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Did Herod build the Western wall?

                                                                          -by Yoni Myers

What a question! Anyone who’s been on the shortest of tours will tell you: “Sure, Herod built the Western wall, along with the rest of the Temple mount.” Various Midrashim discuss the poor people building the Western wall. Though it was Herod’s money and planning.

Well, an archaeological dig from 2009 puts doubt in this widely consented fact. Roni Reich discovered at the foot of the Western wall on the southern side a Hasmonaic Mikveh, dated to the second century BCE. This mikveh had to be filled so that the great western wall stones could be laid upon it. The Mikveh had been filled with gravel and stones. Underneath were a few scattered coins, as customary to that time. The latest of these coins dates to the year 17 CE! Herod died in the year 4 BCE!!

These coins seem to prove that the Western wall was built after Herod’s time. Roni Reich suggested that it was built by Agrippa, Herod’s grandson who ruled Judea during the years 41 – 44 CE. Between Herod and Agrippa Judea was governed by various roman procurators that had no interest in building the Temple.

The above is just mind blowing! I’ve discussed this with many tour guides and historians. My opinion is that we’ve seen what Herod was capable of: Masada, Herodion, Caesarea, awesome projects that in his time were considered close to impossible. The Temple mount is a greater project than the above. In the entire ancient world we do not find such a massive structure. Not in Egypt, Athens or Rome! Now, to come and say that someone else than Herod built it… There is a Hebrew saying: לא יעלה על הדעת!. Such an idea should not even be thought of!

It is plausible that the Southern area of the Western wall was not completed till after Herod’s death. We find in the Tunnels that construction on Herod’s street was halted in the middle.

Though it is food for thought!

All this and more on our weekly Friday tour of the Davidson Center and Kotel Tunnels…

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