The Temple Mount gates

Tonight, Friday the 1st of August, is also the beginning of the Hebrew month Ab. On the 9th of this month the Jews remember the destruction of the two temples that stood on Mount Moriah, but tonight, they march around the gates of the Temple Mount to express their desire is to build a new Temple.

The ceremony is called “Sivuv She’arim” – going round the gates – and this is the seventh year that they have marched round the gates of the Temple Mount. You can read the Jerusalem Post report here.

The founder of Sivuv She’arim, Rabbi Tzvi Rogin, used to visit our home, when we lived in Yorkshire, and we had many animated discussions about the Temple Mount. Our family once participated in this ceremony and it was an exhilarating experience.

For those of you who don’t know all the Temple Mount gates, here is a drawing showing their location:


The original names of the gates of the Herodian Temple Mount walls are not known. They possibly never had names.

Today we refer to the gates in the Western Wall (from north to south) as Warren’s Gate, Wilson’s Arch (which was part of a bridge and led to a gate which was built into the western portico), Barclay’s Gate and Robinson’s Arch – which supported a stairway leading to a gate, which was also built into the western portico. Warren, Wilson, Barclay and Robinson were explorers, who worked in Jerusalem in the late 1800’s.

There are two Herodian gates in the Southern Wall, the Double Gate and the Triple Gate. These gates are sometimes erroneously called the Huldah Gates, for these were located on the Temple Mount and were not part of the Herodian retaining walls.

There were two gates in the Eastern Wall, a small gate near the south-east corner, which led into what is now called the Solomon’s Stables and the main eastern gate, which was located where the Golden Gate now stands. Inside this gate are two monolithic gate posts which belonged to the earlier Shushan Gate.

There may have been another Herodian gate in the northern wall, but no remains have been found and it is only once mentioned by Josephus.

The earlier square Temple Mount, which was originally constructed by King Hezekiah, had five gates and their names are known. In the west was the Coponius Gate, the two gates in the southern wall were called the Huldah Gates. We have already mentioned the Shushan Gate in the eastern wall and the gate in the northern wall was called the Tadi Gate. This gate may have been buried underground by the Herodian expansion to the north.

35 thoughts on “The Temple Mount gates”

  1. May I ask you, is the temple described in Ezekiel 40 and on, the third temple or the Millennial temple?

    Thank you for your time.

  2. What do you think of so many, especially those who hold to the Northern conjecture, who say that the Temple must align with the Eastern Gate/Shushan Gate? This is understood based on those priests sacrificing the red heifer being able to look through all of the gates into the Holy of Holies. Thoughts?

    Any gate in the Eastern Wall is always too low to enable someone standing on the Mount of Olives to look into the Holy of Holies.

  3. Maybe there is another east gate such that the temple of God was aligned to the Vernal Equinox. What if the Temple faced the south area next to the Hotel 7 arches on the Mt. of Olives? Would this fit any of your calculations and study?

  4. Perhaps so. You need to realize, however, that any gate in the Eastern Wall is too low for someone standing on the Mount of Olives to be able to see the Temple through such a gate. Anyone standing on the Mount of Olives should be able to recognize this. I have just submitted an article on this subject to Biblical Archaeology Review in which I deal extensively with the subject of the Eastern Gate.

  5. Leen,
    The notion that there were three doors or gates leading to the temple called the Way, the Truth and the Life is showing up in sermons. So when Jesus said that He was: The Way, The TRuth and The Life….His contemporaries knew exactly what He was talking about. Now this makes for a great illustration, but I would like to know if this indeed was the case. The gate referred to the Gentiles, Isreal and the Priests. Can you help sleuth this out? Thanks.

  6. Mike,
    There were more than three gates in the Temple. The outer gates of the Temple Mount could be used by Jews and Gentiles alike, but inside the pre-Herodian square precincts, a barrier was placed beyond which only purified Jews could enter.
    Jewish men were allowed to enter through the Nicanor Gate into the Court of Israel and Priests only were allowed access beyond this court. If there were gates referring to “Gentiles, Israel and Priests” they would have been located very far apart from each other.
    The notion that there may have been three gates representing “The Way, the Truth and the Life”, surely must be a later interpretation and could not have been part of the teaching of Jesus, as the Temple had already been completed in his lifetime.

  7. This A.M. I have been reading Ps . 24 and of course read verses 9 & 10 , where the unfailing word speaks of the everlasting doors .
    At the lifting up of these doors , the King of Glory shall come in .
    Could it be that the Shushan gate might be the one meant by the Psalm ?

  8. According to Ezekiel 44.1-3, the prince, or King of Glory, shall enter through the east gate of the millennial Temple described in these chapters, which will replace the Shushan Gate.

  9. Elijah,
    I wrote this on the Kiponus Gate in The Quest, pp.184-6:
    “The location of the Kiponus Gate, the western gate of Middot, is a matter of conjecture as no archaeological remains can be identified. The name Kiponus according to Simons53 “very likely stands for Coponius, the name of the first Roman procurator of Judea.”
    Josephus records that during the siege of Pompey there existed a bridge that reached from the Temple to the city. The Herodian bridge, of which Wilson’s Arch is part, must have replaced or strengthened a pre-Herodian bridge. There is no doubt that a gate would have existed at the point where the bridge joined the outer Western Wall of the square Temple Mount. Following Herod’s extension of the Temple Mount, this gate would have been located on the Temple Mount itself, to the east of the later gate which would have been built in the Herodian Western Wall, above Wilson’s Arch. The Herodian bridge would therefore have been shorter than its predecessor. The fact that the name of Coponius (c. A.D. 6–9) is attached to this gate does not mean to say that this gate was necessarily a new gate built by him. However, it is interesting to note that Josephus mentions that a couple of years before Coponius was sent to Judea, some of the cloisters of the Temple were burnt during a fight between the Jews and the soldiers of Sabinus.55 The original western gate of the square Temple Mount was possibly rebuilt under Coponius’ rule, and therefore his name may have been given to this gate by the authors of the Mishnah.

