(usually דָּלֶת, da'leth, strictly the valve or part that swings on the hinges; while, פֶּתִח pe'thach, designates the entrance or door-way; שִׁעִר, sha'ar, is rather a gate; Gr. θύρα). From a comparison of various passages of Scripture, we learn that anciently doors were suspended and moved by means of pivots of wood, which projected from the ends of the two folds, both above and below. The upper pivots, which were the longest, were inserted in sockets sufficiently large to receive them in the lintel; the lower ones were secured in a corresponding manner in the threshold. The pivots or axles are called פֹּתוֹת, pothoth'; the sockets in which they are inserted, tsarim', צַירַים (Pr 26:14). Doors were fastened by a lock (Song 5:5), or by a bar (Jg 16:3; Job 38:10). Those made of iron and brass were not used except as a security to the gates of fortified places or repositories of valuables (Isa 45:2-3). The lock was nothing more than a wooden slide attached to one of the folds, which entered into a hole in the door-post, and was secured there by teeth cut into it, or catches. Two strings passed through an orifice leading to the external side of the door. A man going out, by the aid of one of these strings moved the slide into its place in the post, where it was so fastened among the teeth, or catches, as not to be drawn back. The one coming in, who wished to unlock, had a wooden key, sufficiently large, and crooked, like a sickle. It was called מַפתִּח miphtach' (Jg 3:25). He thrust the key through the orifice of the door, or key-hole, lifted up the slide so as to extricate it from the catches, and, taking hold of the other string, drew it back, and thus entered. Keys were not made of metal, except for the rich and powerful, and these were sometimes adorned with an ivory handle. A key of this kind, in the days of the Hebrew monarchs, was assigned to the steward of the royal palace as a mark of his office, and he carried it on his shoulder (Isa 22:22). The key-hole was sometimes so large as to admit a person's finger through it, and enable him to lift the slide; in that case he stood in no absolute need of a key to enter (Song 5:4). SEE KEY. Among the ancient Egyptians doors were frequently stained so as to-imitate foreign wood. They were either of one or two valves, turning on pins of metal, and were secured within by bars and bolts. Some of the bronze pins have been discovered in the tombs of Thebes and two of them, after Wilkinson, are figured below (2, 3). They were fastened to the wood with nails of the same metal. SEE HINGE. The stone lintels and floor behind the threshold of the tombs and temples still exhibit the holes in which the pins turned, as well as those of the bolts and bars, and the recess for receiving the opening valves. The folding doors had bolts in the center, sometimes above as well as below; a bar was placed across from one wall to the other, and in many cases they were secured by wooden locks passing over the center (above cut, fig. 4) at the junction of the two folds. "It is difficult (remarks Sir J.G. Wilkinson) to say if these last were opened by a key, or merely slided backward and forward like a bolt; but if they were really locks, they were probably upon the principle of those now used in Egypt, which are of wood, and opened by a key furnished with several pins answering to a smaller number that fall down into the hollow movable tongue, into which the key is introduced when they open or fasten the lock." SEE LOCK. For greater security, they are also occasionally sealed with a mass of clay. This was also a custom of the ancient Egyptians, as appears from Herodotus (ii. 121), from tombs actually so closed at Thebes, and from the sculptures, as in the first cut above, fig. 3, where the door is thus closed and sealed. To this custom there is an allusion in Job. SEE CLAY. At a later period, when iron came into general use, keys were made of that metal, of the shape shown in the above cut, fig. 4. Of the kind thus indicated were probably the lock and key which fastened the summer-parlor of king Eglon (Jg 3:23,25). In this case Ehud locked the door and took away the key; but when the servants became alarmed they easily opened it with another key, which suggests that the lock, as in ancient Egypt or the modern East, was nothing more than a peculiarly constructed open bolt of wood, which the wooden or metal key was adapted to raise and thrust back. The forms of the Egyptian doors may be seen from the cuts. (See Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. abridgm. 1:7-23.) The chief entrance to houses was through a pyramidal pylon on a projecting porch of columns, whose capitals were often ornamented with ribbons. Over the doorway was sometimes a brief hieroglyphical legend (Wathen, page 101). This last circumstance reminds one of the writing on their doors recommended to the Israelites, as noticed below. A comparison of the ancient Egyptian doors with those now used in the. East will probably suggest no incorrect notion of the provision among the ancient Hebrews in this respect. A sort of intermediate idea arising from this comparison will be found to furnish very satisfactory illustrations of most of the passages of Scripture which relate to the subject. (See Lane's Mod. Eg. 1:9, 18.) Doors are generally unpainted throughout Western Asia and in Egypt. In the interior of houses it is not unusual to see curtains instead of doors, especially in summer. This helps to keep the apartment cool, and also enables servants to enter without noise. This custom originated in the use of tents. Accordingly we find that all the entrances of the tabernacle had curtains, although the framework was of wood (Ex 26:31-33,36-37); and even in the Temple a curtain or "vail" formed the separation between the holy and the most holy place. SEE HOUSE. The word "door," in reference to a tent, expresses the opening made by dispensing with the cloths in front of the tent, which is then supported only by the hinder and middle poles (Ge 18:2; Burchardt, Notes on Bed. 1:42).
Among the figurative allusions to doors, it may be mentioned that, in Ho 2:15, the valley of Achor is called "a door of hope," because there, immediately after the execution of Achan, the Lord said to Joshua, "Fear not, neither be dismayed;" and from that time Joshua carried on his conquests with uninterrupted success. Paul, in 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12; Col 4:3, uses the symbol of a door opened, to signify the free exercise and propagation of the Gospel. Our Lord applies the term to himself, "I am the door" (Joh 10:9). The "door opened in heaven" signifies the beginning of a new kind of government (Re 4:1); and in general the opening of anything is said when it may act suitably to its quality; the shutting of anything is the stopping of its use. SEE GATE.