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Jerusalem’s East Gate (also the Golden Gate, Beautiful Gate, and in Hebrew, Gate of Mercy)

 Part of the current gate was built in the sixth or seventh century, probably upon the foundation of the original gate. The gate was sealed by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman (he rebuilt the city’s current walls) in the early 1500s.

The East Gate features prominently in tradition and Scripture. In Jewish literature, when Messiah finally comes to Jerusalem it will be through the East Gate. Thus, one view why the gate was sealed by Suleiman was to prevent the coming of Messiah. It has also been suggested this is why he established a graveyard in front of the gate (as seen in the image), as it was believed a holy man could not enter a cemetery.

From a scriptural perspective the East Gate is highly significant. After detailing how the leaders of the people turned their back on the temple and worshipped the sun while facing the East Gate (Ezek 8:16, 11:1-13), Ezekiel records the glory of God leaving the temple through the East Gate at the time of the exile (Ezek 10:18-19, 11:23). Centuries later it is through the East Gate, coming from the Mount of Olives, that Jesus entered the city mounted on a donkey (Luke 19:28-39), fulfilling Zechariah 9:9.

When Jesus ascended to heaven, it was east of Jerusalem, from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12). Jesus described the Second Coming this way: “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:27). Zechariah prophesies that when the Lord returns He will come from the east with all the holy ones (Zech 14:4-5), fulfilling what the angels said to the disciples witnessing the Ascension: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11 ESV). Thus, when Messiah returns—this time on a white horse rather than a donkey (Rev 19:11-16)—it is from the east.

Finally, Zechariah describes how one day the East Gate will be unsealed during the end times (Zech 44:1-3).

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