Israel’s History – a Picture a Day (Beta) Inbox x Picture a Day – The Holy Land Revealed. “The Golden Gate”.


The Golden Gate viewed from within the Temple Plaza (1860)

Israel’s History – a Picture a Day (Beta)


Posted: 20 Feb 2019 
The Golden Gate (Sha’ar Harachamim, Gate of Mercy) of Jerusalem’s Old City wall has 
special significance on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.  If the gate were 
opened, it would lead directly onto the Temple Plaza.  The outside of the gate would open 
to the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives beyond.  In Talmudic literature the gate 
was also known as the Shushan Gate because of its eastern direction (toward the Persian
city of Shushan) and perhaps because of the role played by the Persian leader Cyrus in
the Jews’ return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.

According to Jewish tradition, on Yom Kippur a messenger (usually a priest) took the 
sacrificial lamb from the Temple through the gate to the desert.  The Red Heifer 
purification ceremony also involved taking the sacrifice through the eastern gate to 
the Mount of Olives.
Interior chamber of the Golden Gate. Are the columns from the Temple structure? (1900)
Unlike most of Jerusalem’s other gates, the Golden Gate was originally built at least a 
millennium before Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 1540.  
Indeed, some archeologists believe that the original gate, dating back to Herod’s 
construction or even Nehemiah’s period (440 BCE), still exists beneath the current gate.  
Perhaps because of the great religious significance of the gate to Jews and Christians as 
the Messiah’s route into Jerusalem, it is believed Suleiman sealed the gate and permitted 
the construction of a Muslim cemetery in front of the gate.
The graffiti scratched into the wall by “Avraham”
Hebrew writing – graffiti – on the internal walls of the gate’s chamber is believed 
to have been left by Jewish pilgrims at least 1,000 years ago. 
(See study by Shulamit GeraCatedra, in Hebrew.)
The graffiti scratched into the wall by “Avraham”

Diagram of the two levels of the Golden Gate (with permission of the
Biblical Archaeology Review)


The ancient subterranean arch and the pit  of bones. (James Fleming)
The theory of an ancient gate received support in 1969 when an archeological student 
named James Fleming was inspecting the current gate. Suddenly the rain-soaked ground 
beneath him opened and he found himself in a pit of bones looking at the top of another 
gate eight feet beneath the surface.  Fleming photographed his discovery. When he 
returned the next day, the tomb had been sealed with a cement slab by the Islamic 
custodians of the cemetery.
Perhaps the bones date back to 625 CE when a Jewish revolt supported the Persians vs the Byzantines. Led by Benjamin 
of Tiberias and his army, the Jews controlled the city for several years, possibly even restoring religious practices on the 
Temple ruins. The period was marked with slaughters committed by all sides.

Steve Martin

STEVE & LAURIE MARTIN - LOVE FOR HIS PEOPLE FOUNDERS My good wife Laurie and I (married 45 years), founded Love For His People Ministry in 2010. This work gives love and support to our friends in Israel and other nations with friendship and humanitarian aid. Through social media, Steve's messages, and our Ahava Adventures trips to Israel, it is a growing, effective organization. Steve has also authored and published 36 books. We live in the Charlotte, NC area and have four adult children, spouses, and eight grandkids. Ahava and shalom with blessings on ye head!

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