Ancient Walls & Gates of Jerusalem
The Walls of Jerusalem surround the area of the old city of Jerusalem. The walls were built between the years 1535–1538, during the reign of the Ottoman empire in the region of Palestine, by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
The length of the wall is 4,018 km (2,496.6 mi), their average height is 12 meters (39.37 feet) and the average thickness of walls is 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). The walls also contain 34 watchtowers and 8 gates.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion, More than all the dwellings of Jacob. (Psalm 87:2)
Located in the south, this was one of the main gates used by the Israel Defense Forces in 1967 to enter and capture the Old City. The stones surrounding the gate are still pockmarked by weapons fire. This entrance leads to the Jewish and Armenian quarters. Zion Gate is also known as David’s Gate, because the tomb of king David is believed to the on Mount Zion.
Located along the south wall, this gate is closest in proximity to the Temple Mount. The gate received its name because starting in the 2nd Century, refuse was hauled out of the city through this gate. This gate also connects the Aqsa Mosque with Silwan.
Nehemiah 2:13 mentions a Dung Gate that was near this one.
3.The Golden Gate (Eastern Gate, Sealed Gate, Mercy Gate)
During the time of the First Temple the Eastern Gate (also called Shushan or HaKohan gate) was the main entrance into the Temple area. It was also the gate that Lord Jesus entered on a humble donkey in His triumphal entry. If one were to stand on the Mount of Olives he could look over this Eastern Gate into the huge area presently north of the Dome of the Rock and see all the gates (at different levels) in a perfect line: the East (Shushan) Gate –Outer Court Gate –Inner Court Gate –Temple Entrance.
In chapter 43 the Lord gives Ezekiel a vision of God’s glory entering the Millennial Temple from the east, through the Eastern Gate. The Lord then says to Ezekiel: “Son of Man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of my feet where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever” (43:7).
The Lord then reveals to Ezekiel that the Eastern Gate will be closed for public use and will be available only to a person who is described as “the prince” (44:3).
In 1517 when the Turks conquered Jerusalem under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent. He commanded that the city’s ancient walls be rebuilt, and in the midst of this rebuilding project, for some unknown reason, he ordered that the Eastern Gate be sealed up with stones.
Legends abound as to why Suleiman closed the Gate. The most believable one is that while the walls were being rebuilt, a rumor swept Jerusalem that the Messiah was coming. Suleiman called together some Jewish rabbis and asked them to tell him about the Messiah. They described the Messiah as a great military leader who would be sent by God from the east. He would enter the Eastern Gate and liberate the city from foreign control.
Suleiman then decided to put an end to Jewish hopes by ordering the Eastern Gate sealed. He also put a Muslim cemetery in front of the Gate, believing that no Jewish holy man would defile himself by walking through a Muslim cemetery.
The Jews believe the Eastern Gate will remain shut until the Messiah returns. I think they are correct.
Psalm 24:7-10 contains a prophecy about the Lord’s return. It reads as follows:
“Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.”
This is clearly Second Coming imagery. The Lord is returning as a King ready for battle. And when He returns, the doors of one of the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem will open to receive Him. I believe this is speaking of the Eastern Gate which is now closed, for the Messiah is always pictured in Second Coming prophecies as returning from the east. For example, in the Second Coming passage in Isaiah 63:1-6 the Messiah is portrayed as coming to Jerusalem from the direction of Edom and Bozrah — areas to the east.
When He came the first time, Jesus rode a donkey from the Mount of Olives down into the Kidron Valley and up to the Eastern Gate where He entered the Temple Mount for His last days of teaching. As He made that ride, the Valley of Kidron was filled with thousands of admirers who had heard about the resurrection of Lazarus. They waved palm branches and chanted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Within a few days that same fickle crowd was shouting, “Crucify Him!”
We are told in Revelation 19 that when Jesus returns He will come as a victorious military conqueror, riding through the air on a supernatural white horse. In Isaiah 63:1 we are told that He will come from the east, and in Zechariah 14 we are told that he will touch ground on the Mount of Olives.
Jesus will ride up to the Eastern Gate on His white horse, and as He approaches the Gate, it will blow open. He will then enter the City of David, and to the triumphant shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David,” He will be crowned the Kings of kings and the Lord of lords.
Located in the east wall, the entrance leads to the Pools of Bethesda, the Via Dolorosa, and the markets, became famous during the Six Day War(June 5-10, 1967). Near the gate’s crest are four figures of lions, two on the left and two on the right. Legend has it that Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent ordered that these sculpted icons be placed above the gate as a reminder of the dream which led him to commission the rebuilding of the dilapidated walls.
One night the sultan dreamed that he was being devoured by four fierce lions which leapt upon him out of the thickets of the River Jordan. Trembling and feverish, he awoke in a great fright. When dawn broke, he summoned all the wise men of his kingdom to explain the significance of the dream. But words failed them until a wise old sheikh said, “Tell me Sultan Suleiman, what were you thinking about before you fell asleep?”
