24 Wailing Wall Facts: An Ancient Structure In Jerusalem! | Kidadl


24 Wailing Wall Facts: An Ancient Structure In Jerusalem!

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The Wailing Wall is also known by multiple other names: the Western Wall, Kotel ( simply meaning 'wall' in Hebrew), and Al-Buraq Wall.

The Western Wall, located in the city of Jerusalem, is the most religious site in the world for the Jewish people. It is the remaining part of the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

The Prophet Muhammad fastened his winged horse, named Al-Buraq, at the holy site before ascending to paradise. The wall is one of several varying Muslim traditions practiced by some Muslim monks. Originally, the wall was constructed as part of the Second Jewish Temple, also known as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s walled Old City. It is mostly confused with the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The religious belief of the Jewish people towards the western wall is because of its proximity to the Temple. It is an auxiliary building crowded with worshipers and visitors. The Second Temple was built by Herod in 20 BCE and took 46 years.

In the 17th century, the holy site was used by Jews to mourn the destruction of the Second Temple. The second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

At the same time, the wall was deemed to be Muslim property as it was an integral part of the Haram Al-Sharif and Waqf property of the Moroccan Quarter in the Second Temple period.

In the early 20th century, the wall became a source of disharmony between the Jewish and Muslim communities with the rise of the Zionist movement. During the Second Temple Period, many Jews and Arabs were killed and injured.

For most of the temple period, the area in front of the wall was just a narrow alleyway measuring 13 ft (4 m) wide and 26 ft (8 m) long. An entire 1,650 ft (500 m) long retaining wall on the western side of the Temple Mount was revived in the period of non-Jewish control during the Six-Day War. It is also said that the wall is only a minimal part of the wall compared to what is underneath (below the ground).

The remaining wall (Western Wall) that is visible at the Prayer Plaza, also known as the Western Wall Plaza, comprises 46 layers of stone, 29 of which are exposed above ground, and the rest of the 17 are subterranean. However, the external part of the Western Wall can also be visited by the Western Wall Tunnels, which connect Wilson’s Arch and Robinson’s Arch.

Construction Of The Wailing Wall

A huge wall constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great is a matter of discussion. The wall, the temple, and the 17 masonry courses located below street level are believed to be the holiest sites in Judaism.

Herod started the construction, and the remaining work was completed after the seventh century.

The total height at the Western Wall Plaza is about 105 ft (32 m) tall, which includes the above-ground section of approximately 62 ft (18 m). This section of the wall is built from huge meleke limestone blocks, which were extracted either from Zedekiah's Cave or Ramat Shlomo.

Most of these stones are 11 ft (3.3 m) high and 5.9-8.2 ft ( 1.7-2.4 m) deep. Being heavy stones, they were placed on log rollers that were fastened to oxen, mules, camels, and horses to be transported.

However, it is also believed that the methods used in the construction of the walls are primarily based on sketches, drawings, ancient professional writings, and techniques used by pre-technological societies. Nevertheless, each of the finely dressed stones, called ashlars, is framed by fine-chiseled borders. And the upper city of the Western Wall was decorated with pilasters.

These decorations were later destroyed when the Byzantines reconquered Jerusalem from the Persians.

The entire western wall functions as a retaining wall, but it is further subdivided according to its functions. The southwest corner of the wall, the Robinson’s Arch area, is separated from the prayer area.

Another section that is located close to the Iron Gate is a much shorter section, known as the Little Western Wall.

The Importance Of The Wailing Wall

The Western Wall is the root of the Jewish community.

The Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem was the center of the spiritual world. It was the main channel for the flow of godliness. It is also believed by orthodox Jews that the foundation stone used in constructing the Second Temple is the foundation stone God used to create the world.

However, when the temple was destroyed, the Wall had become so significant to Jewish culture that it is believed that even after the temple's destruction, the Wall was endowed with everlasting sanctity. The Wall is an eternal symbol of hope and belief.

