A close-up shot of a worn, weathered gate with intricate carvings, evoking curiosity about the gate Jesus might have entered on Palm Sunday.

Which Gate Did Jesus Enter On Palm Sunday?

The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday is one of the most significant events in the life of Jesus.

As Jesus rode into the city on a donkey, crowds gathered and laid down palm branches, shouting ‘Hosanna! ‘, welcoming him as the Messiah and King.

But through which gate did Jesus enter Jerusalem on that momentous day? This is a question that has fascinated biblical scholars and Christians throughout the centuries.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Most biblical scholars believe Jesus entered Jerusalem through the Golden Gate on the east side of the city.

This comprehensive article will examine the biblical accounts of Jesus’ triumphal entry, exploring the possible gates he may have passed through on Palm Sunday.

We’ll consider the geography and layout of first-century Jerusalem, look at what we know about the Golden Gate and other ancient gates, and see why most experts conclude the Golden Gate was likely the entrance Jesus used.

The Biblical Accounts of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

Jesus’ Instructions to Find the Donkey (Matthew 21:1-7, Mark 11:1-7, Luke 19:28-35)

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke recount how Jesus instructed his disciples to find a donkey and its colt tied up near the village of Bethphage.

Jesus told the disciples that if anyone questioned them, they should respond that the Lord needs them.

This fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem “gentle and riding on a donkey.”

The disciples did as Jesus instructed and brought the donkey and colt to him. They placed their cloaks on the donkey for Jesus to sit on as he entered Jerusalem.

The Crowd Spreads Cloaks and Palm Branches (Matthew 21:8-11, Mark 11:8-11, Luke 19:36-40)

As Jesus rode the donkey down the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem, a large crowd spread their cloaks on the road as a sign of homage.

Others cut branches from the nearby palm trees and spread them on the road as well, a customary sign of honor and celebration (see John 12:13).

The cheering crowd shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9).

The term “Hosanna” was originally a plea for salvation but became an exclamation of joy and praise.

The excited crowd declared Jesus as royalty, the long-awaited Messiah. However, some Pharisees in the crowd told Jesus to rebuke his disciples for claiming he was the Messiah coming in God’s name.

But Jesus replied that if he told them to be quiet, even the stones would cry out in proclamation (Luke 19:40).

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44)

As Jesus approached Jerusalem, he wept over the city and lamented that they did not recognize this time of his coming.

Jesus foretold the destruction that would come upon Jerusalem because they did not accept him as Messiah. This came to pass in 70 AD when the Romans sacked and destroyed Jerusalem.

A captivating photo captures the ancient streets of Jerusalem, bathed in golden sunlight, invoking the question: How many times did Jesus walk these sacred paths?

The Layout and Gates of Ancient Jerusalem

The City Walls

The ancient city of Jerusalem was surrounded by massive stone walls, first constructed in the 8th century BCE under King Hezekiah. The walls enclosed the city on all sides and had a total length of 4,018 meters.

They averaged 7-8 meters thick and 12-15 meters high, with watchtowers positioned at regular intervals. The walls provided Jerusalem with important defensive fortifications that helped repel many sieges and attacks throughout its long history.

The Golden Gate (East Gate)

The Golden Gate, located on the eastern side of the city, was considered Jerusalem’s main entrance in ancient times.

Also known as the Beautiful Gate, it opened directly onto the Temple Mount and was embellished with ornate design work.

Many pilgrims entered the city through this gate, especially during Jewish festivals. It was blocked up in medieval times to prevent the Messiah from entering.

However, the Golden Gate retains deep spiritual symbolism for Jews, Christians, and Muslims who believe the Messiah will one day enter Jerusalem through this gate.

The Sheep Gate (North Gate)

The Sheep Gate was located on Jerusalem’s northern wall near the Temple Mount. It received its name because this was the gate through which sheep and other livestock were brought into the city to be sacrificed at the Temple.

The gate is mentioned several times in the books of Nehemiah and Zechariah in connection with Jerusalem’s rebuilding.

The Sheep Gate likely had extra space to accommodate the large numbers of animals constantly entering the city.

The Dung Gate (South Gate)

As its name implies, the Dung Gate on the southern wall provided access for bringing waste and refuse out of Jerusalem.

It was the main exit point for disposing of ashes from the Temple sacrifices as well as general garbage and sewage.

The gate connected to the Hinnom Valley, where trash could be dumped or burned. While not the most glamorous part of the city, the Dung Gate served an essential sanitation function in keeping Jerusalem clean.

The Influence of Scripture and Tradition

The layout and gates of ancient Jerusalem developed based on a mix of practical needs, geography, scriptural prophecy, and tradition.

Gates like the Sheep Gate connected to essential functions like Temple worship. The Golden Gate aligned with prophecy about the Messiah’s entrance.

Legend even connected the Golden Gate with Jesus’s Palm Sunday entry. Yet archeology shows some gates like the Dung Gate served purely utilitarian ends. Jerusalem’s gates made the holy city functional while taking on layers of spiritual meaning over centuries of Jewish and Christian thought.

The Case for the Golden Gate

The Golden Gate Aligned with Temple

The Golden Gate, located in the east wall of Jerusalem, was the main entrance into the Temple Mount area during the time of Jesus. This imposing structure was 50 cubits tall (about 75 feet) and the width of the gateway was 20 cubits (about 30 feet).

The alignment of the Golden Gate and the Temple Mount was significant.

When standing in front of the Golden Gate, you would have a direct line of sight into the Temple courtyards.

The gate aligned with the outer court of the Temple where the altar of sacrifice was located. Thus, the Messiah would have convenient access from the Gate to the Temple.

Mention of the East Gate in Scripture

The prophet Ezekiel mentions the east gate of the Temple several times, emphasizing its significance:

“Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.” (Ezekiel 44:1-2)

This passage indicates that the east gate was the gate which the Lord used and that it would be shut after the Messiah’s coming. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy when he entered Jerusalem through the Golden Gate on Palm Sunday.

Focus of Traditional Jewish Messianic Expectations

According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah would enter Jerusalem through the Golden Gate. The Jewish historian Josephus records that the east gate was where the Messiah was expected to arrive.

This belief was based on prophecies such as Zechariah 9:9 which says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you…humble and riding on a donkey.” Palm Sunday was the fulfillment of this long-held Jewish expectation.


In conclusion, while we cannot know with absolute certainty which gate Jesus passed through on Palm Sunday, there is compelling evidence to suggest it was the Golden Gate on the eastern wall of Jerusalem.

Its alignment with the temple, its mention in Ezekiel’s prophecies, and its role in Jewish messianic expectation all point to this ancient gate as the likely entrance for Jesus’ triumphal entry.

As we envision the crowds welcoming their long-awaited Messiah and King, we can picture him approaching the Golden Gate to Jerusalem, the city over which he wept.

And as we reflect on this pivotal moment, we gain insight into how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy about the coming redeemer. Whatever gate he used, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem paved the way for the central event of Holy Week to come.

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