DOOR/OPENING/ENTRANCE: Petakh, masculine noun (Strong’s 6607); Patakh, to open, verb (Strong’s 6605); Delet, door, feminine noun (Strong’s 1817).
Root: דֶּלֶת & פָתַח
Sounds like: Pe’tawk & Dey’let
Petakh came from the verb patakh, meaning “to open”. That made sense; a door was an opening. Another Biblical Hebrew word meaning “door” was delet.
Doors don’t sound very exciting, but they actually make for an interesting metaphor in Scripture. Check out the first time a “door” was mentioned in the Bible:
Then YHWH said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why is your face gloomy? If you do well, will your face not be cheerful? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door [la-petakh לַפֶּ֖תַח]; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
What was this enigmatic “door”, where sin lurked, that YHWH spoke about? Whatever it was, Cain opened it to sin, because in the very next sentence Cain killed his brother Abel.
So what was this door all about?
YHWH loved His creation. He loved His people and wanted to partner with them. He also wanted to save them from the disastrous choice in the Garden of Eden which caused a separation between God and His people. To bring them back home, YHWH chose and commissioned one family (Abraham’s family) to be the ancestors to the Messiah, the one who would fulfill the requirements to reunite Heaven and Earth, God and His people.
To make that happen, God would have to physically intervene with humanity. The Ark of the Covenant would house the Presence of YHWH on earth,a moveable Tabernacle (tent) was constructed to cover the Presence, and a door would be a portal to it.
Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought YHWH would go out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp. And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance [petakh פֶּ֣תַח] of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent. Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance [petakh פֶּ֣תַח] of the tent; and YHWH would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance [petakh פֶּ֣תַח] of the tent, all the people would stand and worship, each at the entrance [petakh פֶּ֣תַח] of his tent.
The entrance, or door, of the Tabernacle was the dividing line between the wilderness of earth and the divine space of YHWH. In a way, it separated Heaven (on earth) from earth itself.
Cherubim by the Door
By the time of King Solomon, a permanent structure (the Temple) was constructed in Jerusalem to house YHWH’s Presence:
1 Kings 6:31-35
[Regarding Solomon’s construction of the Temple:] And for entrance [petakh פֶּ֣תַח] of the inner sanctuary he made doors [dal’toht דַּלְת֣וֹת] of olive wood, the lintel, and five-sided doorposts [m’zuzoht]. So he made two doors [dal’toht דַּלְת֣וֹת] of olive wood, and he carved on them carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he overlaid the cherubim and the palm trees with gold.
So too he made for the entrance [l-petakh לְפֶ֥תַח] of the main room four-sided doorposts [m’zuzoht] of olive wood, and two doors [dal’toht דַלְת֖וֹת] of juniper wood; the two leaves the door [ha-delet הַדֶּ֤לֶת] turned on pivots, and the two leaves of the other door [ha-delet הַדֶּ֥לֶת] turned on pivots. He carved on it cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers; and he overlaid them with gold plated on the carved work.
These elaborate wooden doors were carved with open flowers, palm trees, and cherubim. Why cherubim? If you recall, it was the cherubim who guarded the East entrance into Eden once Adam and Eve were expelled from its Garden:
…and at the east of the Garden of Eden He [YHWH] stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
Cherubim were door-keepers for YHWH. This was their assigned Heavenly role. The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of cherubim by the east gate of YHWH’s house:
Ezekiel 10:3-5, 18-19
Now the cherubim were standing on the right side of the temple when the man entered, and the cloud filled the inner courtyard. Then the glory of YHWH went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud, and the courtyard was filled with the brightness of the glory of YHWH. Moreover, the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer courtyard, like the voice of God Almighty when He speaks…
…Then the glory of YHWH departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. When the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the ground in my sight with the wheels beside them; and they stood still at the door [petakh פֶּ֣תַח] of the east gate of YHWH’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.
The glory of God hovered over the cherubim at the east doorway of YHWH’s house. They guarded sacred space and ensured that only the purified could enter.
Essentially there was a metaphorical doorway separating God-space and human-space. Cain had to make a decision because sin was crouching at the door: one side of the door held YHWH and the glories of Heaven; the other side was chaotic wilderness. He chose poorly.
This metaphor of “the door”, which separated Heaven from Earth, is probably why we often see big things happening at doorways.
