Jerusalem Light Festival, Damascus Gate .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Wayne Stiles has never recovered from his travels in the Holy Land. Follow him on Twitter (@WayneStiles) or on his blog at www.waynestiles.com.
The walls and gates of Jerusalem have expanded and contracted over the centuries like the breathing of a living being.
walls of the Old City of Jerusalem are such that we have to enter
through the gates—just as people did for thousands of years.
were more than passageways. They served as places for personal business
and civic affairs (see Ruth 4:1). Gates often took their names from the
distant cities they faced, like Jaffa, Damascus, and Shechem.
gates of Jerusalem today mostly date from the time when Suleiman the
Magnificent rebuilt the walls around 1537. Moving counterclockwise
around the wall: Jaffa Gate
Because the Jaffa Gate also faces Hebron, where Abraham is buried, Arabs call the gate, Bab el-Khalil
“Gate of the Friend,” because of Isaiah 41:8. The gate offers easy
access to the Citadel Museum and a walk on the ramparts. General Allenby
memorably entered Jerusalem in 1917 through the Jaffa Gate.
Immediately south of this gate sits modern “Mount Zion.” Its Arabic name, Bab Nabi Daud
“Gate of the Prophet David”—came about because David’s tomb supposedly
rests on Mount Zion. A misnomer on all counts, biblical Zion (as well as
David’s Tomb), rests east of its modern designation. The gate wears a
pockmarked facade, voiceless scars from the fierce fighting for the
Jewish Quarter in 1948. Dung Gate
unusual name stems from a gate that stood along the city’s south wall
in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:13). The Targum identifies the Dung
Gate as the “Potsherd Gate” of Jeremiah 19:2. In antiquity, the city
dump lay in the nearby Hinnom Valley, and the Potsherd Gate served as
the exit by which the citizens took out the garbage. Golden Gate
closed for more than 1,000 years, this gate is sometimes confused with
the “Beautiful Gate” of the Second Temple (Acts 3:10). Muslim tradition
holds that a conqueror or the Messiah will enter through this gate.
Indeed, the Bible does predict the glory of the Lord will enter the
Temple by means of “the eastern gate” (Ezekiel 43:4), but who knows if
it refers to this one. Regardless, no bricked gate will deter the
Messiah. Stephen’s Gate
have identified this gate with Stephen’s name in honor of his martyrdom
outside the city (Acts 7:58-60). However, Byzantines placed his death
outside a northern gate. Another name, “Lion’s Gate,” comes from the
stone reliefs of two lions (or panthers or jaguars) that flank the gate.
Sometimes called the “Gate of Flowers,” or Bab ez-Zahar
this gate took Herod’s name in the 16th or 17th century because
pilgrims mistook a Mamluk house near the gate to be Herod Antipas’
palace. In this area the Crusaders penetrated the walls to capture the
city in 1099. Damascus Gate
fine example of Ottoman architecture, this is the most beautiful of the
gates of Jerusalem. Excavations below the gate reveal a triple-arched
gateway that Hadrian built—the northern extent of the Cardo street from
the second century. Outside the gate, an Arab market offers fresh fruit
and vegetables. The Jews call it the “Shechem Gate,” and the Arabs
refer to it as the "Gate of the Column.”New Gate
antiquity of the city walls is betrayed by the “New Gate,” opened in
1887 as a means of convenient northwest access to the Old City. I lodged
for a week in the Christian Quarter years ago, grateful for the easy
access the New Gate allowed to the city streets. The Future Gates of Jerusalem
8 gates of Jerusalem have stood for centuries. But the Prophet Ezekiel
predicted a day when the gates of Jerusalem would total 12—one for each
of Israel’s tribes (Ezekiel 48:31-34).
Ezekiel also mentions that
when the Messiah reigns in Jerusalem, the city will even receive an
additional name: “The Lord is There.” Wayne Stiles has never recovered from his travels in the Holy Land. Follow him on Twitter (@WayneStiles) or on his blog at www.waynestiles.com.