the Myth of the Western Wall
What is the Western Wall?
The Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall or Kotel is an alleged remnant of the Second Jewish Temple situated on the western flank of the Temple Mount. Due to its alleged history, People from all over the world come to the Wailing Wall to pray, including world leaders as well as common men. The Western Wall is considered holy due to its alleged connection to the Temple Mount, and is often considered the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray, though the holiest site in the Jewish faith lies right behind it.
A Brief History of the Wall
According to Hebrew texts, Solomon’s Temple was built atop of the Temple Mount in the 10th century BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The Second Temple was then erected in 516 BCE, and didn’t see much expansion until Herod the Great began a massive project to expand the Temple in 19 BCE. Herod the Great doubled the size of the Temple, though this large undertaking wasn’t completed for decades and was finished by his Great Grandson, King Agrippa II. This expanded Temple became known as Herod’s Temple. The Temple stood undisturbed for over a century after its completion until the First Jewish-Roman War in 70 AD. The Temple was completely destroyed by the Romans in response to Jewish merchants attacking Roman citizens over an alleged “Tax Revolt”. In response to the citizen attacks and the overthrowing of Roman controlled territory, Gessius Florus responded by plundering the Second Temple and claiming all of the wealth inside for Emperor Nero and launching raids on Jerusalem the following day to arrest numerous senior Jewish figures. This prompted a large scale rebellion and the Roman military garrison of Judea was overrun by Jewish rebels. After a few military operations, Titus moved to besiege the center of rebel reseistance in Jerusalem. The first two walls were breached within three weeks, but he had difficulties breaching the third wall. After months of fighting, Titus finally breached the wall after weakening Jewish forces and destroyed the Temple completely. The Romans then took over and garrisoned the Antonia Fortress which was located near the Temple Mount.
Antonia Fortress and the Modern Wall
Due to its position close to the Second Temple, it is often confused with the Second Temple itself, this includes the Western Wall. The Temple was located on the South side of Antonia Fortress, near the spring which helped the priests wash away the mess leftover from their sacrifices. The Romano-Jewish Historan,Josephus Flavius described the fact that Bizita Hill was located North of the Temple Mount and obscured the view of the Temple from the North in his book The Jewish Wars. If the Temple stood at the Dome of the Rock, it would be visible from as far away as the town of Ramallah, but this isn’t the case at all.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when this myth started, but theories suggest it was around 1520 AD. The Jewish elders at the time decided to select the Western Wall for unknown reasons, most likely confusion. Israeli Scholars today understand that the present Western Wall has nothing to with Second Temple.
" There is a tradition that the Temple’s Western Wall remains standing. Meir Ben-Dov then continues: “This is not a reference to the western wall of the Temple Mount”.
Meir Ben-Dov, ( The Western Wall , p.27)
Why This is Important
This is an important topic as the existence of the Western Wall has to conflict either Judaism or Christianity, there is no middle ground on this topic:
In Judaism, the Second Temple was prophesied that the Wall would never be destroyed as it is endowed with everlasting sanctity. A Midrash compiled in Late Antiquity refers to a “Western Wall of the Temple which would never be destroyed”. Eighteenth-century scholar Jonathan Eybeschutz writes that “after the destruction of the Temple, God removed His Presence from His sanctuary and placed it upon the Western Wall where it remains in its holiness and honour”.
Christ himself spoke that the Temple would be completely destroyed, even the foundations of the Temple would be removed from the Earth which did indeed come to pass.
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.
So with everything thats been mentioned so far, you now understand that this isn’t just a mere misunderstanding between Jews and Christians, this is essentially a way to prove/disprove one another based on who is right. Given the information provided above, the Christian view isn’t based merely on emotion, but sound proof that the modern Wailing Wall is not what Jews have claimed it to be for the last 600 years.
Fun Fact: The current location of the Western Wall was used as a garbage site for Early Christians. Jews were known to raid the site at night to locate the bloody cloths thrown away by Christian women during their menstruation cycles. (1)