In Genesis 18 (verses 1-2) Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent when three angelic beings came to him and announced that Sarah would find herself with child within the year. Sarah was listening at the doorway when she laughed in disbelief.
Then they said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
And he said, “There, in the tent.”
He said, “I will certainly return to you at this time next year; and behold, your wife Sarah will have a son.”
And Sarah was listening at the tent door [petakh פֶּ֥תַח], which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, am I to have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
But YHWH said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I actually give birth to a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for YHWH? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah denied it, however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
YHWH knew both sides of the door. Sarah thought she was hidden from God’s presence. She was not.
In the very next chapter we read the horrific story of the violent mob in Sodom. Two of the three angel-messengers that had visited Abraham headed towards Sodom. They were sent to destroy Sodom because of its chaotic violence. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, met them and convinced them to stay, protected behind his doors. Having heard that these foreigners had entered the home of Lot, a large mob came to drag them out:
But Lot went out to them at the doorway [ha-pet’khah הַפֶּ֑תְחָה], and shut the door [w-ha-delet וְהַדֶּ֖לֶת] behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now look, I have two daughters who have not had relations with any man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do not do anything to these men, because they have come under the shelter of my roof.”
But they said, “Get out of the way!” They also said, “This one came in as a foreigner, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them!” So they pressed hard against Lot and moved forward to break the door [ha-delet הַדָּֽלֶת].
But the men [the angelic visitors] reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door [ha-delet הַדֶּ֖לֶת]. Then they struck the men who were at the doorway [petakh פֶּ֣תַח] of the house with blindness, from the small to the great, so that they became weary of trying to find the doorway [ha-patakh הַפָּֽתַח].
When we read this passage, our modern sensibilities make us cringe. The idea of Lot offering up his daughters in exchange for his guest’s safety is abhorrent to us. Lot offered protection to his guests and would hold onto his word at whatever cost. Women in the ancient near east did not hold high status within the culture. Lot did whatever he could to maintain his family dignity, even at the expense of his own family members.
Behind Lot’s doors were two men of heaven. There was sacred space in the home of Lot while outside were the ravages of the wilderness. But it wasn’t Lot’s door that saved them. The angelic beings physically blinded those outside the door. Those who had no sight fixed on YHWH now could not even find the door to Lot’s home. Both Lot’s door and the door of heaven could not be found by those all encompassed with evil. They were blind to the goodness that awaited them on the other side of the door.
Passover: Blood on the Doorway
This separation between the good of God’s people and the outside chaos of evil showed up, even more dramatically, in the story of the Exodus. Egypt had enslaved and demoralised the Hebrew people. And YHWH sent ten actions against Pharaoh and his people. The final action (plague) was death to the firstborn. But those who placed a sign on the door frame, and hid behind the door, would be protected from harm:
Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door [mi-petakh מִפֶּֽתַח] of his house until morning.
For YHWH will pass through to strike the Egyptians; but when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts [ha-m’zuzoht], YHWH will pass over the door [ha-petakh הַדֶּ֔לֶת] and will not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.
YHWH saved His people from the harsh servitude to Pharaoh and He rescued them from Egypt. They would wander in the wilderness under His guidance. But it wasn’t an easy existence and they consistently blamed God for their suffering. Although they angered Him, God did not abandon them. To relieve their hunger, He opened the doors of sacred space and fed them:
Yet He commanded the clouds above and the doors [w-dal’tey וְדַלְתֵ֖י] of heaven opened [patakh פָּתָֽח]; He rained down manna upon them to eat, and gave them food from heaven.
Man ate the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance.
He made the east wind blow in the sky and by His power He directed the south wind.
When He rained meat upon them like the dust, even winged fowl like the sand of the seas, He let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings.
So they ate and were well filled, and He satisfied their longing.
Centuries later the prophet Isaiah would speak the words of YHWH that would bring to mind the night of the first passover:
Come, my people, enter your rooms and close your doors [d’lat’ka דְּלָתְךָ֖] behind you; hide for a little while until indignation runs its course.
For behold, YHWH is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their wrongdoing; and the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her slain.
YHWH would protect His people. They were behind the door of His protection. Those who loved God and followed His path would not be condemned to the earth. No matter where they were in the land of chaos, they were also dwelling in sacred space because YHWH was with them. Their feet were planted on earth, but they also maintained space in the heavenly realm. We are merely sojourners, waiting to go home; but as God’s image bearers and Spirit holders, a part of us is already with YHWH.
