Glimpses of Israel - The Gates of Zion

"The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob . . . " (Psalm 87:2). As we read these words we might ask ourselves what was so special to God about those gates mentioned by the psalmist, when Jerusalem had many fine palaces, buildings that were ornate and important, and towers that stood out like monuments.

Was it because each day the life of the people of the city ebbed and flowed through the gates of Zion? Was it therefore the Lord's love for His people, and the security of gates in the walls of the city of peace that touched Him especially?

The original twelve gates of Jerusalem no longer exist. They were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and Nehemiah encouraged the returning exiles to repair the gates when the walls were rebuilt: Sheep Gate, Valley Gate, Refuse Gate, Fish Gate, Old Gate, Fountain Gate, Water Gate, Horse Gate, East Gate, Miphkad Gate, Gate of Ephraim and Gate of the Prison, as mentioned by him in chapters 3, 8 and 12.

Today there are only eight gates in the walls that were rebuilt by Suleiman the Great in the sixteenth century: Damascus Gate, New Gate, Jaffa Gate, Zion Gate, Dung Gate, Golden Gate, Lion's Gate, and Herod's Gate. And one of these, the Golden Gate, on the east side of the city opposite the Mount of Olives, is sealed up, and has been since Suleiman rebuilt the walls and gates that we know today.

Inexplicably Suleiman ordered the sealing of this eastern gate, but the order seemed to fulfil Ezekiel's prophecy: "Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces towards the east, but it was shut. And the LORD said to me, 'This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut'" (44:1, 2).

On one occasion this same Golden Gate witnessed a vast throng rejoicing and saying: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!" (Matthew 21:9) as the Messiah entered Jerusalem and fulfilled Zechariah's prophecy:

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey" (9:9).