Volume 19, Issue 6 _________________________________Bible Prophecy Ministry

The Western Wall (Wailing Wall)

       When Rome destroyed the second temple in 70 C.E., only one outer wall remained standing. The Romans probably would have destroyed that wall as well, but it must have seemed too insignificant to them since it was not even part of the Temple itself, but just an outer wall surrounding the Temple Mount. For the Jews, however, this remnant of wall of what once was the most sacred building in the Jewish world quickly became the holiest spot in Jewish life. Throughout the centuries Jews from throughout the world made the difficult pilgrimage to Palestine, and immediately headed for the Kotel ha-Ma'aravi (the Western Wall) to pray to God. The prayers offered at the Kotel were so heartfelt that Gentiles began calling the site the "Wailing Wall." The name has stuck ever since. Orthodox Jews pray three times a day at the wall for the Temple's restoration, and Jews for centuries have come to the wall to lament the loss of Jerusalem and the Temple.

Jews leave scraps of paper with prayers scribbled on it within the many crevices and cracks among the vast stones that make up the wall.

       For nineteen years, from 1948 to 1967, the Kotel was under Jordanian rule. Israel recaptured the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967 and the Western Wall has become a common gathering place for Jews around the world, particularly on Jewish holidays and feast days, such as Tisha be-Av, which commemorates the destruction of Solomon and Zerrubabel's (Herod's) Temples. Today the Wall is a national symbol of Jewish life, and Jewish aspirations for a third Temple.

       Jews were prohibited by the Roman authorities from entering the city of Jerusalem at all in the first century, and the customary place for mourning the Temple was the Mount of Olives, which overlooks the Temple Mount from the east. Today, once again Jews are expressly forbidden to enter the Temple Mount by the Muslim Waqf authorities which were granted operational jurisdiction over the mount by the Israeli government.

       Along the outer face of the Herodian western wall of the Temple Mount, a long narrow tunnel was dug slowly under the supervision of archeologists. The tunnel has been systematically reinforced with concrete supports. A stretch of the Western Wall nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) long was revealed in pristine condition, exactly as constructed by King Herod. In this tunnel, you are actually walking on the original pavement from the Second Temple period and following in the footsteps of the pilgrims who walked here 2,000 years ago on their way to participate in the rituals on the Temple Mount. Perhaps Jesus himself walked along these very stones.

       Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

       The “Times of the Gentiles,” a term Jesus applied to the Gentile domination of the Temple Mount, and the parallel running time of desolation that the Jewish temple has experienced since Roman day could have ended with Israel's 1967 conquest of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount site, but Israeli authorities fearing a world war with angry Muslims, and an outraged world, have consented to leave the Temple Mount in Muslim hands, and content themselves with prayers at the Western Wall.

Darrell G. Young
Copyright 2002

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