλωσι τον κραββατον , they took up the covering, and having broken, or pulled up, namely, as much of the frame or adjoining tiles as was necessary, they let down the couch, which they held by the corners, or by ropes fastened to the corners of it, and so placed him before Jesus while he was preaching to the people who were within, and to as many of those who stood without in the court as could hear.

Some think a more satisfactory interpretation of this passage may be given by referring to Dr. Shaw’s account of the houses in the East. “They are built,” he says, “round a paved court, into which the entrance from the street is through a gateway, or passage-room, furnished with benches, and sufficiently large to be used in receiving visits, or transacting business. The stairs, which lead to the roof, are never placed on the outside of the house in the street, but usually in the gateway or passage-room to the court, and sometimes at the entrance within the court. This court is called in Arabic, the middle of the house, and answers to the midst, in Luke. It is customary to fix cords from the parapet-walls ( Deu 22:8 ) of the flat roofs across this court, and upon them to expand a veil or covering, as a shelter from the heat. In this area, probably, our Saviour taught. The paralytic was brought upon the roof by making a way through the crowd to the stairs in the gateway, or by the terraces of the adjoining houses. They rolled back the veil, and let the sick man down over the parapet-wall of the roof into the area or court of the house before Jesus.” This interpretation, however, seems hardly consistent with the original expressions used by Mark and Luke: particularly the latter, who says, Luke 5:19, Δια των κεραμων καθηκαν αυτον συν τω κλινιδιω , They let him down through the tiling with his couch.

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