Gate. The gates 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. Gen. 22:17; 24:60; Deut. 12:12; Judges 5:8; Ruth 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. Gen. 19:1; 23:10; 34:20, 24; 1 Sam. 4:18, etc. 2. Places for public deliberation, administration of justice, or of audience for kings and rulers or ambassadors. Deut. 16:18; 21:19; 25:7; Josh. 20:4; Judges 9:35, etc. 3. Public markets. 2 Kings 7:1. In heathen towns the open spaces near the gates appear to have been sometimes used as places for sacrifice. Acts 14:13; comp. 2 Kings 23:8. Regarded therefore as positions of great importance, the gates of cities were carefully guarded, and closed at nightfall. Deut. 3:5; Josh. 2:5, 7; Judges 9:40, 44. They contained chambers over the gateway. 2 Sam. 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. Deut. 3:5; Ps. 107:16; Isa. 45:1, 2. Gates not defended by iron were of course liable to be set on fire by an enemy. Judges 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. Deut. 6:9; Isa. 54:12; Rev. 21:21. The gates of Solomon’s temple were very massive and costly, being overlaid with gold and carvings. 1 Kings 6:34, 35; 2 Kings 18:16. Those of the holy place were of live wood, two-leaved and overlaid with gold; those of the temple of fir. 1 Kings 6:31, 32, 34; Ezek. 41:23, 24.