Priests as Doorkeepers
This metaphor of a doorway between heaven and earth was given a boost in the sacred ceremony of priestly anointing:
So Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar, and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.
Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons, “Boil the flesh at the doorway [petakh פֶּ֣תַח] of the tent of meeting, and eat it there together with the bread which is in the basket of the ordination offering, just as I commanded, saying, ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat it.’ And the remainder of the flesh and of the bread you shall burn in the fire. And you shall not go outside the doorway [u-mi-petakh וּמִפֶּתַח֩] of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the day that the period of your ordination is fulfilled; for he will ordain you through seven days. YHWH has commanded us to do as has been done this day, to make atonement on your behalf. At the doorway [u-petakh וּפֶתַח֩] of the tent of meeting, moreover, you shall remain day and night for seven days and fulfill your duty to YHWH, so that you will not die; for so I have been commanded.” Aaron and his sons did all the things which YHWH had commanded through Moses.
Aaron and his sons, (Nadav, Avihu Eleazar, and Ithamar), were anointed as priests with oil and blood; they had a feast, and sat at the doorway of the Tabernacle for seven days. Like the seven days of creation in Genesis 1, they were re-creating themselves to be the gatekeepers between earth and God’s presence… essentially between heaven and earth. Being priests meant they were as close to God’s presence as a human could get.
Priests were sacred gate-keepers, ensuring that only purity would be in the Presence of YHWH. It was why so many purity rules were put in place to protect the sacred space:
[Psalm of David:] The earth is YHWH’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who live in it. For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
Who may ascend onto the hill of YHWH? And who may stand in His holy place?
One who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to deceit and has not sworn deceitfully.
He will receive a blessing from YHWH and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face—even Jacob. Selah
Lift up your heads, you gates, and be lifted up, you ancient doors [pit’khey olam פִּתְחֵ֣י עוֹלָ֑ם], that the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? YHWH strong and mighty, YHWH mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates, and lift them up, you ancient doors [pit’khey olam פִּתְחֵ֣י עוֹלָ֑ם], that the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? YHWH of armies, He is the King of glory. Selah
The priests kept people out of sacred space and did everything to protect YHWH’s presence, and this was good… for a time. But true healing was being IN the presence of YHWH. This world needs to open its doors to YHWH, the King of glory, but something had to happen first.
Two of Aaron’s consecrated priestly sons (Nadav and Avihu) gave a fire offering but they were incapacitated and uninvited. It was a disastrous action that cost them their lives. God sent fire (normally sent out to consume the offering) and consumed Aaron’s sons.
Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you do not die and He does not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the entire house of Israel, shall weep for the burning which the LORD has brought about. You shall not even go out from the doorway [u-mi-petakh וּמִפֶּתַח֩] of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for YHWH’s anointing oil is upon you.” So they did according to the word of Moses.
YHWH then spoke to Aaron, saying, “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you do not die—it is a permanent statute throughout your generations— and to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean…”
Nadav and Avihu had been drunk and foolish and did not respect the power of God’s all-consuming fire. Aaron and his two remaining sons were not to grieve, but they were commissioned to stand at the door of the Tabernacle. The townspeople would grieve for the sons of Aaron, but Aaron and his sons would stand as God’s anointed children, protecting sacred space on behalf of the people.
God’s people respected YHWH and followed His commandments. But over time they turned away, they rejected YHWH and opened their doors to death and disaster:
“Behind the door [ha-delet הַדֶּ֙לֶת֙] and the doorpost [w-ha-mezuzah] you have set up your sign.
Indeed, far removed from Me, you have uncovered yourself, and have gone up and made your bed wide. And you have made an agreement for yourself with them, you have loved their bed, you have looked at their manhood.
You have journeyed to the king with oil and increased your perfumes; you have sent your messengers a great distance and made them go down to Sheol.”
A Door of Hope
The people had opened their doors wide to sin, but had shut their doors to YHWH. They thought their doorway had some sort of power. It didn’t. It was just a door.
But the division between God-space and human-space was a solid door and only YHWH’s chosen anointed priest-king could break the barrier. Until the time when God would intervene, His people needed to follow the purity laws and live life with wisdom and discernment:
[Wisdom:] “Blessed is the person who listens to me, watching daily at my gates [dal’tohtai דַּ֭לְתֹתַי], waiting at the posts of my door [m’zuzoht p’ta’khai מְזוּזֹ֥ת פְּתָחָֽי].
