USA Today reports that Senator John McCain visited the Western Wall during his visit in Israel. This is not uncommon for political figures. Travelers to Israel want to see the Western Wall, or as many of them call it, “The Wailing Wall.”
The Western Wall is the western side of the enclosure wall built around the temple mount by Herod the Great. Herod’s wall would have been seen by Jesus and His disciples on their many visits to Jerusalem. Since 1967, after Israel took control of the Old City of Jerusalem, a large portion of the Western Wall has been exposed. The portion we see in our photograph now serves as a place for prayer. It is divided into two portions, one for men, and one for women.
The temple platform is where Solomon’s temple (966-586 B.C.), the temple of Zerubbabel (built 520-516 B.C.), and Herod’s temple (building began about 19 B.C.), once stood. According to the Gospel of John, work continued on Herod’s temple for 46 years.
Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?” (John 2:20, NET Bible).
This old photo from the Matson Collection shows the Wailing Wall sometime between 1900 and 1920. This is the way the wall looked when I first saw it in May, 1967. At that time the area was under Jordanian control and no worshipers were present. Notice how small the area is, and how few rows of stone are visible.