Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lion’s Gate and the Western Wall

We exited the Temple Mount and the Muslim quarter through Lion’s Gate, the gate that leads to the Via Dolorosa. It is also known as St. Stephen’s Gate and, in Jesus’ time, it was the Sheep Gate. Christian Arabs call it St. Mary’s gate because the Virgin Mary is buried in the Kidron Valley below it. The Lion’s Gate is the only gate located on the east wall that gives access to the Old City. The East Gate has been sealed for centuries by the Muslims in order to prevent the Messiah from entering through this gate. (More on this later.)

During the Six Day War in 1967 when the Israelis recaptured the city, the 55th Paratroop Brigade entered the Old City through this gate and unfurled the Israeli flag atop the Temple Mount. Jews had not had access to the Old City since 1948.

Legend has it that the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent placed the lions on the gate because he had a vision that if he didn’t build the wall around the holy city to protect its citizens, he would be devoured by lions.











We are walking down toward the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives…


so we can get back to where we started.


This is the only entrance that gives access to the Western Wall. Europeans gave it the name of the “Wailing” Wall. The closest gate to the Western Wall is the Dung Gate.






Ultra orthodox women always have on a covering for their head. This is so they will not become vain about their hair.


As you are walking into the area, if you look to the left you see the Jewish area of the “new” city and if you look to the right you are looking at the Western Wall of the Old City.



This is another look at the Southern Wall with the Mount of Olives and the Jewish Cemetery in the distance. In the afternoon we will be sitting on those southern steps listening to Kay teach.


This is the way we entered the Temple Mount.




The protrusion you see on the side of the wall is Robinson’s Arch. This is all that remains of a great stairway, set on arches, that passed over the busy market street at the foot of the Western Wall, and led directly into the Great Stoa on the southern side of Temple Mount.




Of course, the security is very tight.



I don’t know how the men can stand to wear those long coats with vests and prayer shawls underneath. It is warm during the day.


I don’t know why there are men in the women’s line. Apparently there was no one on the men’s side. Kenny always went first to prepare our way. I think we had to walk through a metal detector. The yellow umbrella you see was always held by Diane so that it was easily seen and we always knew where the front of the line was.





This is the Western Wall, or Kotel, Plaza. To the right is the women’s section of the wall and to the left is the men’s. The Western Wall is the only fragment left of the Herodian retaining wall that was built in 20 BC to enclose and support the Second Temple. Jews believe that the Divine Presence has never departed the Western Wall.

In 70 AD, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple. During the Ottoman Period (beginning in the 16th century), the wall became the Jews' chief place of pilgrimage, where they came to lament the destruction of the Temple.

For centuries, the Western Wall was located in a narrow alley just 12 feet wide that could accommodate only a few hundred densely packed worshipers. But in 1967, immediately after the Six Day War, Israelis leveled the neighboring Arab district to create the Western Wall Plaza, which can accommodate tens of thousands of pilgrims.

At the same time, the Israelis made the wall about 6 1/2 feet higher by digging down and exposing two more tiers of ashlars (squared stones) from the Temple Plaza's retaining wall that had been buried by accumulated debris for centuries.


This is another view of the way we entered the Temple Mount.


We did enter the women’s side, but didn’t stay long because we didn’t want to intrude. The large stones that you see at the bottom are from the time of Herod. They were carved with such precision that they rest on top of each other without mortar.


Every crevice is filled with tiny slips of paper upon which prayers are written.


Buildings on the other side of the plaza across from the Western Wall. ..IMG_0687

The men’s side of the wall…


I left the area with a melancholy feeling. 




O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption. Psalm 130:7

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