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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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is often used in Scripture to denote a place of public assembly, where justice was administered, Deuteronomy 17:5; Deuteronomy 17:8; Deuteronomy 21:19; Deuteronomy 22:15; Deuteronomy 25:6-7 , &c. One instance of these judgments appears in that given at the gate of Bethlehem, between Boaz and a relation of Naomi, on the subject of Ruth, Ruth 4:2; another in Abraham's purchase of a field to bury Sarah, Genesis 23:10; Genesis 23:18 . The gate of judgment is a term still common to the Arabians to express a court of justice, and even introduced by the Saracens into Spain. "I had several times," says Jacob, "visited the Alhambra, the ancient palace and fortress of the Moorish kings: it is situated on the top of a hill, overlooking the city, and is surrounded by a wall of great height and thickness. The entrance is through an archway, over which is carved a key, the symbol of the Mohammedan monarchs. This gate, called the gate of judgment, according to eastern forms, was the place where the kings administered justice." In Morocco, the gate is still the place where judgment is held. "All complaints," says Host, "are brought, in the first instance, to the cadi, or governor, who, for that purpose, passes certain hours of the day in the gate of the city, partly for the sake of the fresh air, and partly to see all those who go out; and, lastly, to observe a custom which has long prevailed, of holding judgment there. The gate is contrived accordingly, being built like a square chamber, with two doors, which are not directly opposite to each other, but on two adjoining sides, with seats on the other sides. In this manner David sat between two gates," 2 Samuel 18:24 . Gate sometimes signifies power, dominion, almost in the same sense as the Turkish emperor's palace is called the Porte. God promises Abraham that his posterity shall possess the gates of their enemies, their towns, their fortresses, Genesis 22:17 .

Jesus Christ says to Peter, "Thou art Peter; and on this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," Matthew 16:18 . This may mean either the powers of hell, or invisible spirits; or simply death,—the church shall be replenished by living members from generation to generation, so that death shall never annihilate it.

Solomon says, "He that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction." The Arabs are accustomed to ride into the houses of those they design to harass. To prevent this, Thevenot tells us that the door of the house in which the French merchants live at Rama was not three feet high, and that all the doors of that town are equally low. Agreeably to this account, the Abbe Mariti, speaking of his admission into a monastery near Jerusalem, says, "The passage is so low, that it will scarcely admit a horse; and it is shut by a gate of iron, strongly secured in the inside. As soon as we entered, it was again made fast with various bolts and bars of iron: a precaution extremely necessary in a desert place, exposed to the incursions, and insolent attacks of the Arabs." Mr. Drummond says, that in the country about Roudge, in Syria, "the poor miserable Arabs are under the necessity of hewing their houses out of the rock, and cutting very small doors or openings to them, that they may not be made stables for the Turkish horse, as they pass and repass." And thus, long before him, Sandys, at Gaza, in Palestine: "We lodged under an arch in a little court, together with our asses; the door exceeding low, as are all that belong unto Christians, to withstand the sudden entrance of the insolent Turks." "To exalt the gate," would consequently be to court destruction. Morier says, "A poor man's door is scarcely three feet in height; and this is a precautionary measure to hinder the servants of the great from entering it on horseback; which, when any act of oppression is intended, they would make no scruple to do. But the habitation of a man in power is known by his gate, which is generally elevated in proportion to the vanity of its owner. A lofty gate is one of the insignia of royalty: such is the Allan Capi, at Ispahan, and Bob Homayan, or the Sublime Porte, at Constantinople. It must have been the same in ancient days; the gates of Jerusalem, Zion, &c, are often mentioned in the Scripture, with the same notion of grandeur annexed to them."

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Gate'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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