The practice of “sitting in the gate” may not be as understandable to our generation as it was to people of Bible times. During many biblical periods the gates were constructed of multiple chambers or rooms. The “Solomonic” Gate at Gezer has six chambers — three on each side of the entry. The photo below was made from inside the city of Gezer. We see a nice bench made of individuals stones in the chamber at the bottom of the photo.
The practice of sitting in the gate is mentioned in numerous biblical references. Note a few.
- Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom (Genesis 19:1).
- Abraham went to the gate to make arrangements to buy a burial place for Sarah (Genesis 23:10).
- Boaz went to the gate of the city to make arrangements to marry Ruth (Ruth 4). One could easily find witnesses in the gate.
- David sat at the city gate (2 Samuel 19:8).
- When David was persecuted he said, “Those who sit in the gate talk about me” (Psalm 69:12). It was a good place to find the latest gossip.
What we see in these references is equivalent to what happens in many of our small towns when men of the city sit on benches around the court house or city center to talk about the weather, politics, religion, and whatever.
Wisdom is pictured as being beside the gate, at the opening of the city.
Beside the gates, at the opening to the city, At the entrance of the doors, she cries out: (Proverbs 8:3 NAU)