The gate of mercy (Hebrew:שער הרחמים), also known as the Golden Gate or the Eastern Gate, maybe the best known of Jerusalem’s gates. The gate of mercy has been blocked for centuries.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Shekhinah, meaning Divine Presence, used to appear through this gate, and will appear again when the Messiah comes as mentioned in Ezekiel 44:3-
” אֶת-הַנָּשִׂיא, נָשִׂיא הוּא יֵשֶׁב-בּוֹ לאכול- (לֶאֱכָל-) לֶחֶם–לִפְנֵי יְהוָה; מִדֶּרֶךְ אוּלָם הַשַּׁעַר יָבוֹא, וּמִדַּרְכּוֹ יֵצֵא”.
” As for the prince, being a prince, he shall sit therein to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.”
After this, a new gate will replace the present one. That is why Jews used to pray for mercy at the former gate at this location.
In 1541, the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent sealed off the Gate of mercy. While this may have been purely for defensive reasons, in Jewish tradition, this is the gate through which the Messiah will enter Jerusalem and it is suggested that Suleiman the Magnificent sealed off the gate to prevent the Messiah’s entrance. The Muslims also built a cemetery in front of the gate, in the belief that the precursor to the Messiah, Elijah, would not be able to pass through the Gate and the Messiah would not come.
This belief was based upon 2 things. According to Islam, Elijah is a descendant of Aaron, making him a Kohen(priest). Jewish priests are not permitted to enter a cemetery.
The Gate of Mercy is one of the few sealed gates in Jerusalem’s Old City Walls.