Last night we went to see some more of Herod’s Wall. You can see some of it at the Western (or Wailing) Wall, the well-known site for saying prayers. There you can see that bottom seven rows are from Herod’s time. Underneath there are some 23 more rows of massive stones built by Herod. One of the stones put into place is 45 feet long, 11 feet high, and 15 feet deep, and weighs over 650 tons!
Herod was a great builder. He built a massive platform upon which the Temple would stand, and then made the Temple the most impressive building in the whole world. Some of the slides are from a model they have there on the tour. It shows the size that the Temple would have been in relation to the Dome of the Rock that is there now.
The Israeli’s dug a tunnel at the base of the Wall in 1968 after they had reclaimed the territory during the Six Day War. It goes the whole length of the western edge of the Temple mount and has revealed not only a great deal of Herod’s Wall, but also some fortifications from the Hasmonean period, when Israel revolted from the Seleucid’s control and gained their indepence (167 BC). We walked through an aqueduct that would have collected water and then had it available for people in the Temple and the city, an aqueduct discovered 150 years ago by a British engineer, Sir Charles Warren.
One of the slides is of an arch where there are people praying. This is thought to be the closest place to where the Ark of the Covenant would have been placed in the Temple. The good-looking couple standing in front of the Western Wall are Perry and Elaine Phillips, our course instructors. They are simply wonderful. Full of knowledge and also of grace.
This is what would have been there when Jesus came to town. The audacity he showed in walking into the Temple and proclaiming himself to be the place where people would meet with God, the perfect Sacrifice that would do away with the need for the Temple. Talk about chutzbah!!
Signing off – Father Wismer