As an epicenter for Europe, Asia, and Africa, Jerusalem is believed to be drawn by magnetic spiritual power and the divine presence of God. Earlier, it was a house of prayer for all nations. The Jewish people gathered together three times each year on the pilgrimage to celebrate festivals.

The retained wall was classified as the 'Gate of Tears', which connected people with God, and they could pour their hearts in front of the wall. Thus, it got the name 'Wailing Wall'.

The Western Wall is also significant because of its Jewish heroism. Israel’s heroes fought like lions for every stone of the Temple during the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Besides, the wall is no mere historical asset but holds religious significance for the Jews as well as Muslims.

the walls of the Holy of Holies

Religious Belief Associated With The Wailing Wall

The Western Wall, one of the walls of the Holy of Holies, is quite well-known for its religious significance to Jews, but it is also significantly related to Christianity and Islam.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, men and women used to gather in a circle at the Western Wall to hear sermons delivered on Jewish holidays. Women prayed in the Western Wall tunnels directly across from the Foundation Stone.

Muslim reverence for the Western Wall was derived from the belief that their prophet Muhammad tied his winged horse, Al-Buraq, while he was praying near a rock during his night journey to Jerusalem.

Presently, the south end of the Western Wall Plaza, or Prayer Plaza, is the most preferred location for Muslims where Al-Buraq was fastened. It is one of the most prominent Muslim holy places.

We also wonder how it is related to Christianity. There is no such religious history of Christians towards the wall. Still, few scholars believe that when Christians took over Jerusalem in the fourth century, they respected the holy temple and the Western Wall in terms of sanctity to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Later, many modern Christian leaders, such as Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, visited the Wall and symbolized it for Christians as a restoration of respect and even veneration.

Cool Facts About The Wailing Wall

Here are some more cool facts about this historical marvel.

After many wars and renovations, the wall expanded to about 187 ft (57 m), accommodating up to 60,000 people. And four ancient gates can be found lined up along the length of the Western Wall, which were named after the scholars and researchers of the 19th century.

Robinson’s Arch and the entrance gate above Wilson’s Arch lead inside the Temple Mount in the Old City. At the same time, the gate above Robinson’s Arch can be reached through the streets. Tunnels that lead under the Temple Mount have two ancient entrance gates: Barclay’s Gate and Warren’s Gate. The gate above Wilson’s Arch is located on the eastern hill of the city.

However, today, six additional entrance gates have been added; they were built between the early Muslim period and the Ottoman period, namely, the Mughrabi Gate, the Iron Gate, the Cotton Merchants' Gate, the Chain Gate, the Council Gate, and the Gate of Bab al-Ghawanima.

In brief, the Mughrabi Gate is the southernmost gate to the Temple Mount level, which was named for the Muslim immigrants who settled here. And the Gate of Bab al-Ghawanima is the northernmost gate, which was named for a Muslim family who took ownership of it.

The Council Gate is named due to its closeness to the waqf, the seat of the High Muslim Council. Whereas the Iron Gate has a small alleyway that leads to the Small Western Wall.

The Wall is a shrine to all Jews, not just one particular type of Judaism. But non-orthodox Jews were banned by the Israelis from worshipping at the Wall. People worship at the Wall in all kinds of ways: praying, singing, reading the Torah, and more.

People also leave notes for God at the Wall, which a Rabbi later clears up.

In 1967, after the Arab-Israeli war, the position of overseer of proceedings at the Western Wall was given to Rabbi Yehuda Meir Getz.

And after his death in 1955, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz succeeded in the position.

In 1986, American president George H.W. Bush paid a visit to the holy site of the Western Wall.

Written By
Lydia Samson

<p>A diligent and driven mass communications graduate from Caleb University, Lydia has experience in media and a passion for digital marketing and communications. She is an effective communicator and team-builder with strong analytical, management, and organizational skills. She is a self-starter with a positive, can-do attitude.</p>

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