Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Western Wall Stones Crumbling

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that stones in the Western Wall are crumbling.  A little background:

The "Western Wall" is a 60-meter section of a 480-meter long western compound wall of Herod's Temple Mount.  This portion of the wall has been revered by Jewish people for centuries as a place of prayer because the temple does not exist and access to the temple court areas has been forbidden (either by rabbis or Muslim rulers or both).

Three distinct sections of construction are visible in the prayer portion of the Western Wall today.  The lowest seven courses (blue box in photo below) were constructed by King Herod in the 1st century B.C.  The wall above this was destroyed, probably mostly in the Roman destruction of A.D. 70.  Arab rulers in the 7th-8th centuries rebuilt part of the wall and these stones are visible above the Herodian stones (between blue and red boxes). 

In the 19th century, there were problems with Muslims throwing objects and trash from the Temple Mount down on Jewish worshipers at the wall and so the British-Jewish philanthropist Moses Montefiore donated so that the wall could be built to a higher level.  It is these stones (in red box) that are the subject of this JPost story.  Read the article to learn more about whether the rabbis will permit restoration or not.

Western Wall, tb122006991
The crumbling stones are the smallest and most recent stones (red box). 
The original Herodian stones are in the blue box.

Update (4/17): Leen Ritmeyer has a lengthy explanation of the situation on his blog.

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