▪ In Bible times, most cities were surrounded by protective walls. Inside many gates, there were open areas where people gathered to meet others, to trade, and to share news. Here public announcements were made, and here prophets might pronounce their messages. (Jeremiah 17:19, 20) The publication The Land and the Book says that “nearly every public transaction took place at or near the city gates.” In ancient Israel, the city gates were much like the community centers of modern-day towns.
Abraham, for example, purchased property for a family burial site from Ephron “before the eyes of the sons of Heth among all those entering the gate of his city.” (Genesis 23:7-18) And Boaz asked ten elders of Bethlehem to sit at the city gate while, in their presence, he made arrangements for Ruth and her deceased husband’s inheritance, in compliance with the law regarding levirate marriage. (Ruth 4:1, 2) When the older men of a city acted as judges, they would sit at the city gate to hear cases, render decisions, and execute judgments.—Deuteronomy 21:19.