The Western Wall
After the fall of Jerusalem, Emperor Hadrian allowed Jews to visit the city only on the 9th of Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the city. For 2000 years, the Jews were in exile until the nation of Israel was reestablished in 1948. During that time, they would come to this wall to mourn. For that reason, it was once called the Wailing Wall.
The western wall was not part of the temple. It was part of the retaining wall around the temple mount. The Romans destroyed the temple completely, leaving not one stone upon another, as foretold by Jesus (Matthew 24:2). One reason, we are told, is that the Temple was first burned. All the gold inside melted. Every stone was separated from every other stone to recover as much of the gold as possible.
Between 1948 and 1967, the Western Wall was in the possession of Jordan. When Jordan and its allies attacked in 1967, Israel retaliated and conquered this area. The Israeli government voluntarily returned control of the mount to Muslim authorities. Muslims continue to worship at the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque on top, while Jews pray through the wall toward the site of the Holy of Holies, where God came to dwell among his people on earth in ancient times. Some write their prayers on slips of paper and slide them into the cracks in the wall.
On our last day in Jerusalem, we toured the Western Wall tunnel. Archaeologists have excavated down to the level of the streets that Jesus walked 2000 years ago. That's 50 feet below present-day ground level. The entrance is just to the left of this photo. It was a amazing experience, one that would not have been possible when we first traveled to Israel in 1988.
Go on to read about Bethlehem
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