199. The Gate a Place of Justice

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Deuteronomy 21:1919Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; (Deuteronomy 21:19). Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place.
As the vicinity of the gate was a place of popular resort, (see note on Genesis 19:11And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; (Genesis 19:1), #15) it became a convenient place for the administration of justice. Here courts were held, and disputes were settled. See Deuteronomy 16:18; 25:718Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. (Deuteronomy 16:18)
7And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother. (Deuteronomy 25:7)
; Joshua 20:44And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. (Joshua 20:4); Ruth 4:11Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down. (Ruth 4:1); Job 5:4; 31:214His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them. (Job 5:4)
21If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: (Job 31:21)
; Psalm 127:55Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:5); Proverbs 22:22; 31:2322Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: (Proverbs 22:22)
23Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. (Proverbs 31:23)
; Jeremiah 38:77Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; (Jeremiah 38:7); Lamentations 5:1414The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their music. (Lamentations 5:14); Amos 5:1212For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right. (Amos 5:12); Zechariah 8:1616These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: (Zechariah 8:16). From the fact that princes and judges thus sat at the gate in the discharge of their official duties, the word gate became a synonym for power or authority. This is illustrated in Matthew 16:1818And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18), where the expression “gates of hell” means powers of hell. We find it also in the title given to the government of the Turkish Empire, “the Ottoman Porte” or “the Sublime Porte”; (porta, a gate.) “The Gate of Judgment” is a term still common among the Arabians to express a court of justice, and was introduced into Spain by the Saracens.
Modern Oriental travelers speak of the existence at this day of the custom mentioned in the text.