The street called "Straight" at Damascus (Ac 9:11) is "a long broad street, running from east to west, about a mile in length, and forming the principal thoroughfare in the city." In Oriental towns streets are usually narrow and irregular and filthy (Ps 18:42; Isa 10:6). "It is remarkable," says Porter, "that all the important cities of Palestine and Syria Samaria, Caesarea, Gerasa, Bozrah, Damascus, Palmyra, had their 'straight streets' running through the centre of the city, and lined with stately rows of columns. The most perfect now remaining are those of Palmyra and Gerasa, where long ranges of the columns still stand.", Through Samaria, etc.
rechob. A broad open space, as the courtyard, the space near the gate devoted to public business (De 13:16), or before t he temple (Ezr 10:9; Es 4:6). Particular trades gathered in certain quarters, as "the bakers' street" (Jer 37:21). Chuts is a "narrow street" (Pr 5:16; Jer 5:1) in contrast to the "broad street", rechob. Shuq like chuts is seemingly "the narrow street" distinguished from "the broad way," rechob, in Song 3:2. Lu 14:21 plateia and rumee, "the streets and lanes." But shuq etymology means "a place of concourse", and rume is applied to the "straight" street of Damascus (Ac 9:11).
The streets of a modern Oriental town present a great contrast to those with which we are familiar, being generally narrow, tortuous and gloomy, even in the best towns. Their character is mainly fixed by the climate and the style of architecture, the narrowness being due to the extreme heat, and the gloominess to the circumstance of the windows looking for the most part into the inner court. The street called "Straight," in Damascus,
was an exception to the rule of narrowness: it was a noble thoroughfare, one hundred feet wide. divided in the Roman age by colonnades into three avenues, the central one for foot passengers, the side passages for vehicles and horsemen going in different directions. The shops and warehouses were probably collected together into bazaars in ancient as in modern times.
That streets occasionally had names appears from
That they were generally unpaved may be inferred from the notices of the pavement laid by Herod the Great at Antioch, and by Herod Agrippa II. at Jerusalem. Hence pavement forms one of the peculiar features of the ideal Jerusalem. Tob. 13:17;
Each street and bazaar in a modern town is locked up at night; the same custom appears to have prevailed in ancient times.