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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

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The oriental resort for business, converse, bargaining, and news (Genesis 19:1; Genesis 23:10; Psalms 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; Ruth 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. Psalms 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; Psalms 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 Kings 23:8).

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).

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Gate'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​fbd/​g/gate.html. 1949.
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