Old Jerusalem's 'Broad Wall'

If only the stones of the Old City of Jerusalem could talk, what a tale they would tell! Fortunately, history has given a clue.

Shalom Pollack and Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 12:34

Old City walls of Jerusalem
Old City walls of Jerusalem
Israel news photo

If the stones could talk.....they would certainly chew our ears off in the Old City of Jerusalem! The recently revealed 'Broad Wall"  is one spot at the very center of all  the action in the Jewish Quarter, one of four in the area.

During the 1948 War of Independence the Arabs cut Jerusalem off on  three sides and the situation was critical for the 100,000 Jewish residents, who were reduced to starvation rations.

It was worse within the walls of the Old City.  When the Jordanian army joined the local Arab militias,  round-the-clock shelling of the Jewish Quarter began. Finally the tiny Jewish force and tattered population was forced to surrender after a lion-hearted fight.

Once again Jews were expelled from Jerusalem, through the bullet-pocked Zion Gate ( If  forget  thee Oh Zion...) All was destroyed, desecrated and lay in ruins, until the miraculous events of the Six Day War of June 1967. Israel returned to the Old City and was elated -- and aghast --  at what they found, total destruction and mayhem.

There were two silver linings in the cloud, however.

One was the ability to clear and build an even nicer, more comfortable Quarter. The other was the ability to actually dig and excavate under former homes for treasures more valuable than any mineral the earth can offer. Jerusalem of a century ago, a millenia,  two, or  three -- has been discovered and restored. Oh if the stones could only speak!

One of the more dramatic finds is the "Broad Wall" where 2,700 year ago a great wall surrounded First Temple Jerusalem. It was some 25 feet high and six feet thick. The lower remains of this wall were uncovered.

One of the most famous Biblical  pairs, King Hezekia and the  prophet Isaiah stood together atop the wall facing the challenge of their lives. Sancehrev, king of Assyria and world conquerer, sent Ravshaka, who spoke perfect Hebrew, to the starving and frightened Jewish population to demand surrender. He suggested they serve his master and live, or rely on the god of Israel and die a terrible death.

King Hezekia and his court  were distraught, and asked Isaiah what  they should do. The prophet replied, "Don't worry, G-d has  promised that  'not one arrow will strike Jeusalem and Sancherev will go back the way he came.'"

The Assyrian king boasted that each one of his soldiers would take one stone out of the walls and the city would be taken the next day. But that night a plague swept the vast army by morning, 185,000 soldiers were dead.

The king fled back to Ninveh, his capital, and there he was overheard by his two sons promising his favorite idol " that which is most dear to him if he saves him from this predicament." Deeply suspicious, the sons killed their father -- and Jerusalem stood for another 100 years, until the Babylonians broke through the walls.

As the Jews were exiled from their beloved Jerusalem to  the waters of Babylon and all were distraught, it was  the prophet Zacharia  who comforted them with a vision shown him. He said "There will yet  be children playing in the streets of Jerusalem..."

It is impossible to know for sure whether it was planned that way, but there is a playground just next to the broad wall -- and guess who plays there as the stones watch?  Zachariah's prophecy is true today as the quote is quite properly carved into the Jerusalem stone. The stones don't even have to talk.