Western Wall & Western Wall Tunnel

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Western Wall & Western Wall Tunnel

 

Location

 

1. The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall (because the Jews weep here during their prayers) is located on the western side of the Temple Mount. 

 

2. The Western Wall Tunnel is accessed on the northern side of the Western Wall Plaza and runs north to the end of the Temple Mount Platform.

 

Historical Background

 

1. When the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 AD, part of the western side of the Temple Mount Platform survived. For hundreds of years prior to 1967, people prayed in the small area of the wall that could be seen at that time. However, in 1967, following the Six-Day War, Israelis excavated below the ground level of the wall and found two more stone rows. They then cleared the area around the wall to create the Western Wall Plaza that visitors see today. 

 

2. The Western Wall is part of the retaining wall, or support wall, that Herod the Great built in 19 BC when he enlarged the Temple Mount complex in order to accommodate a larger temple and Temple Mount area. It was a massive undertaking that required exceptional and sophisticated engineering.

 

3. Unlike many think, the Western Wall was not part of the wall of the temple King Herod Built.

 

Places of Interest

 

1. In the Western Wall Plaza area, a walkway bridge can be seen that tourist use to access the Temple Mount.

 

2. The Western Wall Plaza is divided into two sections: a men’s and a women’s section.

 

3. The area close to the wall is considered a synagogue, so men must wear a head covering when entering the men’s section.

 

4. Most Jews do not enter on the Temple Mount for fear of unknowingly walking in the place where the Holy of Holies might have been. Plus, Muslims do not want them entering there as well.

 

5. The Western Wall Plaza is the closest large public area to the temple and Holy of Holies for the Jews. Therefore, it is their most holy site.

 

6. On the northern side of the Western Wall is Wilson’s Arch, which is the modern name for a stone arch whose top is still visible today. It once supported a bridge that provided access to a gate that was level with the surface of the Temple Mount during the time of Jesus. Under this arch is a synagogue where Jews pray and read the Scriptures.

 

7. The Western Wall Plaza is only 10% of the entire western wall of the Temple Mount Platform. The majority of the wall is accessed by entering what is called “The Western Wall Tunnels.” We will see that part shortly.

 

8. The entire length of the Western Wall is 1,575 ft. long (480 m.), almost a third of a mile (.53 km.). 

 

9. South of the Western Wall are stones that the Romans cast down when they destroyed the city in 70 AD. under the leadership of the Roman General, Titus.

 

10. The broken pavement of the street that the massive stones crushed when they fell is sobering to see.

 

11. Burn marks remain on some of the stones as a result of fire from the Roman conquest of the city in 70 AD.

 

12. There are remains of shops that were part of a large shopping plaza at the southern part of the Western Wall.

 

13. This is the same wall that Jesus and His disciples would have seen.

14. On the Southern Stair entrance to the temple is where Jesus would have taught His disciples and entered the Temple Mount area.

 

15. At the southernmost end of the Western Wall is a significant stone which stood upon the uttermost southwestern corner of the Temple Mount.

 

  • It has words written in Hebrew that mean “The Trumpeter’s House.”

 

  • A priest would stand at this corner announcing with a loud trumpet the beginning of the Sabbath, and other festival days the Jews celebrated.

 

Western Wall Tunnel

 

1. In order to build the temple on the mountain top of Mount Moriah, there had to be erected supporting walls that could be filled in, so there was a large flat place (platform) upon which to build. King Solomon first did this when he constructed the first temple in around 950 BC. When the temple was rebuilt under Zerubbabel and Ezra (537-450 BC), this same platform was used. Later, in 19 BC, King Herod began rebuilding a new massive temple. In order to do this, he had to enlarge the Temple Mount Platform immensely. When he was done, it measured 985 x 1,575 feet (300 x 480 m.), or the equivalent of 35 football fields in size (35 acres, 14 hectares).

 

2. King Herod put 10,000 men to work and trained 1,000 priests as masons so they could work on the most sacred parts of the temple. The building was begun in 19 B.C. and finished in 10 years, but the work of decoration was not completed until 64 AD. 

 

3. The temple King Herod built on this massive Temple Mount Platform was enormous in size. Nothing in the known world at that time compared to it in size and beauty. For comparison’s sake, the temple Herod built was three times the size of the Dome of the Rock (which measures 65 feet wide x 115 feet high or 20 x 35 m.), that can be seen today.

