Character of gates. The gates of an Oriental city were of course connected with the walls; nevertheless, they were in a sense a structure by themselves. They were usually made of wood or stone, or wood that had been armored with metal. The Psalmist speaks of gates of brass (copper), and gates of iron (Psalm 107:16). Often they were two-leaved (Isaiah 45:1), and were provided with heavy locks and bars (I Samuel 23:7).
Sometimes a city or town had two walls and therefore two gates with a space between them. A sentinel was stationed in the tower of the first gate. When David was at Mahanaim awaiting the result of the battle with Absalom, Scripture says: "And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone" (II Samuel 18:24). This space between the gates was used for many purposes. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Gate in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(1.) Of cities, as of Jerusalem (Jer. 37:13; Neh. 1:3; 2:3;
3:3), of Sodom (Gen. 19:1), of Gaza (Judg. 16:3).
(2.) Of royal palaces (Neh. 2:8).
(3.) Of the temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:34, 35; 2
18:16); of the holy place (1 Kings 6:31, 32; Ezek.
of the outer courts of the temple, the beautiful
(4.) Tombs (Matt. 27:60).
(5.) Prisons (Acts 12:10; 16:27).
(6.) Caverns (1 Kings 19:13).
(7.) Camps (Ex. 32:26, 27; Heb. 13:12).
The materials of which gates were made were,
(1.) Iron and brass (Ps. 107:16; Isa. 45:2; Acts
(2.) Stones and pearls (Isa. 54:12; Rev. 21:21).
(3.) Wood (Judg. 16:3) probably.
At the gates of cities courts of justice were
and hence "judges of the gate" are spoken of (Deut.
21:19; 25:6, 7, etc.). At the gates prophets also
delivered their messages (Prov. 1:21; 8:3; Isa.
17:19, 20; 26:10). Criminals were punished without
the gates (1
Kings 21:13; Acts 7:59). By the "gates of
righteousness" we are
probably to understand those of the temple (Ps.
gates of hell" (R.V., "gates of Hades") Matt. 16:18,
generally interpreted as meaning the power of Satan,
probably they may mean the power of death, denoting
Church of Christ shall never die.
Gate in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
The oriental resort for business, converse, bargaining, and
news (Genesis 19:1; Genesis 23:10; Psalm 69:12), for
addresses and reading the law (2 Chronicles 32:6; Nehemiah
8:1; Nehemiah 8:3; Proverbs 1:21; Jeremiah 17:19), or
administering justice (Joshua 20:4; Rth 4:1; Deuteronomy
16:18; Deuteronomy 21:19). Proverbs 22:22, "neither oppress
the afflicted in the gate," i.e. in the place of justice, in
lawsuits. Psalm 69:12, "they that sit in the gate speak
against Me (Messiah), and I was the song of the drunkards,"
i.e., not only among drunken revelers, but in the grave
deliberations of the judges in the place of justice I was an
object of obloquy. Amos 5:12, "they turn aside the poor in
the gate," i.e. they refuse them their right in the place of
justice; (Amos 5:10) "they hate him that rebuketh in the
gate," namely, the judge who condemns them (Zechariah 8:16).
Isaiah 29:21, "they lay a snare for him that
reproveth in the gate," i.e., they try by bribes and
misrepresentations to ensnare into a false decision the
judge who would in public court reprove them for their
iniquity, or to ensnare the prophet who publicly reproves
them (Jeremiah 7:2). "The Sublime Porte," the title for the
Sultan of Turkey, is derived from the eastern usage of
dispensing law in the gateway. The king's or chief's place
of audience (1 Kings 22:10; 2 Samuel 19:8; Job 29:7;
Lamentations 5:14). The object of a foe's attack and
therefore strengthened especially (Judges 5:8; Psalm
147:18), shut at nightfall (Deuteronomy 3:5; Joshua 2:5;
Joshua 2:7; 1 Samuel 23:7). The market place for country
produce (2 Kings 7:1; Nehemiah 13:16-19). The open spaces
near the gates were used for pagan sacrifices (Acts 14:13; 2
Josiah defiled "the high places of the gates in the
entering in of the gate." The larger gates had two valves,
and were plated with metal and secured with locks and bars.
