From hence they went up from the Court of the Women fifteen steps. "There were fifteen steps (saith Josephus) ascending from the partition wall of the women to the greater gate." Concerning these steps, the Talmudists, relating the custom of the dance just now mentioned, speak thus: "The religious men, and the men of good works, holding torches in their hands, danced and sang. The Levites, with harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets, and infinite other musical instruments, stood upon the fifteen steps going down out of the Court of Israel into the Women's Court, singing according to the number of the fifteen psalms of degrees," &c.
The east gate of the Court of Israel was called the "gate of Nicanor."--"All the gates were changed to be of gold, except the gate of Nicanor; because concerning that a miracle was shown: others say, because the brass of it did exceedingly shine."
In the gate of Nicanor, they made the suspected wife drink the bitter waters; they purified the woman after childbirth, and the leper.
Of the miracle, done about the folding-doors of this gate, see Constantine L'Empereur, Middoth, p. 57, and Juchasin, fol. 65. 2, &c.: who also produceth another reason of the name, in these words: "In the book of Josephus Ben Gorion it is said, that the gate of Nicanor was so called, because a miracle was there shown, namely, that there they slew Nicanor, a captain of the Grecians, in the days of the Asmoneans: which may also be seen in the end of the second chapter of the tract Taanith."
The history alleged is thus:--Nicanor was one of the captains of the Greeks; and every day he wagged his hand towards Judea and Jerusalem, and said, "Oh! when will it be in my power, to lay them waste!" But when the Asmonean family prevailed, they subdued them, and slew him, and hung up his thumbs and great toes upon the gates of Jerusalem. Hence 'Nicanor's day' is in the Jewish calendar.
This gate was 'fifty cubits in height'; the doors contained forty cubits, and very richly adorned with silver and gold, laid on to a great thickness.
In that gate sat a council of three and twenty; as there was another in the gate of Susan.
None of the gates had (a small scroll of paper fixed to the posts), but the gate of Nicanor.