The Western Wall Bricks

Question

Are the Western Walls bricks that we see today actually those that were used in the time of the Temple? And was the Western Wall built underground?

, , , , 10 months

Answers

  1. Yes, the bricks of the Western wall are very ancient, some from the time of the second Temple, some possibly even from the time of the first Temple.

    The Western Wall is the last remaining wall of the Holy Temple and is the holiest place in the world that Jews can pray at because of its close proximity to the Holy of Holies (which is situated on the other side of the Wall). In fact so central is the Temple site to Judaism that the Code of Jewish Law states that, when praying, a person must face the direction of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The Western Wall is also known as the Wailing Wall because the Jewish People have shed so many tears over the destruction of the Temple. In Hebrew it is called the Kotel, short for Hakotel Ha’maravi – the Western Wall.

    The measurements of the Western Wall, as it stands today, are 488 meters long, 55 meters high, and on the average 1.5 meters wide. The Western and Southern walls of the Temple mount date back mostly to Herod’s renovation of the Temple. There is a possibility that the lowest levels of these walls are from King Solomon’s Temple. The Northern wall dates back to Herod and the Eastern wall is from the Second Temple of Nechemia, with some additions by the Hasmonean dynasty and some renovations by King Herod.

    The Western Wall is made of limestone, which is very common in the central Israel area. It was almost certainly quarried in Israel. First of all the stone is very common here, and is still quarried and used in building today in Israel. Secondly, some of the stones are incredibly heavy and transporting them would have been extremely difficult. There is one stone that weighs approximately 250 tons!

    According to archeological evidence, enormous stones were transported by rolling them along logs that were placed underneath the stones. As the stone progressed, the logs were taken from the back and placed in the front.

    There are tunnels running underneath the Western Wall that date back to the 13th century when the Marmelukes conquered Jerusalem. They wanted to live as close to the Temple Mount as possible but there was a valley that ran past it. The Marmelukes were very industrious, and they built arches all the way along the valley and built their houses on them.  The tunnels run from the plaza of the Western Wall to the Via Delarosa, which is approximately a half a kilometer. There is much more excavation that can be done, as the whole of the Moslem Quarter is built on the arches. However, any excavations would make the tunnels wider but not longer.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team