Those without iron plating were easily set on fire (Judges
9:52). Sentences of the law were inscribed on and above
them, to which allusion occurs Deuteronomy 6:9; an usage
followed by Muslims in modern times. Some gates were of
solid stones (Revelation 21:21; Isaiah 54:12). Massive stone
doors are found in ancient houses of Syria, single slabs,
several inches thick, 10 ft. high, turning on stone pivots
above and below. The king's principal gate at Ispahan
afforded sanctuary to criminals (Chardin, 7:368). In
Esther's time "none might enter into the king's gate clothed
with sackcloth" (Esther 4:2). "The Beautiful Gate" of
Herod's temple (Acts 3:2) was the outer one, made of
Corinthian brass, surpassing in costliness even nine others
of the outer court, which were covered with gold and silver.
It was so heavy that twenty men were required to
close it, but it was found open unexpectedly shortly before
the overthrow of Jerusalem (Josephus, B. J., 5:5, sec. 3; 6:
5, sec. 3; contra Apion, 2:9). The doorway consisted of
lintel, threshold, and side-posts (Exodus 12:7; Exodus
12:22). In Genesis 22:17, "thy seed shall possess the gate
of his enemies," the sense is, shall sit in judgment on
them, as in the Assyrian sculptures the king is represented
sitting in judgment upon prisoners. Thus the Persian satrap
in the Lycian Xanthus monument sits at the gate dictating
terms to the Greek ambassadors, and Sennacherib, at his tent
door, gives judgment on the Jews taken at Lachish (British
Museum, 59). In front of the larger edifices in the remains
at Persepolis and Nineveh (Khorsabad) are propylaea, or
"porches," like that "for Solomon's throne where he might
judge, even the porch of judgment, covered with cedar from
one side of the floor to the other" (1 Kings 7:7).
The threshold in the Assyrian palaces is one slab of
gypsum with cuneatic inscriptions; human-headed bulls with
eagles' wings guard the portals, like and probably borrowed
from the cherubim which guarded the gate of Eden; besides
there are holes 12 in. square, lined round with tiles, with
a brick to cover them above and containing small baked clay
idols with lynx head and human body, or human head and
lion's body, probably like the teraphim, from Arabic tarf "a
boundary," and akin to the Persian "telifin" talismans. (See
TERAPHIM.) Thus the place of going out and coming in was
guarded, as especially sacred, from all evil by the
inscriptions, the compound figured gods outside, and the
hidden teraphim. Daniel "sat in" such a "gate" before the
palace of Babylon as "ruler over the whole province of
Babylon" (Daniel 2:48-49) The courtiers of Ahasuerus
attended him "in the gate" similarly (Esther 3:2).
Gate in Smiths Bible Dictionary
The gate and gateways of eastern cities anciently held and
still hold an important part, not only in the defence but in
the public economy of the place. They are thus sometimes
taken as representing the city itself. Ge 22:17; 24:60; De
12:12; Jud 5:8; Ru 4:10; Ps 87:2; 122:2 Among the special
purposes for which they were used may be mentioned.
1. As places of public resort. Ge 19:1; 23:10;
34:20, 24; 1Sa 4:18 etc.
2. Places for public deliberation, administration of
Justice, or of audience for kings and rulers or ambassadors.
De 16:18; 21:19; 25:7; Jos 20:4; Jud 9:35 etc.
3. Public markets. 2Ki 7:1 In heathen towns the open
spaces near the gates appear to have been sometimes used as
places for sacrifice. Ac 14:13 comp 2Kin 23:8
Regarded therefore as positions of great importance,
the gates of cities were carefully guarded, and closed at
nightfall. De 3:5; Jos 2:5,7; Jud 9:40,44 They contained
chambers over the gateway. 2Sa 18:24 The doors themselves of
the larger gates mentioned in Scripture were two leaved,
plated with metal, closed with locks and fastened with metal
bars. De 3:6; Ps 107:16; Isa 46:1,2 Gates not defended by
iron were of course liable to be set on fire by an enemy.
Jud 9:52 The gateways of royal palaces and even of private
houses were often richly ornamented. Sentences from the law
were inscribed on and above the gates. De 6:9; Isa 64:12; Re
21:21 The gates of Solomon's temple were very massive and
costly, being overlaid with gold and carving. 1Ki 6:34,35;
2Ki 18:16 Those of the holy place were of olive wood, two-
leaved and overlaid with gold; those of the temple of fir.
