in the modern sense, unknown in the East. The khans or caravanserais, which correspond to the European inn, are not alluded to in the Old Testament. The "inn" mentioned in Ex 4:24 was just the halting-place of the caravan. In later times khans were erected for the accommodation of travellers. In Lu 2:7 the word there so rendered denotes a place for loosing the beasts of their burdens. It is rendered "guest-chamber" in Mr 14:14; Lu 22:11. In Lu 10:34 the word so rendered is different. That inn had an "inn-keeper," who attended to the wants of travellers.
Illustration: Khan of the Good Samaritan
Hebrew lin. A lodging place for the night. Khans or caravanserais, the halting places of caravans or traveling companies, are places where men and cattle have room to rest, but, no food is provided in them. In the times of the Pentateuch they were not buildings but resting places where tents might be spread near water and pasture (Ex 4:24; Ge 42:27). The caravanserai, a square building enclosing an open court, with arcades around and a terrace over them, is alluded to in Jer 9:2. Though lonely and often filthy, the terrace is tolerably clean, but the court and stabling littered with chopped straw and dirt. The prophet would prefer even it to the comforts of Jerusalem, so as to be away from its pollutions. Christian hospitals (from whence came hostel, hotel) were originally halting places built for pilgrims. Paula, Jerome's friend, built several on the way to Bethlehem; the Scotch and Irish built some for pilgrims of their nation going to Rome.
The "manger" in Lu 2:7 was a crib in a stable attached to a khan (kataluma, having cells or apartments above for travelers as well as stalls below for the cattle) where there was no host. The inn (pandokeion) in Lu 10:34-35 had a "host," and so resembled our "inn" with its "innkeeper"; the women connected with such lodging places were often of a loose character (Jos 2:1). However, Justin Martyr (Tryph. 78, A.D. 103), who was born only 40 miles off, says Jesus was born in a cave near Bethlehem, one of the caverns in the narrow long grey hill on which it stands, for caves in rocky countries are often used as stables; in the manger in it Jesus was laid. "The habitation of Chimham by Bethlehem" (gerut Chimham) (Jer 41:17) was a halting place or station in or at the patrimony of David, made over to Barzillai's son Chimham for his father's loyalty (2Sa 19:34-40).
We read of the inn as early as Ge 42:27; 43:21, when Jacob sent to Egypt for corn. As the word malon signifies simply 'lodging place,' at first nothing more may be implied than a place near water, where travellers usually rested. It would soon have been found that persons travelling long distances needed protection and some better resting place at night, which led to such places being provided at certain stations. Those known in the East were merely enclosures walled round for security, with covered compartments attached to the walls, where travellers could recline, and place their goods. It was at an inn that Zipporah circumcised her son. Ex 4:24.
In the N.T. when the Lord was born, the word for 'inn' is ????????, which is translated 'guest-chamber' in Mr 14:14; Lu 22:11; and may refer to a lodging house. Travellers have found such accommodation, and at times cattle occupied part of the house, which might account for a 'manger' being found there. In Lu 10:34 the word is ??????????, 'a house for the reception of strangers,' a road-side inn. As there was a 'host' to whom the injured man was committed, it was doubtless a better place than a Khan.
The Hebrew word (malon) thus rendered literally signified "a lodging-place for the night." Inns, in our sense of the term were, as they still are, unknown in the East, where hospitality is religiously practiced. The khans or caravanserais are the representatives of European inns, and these were established but gradually. The halting-place of a caravan was selected originally on account of its proximity to water or pasture, by which the travellers pitched their tents and passed the night. Such was undoubtedly the "inn" at which occurred the Incident in the life of Moses narrated in
comp. Gene 42:27 On the more frequented routes, remote from towns,
caravanserais were in course of time erected, often at the expense of the wealthy. "A caravanserai is a large and substantial square building... Passing through strong gateway, the guest enters a large court, in the centre of which is a spacious raised platform, used for sleeping upon at night or for the devotions of the faithful during the day. Around this court are arranged the rooms of the building."
