The Jewish Mishnah (speaking of the Temple rebuilt by King Herod the Great) says that there were five gates to the Temple Mount, that is, in the wall surrounding the entire square of the Temple area. These were: the two Huldah Gates on the S, the Kiponus Gate on the W, the Tadi (Todi) Gate on the N, and the Eastern Gate, on which was portrayed the Palace of Shushan. The Mishnah additionally states that there were seven gates to the Temple Court.—See TEMPLE.
The “gates of righteousness” and “the gate of Jehovah,” into which the righteous enter, are spoken of at Psalm 118:19, 20. (Compare Matthew 7:13, 14.) When one died he was considered as entering the “gates of death.” (Ps. 9:13; 107:18) He went into the common grave for all mankind and so entered the gates of Sheol-Hades. (Isa. 38:10; Matt. 16:18) Since Jesus Christ has the keys of death and of Hades (Rev. 1:18), his congregation had the assurance that these enemies would not hold them forever in bondage. The apostle Paul showed that all of these die, going into death and Hades, as did Christ whom God loosed from the pangs of death and did not leave in Hades. (Acts 2:24, 31) And because of the resurrection assured faithful Christians, death and Hades do not have final victory over Christ’s congregation.—1 Cor. 15:29, 36-38, 54-57.
Because God’s people when restored to Zion would reestablish pure worship there, her gates would be called Praise. Zion’s gates would be open constantly to bring in the resources of the nations, without fear of being taken under control by the enemy.—Isa. 60:11, 18.
Ezekiel was given a vision of a city to be called “Jehovah Himself Is There,” having twelve gates named according to the twelve tribes of Israel. (Ezek. 48:30-35) He also reports a detailed vision of a temple with its various gates.—Ezek. chaps. 40-44.
The holy city “New Jerusalem” is pictured as having twelve gates of pearl, with an angel stationed at each gate, evidently as a guard. These gates are constantly open, for no night exists to occasion closing them. The glory and honor of the nations are brought in through the city gates. Even though open, no entrance can be effected by those practicing wicked, unclean or disgusting things. Only those maintaining cleanness as overcomers, conquerors, who become kings and priests with Christ, gain entry past the angelic attendants. (Rev. 21:2, 12, 21-27; 22:14, 15; 2:7; 20:4, 6) The peoples of the nations of earth who walk in the city’s light are blessed.
In ancient times gatekeepers, also called doorkeepers, served at various places, such as city gates, temple gates, even at the gateways or doorways of homes. Gatekeepers of city gates were appointed to see that the gates were closed at night, and acted as watchmen at the gate. Other watchmen might be posted as lookouts on top of the gate or in a tower where they could get a wide range of view and could announce those approaching the city. They cooperated with the gatekeeper. (2 Sam. 18:24, 26) It was a very responsible position inasmuch as the safety of the city depended on the gatekeeper to a considerable degree, and he was an instrument of communication between those outside the city and those inside. (2 Ki. 7:10, 11) The doorkeepers of King Ahasuerus, two of whom plotted to assassinate him, were also called court officials.—Esther 2:21-23; 6:2.
IN THE TEMPLE
King David thoroughly organized the Levites and temple workers shortly before his death, including the gatekeepers, of whom there were 4,000. In their divisions they would come in for seven days at a time. They were responsible to guard Jehovah’s house and see that the doors were opened and closed at the proper time. (1 Chron. 9:23-27; 23:1-6) Besides guard duty, some took care of the contributions brought in by the people for use at the temple. (2 Ki. 12:9; 22:4) At a later time, Jehoiada the high priest appointed special guards at the gates of the temple to protect young Joash from the usurper Queen Athaliah when Jehoiada anointed Joash as king. (2 Ki. 11:4-8) When King Josiah destroyed idolatrous worship, the doorkeepers assisted in removing from the temple the utensils and paraphernalia that had been used in the worship of Baal. These were then burned up outside the city.—2 Ki. 23:4.
In the temple rebuilt by Herod, when Jesus Christ was on earth priests and Levites were assigned as doorkeepers and watchmen. These were required to be on the alert, for the overseer or officer of the Temple Mount would make his rounds, appearing at unannounced times, and it was necessary for the watchman to remain awake at his post constantly in order not to be caught off guard. There was another officer who was in charge of the casting of lots for the temple services. When he came and knocked on the door, it was necessary for the guard to be awake to open it for him. He, too, might catch the guard asleep. On this matter of wakefulness, the Mishnah, Middoth (“Measurements”), Section 1, paragraph 2, says: “The officer of the Temple Mount used to go round to every watch with lighted torches before him, and if any watch did not stand up and say, to him, ‘O officer of the Temple Mount, peace be to thee!’ and it was manifest that he was asleep, he would beat him with his staff, and he had the right to burn his raiment.”—See also Revelation 16:15.
These gatekeepers and guards were posted at their stations in order to safeguard the temple from robbery and to keep out all unclean persons and all intruders who were bent on no proper business.
In the days of the apostles some homes employed doorkeepers. At the house of Mary the mother of John Mark, a servant girl named Rhoda answered Peter’s knock when he returned from prison after being released by an angel. (Acts 12:12-14) The girl who was employed as a doorkeeper at the home of the high priest questioned Peter as to whether he was one of Christ’s disciples.—John 18:17.
Shepherds in Bible times used to keep their flocks of sheep in a sheepfold or sheepcote during the night. These sheepfolds consisted of a low stone wall with a gateway. The flocks of one man or sometimes of several would be kept in the fold during the night with a doorkeeper to keep watch and to protect them. Jesus apparently drew on this custom for illustration when he mentioned a doorkeeper in speaking of himself, not only as the shepherd of God’s sheep, but also as the door through which the sheep could enter.—John 10:1-9; see GATE, GATEWAY; GUARD.
Jesus emphasized the need for Christians to keep alert and on the watch concerning the sign of the conclusion of the system of things by likening the Christian to the doorkeeper whom his master commanded to keep on the watch for his return from traveling abroad.—Mark 13:33-37.
A city of the Philistine axis lords. (1 Sam. 6:17, 18) Situated as it was, to the E of the Philistine plain, Gath figured prominently in the Israelite-Philistine seesaw domination of the area. Gath was the birthplace of Goliath and other giant warriors, and was occupied by the Anakim at the time that Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. (Josh. 11:22; 1 Sam. 17:4; 2 Sam. 21:15-22; 1 Chron. 20:4-8) The residents of Gath were called Gittites.—Josh. 13:3.