705. Getting Down From the House Top

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Matthew 24:1717Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: (Matthew 24:17). Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house.
Some commentators have endeavored to show how those who were on the flat tops of the houses might escape without coming down, by going over the roofs of the other houses until they reached the city wall. But a comparison with the narrative as given by Mark and Luke shows that the direction was intended as a caution against stopping in any of the rooms of the house on their way down in order to collect their valuables. Mark’s account says: “Let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take anything out of his house.” Luke has, “In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away.” They are not told that they are not to come down in order to escape, but they are not to come down for the purpose of entering the house. According to our method of building it would be impossible to come down from the roof without entering the house; but in the Oriental houses there are stairs on the outside of the house landing in the court, from which one could escape into the street through the porch. Occasionally, though not often, we are told of stairs which come directly from the roof on the street side of the house into the street below. Some travelers deny the existence of such external stairs, while others positively affirm it. Anderson, for instance, says: “The house in which I lodged in Jerusalem had an outer as well as an inner stair, by which, without descending into the court, I could at any time go out into the street” (Bible Light from Bible Lands, p. 183).