Port is the rendering in Ne 2:13 of the Heb. sha'uar, שִׁעִר, elsewhere rendered "gate" (q.v.), as twice in the same verse. These gates of the cities, and the unoccupied spaces on which they opened, served in all Hebrew antiquity for places of public assembling of the citizens (comp. the forum, ἀγορά, of the Greeks and Romans). In the East this is still the custom, the gates taking the place of the coffeehouses and other places of resort among the Western nations (Ge 19:1; 1Sa 4:18; 1Sa 9:18; Job 29:7; Jer 37:7). There the people came together in great numbers when any public calamity occurred (2 Macc. 3:19), there the judges heard causes and complaints (De 21:19 sq.; 22:15 sq.; Isa 29:21; Job 21:21; Ps 137:5; Am 5:12,15; Zec 8:16; Pr 22:22), and there deeds which required legal sanction, especially important contracts, were performed (Ge 23:10,18; De 25:7; Ru 4:1,11; comp. the early Germans, Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsallterthümer, p. 104 sq.; and see Hist, Milarokko, p. 239). There princes stood to receive homage (2Sa 19:8; but see below), or for public discussion of important affairs (1Ki 22:10), and markets were held in the vicinity (2Ki 7:1; Arvieux, Nachr. 5, 186;
Rosenmüller, Horgen II. 6, 272; Jacobi, De foro in portis [Leips. 1714], in Ugolino, Thes. vol. 25). At the gate public announcements were made (Jer 17:19; Pr 1:21; Pr 8:3). Idolatries, too, were sometimes practiced here (2Ki 23:8), just as in Catholic cities altars are placed at the gates. On the whole, we must consider the gate, not as a mere port or entrance, but as a strong defense, and as connected with an open place within; perhaps even with benches (Hist, Marokklo, ut sup.). They were barred with strong bolts and posts, SEE CITY, and often built over (2Sa 18:33) with watch-towers (ver. 24 sq.). Gate-keepers are mentioned, at least in Jerusalem, with some political duties and powers (Jer 37:13; Ne 13:19). On the other hand, in 2Sa 15:2 (and perhaps in 19:8), the allusion is not to a city gate, but to that of a palace in the royal city; and in Es 3:2; Da 2:49, the word is used, according to a tisage still customary in the East, for the king's court (tulai e.g., in Latin, is a similar synecdoche; conip. also the Arabic Gate of Rashid for court, in Elmacin, Hist. Sacra. p. 120; see Lüdeke. Türk. Reich, 1, 281). To sit at the palace door or gate (Es 2:19,21; Es 4:2; Es 5:9,13 sq.; 6:10), among the Persians, was to wait in the hall or vestibule of the king. Not only courtiers and attendants, but even high officers of the government were found there (Herod. 3, 20). SEE DOOR.