The last stop on Day 8 was to the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall). This is the current location that allows the Jewish people to get as close as possible to where the temple once stood. It is also a place of prayer because of God’s words in 1 Kings 9:1-3
“As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all that Solomon desired to build, the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the Lord said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.'”
Praying at the Western Wall, as close to the temple’s old location as possible is understood by many to be praying in the place where God has promised to always see and be attentive.
Beyond praying in the courtyard facing the wall, there has also been discovered a tunnel that runs the length of the Western wall, which is now accessible.
What is now the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem was, at the time of it’s construction, built atop a series of great arches and pillars so as to raise that area up higher and closer to the Muslim holy sites now existing on the Temple Mount. Going down to this Western Wall tunnel gives a view of these great supports under the city of Jerusalem.
You can see here some of the great foundation stones used in Herod’s building effort, upon which the temple mount was built to accommodate both the temple and all the annual pilgrims who would come to worship there. The notches in the wall can accommodate pieces of stone that are believed to be used to pull the foundation blocks into position. This particular block is 57 feet long!
At the place along the tunnel where it is closest to where the Holy of Holies once stood up above is a small room with chairs, prayer books, and people praying.
Praying at the wall.
As an odd contrast with the more somber mood of all those praying at the Wall, there was also a military graduation going on during our time there that included festive music and the calling out of soldiers’ names as they were being recognized.