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The gate is known by several names:
- Bab al Rachma or Gate of eternal life – Arabic
- Golden gate, a mis-reading of the Greek and Latin – horea aurea gate to the name commonly given as “golden” Arabic: Bab al Zahabi
- Sha’ar Harachamim the gate of mercy, after the Jewish practice to pray here in the light of the place of Messiah’s return.
- Susa or Shushan gate – Herodian
- Porte Dore’e – French
The “golden” gate finds a special place in the construction of the temple mount. It stood on the location of the previous eastern gate that connected the eastern prospect of the temple via the bridge to the temple mount where the sacrifice of the red heifer, and the despatching of the scape goat on the day of atonement.
The golden gate is a construction, probably from around the time of Justinian on the previous ancient foundations. There is an illustration of the gate within the Madaba map c6,7 AD confirming this early Byzantine origin. Stones from the previous wall were observed inside the gate before the modern pavement was laid, and thought to be columns supporting the east gate from the time of Solomon, with adjacent stone relics of Nehemiah. The gate is mentioned as the east gate in 1 Chron 9:17; 26:14; Neh 3:29 Numerous legends have grown around this gate, with the idea understood by both Muslim and Jew alike that the Messiah will re-enter Jerusalem via this gate. There was then a prestigious attachment of being buried close to this gate, and considered then to be among the first to be resurrected! Sultan Suleiman blocked the gate with stones to prohibit this return in 1541!
There is some scriptural evidence behind this legend, but the timing of the resurrection is incorrect. The glory of deity would return from the way of the east as described by Ezekiel the prophet: Ezek 43:2, returning from the direction in which it had left previously 11:23. The feet of the Messiah will stand on the mount of Olives Zech 14:4, however prior to this return of the Messiah to Jerusalem, his resurrected people will arise with glory from Mt Sinai and travel through the arabah Deut 33:2; Hab 3; Ps 68, before tidings out of the east trouble the invader of the lands of Israel who will confront the Messiah and his saints at Jerusalem Dan 11:44; 12:1 at which time Jerusalem will be delivered Isa 59:20,21.
The gate should not be confused in the Harshith or east gate entering into the Hinnom valley Jer 19:2 9 margin: gate of potsherds.