INN. The inns or caravanserais of the east, in which travellers are accommodated, are not all alike, some being simply places of rest, by the side of a fountain, if possible, and at a proper distance on the road. Many of these places are nothing more than naked walls; others have an attendant, who subsists either by some charitable donation, or the benevolence of passengers; others are more considerable establishments, where families reside, and take care of them, and furnish the necessary provisions. "Caravanserais," says Campbell, "were originally intended for, and are now pretty generally applied to, the accommodation of strangers and travellers, though, like every other good institution, sometimes perverted to the purposes of private emolument, or public job. They are built at proper distances through the roads of the Turkish dominions, and afford to the indigent or weary traveller an asylum from the inclemency of the weather, are in general built of the most solid and durable materials, have commonly one story above the ground floor, the lower of which is arched, and serves for warehouses to store goods, for lodgings, and for stables, while the upper is used merely for lodging; beside which they are always accommodated with a fountain, and have cooks' shops and other conveniences to supply the wants of lodgers. In Aleppo, the caravanserais are almost exclusively occupied by merchants, to whom they are, like other houses, rented." "In all other Turkish provinces," observes Antes, "particularly those in Asia, which are often thinly inhabited, travelling is subject to numberless inconveniences, since it is necessary not only to carry all sorts of provisions along with one, but even the very utensils to dress them in, beside a tent for shelter at night and in bad weather, as there are no inns, except here and there a caravanserai, where nothing but bare rooms, and those often very bad, and infested with all sorts of vermin, can be procured." "There are no inns any where," says Volney, "but the cities, and commonly the villages, have a large building called a kan or kervanserai, which serves as an asylum for all travellers. These houses of reception are always built without the precincts of towns, and consist of four wings round a square court, which serves by way of enclosure for the beasts of burden. The lodgings are cells, where you find nothing but bare walls, dust, and sometimes scorpions. The keeper of this kan gives the traveller the key and a mat, and he provides himself the rest; he must therefore carry with him his bed, his kitchen utensils, and even his provisions, for frequently not even bread is to be found in the villages. On this account the orientals contrive their equipage in the most simple and portable form. The baggage of a man who wishes to be completely provided, consists in a carpet, a mattress, a blanket, two sauce pans with lids contained within each other, two dishes, two plates, and a coffee pot, all of copper, well tinned, a small wooden box for salt and pepper, a round leathern table, which he suspends from the saddle of his horse, small leathern bottles or bags for oil, melted butter, water, and brandy, if the traveller be a Christian, a tinder box, a cup of cocoa nut, some rice, dried raisins, dates, Cyprus cheese, and, above all, coffee berries, with a roaster and wooden mortar to pound them." The Scriptures use two words to express a caravanserai, in both instances translated inn: "There was no room for them in the inn," ??????????, Lu 2:7; the place of untying, that is, of beasts for rest. "And brought him to the inn," ??????????, Lu 10:34, whose keeper is called in the next verse ?????????. This word properly signifies "a receptacle open to all comers." "The serai or principal caravansary at Surat," observes Forbes, "was much neglected. Most of the eastern cities contain one, at least, for the reception of strangers; smaller places, called choultries, are erected by charitable persons, or munificent princes, in forests, plains, and deserts, for the accommodation of travellers. Near them is generally a well, and a cistern for the cattle; a brahmin, or fakeer, often resides there to furnish the pilgrim with food, and the few necessaries he may stand in need of. In the deserts of Persia and Arabia, these buildings are invaluable; in those pathless plains, for many miles together, not a tree, a bush, nor even a blade of grass, is to be seen; all is one undulating mass of sand, like waves on the trackless ocean. In these ruthless wastes, where no rural village or cheerful hamlet, no inn or house of refreshment, is to be found, how noble is the charity that rears the hospitable roof, that plants the shady grove and conducts the refreshing moisture into reservoirs!"