“burden.” The word of the Lord can be a burden to the prophet, and then, when it is spoken, can be a burden to the people. It might have been more clear in the English to say “burdensome message” instead of “burden,” but the Hebrew word is “burden.” [For more information on “burden,” see commentary on Malachi 1:1].
“That you have all gone up to the housetops.” This refers to the custom of people going up to the housetops to see what was happening and be able to talk about it with neighbors. In the biblical times, houses had flat roofs, and the Mosaic Law commanded that a railing be built around the roof so people would not fall off (Deut. 22:8). People would spend time on the roof when the weather was nice, which is why Peter went up on the rooftop to pray (Acts 10:9).
The houses were built close together, often even having common walls, and were generally close enough to get from one roof to another. The streets between the houses were usually very narrow. That meant that getting to the outside of town by traveling rooftop to rooftop was usually quicker than using the narrow streets through town. Moving roof to roof was known as “the road of the roofs,” and that was why Jesus said that when people saw the signs of the end times they should flee town without going back down into their houses (Matt. 24:17; Mark 13:15; Luke 17:31).
The narrow and often winding roads between the houses were not a good way to travel quickly through town because they would clog up so quickly. Besides being narrow, they were also often dark and wet, and those factors made them not very inviting for people to stand in to talk to their neighbors and get news. When something happened that got the attention of the people of town, they would all go up on their roofs where they could see and talk to neighbors and get the news.