The Golden Gate - First Century Jerusalem
Golden Gate or Susa Gate (Eastern Gate).
During the time of the First Temple the Eastern Gate (also called Shushan or HaKohan gate) was the main entrance into the Temple area. It was also the gate that Jesus entered on a humble donkey in His triumphal entry. If one were to stand on the Mount of Olives he could look over this Eastern Gate into the huge area presently north of the Dome of the Rock and see all the gates (at different levels) in a perfect line: the East (Shushan) Gate --Outer Court Gate --Inner Court Gate --Temple Entrance. The Talmud makes an interesting observation:
"All the walls which were there were high, except the wall in the east, so that the priest who burned the heifer, standing on the top of the Mount of Olives, and directing himself to look, saw through the gateway of the sanctuary, at the time when he sprinkled the blood." [Mishnah, Middot 2:4].
The Golden Gate (Eastern Gate) in the eastern wall of Jerusalem gave access to the courtyards of the Temple from the Kidron valley.
The Eastern Gate in Jerusalem
During the time of the First Temple the Eastern Gate (also called Shushan or HaKohan gate) was the main entrance into the Temple area. It was also the gate that Jesus entered on a humble donkey in His triumphal entry. If one were to stand on the Mount of Olives he could look over this Eastern Gate into the huge area presently north of the Dome of the Rock and see all the gates (at different levels) in a perfect line: the East (Shushan) Gate --Outer Court Gate --Inner Court Gate --Temple Entrance. The Talmud makes an interesting observation:"All the walls which were there were high, except the wall in the east, so that the priest who burned the heifer, standing on the top of the Mount of Olives, and directing himself to look, saw through the gateway of the sanctuary, at the time when he sprinkled the blood." [Mishnah, Middot 2:4].
The Golden Gate (Eastern Gate) in the eastern wall of Jerusalem gave access to the courtyards of the Temple from the Kidron valley.Tradition
According to Jewish tradition the Messiah (Mashiach) will enter Jerusalem from the east. The gate has a special holiness; legend has it that the Shechinah (Divine Presence) used to appear through this gate and will appear again, and that in the meantime it must be left untouched.The Arabs (Moslems) call this gate The Mercy Gate (Bab el Rahmeh) and according to the Koran, the just will pass through this gate on the Day of Judgment.
The Sealed GateIt is interesting that this gate is the only one of the eight gates in Jerusalem that is sealed. The Arabs believe that since the Jews expect that Messiah would come through this gate (Sha'ar harachamim) they would try to prevent any possibility of His return.
The East gate was walled up by it's Muslim conquerors (the Ottoman Turks) with great stones in 1530 A.D. and a cemetery was planted in front of it thinking that the Jewish Messiah could not set foot in a cemetery and therefore would not be able to come. Many believe this was done to prevent the entrance of the Jewish Messiah through that gate as was foretold by known Old Testament prophecies. However, Ezekiel prophesied the shutting of this gate itself around 600 B.C. -- that it would be shut "because the LORD (Jehovah or Yahweh), the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut."The East Gate and the Return of the Messiah
Neh. 3:29 "...the gate that looketh toward the east: And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east."Ezekiel 44:1-3 Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And he said to me, "This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way."
Jesus entered Jerusalem through the East gate around 30 A.D. (long before it was blocked by the Ottomans) as he came down from the Mount of Olives and entered the temple according to our understanding of Luke 19:28-48. He would have entered through the original gate in the wall which was destroyed with the city by the Romans in 70 A.D. Ezekiel says concerning this closed gate that the "Prince" (which the Messiah is often called throughout the Old Testament and Jesus is called in the New Testament) shall enter it again. Jesus, having entered the city, said that he would not be seen again until Jerusalem acknowledges him (Matthew 23:37-39).Today the Temple Mount is under Muslim control, and it is just over the golden (eastern) gate and has been guarded very closely even today.
The Eastern gate is presently considered by the Arabs to be their exclusive property. It is sealed up and blocked off. However one day, the Messiah will land on the Mount of Olives, with all His saints, and walk down to and right through the Eastern Gate and into the Temple area.
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)
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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)