Jerusalem has many walls from many different periods. Today the most visible wall is the Turkish wall, built by Sultan Suleiman in the 16th cen. The walls of the Biblical periods have been hidden under 2000 yrs of rubble. The oldest and most famous wall, the Broad wall, mentioned by Nehemia(1), was hidden under 3000 yrs of rubble.
Nobody, excepting the Jews, had any interest in removing the rubble to discover the ancient walls. They didn't want the world to see that Jerusalem was a Jewish city. They thought it could always remain hidden, like the Jewish people itself remained hidden for nearly 2000 yrs.
The Jewish People have a good reason for discovering ancient walls of Jerusalem. The walls are symbols of Jewish sovereignty and G-d's protection over the Jewish People. Even though man physically does the building, the Bible gives the credit to G-d. G-d is the builder of Jerusalem. When He rebuilds Jerusalem the Jews can see that He is their protector. (2), When king Hezekia built the broad wall in 700 BCE (3) it was to protect the city against the Assyrian army of Senacherib. Hezekia, however didn't rely on the wall, he prayed to G-d to protect the city(4). In fact the plague that G-d sent on the Assyrians is what saved the city not the wall.
We have returned to Jerusalem and are rebuilding it. We should always be aware, however, like Hezekia, that we are successful because G-d is really building the city.
You can see the Broad Wall today in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. It was revealed by Israeli archaeologists in 1974. The amazing thing is that they found it almost accidentally. They were really called in by the builders who were busy rebuilding the destroyed Jewish Quarter. They were preparing the Jewish Quarter for modern day Jews wanting to return to Jerusalem of ancient times.
The discovery of the wall was a sensation. It showed that the place where the Jews were going to live was the exact place where Jerusalem had stood in the days of the Jewish kingdom of Hezekia and Nehemia. Nearby this wall they also found the wall of the later Maccabean kingdom of Jerusalem. Together with the Bible these discoveries clearly document the Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem for more than 1000 yrs. This is made up of the 500 yrs. From the time of David in 1000 BCE to the time of the Babylonian destruction in 586 BCE and another 500 yrs from the time of the return of the exiles, under Nehemia, in 535 BCE to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE.
In the 2000 years that Jerusalem has lain in ruins many conquerors have come and tried to hide the historical evidence of the walls. Each conqueror built his own walls on top of the ruins of the Jewish walls. They thought the city was theirs and that the wall they built proved this. They thought that G-d was building the city with them, showing that He was now their protector, not the protector of the Jews.
One of the first of these builders was Hadrian in the 2nd cen CE. He built his city partly on the site of original Jerusalem and partly extended it to the North. His God was Jupiter, also known as Aelia, and he called his city Aelia Capitolina. Jerusalem was forgotten. Some Jews who wanted to live in her were allowed to live on her ruins, outside the walls of the new city of Aelia. These ruins were on the hill known today as Mt. Zion. This in fact, is the site of original Jerusalem. Hadrian wanted it to be left in ruins next to his new city so that the world could see that Jupiter was the true God and the G-d of the Jews had failed to protect them.
Every conqueror after Hadrian built the city on the site of Aelia Capitolina. The Byzantine Christians of the days of Constantine deliberately left the Temple and the place of the original city of Jerusalem in ruins for the same reason as Hadrian. They called Aelia Capitolina Jerusalem and built the church of the Holy Sepulcher there.
Since then the Christian world saw that as Jerusalem. The Moslem conquerors of Jerusalem in the 7th cen didn't want to preserve the Christian holiness of the city so they adopted the Roman name, with slight alterations. They called the city Il Kuds. This is a translation of the Latin. Aelia has been changed into Il. Instead of meaning Jupiter, it is now the word "the". Capitolina is Latin for holy and the Arabic translation of that is Kuds. Hence the Arabic name of Jerusalem Il Kuds. To this day Moslems refer to Jerusalem as Il Kuds.
Jerusalem is a city that existed in history at a particular geographic location. No semantics in the world can charge historical fact. Thank goodness today the first administration of Jerusalem in 2000 yrs has begun searching for the truth. The discovery of the Broad Wall is only the beginning of the search.
(1) Neh. 2:8
(2) Ps 102:16, 127:1
(3) 2K 18:26,27, 2Ch 32:5,18. IS 22:9-10. IS 36:11
(4) 2K 19:15
Leon Gork (Tour Guide)
P.O.Box 4354 Jerusalem 91042
Tel/Fax 02 5810732....Cel.053 801867/823905
Treasurer:Jerusalem for Bicycles
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