The Damascus Gate - First Century Jerusalem
Damascus Gate is the main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. It is located in the wall on the city's northwest side where the highway leads out to Nablus, and from there, in times past, to the capital of Syria, Damascus; as such, its modern English name is Damascus Gate, and its modern Hebrew name, Sha'ar Shkhem (Hebrew: שער שכם), meaning Shechem Gate, or Nablus Gate. Of its Arabic names, Bab al-Nasr means "gate of victory," and Bab al-Amud (Arabic: باب العامود) means "gate of the column." The latter name, in use continuously since at least as early as the 10th century, preserves the memory of a design detail dating to the 2nd century AD Roman era gate. - Wikipedia
In its current form, the gate was built in 1537
under the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Underneath, remains of a gate dating to the time of the Roman rule of Hadrian in
the 2nd century AD have been discovered and excavated. In front of this gate
stood a Roman victory column topped with the Emperor Hadrian's image, as
depicted on the 6th century Madaba Map. This historical detail is preserved
in gate's Arabic name, Bab el-Amud, meaning "gate of the column". On the
lintel to the 2nd century gate, under which one can pass today, is inscribed the
city's name under Roman rule, Aelia Capitolina. Hadrian had significantly
expanded the gate which served as the main entrance to the city from at least as
early as the 1st century BC during the rule of Agrippa.
Damascus Gate is flanked by two towers, each equipped with machicolations. It is located at the edge of the Arab bazaar and marketplace. In contrast to the Jaffa Gate, where stairs rise towards the gate, in the Damascus Gate, the stairs descend towards the gate. Until 1967, a crenellated turret loomed over the gate, but it was damaged in the fighting that took place in and around the Old City during the Six-Day War. In August 2011, Israel restored the turret, including its arrowslit, with the help of pictures from the early twentieth century when the British Empire controlled Jerusalem. Eleven anchors fasten the restored turret to the wall, and four stone slabs combine to form the crenellated top. - Wikipedia
Many gates were located in first century
Jerusalem and here are a few: The Dung Gate was part of the southern wall near
the city of David leading to the Hinnom Valley. There was also the Tekoa Gate
which led a traveler in the direction of Tekoa. The Essene Gate was located in
the southwestern corner and it led into the area of the Essene Quarter. Of the
Joppa Gate was definitely the busiest gate and it led a traveler toward Joppa.
The three mighty towers stood near the Joppa Gate. The Damascus Gate or more
properly the Shechem Gate was very beautiful located along the second wall. The
Eastern Gate (Susa Gate) was located on the eastern wall leading into the Kidron
Valley and the Mount of Olives.
"Whoever has not seen Jerusalem in its splendor has never seen a fine city."– Babylonian Talmud (Succah, 51b)
Click around on the Picture
Primary Sources for the Study of First Century Jerusalem: Josephus, The Mishnah, The New Testament, Pliny.
First Century Jerusalem
The Jerusalem of Herod the Great
The Jerusalem Jesus knew nowhere near resembled the city David conquered in the tenth century BC. At that time, it had been a small, isolated hill fortress, valued more for its location than its size or splendor. Yet from that time on it was known as the City of David, and the kings of David's dynasty, especially his son Solomon, had enlarged and beautified it.
In the sixth century BC, the army of Nebuchadnezzar leveled Jerusalem and drove its citizens into exile. During the long years of captivity in Babylon, the Jews in exiles' prayers and longings focused on the distant Holy City. But the city rebuilt by the Jews who returned a century later was far inferior to its former splendor. It was, ironically, the hated tyrant Herod the Great who restored Jerusalem to its former grandeur.
In the 33 years of his reign (37-4 B.C.), Herod transformed the city as had no other ruler since Solomon. Building palaces and citadels, a theatre and an amphitheatre, viaducts (bridges) and public monuments. These ambitious building projects, some completed long after his death, were part of the king's single-minded campaign to increase his capital's importance in the eyes of the Roman Empire.
No visitor seeing Jerusalem for the first time could fail to be impressed by its visual splendor. The long, difficult ascent from Jericho to the Holy City ended as the traveler rounded the Mount of Olives, and suddenly caught sight of a vista like few others in the world. Across the Kidron Valley, set among the surrounding hills, was Jerusalem, "the perfection of beauty," in the words of Lamentations, "the joy of all the world."
The view from the Mount of Olives was dominated by the gleaming, gold-embellished Temple which was located in the most holy spot in the Jewish world and really God's world. This was the Lord's earthly dwelling place, He mediated His throne here and raised up a people to perform rituals and ceremonies here that would foreshadow the coming of His Messiah kinsman redeemer who would be the lamb of God, slain for the sins of the whole world.
The Temple stood high above the old City of David, at the center of a gigantic white stone platform.
To the south of the temple was THE LOWER CITY, a group of limestone houses, yellow-brown colored from years of sun and wind. Narrow, unpaved streets and houses that sloped downward toward the Tyropean Valley, which ran through the center of Jerusalem.
Rising upward to the west was THE UPPER CITY, or Zion, where the white marble villas and palaces of the very rich stood out like patches of snow. Two large arched passageways spanned the valley, crossing from the Upper City to the temple.
A high, thick, gray stone wall encircled Jerusalem. It had been damaged, repaired and enlarged over the centuries, and in Jesus' day it was about 4 miles in circumference, bringing about 25,000 people into an area about a square mile. At intervals along the wall were massive gateways. Just inside each gate was a customs station, where publicans collected taxes on all goods entering or leaving the city.
City of David (Tomb)