Western Wall Of Jerusalem

Oct 29, 2016 | Bible Archeology | 0 comments

The Latest Archeology News Extracts From The World Of Research Via The Web

The Western Wall in the midst of the Old City in Jerusalem is the section of the Western supporting wall of the Temple Mount which has remained intact since the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple (70 C.E.). It became the most sacred spot in Jewish religious and national consciousness and tradition by virtue of its proximity to the Western Wall of the Holy of Holies in the Temple, from which, according to numerous sources, the Divine Presence never departed. It became a center of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Israel’s exile, on the one hand, and of religious – in 20th century also national – communion with the memory of Israel’s former glory and the hope for its restoration, on the other. Because of the former association, it became known in European languages as the “Wailing Wall”. 4

For the Jews, it is one of the last remaining portions of the ancient Temple of Solomon (an outer wall, in fact). The original length is estimated to have been around 485 meters; today what remains is just 60 meters long. The largest stone is 45 feet long, 15 feet deep, 15 feet high, and has an estimated weight of more than one million pounds. 5

Most of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, which was about 485 m. Until June 1967 the accessible portion of the wall was no longer than 28 m. In front of it ran a stone-paved alley 3.5 m wide bordered on its west by a slum area. The Wall aboveground consisted of 24 rows of stones of different dressing and age, reaching a total height of 18 m. In 1867 excavations revealed that 19 more rows lay buried underground, the lowest being sunk into the natural rock of the Tyropoeon Valley. 4

Israeli excavations at the base of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount have provided an off-the-beaten-path, historic, and fascinating opportunity for visitors to Jerusalem — the Kotel organization’s Western Wall Tunnels Tour. Entrance to the tour is next to/opposite the exposed portion of the Western Wall famous as a holy site for Jews. 36

Best known of the remaining Herodian Temple Mount constructions is the traditional Jewish prayer area of the Western Wall (the “Wailing Wall”) which has stood exposed, above ground level, for two thousand years. The Six-Day War provided an opportunity to explore along the continuation of the Western Wall from the prayer plaza northwards. 18

The underground tunnel starting at the north-west of the prayer plaza passes close to the part of the Western Wall that is hidden by the buildings. It goes through a system of vaulted areas and water cisterns. In a tunnel the largest stones of the Wall were found, including a giant stone about 60 m long, 3 m. 4

THE WESTERN (WAILING) WALL “Hakotel Hama’aravi” is all that remains of the Jerusalem temple where Jesus taught and prayed. This wall formed part of the plaza upon which stood the remodeled temple of Herod the Great. Herod’s vast remodeling project began in 19 BC, and continued long after his death. It was completed only 7 years before the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 AD. It acquired the name “Wailing Wall” because during the long exile of the Jewish people from the city, they could return only once a year to mourn the destruction of the Temple. When Israeli tanks rumbled into Jerusalem’s Old City in June of 1967, it was the first time, except for a brief period in 135 AD, that Jews controlled the site since 70 AD. 41

For centuries, the Western Wall was located in a narrow alley just 12 feet wide that could accommodate only a few hundred densely packed worshipers. But in 1967, immediately after the Six Day War, Israelis leveled the neighboring Arab district to create the Western Wall Plaza, which can accommodate tens of thousands of pilgrims. 11

The Western Wall became a permanent feature in Jewish tradition about 1520, either as a result of the immigration of the Spanish exiles or in the wake of the Turkish conquest in 1518. Thenceforth all literary sources describe it as a place of assembly and prayer for Jews. According to a tradition transmitted by Moses Hafiz, it was the sultan Selim (Suleiman) the conqueror of Jerusalem who recovered the wall from underneath the dungheap which was hiding it and granted permission to the Jews to hold prayers there. No Muslim sources about Jerusalem bear any evidence of the Arab interest in the Western Wall. The nearby area became Muslim religious property at the end of 12th century, and from 1320 there is mention of the Moghrabi Quarter established there. Nevertheless, Jews were able to hold their prayers at the Wall undisturbed. 4

With the expansion of the Jewish population in the Land of Israel from the beginning of the 19th century onward, and with the increase in visitors, the popularity of the Western Wall grew among Jews. Its image began to appear in Jewish folkloristic art, and later also in modern art drawings and in literature. The 19th century also was the beginning of the archaeological study if the Western Wall north and south of the open prayer spot. In 1838 Robinson discovered the arch since named after him, and in 1850s Barclay laid bare the ancient gate (now in the corner of the women’s section). In 1865 Wilson described the bridge discovered by Tobler in the 1830th. In 1867 Sir Charles Warren sank shafts to reveal the full length if the wall. 4

An especially large course of stones is visible on the southern and western walls today. On the west the “Master Course” consists of four stones, the largest of which weighs 570 tons and is 44 feet long, 10 feet high and 12-16 feet deep. The next largest stone in the wall is a mere 40 feet long. The largest stone in the Great Pyramid weighs 11 tons. 8

The most significant of Herod’s projects was the rebuilding of the Second Temple in the first century B.C.E. It took 10,000 people and a thousand priests nine years to complete the project. The original Temple of King Solomon was a relatively small building on top of Mount Moriah. Herod doubled the area of the Temple Mount and surrounded it with four massive retaining walls. The western wall is the longest, about 1600 feet (485 meters), and includes the Jewish area of prayer known as the Kotel or Western Wall. 16

Traditionally, Jews are forbidden to set foot on the ancient site of what they believe to be the Temple Mount, so the rabbi said much of the work would have to be conducted using cranes rather than scaffolding. Jewish workers on the project will also have to undergo ritual baths. 14

Jerusalem – The Western Wall and its Tunnels(Israel MFA) Gives the background of the Temple Mount, highlighting the Western Wall, both the section visible from the plaza and the length located in the adjoining tunnel. Copy of this page at Jewish Virtual Library. 8

The Jewish tradition says that a wall of the temple itself (not the one that can be seen today!) survived because it was closest to the place where the Ark used to reside. The legend tells that when Titus, the commander of the Roman army legions, ordered to destroy the temple, he ordered Pangar, duke of Arabia to destroy the Western Wall. Pangar could not destroy the wall because of God’s intervention, so when asked why he did not destroy it, replied that if destroyed, there will be no reminder left of what Titus has conquered. 28

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