1Ki 6:31,32,34; Eze 41:23,24
Gate in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
gat (Hebrew normally (over 300 times) sha`ar; occasionally
deleth, properly, "gateway" (but compare Dt 3:5); elsewhere
the gateway is pethach (compare especially Gen 19:6);
Aramaic tera`; Greek pulon, pule; the English Revised
Version and the King James Version add caph, "threshold," in
1 Ch 9:19,22; and the King James Version adds delathayim,
"double-door," in Isa 45:1; thura, "door," Acts 3:2):
(1) The usual gateway was provided with double doors, swung
on projections that fitted into sockets in the sill and
lintel. Ordinarily the material was wood (Neh 2:3,17), but
greater strength and protection against fire was given by
plating with metal (Ps 107:16; Isa 45:2). Josephus (BJ, V,
v, 3) speaks of the solid metal doors of the Beautiful Gate
(Acts 3:2) as a very exceptional thing. Some doors were
solid slabs of stone, from which the imagery of single
jewels (Isa 54:12; Rev 21:21) was derived. When closed, the
doors were secured with a bar (usually of wood, Nah 3:13,
but sometimes of metal, 1 Ki 4:13; Ps 107:16; Isa 45:2),
which fitted into clamps on the doors and sockets in the
post, uniting the whole firmly (Jdg 16:3). Sometimes,
perhaps, a portcullis was used, but Ps 24:7 refers to the
enlargement or enrichment of the gates. As the gate was
especially subject to attack (Ezek 21:15,22), and as to
"possess the gate" was to possess the city (Gen 22:17;
24:60), it was protected by a tower (2 Sam 18:24,33; 2 Ch
14:7; 26:9), often, doubtless, overhanging and with flanking
projections. Sometimes an inner gate was added (2 Sam
18:24). Unfortunately, Israel gives us little monumental
(2) As even farm laborers slept in the cities, most of the
men passed through the gate every day, and the gate was the
place for meeting others (Ruth 4:1; 2 Sam 15:2) and for
assemblages. For the latter purpose "broad" or open places
(distinguished from the "streets" in Prov 7:12) were
provided (1 Ki 22:10; Neh 8:1), and these were the centers
of the public life. Here the markets were held (2 Ki 7:1),
and the special commodities in these gave names to the gates
(Neh 3:1,3,18). In particular, the "gate" was the place of
the legal tribunals (Dt 16:18; 21:19; 25:7, etc.), so that a
seat "among the elders in the gates" (Prov 31:23) was a high
honor, while "oppression in the gates" was a synonym for
judicial corruption (Job 31:21; Prov 22:22; Isa 29:21; Am
5:10). The king, in especial, held public audiences in the
gate (2 Sam 19:8; 1 Ki 22:10; Jer 38:7; compare Jer 39:3),
and even yet "Sublime Porte" (the French translation of the
Turkish for "high gate") is the title of the Court of
Constantinople. To the gates, as the place of throngs,
prophets and teachers went with their message (1 Ki 22:10;
Jer 17:19; Prov 1:21; 8:3; 31:31), while on the other hand
the gates were the resort of the town good-for-nothings (Ps
(3) "Gates" can be used figuratively for the glory of a city
(Isa 3:26; 14:31; Jer 14:2; Lam 1:4; contrast Ps 87:2), but
whether the military force, the rulers or the people is in
mind cannot be determined. In Mt 16:18 "gates of Hades" (not
"hell") may refer to the hosts (or princes) of Satan, but a
more likely translation is `the gates of the grave (which
keep the dead from returning) shall not be stronger than
it.' The meaning in Jdg 5:8,11 is very uncertain, and the
text may be corrupt.
