As the disciples of Jesus walked through the courtyards of Herod’s Temple, they took pride in what they saw to the Lord. And in their boasts, they showed a strong sense of national pride in the stunning buildings. And there were excellent grounds to be proud of the temple and the structures that surrounded the Sanctuary. It was spectacular and stunning. It was the center point of the Nation of Israel. Though the Jewish people were subjects of the Roman Empire, they took pride in their temple. And they ought to have been. But then Jesus forecasted its destruction in 70 AD as we will show via prophetic evidence.
“Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” – Matthew 24:2
Regardless of their pride, in some ways, it wasn’t even theirs. Historians classified it Herod’s Temple. Moses, per God’s direction, constructed the tabernacle that acted as the design template for the later temples that were to follow. King David attempted to construct the very first temple and made the required preparations. However the Lord informed him to wait. His son, Solomon, constructed the very first temple on the older, and a smaller sized temple mount.
The scriptures properly ascribe that very first structure as God’s house. Historians labeled it Solomon’s Temple. However the Jews were unfaithful, and as God’s prophets forecasted, they were taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylon. After seventy years, Cyrus allowed their independence and revisit the land. Ezra, Nehemiah, and others arranged a disjointed effort to restore the temple and Jerusalem. The reconstructed temple at no time reached the magnificence and national pride that Solomon’s very first temple accomplished.
Herod, a pagan leader chosen by Rome, did what the Jews failed to do. A number of the post-captivity prophets chastised the Jewish people for that failure. They were given the freedom to reconstruct their temple. However their concern of enemies and a lack of dedication to God resulted in the temple reconstruction to go slowly and gradually. Herod completed the task, and therefore he got the credit for it.
However what about Jesus’ prophecy that not one stone would remain sitting upon another?
Jesus stated that not one stone would sit upon another. The whole structure of the temple and it’s surrounding buildings would encounter utter devastation.
Did that take place? Historians verify that it did. Josephus, a Jewish historian working on behalf of Rome gave the world with a first-hand account of the destruction.
“There were great quantities of gold and silver which had been placed in the Temple for safekeeping. This melted and ran down between the rocks and into the cracks of the stones that formed the Temple and the wall around it. When the Roman soldiers finally took the city, in their greed to obtain this gold and silver they took long bars and pried apart these massive stones. Thus, quite literally, not one stone was left standing upon another.”
However if anybody doubts that claim, they can go to the temple mount today. They will not discover one stone of Herod’s Temple sitting upon another. Not just that, they will not discover one stone of Herod’s Temple anywhere on the temple mount.
Please make a careful review of the temple mount picture shown above. In the picture, we see an artist’s depiction of the Temple and the buildings that surrounded the temple. All of those buildings, structures, and the House of God were totally demolished when the Roman legions assaulted Jerusalem in 70 AD.
The Wailing Wall or Western Wall was not part of Herod’s Temple – it was part of the Temple Mount – and a huge retaining wall for the courtyard on which the Temple sat.
Essentially, when Herod restored the Second Temple after its destruction, he could not broaden the building itself, because it’s measurements were fixed by Scripture. He desired something grand, however, so he constructed a huge retaining wall around the top of Mount Moriah. The Temple itself sat atop the mount – the courtyard stood out from the hilltop.
When the Romans demolished Herod’s Temple in 70 AD, the building was levelled, however the mount itself remained. What you see today is the Dome of the Rock (that would be to the right of Herod’s Temple) and the El-Aqsa Mosque to the Left. The Courtyard remains.
When you visit today, you are at the base of the retaining wall.