Peace to you! Please tell me, what “rank” and position in society had the right and privilege to “sit in the gate”, what were their duties and responsibilities? (Lot – Genesis 19: 1, Mordecai and others) (Ilya)
The expression “sitting in the gate” in some places in the Bible does indicate a position in society. However, if we consider the stories about “sitting in the gates”, we will see that we are talking about different eras, where the political context, culture, etc. differ … Therefore, it is impossible to talk about the same duties or responsibilities.
Lot, says Rashi, was appointed judge because he was at the gate. But from Soncino’s commentary, we learn that Lot was at the gate for a different reason:
“… under the arch of the gates of the city wall, where, as is customary in the East, people gather to talk or conclude trade deals.”
As for Mordechai, he was placed far from Jewish culture. We know that he was at the king’s gate, but it is not known whether he was an employee of the king. Does not look like it. It seems that he liked to be there as a Jew, who was not the last person in Jewish society. And in Jewish society, respected people sit at the gate.
Although the traditions in the East are similar, we still cannot draw one conclusion about what “rank” could “sit at the gate”. But we can draw general conclusions:
“Gate” – a public place that is used to share information
Ruth 3:11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people at the city gates know that you are avirtuous woman. (Russian Bible)
The “gate” is a place where you can meet the one you are looking for
Ruth 4: 1 Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, [a]friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down. (NKJV)
The “gate” is a public place that is used to preach to the people
Proverbs 1:21 Wisdom cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city. She speaks her words: (NKJV)
“Gate” – a public place that is strategically used by influential people in society
Prov.31: 23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
The “gate” is a convenient place for collecting alms
Acts 3: 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;
So, the “Gates” were such places in the city, where many issues of society were resolved, including trade, without which the East is unthinkable. Therefore, in this place those key people gathered, on whom the solutions of many issues depended. Basically, they were not there according to the law or job description, but because such places replaced the Internet, a supermarket, the Central Square of the city, etc.
Who chose them? Most likely, authority was earned by wisdom, the fruits of life, financial position in society and the recognition of people. Perhaps some of them were bound by obligations, for example, by the current ruler. You can find out what exactly was entrusted to them by examining historical documents telling about a particular ruler.
Best regards, Inna-Ester, leader of the community “Beit Simha”, Chernivtsi