Suleiman thought for a few moments and said, “I was thinking of the best way to punish the people of Jerusalem – they haven’t been paying their taxes.” “Ohhh,” said the wizened old sheikh, “Don’t you know that our prophets David and Solomon ruled from the Holy City while lions guarded their thrones? If you treat this Holy City with goodness and mercy, you will be blessed as was David and Solomon.”
So Suleiman made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and realized that the walls needed rebuilding. He commissioned two architects who designed the route of the fortifications. The work took seven years and the walls are still standing to this very day.
The Lion’s Gate also known as St. Stephen’s Gate after the first Christian martyr, who tradition says was stoned nearby Lions Gate. This gate is also called the Sheep Gate. Tradition has it that sheep for sacrifice in the temple were brought through this gate to be washed at the pool of bethesda located nearby.
Located in the east wall, the entrance marks the beginning of the traditional Christian observance of the last walk of Jesus from prison to crucifixion, the Via Dolorosa.
Despite its name, the notorious Judean king had nothing to do with this gate. In Arabic and Hebrew this north-facing gate, which leads to the Old City markets, is called the Flowers Gate. Some say the name derives from a rosette carved over it. However, in Arabic a similar word means “awakened,” and may refer to a nearby cemetery and the hope of resurrection.
Located on the northern wall, it is the busiest and most magnificent of all Jerusalem’s gates.It is always a busy thoroughfare, thanks to the bustling markets within. The gate consists of one large center gate originally intended for use by persons of high rank, and two smaller side entrances for commoners. Below the 16th-century gate, archaeologists have uncovered part of the entryway built by Emperor Hadrian in the second century CE.
So named because it was constructed relatively recently – in 1889. This is the only Old City entryway not part of the original design of the 16th-century walls.
The New Gate was built with permission of Sultan Abdul Hamid II in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire to allow Christian pilgrims quicker access to their holy places within the ramparts. It is located near the northwestern corner of the city. It leads into the Christian quarter.
The main entrance to the Old City is the Jaffa Gate, which was built by Suleiman in 1538. The name in Arabic, Bab el-Halil or Hebron Gate, means “The Beloved” and refers to Abraham, the beloved of God who is buried in Hebron.
This was the destination of Jewish and Christian pilgrims disembarking at the Jaffa port, hence its name. It led (and still leads) directly to the Jewish and Christian quarters, as well as to the most popular parts of the market, and to the Tower of David Museum, once Jerusalem’s citadel and now a showcase of its history.
The road allows cars to enter the Old City through a wide gap in the wall between Jaffa Gate and the Citadel.
This passage was originally built in 1898 when Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany visited Jerusalem. The ruling Ottoman Turks opened it so the German Emperor would not have to dismount his carriage to enter the city.
The Gate of Zion
The Book of Nehemiah records the rebuilding of the city around 445 B.C. In chapter three, repairs were made to ten gates. Each gate is listed as Nehemiah names them in a counter-clockwise rotation.
1.Sheep Gate (Nehemiah 3:1) – the Lions Gate (sheep were brought in through this gate to be sacrificed at the temple)
2.Fish Gate (Nehemiah 3:3) – the Damascus Gate
3.Old Gate (Nehemiah 3:6) – the New Gate (It is remarkable that today’s modern gate that stands in theoximity is called, New Gate!)
4.Valley Gate (Nehemiah 3:13) – Jaffa Gate seems to have taken the place of the ancient Valley Gate.
5.Dung Gate (Nehemiah 3:13) – The modern Dung Gate lies just southwest of the Western Wall, near the southern wall of the Temple Mount. However, in David’s day, it was located about as far south as the ancient wall would take you – right at the bottom of the hill where the Valley of the Cheese makers meets the dump ground that is known as the Gehenna Valley.
6.Fountain Gate (Nehemiah 3:15) – Nehemiah’s “gate of the fountain” (Nehemiah 3:15) is located at the entrance of the Pool of Soloam. This is the place where Jesus sent the man who had been born blind (John 9:7), the pool that meant “Sent.” In Bible days, a large pool with several porches served those who wanted to be spiritually clean before entering the Temple compound.
7.Water Gate (Nehemiah 3:26) – In Bible days, the Water Gate was located in the Eastern Wall of the lower city, near the Gihon Spring, and just above the Kidron Valley. It was about halfway between the Pool of Soloam and the Pinnacle of the Temple (the southeastern corner of the Temple fortress).
8.Horse Gate (Nehemiah 3:28) – In David’s day, this gate was used for an entrance to horse stables. Over the centuries, the underground area just inside the Temple’s southern wall, took on the name of Solomon’s stables because of this gate.
9.East Gate (Nehemiah 3:29) – the Eastern Gate. This might have been the “Gate Beautiful” referred to in Acts 3:2.
10.Miphkad or Inspection Gate (Nehemiah 3:31) – The Hebrew term “Miphkad” (Nehemiah 3:31) refers to the Inspection Gate. Located in proximity to the Lions Gate.