The Wailing Wall
Israel - Middle East
Thursday, April 23, 2015
“Jews may often be seen sitting for hours at the Wailing-place bent in sorrowful meditation over the history of their race, and repeating often times the words of the Seventy-ninth Psalm. On Fridays especially, Jews of both sexes, of all ages, and from all countries, assemble in large numbers to kiss the sacred stones and weep outside the precincts they may not enter.” ~ Charles Wilson, 1881 British Explorer
The Wailing Wall is a name coined by Gentiles and is not particularly accepted by modern-day Jews, though there is plenty of wailing and praying about the lot of Israel during her history so far. There have been a lot more bad times it seems, than good. The more acceptable name of this large, stone wall (some stones weigh thousands of pounds) is the Western Wall.
At any rate, the Western Wall is considered by most Jews today as the only remaining wall of their Temple, which would be their Second Temple since the first was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, about 2,600 years ago. Then the Second Temple was expanded by King Herod during Jesus’ day.
Is it true that this wall is a wall of the Temple? Try convincing Israelis that it is not, and you will find a tough sell. If it is a Temple wall, it presents a real problem for Christian belief, that Jesus was not only the Messiah but also a Prophet.
Prophets, at least those in the Bible, were defined differently than Nostradamus and the common, everyday foretellers of the future. Nostradamus was estimated to be accurate about 5% of the time. Prophets of God were accurate 100% of the time. That would mean that Jesus would be correct in His prophecies 100% of the time, not 95% or 99%.
Consider this encounter between Jesus and the Apostles:
“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Matthew 24:1,2 NIV
If the Wailing Wall is the western wall of the Temple that the Apostles were referencing, there are still lots of stones, one on top of another, big stones. This has always bothered me since I recognized the inference and the importance.
Islam teaches that it is not the wall of the Temple; but negotiations have let the Jews go there and pray from time to time after the Muslims invaded and built mosques. When Israel first became a nation again in 1948 (67th anniversary next month), they were guaranteed a place at the Wailing Wall but didn’t happen. Only after Israel’s win in the 1967 war did the Jews get to the Wall.
A few weeks ago an Omega Letter subscriber emailed me the name of a book he thought I should read. He has read my first four books in the series The End The Book and suspects that Part Five (out this summer) will be dealing with the Temple and its reconstruction. He is correct.
The name of the recommended book was Temple by Robert Cornuke, president of the Bible Archeology Search and Exploration Institute (BASE). I ordered right away, and then my curiosity got the best of me. I began a search for other books that might corroborate the assertions of the author of Temple, published last year.
I also ordered The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, authored by Ernest L. Martin and published in 2000.
It appears there is an archeological movement that questions the validity of the Wailing Wall as one of the Temple compound walls because of the extreme conflict between modern religious scholars and the descriptions proffered by actual eyewitnesses who saw the destruction and aftermath, like Josephus and Titus.
Josephus was hired in the first century by Roman Emperor Vespasian to write about Jewish History and the wars with Rome. Below is one of his statements about the condition of Jerusalem after war with Rome:
“Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury, (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done,) Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminency; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison, as were the towers also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.”
The wall that was spared enclosed the city of Jerusalem and three large towers were spared as memorials to Roman expertise in conquering and destroying Jerusalem. Also note that they “dug it up to the foundation.”
Another statement in Josephus’ War later indicated that Jerusalem was leveled:
“And now the Romans set fire to the extreme parts of the city, and burnt them down, and entirely demolished its walls.”
Titus, son of Vespasian, was in charge of the total destruction of Jerusalem; and he did a magnificent job. His soldiers were so enraged with the Jews who would not surrender, the entire city was set ablaze. Jews that were holed up in the Temple set the Temple on fire rather than let the Romans have the riches, and there were lots of riches. The eyewitnesses of the day and for centuries afterward stood in awe at what had once been Jerusalem, now a desert wasteland. Just like it was predicted.
If these authors and other biblical archeologists are correct in the assessment that the Wailing Wall is really the wall that surrounded Fort Antonio and the Roman camp, including the Temple Mount, then some ‘splainin’ needs to happen. All the eyewitness reports spoke of utter desolation, walls knocked down and the foundations of the Temple buildings were dug up. Some of the foundations were more than thirty feet underground.
So why would the Roman guards actually dig up the foundations? How much work would that be?
It’s all about the money; or in this case, gold.
The Temple was possibly the most gold-ridden structure in the world at the time. The outside was coated with so much gold it was described as blinding in sunlight. When the Jewish fighters and innocent civilians were trapped in the Temple and set it on fire, the intense heat melted the gold and other valuable minerals. The gold then dropped like lava to the depths of the foundations of the Temple. So much gold was found by the Romans that the value of gold in the Middle East dropped 50%.
The authors of these two books have done their homework, but the rapture will happen long before the Israelis admit the possibility that they have been wrong all these centuries and praying at the wrong wall. Prior to the Middle Ages, the Western Wall was just that, the western wall of Fort Antonio and its three towers that Titus left as a memorial.
When Jesus told the Jewish apostles that every stone in the Temple would fall, he wasn’t kidding. This explains it all.
About J.L. Robb
Last week: Rewriting Biblical History
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