A spot for kings and judges

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There are gates a’plenty at Dan (Tell el-Qadi), Israel.

This monumental gate complex is located on the southern edge of the ruin-mound. It is an enormous stonework construction integrated into the perimeter wall. It consists of four guardrooms flanking a central passage. Socket stones supporting swinging wooden doors are still visible in the threshold. A processional road climbs up the hill and into the city from the gate. The whole business was dated by the excavator to around the time of wicked King Ahab (9th century BC).

Pictured here is an area just outside of the gateway where a throne-sized platform was positioned. Four stones on each corner of the platform may have supported a shading canopy. It is the perfect place to imagine a judge or king meeting the people, viz

“So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, ‘The king is sitting in the gateway,’ they all came before him” (2 Samuel 19:8).

It also is the place to think about a great metaphor:

“Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in” (Psalm 24:7, 9)

Photograph by Bible Land Explorer Jessica Poettker.


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St Jerome (AD 347-420) once called the Land of the Bible the “fifth gospel. “Read the fifth,” he wrote, “and the world of the four will open to you.”

If you’d like to “read the fifth,” be aware that there are openings for Israel/Palestine trips departing this summer. Shoot me a note at markziese@gmail.com or see our full list of study-travel opportunities here.