Sha’ar HaRachamim (Gate of Mercy/Golden Gate) located in the eastern retaining wall of the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem, Israel is different from the other gates of the Old City for two reasons: the first is that it was built over a millennium before Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt the walls and gates of Jerusalem in 1540 C.E. (A.D.); secondly, it is sealed.
There are some archeologists who believe the original gate, dating back to King Herod the Great’s reign (73/74 BCE – 4 BCE) or even to the period of the Prophet Nehemiah (c. 440 BCE) still exists beneath the current gate.
Today the entire area around and below Sha’ar HaRachamim contains the Yeusufia Muslim Cemetery.
Across from it lays part of the Kidron Valley. In the Tanach (Bible) the Kidron Valley is called “Emek Yehoshafat” meaning “The valley where G-d will judge”. Above the Kidron Valley is the Mount of Olives on its slope is the world’s oldest Jewish Cemetery.
Sha’ar HaRachamim has special significance on Yom Kippur, The Jewish Day of Atonement. According to Jewish tradition, on Yom Kippur a Cohen (member of the Jewish priestly tribe) took the sacrificial lamb (Seir L’Azael) from the Temple through this gate into to the desert.
On the Eve of Yom Kippur 5774 (corresponding to Friday 13 September 2013) these two views of Sha’ar HaRachamim remind us that: “We have sinned before You, be merciful towards us, forgive us” for we know “The L-rd, the L-rd G-d, merciful and gracious and longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeps mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” (Shemot/Exodus 34:6-7).
Further we pray: “The L-RD shall bless thee out of Zion: and you shall see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yea, you shall see your children’s children, and peace upon Israel.” – Tehillim (Psalm) 128:5-6
Diagram taken from Biblical Archaeology Review. All other photographs for this blog post are by Isa David-Ben-Rafael and are owned by IsraeLightly.