 

4. In 70 AD, six years after the temple was fully completed, the Romans burned down and destroyed the temple at Jerusalem, and it has never been rebuilt since.

 

5. Located beside the Western Wall Tour Entrance on the left side, or northern side of the Western Wall, is a synagogue. Here Jews gather to study, read, and pray. This is one of the Jew’s most holy synagogues because of its proximity to the original temple wherein the Holy of Holies resided.

 

6. At the beginning of the Western Wall Tunnel Tour Entrance is a room where the tour begins. Here, tour guides give an overview of the temple Solomon built, the temple Ezra oversaw, and then the temple King Herod built. The history of the Western Wall is meshed in with the history of the temples that once resided next to the Western Wall.

 

7. Walking along the Western Wall Tunnel, what is known as the master course of stones can be seen. These are some of the first rows of cut stones that support the Temple Mount Western Wall. The largest stone found in the Western Wall measures 44 ft. (13.4 m.) in length, (longer than a Greyhound bus). It’s almost 12 ft. (3.66 m.) high (taller than a semi-truck trailer). Its width is 14 ft. (4.26 m.) (almost as wide as some highways). It weighs over 600 tons (equivalent to 200 elephants, or ten tanks, or two 747 jumbo jets including the people and their luggage). There is no machine big enough today to lift it. It was carved outside the city and then placed here. The stones were carved and placed with such precision that not even a credit card will fit between the joints. By comparison, the largest stones in the Egyptian Pyramids are 15 tons.

 

8. We next come to what is called Warren's Gate. This is the closest place along the Western Wall to where the temple used to be. It is, therefore, according to the Jews, the holiest place in the Western Wall. Just 200 ft. (61 m.) towards the east, is where the temple was originally located.

 

9. The bedrock of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount can be seen as well. The masons who laid the great stones to build the Western Wall chiseled the bedrock of the mountain to make them look like they were stones, but in reality, they are the bedrock of the mountain upon which the Western Wall rests.

 

10. Next, the tiles of the original floor where Jesus likely walked are visible in the tunnel. 

 

11. Continuing along the Western Wall Tunnel is a Hasmonean aqueduct built over 2,200 years ago, which was 200 years before Christ. 

 

12. At the northern end of the Western Wall Tunnel is the Struthion Pool, where water was stored for use in the city of Jerusalem. 

 

Faith Lesson from the Western Wall

 

1. It's sad that the closest large meeting area the Jews can get to the place where the original temple used to be located is the Western Wall, which in reality, is just part of the supporting wall of the Temple Mount.

 

2. It’s sad that because of the Jew’s repeated refusal to heed God’s warnings to obey and follow Him that He sent judgments upon Israel and Jerusalem.

 

3. It's sad that because the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, Jesus prophesied Jerusalem would be destroyed. This was fulfilled in 70 AD. The reality of this destruction is the overarching fact that can be seen all along the Western Wall.

 

4. Because of the Jew’s continual disobedience to God, He prophesied that the Jews would be scattered to the four corners of the earth. This was fulfilled in 70 AD.

 

5. God also prophesied that He would bring the Jews back to their homeland in the last days. This was fulfilled in 1948.

 

6. According to many passages in the Bible, God still has a plan for the Jews. He said He would bring them back to their homeland after being scattered for thousands of years. He also says that during the Great Tribulation Period that many Jews, if not most of them, will recognize that Jesus is indeed their Messiah and turn to Him in repentance.

 

7. Amazingly, we see the first prophecy fulfilled in that the Jews returned to their homeland and have their own country back. There have been many civilizations that have occupied the Holy Land, but God has fulfilled prophecy in bringing the Jews back to their homeland today.

 

8. The stones here cry out that God’s Word is true and is verifiable through the fulfillment of these prophecies.

 

9. At the Southern Stair entrance area of the Temple Mount is a sad, but very true saying, “The Jerusalem Stone, so resilient and supple, bows to the transient follies of humankind, bearing a testimony like a hundred witnesses, and yet, remains silent.”

 

10. We find in all that has happened to the Jews a powerful and sobering message for us today. Obedience brings God’s blessings, but disobedience brings His discipline. 
1 Corinthians 10:11–12: Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
 

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