The City Gate in Ancient Israel and Her Neighbors

The Form, Function, and Symbolism of the Civic Forum in the Southern Levant


In The City Gate in Ancient Israel and Her Neighbors, Daniel A. Frese provides a wide-ranging portrayal of one of the most prominent social institutions in the kingdoms of the southern Levant during the Iron II period: the use of the city gate as a hub for numerous and diverse civic functions. The book provides an up-to-date description of the architecture of gate complexes based on archaeological evidence, and a systematic description of the many functions of the gate seen in hundreds of texts from the Hebrew Bible and the broader ancient Near East. The final chapters of the book discuss the conceptual significance of gates in Israelite culture, based on idiomatic and symbolic gate terminology in the Hebrew Bible.

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Daniel A. Frese, Ph.D. (2012), the University of California, San Diego, is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Kentucky.
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
 1Sources, Goals, Methodology
 2Goals of the Present Study
 3Synchronic Analysis
 4The Hebrew Bible
 5Archaeological Data
 6Assyrian Reliefs
 7Gates and the Rural Population of Ancient Israel
 8Corpus of Gates

Section 1: Gate Architecture

1Gatehouse Architecture: the Ground Floor
 1Building Materials
 2“Gatehouse” in the Hebrew Bible
 3Gatehouse Passage and Chambers
 4Gatehouse Doors
 5Posts and Pivots
 6Metal Bands
 8Locking the Gate
2Gatehouse Architecture, Part 2: the Upper Floor
 4The Second Floor
 5The Gatehouse Roof
3The Architectural Purpose of the Gatehouse
 1Three Sets of Doors?
 2Emergency Blockage?
 4Horse Hitching Stalls?
 5The Architectural Function of Piers and Chambers
 6Metrological Data
 7Contemporaneous Architecture in the Southern Levant
 8Stacked Broad Rooms
 9Middle Bronze Gatehouse Architecture
4The Use of the Gatehouse
5Gate Complexes and City Planning
 2Number and Location of Gates
 3Water Drainage
 4Considerations Affecting Gate Size and Building Materials
 5Public Works in the Gate Complex

Section 2: Gate Functions

6The Gate as a Public Space
 1Public Notice
 2Public Assembly and Public Address
 3Display of Corpses or Body Parts
 4Public Humiliation
 6Privacy in the Gate
7The City Council in the Gate
 1Elders, Kings, and Honor in the Gate
 2Legal Transactions in the Gate
 3Judicial Proceedings in the Gate
 4Punishment in the Gate
 5Governmental Functions in the Gate
8Other Gate Functions
 1Cultic Functions in the Gate
 2Commercial Use of the Gate
 3Agricultural Functions in the Gate
 4Military Functions of the Gate
 5Indirect Entry Gates
 6Social Functions of the Gate

Section 3: Figurative Gates And Gate Symbolism

9Figurative Gates
 1“Gates” in the D Source
 2The Entrance to the Tabernacle Courtyard
 3The Desert Encampment “Gate”
 4Other Figurative Uses of שער
 5Possible Figurative Uses of שער
 6“Entering” and “Exiting” at the City Gate
10Gate Symbolism
 1Monarchs and Building Projects
 2New States, New Buildings
 3City on a Hill
 4Designed to Impress
 5Conspicuous Consumption
 6The Gate as a Symbol of Community Well-Being
 7Gates and Prophetic Discourse
11Gates as Boundaries
 1Gates and Liminality
 2Gates as Literal and Symbolic Boundaries
 3Magic and Ritual at the Gate
 4Dangerous Gateways?
 5Evaluation of Liminality
Summary and Conclusion
Appendix A: Chart of Gatehouse Dimensions
Appendix B: Chart of Average Gatehouse Dimensions
Appendix C: Plans of Gates in Corpus
All who are interested in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the ancient Israelites, and the archaeology of the southern Levant.