The Wailing Wall: the ancient Temple of Solomon

The Wailing Wall: the ancient Temple of Solomon

A few days ago, the main news agencies published that the famous Wailing wall of Jerusalem, was being the object of a general cleaning up for tourism that in order to Holy Week the city receives every year.

Cleaning consists of removing hundreds and hundreds of messages that faithful from all over the world who arrived in Jerusalem deposit with their prayers and wishes between the gaps and cracks of its biblical ashlars. Every six months, the papers that collect the wishes of the faithful are collected in bags and buried on the Mount of Olives (there where Jesus spent his last hours in prayer before his crucifixion).

Followers of various beliefs, not just Jewish, they will leave messages hoping to be heard. However, these ruins represent a symbolic burden for Judaism that it does not have it for the rest of religions, not even the Christian one. ¿Why?

The reason is that for Jews, the wall is a remnant of the biblical temple of Solomon. The Wailing wall It is a sacred place, because they are the remains of the first Temple of Jerusalem, which was built between 970 and 930 BC.

Solomon's Temple.
Biblical texts give us a vague description of how it could have been. A small temple, of reduced dimensions, similar in proportions to a palatine chapel. The reason is that the Jewish tradition carried out its cults in the open air, outside its temples, therefore it did not take excessive dimensions to shelter its faithful, since they congregated around it and not within its walls.

On both sides of its rectangular structure two columns were erected at its entrance called by the writings "Jaquin" Y "Boaz”. It is said that both the priests and the king entered the Temple through a great gold-plated door, approximately 12 meters high and 6 meters wide, so despite its small size (compared to temples of other religions) was not without a certain luxury and visual richness.

This idea is reinforced by the description that the stone ashlars were covered with wood with cedar slats brought from the mountains of Lebanon. This, in addition to offering a certain sumptuousness due to the noble nature of the material, would serve as a primitive "air chamber”To preserve the room from both outside noise and high temperatures.

The construction of the Jerusalem Temple It was the most important event of Solomon's reign, thanks to which his name has been remembered to this day. Moreover, its fame has been such that it has influenced much later constructions, such as Hagia Sophia of Constantinople or the Monastery of El Escorial.

The reason is that it was always considered the ideal building according to divine designs. However, much of its fame is not only due to the temple itself, but to what was contained in it, since the sacred texts tell us that the temple was the urn where it was deposited "The Ark of the Covenant”, That chest that contained the tables where the Ten Commandments were recorded.

This magnificent temple, however, was desecrated and destroyed by the Babylonians, specifically by the army of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BC, which in addition to steal the famous Ark and whatever of value there was in the temple, he took with him a large part of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah as slaves.

The second Temple of Solomon.
After a long captivity and back home, the descendants of that group, led by Zerubbabel, they got down to work to rebuild the temple that had been razed. All the people of Judah contributed their own work and wealth in rebuilding their place of worship, achieving that in 535 BC. the old temple was erected again (although in a splendor that was far from its original one).

The Reformation: Herod's Temple.
Centuries later, in 19 BC, “Herod the Great”He devised the renovation and expansion of the old temple. The Herod's plan It was drastic, demolishing the entire temple and building a new one in its place. The new structure is sometimes referred to as the Herod's Temple, but it also continues to call Second Temple of Solomon. Tradition weighed more than the ashlars on the walls of the new temple.

A new destruction.
In 66 AD, the Jewish population, subjected under the power of the Roman Empire, rebelled, expelling the imperial troops from Jerusalem. The peace did not last long since four years later, the Roman legions under the orders of Titus reconquered and destroyed most of Jerusalem as a lesson, among the demolished buildings was the mythical Temple. The Arch of Titus, raised in Rome to commemorate their victory in Judea depicts Roman soldiers taking away the Menorah From the temple.

What little remained of that sanctuary still had to suffer a new outrage with the new invasion of the city by the Emperor in 135 AD. After that new assault, no stone was left on stone and the temple became a mere memory in Roman writings and Jewish sacred texts.

The wall of lamentations.
Today, as we explained at the beginning of this post, of that biblical building only a single wall remains. It is said that the name of the “wailing wall“It is because the Roman emperor Titus left only that wall standing in order for the Jewish people to be aware of what would happen if they rose up against Rome again. That ruin was left standing for them to mourn the day they dared to challenge the Roman Empire.

Of course, for the Jews themselves this symbolized something very different, a sign of the Jewish people's alliance with God. A sign that despite the passage of time, wars and events of history, there would always be something, even a stone, from that old covenant, which would last forever.

Image Wailing wall: Photopedia
Images Solomon's Temple: Public domain on Wikimedia

Video: A Jewish prayer at the Western Wall Wailing Wall, Jerusalem Israel