For one who finds me finds life, and obtains favour from YHWH.
But one who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me love death.”
The door really was a barrier between life and death. On one side of the door was life everlasting in YHWH’s kingdom; on the other side of the door was permanent death.
The prophet Hosea announced that YHWH would give the Valley of Achor as a door of hope [l-petakh tiq’vah] to His people. It would be a time when humans would fully get YHWH and there would be a beautiful betrothal between God and His people. They would be protected, favoured, and safe.
What was the significance of the Valley of Achor? Achor means “trouble”, so literally it was the Valley of Trouble. This was where Achan did what God said not to do (take from the spoils of war at Jericho (Joshua 6:18-19)). He blatantly disobeyed YHWH and because of his actions the entire community perished (Joshua 7).
So why would the Valley of Achor be a Door of Hope? Well, on one side of the door, one man sinned and brought destruction upon the entire community. On the other side of the door, one man would bring redemption to the entire community of believers.
“Therefore, behold, I am going to persuade her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope [l-petakh tiq’vah לְפֶ֣תַח תִּקְוָ֑ה]. And she will respond there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she went up from the land of Egypt.
And it will come about on that day,” declares YHWH, “that you will call Me my husband and no longer call Me my Baal (my master). For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will no longer be mentioned by their names.
On that day I will also make a covenant for them with the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the crawling things of the ground And I will eliminate the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will let them lie down in safety.”
I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in favour and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know YHWH.”
The valley of Achor was once a place of death and destruction. But now it was a sign of hope… it represented the confident expectation that YHWH would deliver them and save His people from death. In the Valley of Achor one man placed his sin on the entire community and brought them to destruction, but now they waited in expectation for one, anointed by God, to take away the sins of the entire community and save them from death!
When John, the Baptiser, first saw Yeshua he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b). This man was the Door of Hope they had been waiting for!
Shepherd at the Door
The prophet Malachi likely recalled the strange fire made by the sons of Aaron when he spoke the words of YHWH and lamented about the status of his community’s faith:
“If only there were one among you who would shut the doors [d’latayim דְּלָתַ֔יִם], so that you would not kindle fire on My altar for nothing! I am not pleased with you,” says YHWH of armies, “nor will I accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name shall be great among the nations, and in every place frankincense is going to be offered to My name…”
If only there was one individual who could shut the doors and stop the all-consuming fire. If only…
Oh wait! The Messiah! The Messiah would be a fire-stopper!
The Messiah, God’s long-awaited Anointed One from the line of David, would be like his ancestor, David, a sheep-herder. He would be a great shepherd to His people.
“Truly, truly I say to you, the one who does not enter by the door [Greek: thyras] into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But the one who enters by the door [Greek: thyras] is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper [Greek: thyroros] opens, and the sheep listen to his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts all his own sheep outside, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. However, a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus told them this figure of speech, but they did not understand what the things which He was saying to them meant.
So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All those who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door [Greek: thyra]; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
Behind the door was a safe space… a refuge from the chaotic wilderness that waited on the outward side of the door. The Messiah, Yeshua, would safely guard His people behind the door, and when they did go outside He would lead them in safety to the abundant life they were meant to have in the Presence of YHWH, in the Garden of Eden. He would even lay His life down to accomplish His task.
Yeshua is the doorkeeper. He is the Priest-King who stands at the door between Heaven and Earth and opens it wide to whoever wants to come into God’s Presence. And He doesn’t just wait there; He actively knocks on the door, calls on His people, and invites them in:
“Behold, I stand at the door [Greek: thyran] and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door [Greek: thyran], I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.”
In Genesis 4, sin was lurking at the door and Cain fell for its sly charm. Cain let sin in and then murdered his brother. But Yeshua doesn’t lurk, He boldly knocks. His message is clear: let Me in, and you can sit with Me on My throne.
On one side of the door is YHWH’s Kingdom, on the other side is the barren wilderness, devoid of God’s loving Presence. Which side of the door do you want to be on?
Next week: Guardian
3 thoughts on “Petakh/Delet: DOOR of Hope”
I’ve been praying much about meaning of “door” and “gate”…
He answered through your awesome blog!
Wonderful! I always pray, before I hit “publish” that the posting reach those who need to read it. I’m touched that you found it and it helped answer your prayers. Shalom!