  10. There are three gates in the Temple area itselfthatare known as The Way, The Truth and The Light. The first one was leading into the women’s area from the east side. The second one was leading into the sacrificial area where the priests sang on the steps leading upto the gate where animals were sacrificed. The third gate led into the area where the Menorah, the bread table and the prayer altar was located.

  11. Leen,
    Have you heard of James Fleming, who apparently discoverd another gate that is buried directly beneath the closed eastern gate? He took pictures of the upper portion of the arch. You can find these pictures online. Could this gate actually be the Shushan gate? And, wouldn’t the discovery of the actual Shushan gate be enough to get the majority of the Israeli people to want their temple to be rebuilt? Thank you.

  12. Daniel,
    James found this arch in 1969. I have written about this discovery in my book “The Quest”, pp. 110. I proposed that the arch was not the remains of a gate, but of a stairway that led up to the Shushan Gate. The remains of the Shushan Gate have been incorporated into the Golden Gate, see pp. 107-109.

  13. Does the Golden or Eastern Gate have the same 6 little chambers, or in other words, does the interior of this gate match the floor plan of the gates found at Hazor, Gezer and Megiddo? Did the gates of Ezekiel have double arches with column’s down the middle?
    Thank you ahead for your response!
    Linda from Tennessee

  14. Linda,

    The gates of Hazor, etc. belong to the First Temple period when that gate design was frequently used.
    The Golden Gate in its present form dates from the Early Islamic period (8th Century AD) and has nothing to do with the more ancient gateways. The gate described in the Temple of Ezekiel’s Prophecy do have 6 chambers and were apparently modelled on the Solomonic gateways found during the First Temple period.

  15. John Wesley Ware’

    Do you have any information or evidence behind the way, the truth, and the life gates. I am very interested in this topic and would appreciate anything that can give me a more solid insight.

  16. Leen,

    I agree with what you posted back on August 27, 2010.
    The scripture plainly states that the East Gate that stands today is the gate, no other gate is mentioned as being sealed.

    Ezekiel 44:1-3 (KJV)
    Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. 2 Then said the Lord unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut 3 It is for the prince; the prince, He shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; He shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.

    I support and pray for the people of Israel.

  17. Sept. 23, 2013
    The 3rd chapter of Acts talks about Peter and John healing a beggar who was carried to the Temple Gate called Beautiful. I don’t find it on your drawing above. I would appreciate your pointing out where it is.
    Thank You

  18. Dr. Ritmeyer – I have been scrounging through “The Quest,” “Secrets of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount,” numerous BAR articles, and, of course, Google (good luck there) trying to answer a question on which you seem to be disseminating conflicting information. In the drawing above, the two gates in the southern wall of the 500-cubit square Temple Mount are identified as the Hulda Gates (as also implied on page 184 of “The Quest”). Elsewhere (e.g., page 216 of The Quest”), you state that only the westernmost gate in that wall was the Hulda Gate(s). Since Middot says that there were five gates to this platform (Tadi on the north, Kiponus on the west, Susa on the east, and Hulda on the south), there should be one more identified. I realize that the Hulda was a double gate (one in, one out) and so could conceivably count as two, but if so, what is the easternmost gate in the southern wall? It seems logical (to me, anyway) that it may have been connected with the Akra (assuming your location of the Akra is correct), but it still should be accounted for, shouldn’t it? Please resolve. Thank you.

    P.S. In the shameless grovelling department, I really enjoy your work, and your ideas make sense to me. Consider this encouragement to keep it up.

  19. Larry, the original Huldah Gates were a double-gated entrance in the southern wall of the square Temple Mount to the immediate north of the later Double Gate. When on p.216 of The Quest I referred to the westermost of the two gates in the southern wall of the square Temple Mount, that was in the context of the Hasmonean period, when by that time another gate had been added in the southern wall, namely the one to the north of the present Triple Gate. In the drawing on this blog post, only one arrow should have pointed to the gate opposite the Double Gate.

  20. In the original article tmgatenames.jpg isn’t a link nor is it in a file. (Maybe something got moved?)

    RE: Sheep’s gate… Wasn’t there a gate North of the Pools of Bethesda that could also have been known as the Sheep’s gate? Sheep were raised for sacrifice (among other things) in the North part of town. There is reference in the New Testament in John 5:2 “Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.” I don’t think John would be referring to a pre-Herodian gate… As a scenario, Sheep are raised in the Sheep Market area, sold for sacrifice, taken to the lower pool and ritually bathed, then through the Tadi Gate for sacrifice. An alternative is that The Tadi Gate was where the Sheep’s gate had once been?
    I like your work, it makes me think of things and in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise….

  21. Terry,
    You are right. The Tadi Gate may have been the rebuilt Sheep Gate of Nehemiah 3. Tadi is probably a corruption of Tali, which means a lamb.

  22. Dr. Ritmeyer as I understand the temple was not to be used as a hallway to get from Bethpage to Jerusalem’s markets. So in Jesus’ day if someone from Bethpage/Bethany wanted to enter Jerusalem (and not the temple) what was the name of the city gate they would use? What gate would be used for a caravan of camels from Nineveh or “the east?” Thank you so very much.

  23. Julie,

    Bethphage was called a gateway to Jerusalem for judiciary reasons. There was no actual gate, but ti indicated the judicial boundaries of Jerusalem.

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