Gates in the Bible: Gates of Jerusalem, Part 9: The Water Gate -- By Sue Ramsey and Lyn Chaffart

In last week's lesson on the gates of Jerusalem, we saw that after the trials that reveal the garbage in our hearts, God brings us to the Fountain Gate: He fills us up with His Holy Spirit, so that we will be empowered to live as Christ would have us to live! Today's lesson takes us to the next gate mentioned in the series: The Water Gate. 

"Moreover the Nethinim who dwelt in Ophel made repairs as far as the place in front of the Water Gate toward the east, and on the projecting tower."
(Neh 3:26,27 NKJV)

The Water Gate was repaired by the Nethinim who lived in Ophel. Ophel was the slope south of the temple, and the Water Gate was a gate in the eastern wall. Due to its close approximation to the temple, it is believed that this gate may have been used as an escape for the surplus water from the temple reservoirs. Another theory is that when the temple reservoirs of water were low, this gate may have been used to refill them with water from the Kidron Valley. [1]

The Nethinim were temple servants. In fact, many translations of the Bible call them just that: Temple servants. The first mention of temple servants can be found very early on in Bible history. As Israel began the conquest of the Promised Land, they were deceived into making an unholy treaty with people of the land, the Gibeonites. What happened when this deception became known? "And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and WATER CARRIERS for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, in the place which He would choose, even to this day." (Josh 9:27 NKJV)! It may be that these Nethinim who repaired the Water Gate may have been none other than the descendents of these very same Gibeonites, who were appointed to be "water carriers"! [2]

What does this mean for us today?

Water is used in the Bible as a symbol of cleansing: "our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water . . ." (Heb 10:22); and "to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word . . ." (Eph 5:26-27).

Remember Pilot? He used water as a symbol of cleansing: "When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. 'I am innocent of this man's blood,' he said. 'It is your responsibility!'" (Matt 27:24 NIV)

And any discussion of water would also naturally lead us to the subject of baptism: "I baptize you with water for repentance." (Matt 3:11 NIV)

Remember that the preceding gate, the Fountain Gate, is symbolic of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our lives. It is no coincidence that the very next gate in the series is the Water Gate, because the Holy Spirit and cleansing go together. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes the word of God come alive for us personally, thus allowing for the cleansing, the encouragement, and the direction to take place in our lives.


Enough to ponder, friends, but do ponder this: First the Valley Gate where the trials and tribulations are allowed to uncover the rubbish; then the Dung Gate where the rubbish can be done away with. Next comes the Fountain Gate, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and this brings about the cleansing, the Water Gate.

Join us next week to take a look at what the "Horse Gate" and what it has to teach us!

God bless each of you abundantly.

Sue Ramsey & Lyn Chaffart

Volunteers, Answers2Prayer Ministries,

[1] from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft on Nehemiah 3:25,26

[2] from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft on Nehemiah 3:26

(To access the entire "Gates in the Bible" mini-series, please click here.)