Gates and Symbolism
Symbolic references to the city gates. The Bible often refers to the gates of the city in a symbolic way. Sometimes the gates are used to represent the city as a whole, as when the LORD said to Abraham, "Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" (Genesis 22: 17). The Psalmist was no doubt thinking of the temple gates when he said: "Open to me the gates of righteousness" (Psalm 118:19). It is customary for the city gates to be closed at sunset, and John alludes to this by way of contrast in his description of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:25). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Gates in Naves Topical Bible
De 3:5; Jos 6:26; 1Sa 23:7; 2Sa 18:24; 2Ch 8:5
-Made of iron
-Made of wood
-Made of brass
Ps 107:16; Isa 45:2
Isa 45:1; Eze 41:24
-The open square of, a place for idlers
Ge 19:1; 1Sa 4:18; Ps 69:12; Pr 1:21; Jer 17:19,20
-Religious services held at
-The law read at
-The place for the transaction of public business,
of legal transactions
-Conferences on public affairs
-Holding courts of justice
De 16:18; 21:19; 22:15; Jos 20:4; Ru 4:1; 2Sa 15:2;
22:22; Zec 8:16
-Place for public concourse
Ge 23:10; Pr 1:21; 8:3; Jer 14:2; 22:2
-Thrones of kings at
1Ki 22:10; 2Ch 18:9; Jer 38:7; 39:3
-Punishment of criminals outside of
De 17:5; Jer 20:2; Ac 7:58; Heb 13:12
-Closed at night
-Closed on the Sabbath
2Ki 7:17; Ne 13:19,22
-Jails made in the towers of
-Bodies of criminals exposed to view at
Of the people of a city
Of the gospel
Of the powers of hell (Hades)
Job 38:17; Ps 9:13
Of the grave
Ge 28:17; Ps 24:7; 118:19,20; Isa 26:2; Mt 7:13
Gates Scripture - 2 Chronicles 31:2
And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the
Levites after their courses, every man according to his
service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for
peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to
praise in the gates of the tents of the LORD.
Gates Scripture - 2 Kings 23:8
And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and
defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense,
from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the
gates that [were] in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the
governor of the city, which [were] on a man's left hand at the
gate of the city.
Gates Scripture - Deuteronomy 12:18
But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place
which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and
thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the
Levite that [is] within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice
before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands
Gates Scripture - Deuteronomy 12:21
If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his
name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy
herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I
have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates
whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
Gates Scripture - Deuteronomy 14:21
Ye shall not eat [of] any thing that dieth of itself: thou
shalt give it unto the stranger that [is] in thy gates, that
he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou
[art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not
seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
Gates Scripture - Deuteronomy 16:11
And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy
son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy
maidservant, and the Levite that [is] within thy gates, and
the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that [are]
among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to
place his name there.
Gates Scripture - Deuteronomy 17:8
If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between
blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and
stroke, [being] matters of controversy within thy gates: then
shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the
LORD thy God shall choose;
Gates Scripture - Deuteronomy 26:12
When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine
increase the third year, [which is] the year of tithing, and
hast given [it] unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless,
and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be
Gates Scripture - Deuteronomy 5:14
But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in
it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy
daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine
ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger
that [is] within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy
maidservant may rest as well as thou.
Gates Scripture - Judges 5:11
[They that are delivered] from the noise of archers in the
places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the
righteous acts of the LORD, [even] the righteous acts [toward
the inhabitants] of his villages in Israel: then shall the
people of the LORD go down to the gates.
Gates Were a Place for Justice
City gates a place for holding court. One of the most important uses of the gates of an ancient city was for holding court. Stone seats were provided for the judges. Thus Lot sat in the gate as a judge (Genesis 19:1). The city gates of those days would be like our modern courthouse. It was there that Boaz went to redeem the estate of Elimelech and thus receive Ruth to be his wife (Ruth 4:1).
The prophet Amos preached to Israel to "establish judgment in the gate" (Amos 5:15). The Mosaic law recognized the city gates as the place of justice: "Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment" (Deuteronomy 16:18). Thus it can be seen that one of the most important places in an ancient city was the gates of that city. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Meeting at the City Gate
Gateway as a meeting-place. The gateways of ancient walled cities and the open spaces near them, were popular meeting places for the people. They seemed like large halls that could care for great assemblies of people. Being vaulted, they provided a cool place to meet on a hot day. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Various Purposes for Gates
Variety of uses for gates. These city gates had many uses. "The openings of the gates" are described by Proverbs as "the chief place of concourse" (Proverbs 1:21). The city gate was used as a public gathering place for the giving of an address or proclamation. Concerning King Hezekiah it was said: "And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them" (II Chronicles 32:6).
David speaks of his persecutors gossiping about him at the city gates (Psalm 69:12). Mordecai sat in the king's gate in order to attract attention from the sovereign (Esther 2:21). The prophets often preached their sermons in the gates of the city. Thus the LORD told Jeremiah, "Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem" (Jeremiah 17:19).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]