The expressions are found in Ezekiel: "Even the gate that looketh toward the east" (43:1); "The gate whose prospect is toward the east" (43:4); but the idea of a gate on the eastern side as the principal entrance to the court of the sanctuary goes back to the days of the tabernacle (Ex 27:13-16). In addition to its use as admitting to the sanctuary enclosure, it may be presumed, in analogy with the general mode of the administration of justice, to have been the place where in earlier times cases were tried which were referred to the jurisdiction of the sanctuary (compare Ex 18:19-22; De 17:8; 19:16,18; Nu 27:2-3, etc.).
1. The Tabernacle:
In Ex 27:13-16 the "gate" by which the congregation entered the tabernacle is carefully described. An embroidered screen of the three sacred colors (blue, purple and scarlet), 20 cubits in width, hung from 4 pillars (really 5 pillars, 5 cubits apart; on the reckoning see TABERNACLE), in the center of the East side of the tabernacle court. This is further alluded to in Nu 4:26, "the screen for the door of the gate of the court."
2. Solomon's Temple:
Nothing is said of the position of gates in connection with Solomon's temple, but there was an "inner" (1Ki 6:36), and also an "outer" or "great" court (2Ch 4:9), the latter with doors overlaid with brass, and analogy makes it certain that here also the chief gate (inner or outer court? see COURT) was on the East side. Provision was made by Solomon in his adjoining palace for the administration of justice in a hall or "porch of judgment" (1Ki 7:7), but graver cases were still, apparently, referred for decision to the sanctuary (Jer 26:10). The trial in Jeremiah's case, however, took place, not at the East gate, but at "the entry of the new gate of Yahweh's house" (Jer 26:10; compare Jer 36:10), probably Jotham's "upper gate" (2Ki 15:35).
3. Ezekiel's Temple:
In Ezekiel's ideal temple, "the gate whose prospect was toward the east" was that by which the glory of Yahweh went up from the city (Eze 11:23), and by which the prophet in vision saw it return (Eze 43:4).
4. Second Temple:
Nothing is told of an East gate in the temple of Zerubbabel, but it may be assumed that there was one as in the other cases.
5. Herod's Temple:
The great East gate of the Herodian temple, which followed those above mentioned, was that "Beautiful Gate of the temple" where the miracle of the healing of the lame man was performed (Ac 3:1-10).
W. Shaw Caldecott