gat (Hebrew normally (over 300 times) sha`ar; occasionally deleth, properly, "gateway" (but compare Deuteronomy 3:5); elsewhere the gateway is pethach (compare especially Genesis 19:6); Aramaic tera`; Greek pulon, pule; the English Revised Version and the King James Version add caph, "threshold," in 1 Chronicles 9:19,22; and the King James Version adds delathayim, "double-door," in Isaiah 45:1; thura, "door," Acts 3:2):

(1) The usual gateway was provided with double doors, swung on projections that fitted into sockets in the sill and lintel. Ordinarily the material was wood (Nehemiah 2:3,17), but greater strength and protection against fire was given by plating with metal (Psalms 107:16; Isaiah 45:2). Josephus (BJ, V, v, 3) speaks of the solid metal doors of the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2) as a very exceptional thing. Some doors were solid slabs of stone, from which the imagery of single jewels (Isaiah 54:12; Revelation 21:21) was derived. When closed, the doors were secured with a bar (usually of wood, Nahum 3:13, but sometimes of metal, 1 Kings 4:13; Psalms 107:16; Isaiah 45:2), which fitted into clamps on the doors and sockets in the post, uniting the whole firmly (Judges 16:3). Sometimes, perhaps, a portcullis was used, but Psalms 24:7 refers to the enlargement or enrichment of the gates. As the gate was especially subject to attack (Ezekiel 21:15,22), and as to "possess the gate" was to possess the city (Genesis 22:17; 24:60), it was protected by a tower (2 Samuel 18:24,33; 2 Chronicles 14:7; 26:9), often, doubtless, overhanging and with flanking projections. Sometimes an inner gate was added (2 Samuel 18:24). Unfortunately, Palestine gives us little monumental detail.

(2) As even farm laborers slept in the cities, most of the men passed through the gate every day, and the gate was the place for meeting others (Ruth 4:1; 2 Samuel 15:2) and for assemblages. For the latter purpose "broad" or open places (distinguished from the "streets" in Proverbs 7:12) were provided (1 Kings 22:10; Nehemiah 8:1), and these were the centers of the public life. Here the markets were held (2 Kings 7:1), and the special commodities in these gave names to the gates (Nehemiah 3:1,3,18). In particular, the "gate" was the place of the legal tribunals (Deuteronomy 16:18; 21:19; 25:7, etc.), so that a seat "among the elders in the gates" (Proverbs 31:23) was a high honor, while "oppression in the gates" was a synonym for judicial corruption (Job 31:21; Proverbs 22:22; Isaiah 29:21; Amos 5:10). The king, in especial, held public audiences in the gate (2 Samuel 19:8; 1 Kings 22:10; Jeremiah 38:7; compare Jeremiah 39:3), and even yet "Sublime Porte" (the French translation of the Turkish for "high gate") is the title of the Court of Constantinople. To the gates, as the place of throngs, prophets and teachers went with their message (1 Kings 22:10; Jeremiah 17:19; Proverbs 1:21; 8:3;31:31), while on the other hand the gates were the resort of the town good-for-nothings (Psalms 69:12).

(3) "Gates" can be used figuratively for the glory of a city (Isaiah 3:26; 14:31; Jeremiah 14:2; Lamentations 1:4; contrast Psalms 87:2), but whether the military force, the rulers or the people is in mind cannot be determined. In Matthew 16:18 "gates of Hades" (not "hell") may refer to the hosts (or princes) of Satan, but a more likely translation is `the gates of the grave (which keep the dead from returning) shall not be stronger than it.' The meaning in Judges 5:8,11 is very uncertain, and the text may be corrupt.


Burton Scott Easton

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'GATE'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.  

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