The scriptures include many individuals and people groups we are familiar with as followers of Christ. One of the many groups that may not have stood out to you were the Gatekeepers. As we discussed in last weeks article, part of the physical security utilized in Biblical times, were the walls and gates used to provide security for the occupants and control access to the communities.
One of many scripture passages that describe the Gatekeepers is found in 1 Chronicles 9:22-27.
All these, who were chosen as gatekeepers at the thresholds, were 212. They were enrolled by genealogies in their villages. David and Samuel the seer established them in their office of trust. 23 So they and their sons were in charge of the gates of the house of the Lord, that is, the house of the tent, as guards. 24 The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south. 25 And their kinsmen who were in their villages were obligated to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with these, 26 for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted to be over the chambers and the treasures of the house of God. 27 And they lodged around the house of God, for on them lay the duty of watching, and they had charge of opening it every morning. 1 Chronicles 9:22-27
The Gatekeepers at this time were charged with providing security for the Temple. We read here they were Levites entrusted overt the chambers and treasures of the house of God (verse 26). Temple gatekeepers were in charge access to the Temple including, who entered and who exited. They ensured the order and reverence for God’s house. They were tasked with protecting Israelites from themselves, if they chose to try and enter the Temple, when they were unclean (2 Chronicles 23:19). They also protected it from those outside the Israelite tribes. We see then the Gatekeepers were tasked with guarding against both internal and external threats. The Gatekeepers were also responsible for guarding the Temple treasures and the storehouses (1 Chronicles 9:26, 20-22; Nehemiah 12:25).
We see the importance of Gatekeepers in Nehemiah 7:1, when they are among the first positions filled after the completion of the wall. Again we see the importance of a protective role for the inhabitants of the community and guarding against the outside people groups who had already been threatening the rebuilding efforts. The number of Gatekeepers varied depending on the time period. I Chronicles 9 records 212, Ezra 2:42, 139 and 1 Chronicles 23:5, 4,000.
We see throughout the Old Testament, after the exile, the need for Temple Gatekeepers. They provided protection against both internal and external threats to the Temple and God’s people. They also provided protection, inventory control, and watched over the physical property of the Temple including its treasures and storehouses. These tasks are very similar to what many church security teams do today.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Ch 9:22–27.