Day 5 (11) The Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock and The Wailing Wall / Western Wall

The last destination of the day was the Wailing Wall. We came back to the Old City of Jerusalem to enter the Jerusalem City Wall through another gate. It is here the Wailing wall is situated. This is the holiest place for Jews.

The Temple Mount
The temple mount is the place where the Jewish temple was built, starting from King Solomon almost 3,000 years ago. The temple was destroyed by the Romans and never rebuilt again by the Jews. It was replaced by the Muslim shrines in the 8th C AD which stand there today, with the Golden Dome of the Rock.
The first temple was built by King Solomon at about 950 BC, and was located on the highest point above the Kidron valley - on mount Moriah. As per the Bible (2 Chronicles 3:1: "Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father".
The temple was destroyed after the intrusion of Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar II.
After 50 years, in 536, Zerubbabel built the second temple. (Ezra 3: 8: "Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel ... to set forward the work of the house of the LORD").
Herod the Great, King of Israel under the Romans (37BC - 4BC), enlarged and rebuilt the second temple, and made it a magnificent temple. The destruction in 70 AD, after the Jewish revolt against the Romans, left most of Herod's second temple in rubble. Only few remnants of this remarkable structure remained, such as the western wall and excavations in the southern wall.
During the Byzantine period a large church was built in the 6th C AD in the area of El-Aksa mosque.

Dome of the Rock

This magnificent octagon that dominates the Old City is a shrine for Isam’s third most holy site. The piece of black stone it covers is the mountain where Abraham tried to sacrifice Ishmael (not Isaac as Jews and Christians believe), the site of the temple of Solomon, and the place from whence Mohammed departed skywards for his famous encounter with the heavenly—"The Night Journey".

The Wailing Wall / Western Wall
The Western wall is located on the western side of the temple mount, in the heart of old Jerusalem. It is approached from the Jewish quarter, and the closest gate is Haashpoth (Dung) gate.
The Western wall is a remnant of Herod's grand temple, and is the most holiest site for Jews.
Herod the Great, King of Israel under the Romans (37BC - 4BC), enlarged and rebuilt the second temple, and made it a magnificent temple. After its destruction in 70 AD during the Jewish revolt against the Romans, only a few layers of the grand temple were left, and the Jews were not allowed to rebuild their temple.
The worship at the site of the western wall started after the destruction, and was referred in early texts in the 3rd-5th C. For 2,000 years the Jews came to the site and prayed for the rebuilt of Jerusalem and the Jewish Nation, since the fate of both coincided at the same time.
For many times during the history the Jews were forbidden to approach the site, or were harassed while doing so, or had to bribe to get into the site.
The Wailing Wall or Western Wall is the remains of the great Jewish temple, which had stood for close to 500 years. Herod began rebuilding and adding on to the temple in approximately 19 B.C.E., and the total work was not finished until fifty years later. The temple itself was destroyed by the Romans only a few years after its completion, circa 70 C.E.

It is thought by Jews to be the most sacred of places, because the temple itself was thought to be the place where God resides on earth. Praying at the Wailing Wall signifies being in the presence of the Divine. Jews from all countries, and as well as tourists of other religious backgrounds, come to pray at the wall, where it is said one immediately has the “ear of god.” Those who cannot pray at the wall can send prayers or ask for the Kaddish to be said for departed loved ones. Prayers sent in are placed into the cracks of the walls and are called tzetzels. There is usually a small charge for this service.

The name "Wailing Wall" is actually a Christian term. The Jews refer to the wall as the Western Wall or Kotel.


When we reached the wall it was so crowded that we could hear weeps all over. We could not go very close to the wall. We could see many Jews with long beard dressed in the traditional outfit. We were a bit surprised to see soldiers all over. Later we were told that the soldiers were let to worship on that day. Here I would like to mention something about the soldiers we saw all over here. They, both men and women, are very young. We could understand that military service is compulsory in Israel.

Western Wall
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Wall
2. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-wailing-wall.htm
3. http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/WesternWall.html
4. http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jerusalem-western-wall.htm
5. http://www.goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/Tourist+Information/Christian+Themes/Details/The+Western+Wall+and+the+Western+Wall+Tunnel+chr.htm

Temple Mount and Dome of The Rock
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Mount
2. http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jerusalem-temple-mount
3. http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/TempleMount.html
4. http://www.goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/Tourist+Information/Christian+Themes/Details/Temple+Mount+++chr.htm

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