Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Porters of the Temple

The Levites discharged the office of porters of the temple both day and night, and had the care both of the treasure and offerings. The office of porter was in some sort military; properly speaking, they were the soldiers of the Lord, and the guards of his house, to whose charge the several gates of the courts of the sanctuary were appointed by lot, 1 Chronicles 26:1; 1 Chronicles 26:13; 1 Chronicles 26:19 . "They waited at every gate; and were not permitted to depart from their service," 2 Chronicles 35:15; and they attended by turns in their courses, as the other Levites did, 2 Chronicles 8:14 . Their proper business was to open and shut the gates, and to attend at them by day, as a sort of peace officers, in order to prevent any tumult among the people; to keep strangers and the excommunicated and unclean persons, from entering into the holy court; and, in short, to prevent whatever might be prejudicial to the safety, peace, and purity of the holy place and service. They also kept guard by night about the temple and its courts; and they are said to have been twenty-four, including three priests, who stood sentry at so many different places. There was a superior officer over the whole guard, called by Maimonides, "the man of the mountain of the house;" he walked the round as often as he pleased; when he passed a sentinel that was standing, he said, "Peace be unto you;" but if he found one asleep, he struck him, and he had liberty to set fire to his garment. This custom may, perhaps, be alluded to in the following passage: "Behold, I come as a thief," that is, unawares; "blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments," Revelation 16:15 . Psalms 134, seems to be addressed to these watchmen of the temple, "who by night stand in the house of the Lord;" in which they are exhorted to employ their waking hours in acts of praise and devotion.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Porters of the Temple'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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