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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Porter

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This word, when used in the A. V., does not bear its modern signification of a carrier of burdens, but denotes in every case a gatekeeper, from the Latin portarius, the man who attended to the porta. In the original the word is שׁוֹעֵר or שֹׁעֵר, shoer, from שִׁעִר, shaar, a gate; once (Ezra 7:24) Chald. תָּרָע, tara', the same (Sept. θυρωρός and πυλωρός ; Vulg. portarius and janitor). This meaning is evidently implied in 1 Chronicles 9:21; 2 Chronicles 23:19; 2 Chronicles 35:15; John 10:3. It is generally employed in reference to the Levites who had charge of the entrances to the sanctuary, but is used also in other connections in 2 Samuel 18:26 : 2 Kings 7:10-11; Mark 13:34; John 10:3; John 18:16-17. In two passages (1 Chronicles 15:23-24) the Hebrew word is rendered "doorkeeper," and in John 18:16-17, θυρωρὸς is "she that kept the door." Thus, in 2 Kings 7:10-11, and 2 Samuel 18:26, we meet with the porter at the gates of a town. In the palace of the high-priest (John 18:17) the porter was a female, παιδισκη, θυρωρός. See also Acts 12:13. A porter seems to have been usually stationed at the doors of sheepfolds (John 10:3). According to Stier and others, this θυρωρὸς corresponds to the Holy Spirit, who opens the way for the true ministers of Christ. (See DOOR).

The porters of the Temple, who were guards as well as porters, were very numerous in David's time; for in 1 Chronicles 23:5 no less than 4000 are mentioned. They were divided into courses (1 Chronicles 26:1-19), and had their post assigned them by lot (1 Chronicles 26:13). Besides attending to the gates and keeping order there, they seem, as Lightfoot says, to have had charge of certain treasures (1 Chronicles 26:15, comp. with 2 Chronicles 25:24, and Lightfoot's Prospect of the Temple, c. 5, § 6). Properly speaking, their office was in some respects military: they were the soldiers of Jehovah, and the guards of his Temple. The stations that were guarded were not all occupied by the same number-some being guarded by six, some by four, and others by two persons only. They were relieved every Sabbath-day by others who took their places (2 Kings 11:5; 1 Chronicles 9:17-29; 1 Chronicles 16:42; 2 Chronicles 8:14; 2 Chronicles 23:4; 2 Chronicles 31:14; 2 Chronicles 35:15). Their service was required by night as well as by day, and a man called "the Man of the Mountain of the House" went round every night to see that all were in their places, and that none of them slept. If he found any one asleep he struck him, and had liberty to burn his clothes. To this Lightfoot thinks there is a reference in Revelation 16:15 : "Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments" (Temple Service, c. 7 § 1). (See TEMPLE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Porter'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/porter.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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