It’s never long before a new discovery is unearthed in the historically rich land of Israel. Just scratch the surface and the ground shouts out its story! It’s well known that the second temple was built upon the ruins of the first, but who could have imagined that an opulent municipal building built some 2000 years ago1 would be discovered just meters away from its modern day counterpart? Yet this is just what has been found in Jerusalem.
In the time of Jesus, right before the fall of Jerusalem, a lot of wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few. The warnings and words of Jesus testify to the existence of a rich elite in his time and archeology confirms that they loved to show off their wealth. Designed with grandeur in mind, this huge public building included spectacular fountain features and dramatic dimensions to impress those using the city hall on the way to the temple.
“It is a truly magnificent building, one of the most splendid public buildings we know of dating from the Second Temple period.”
Israel Antiques Authority
Thought to have been in use in the 20s and 30s of the first century, excavation director Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah explained, “the building, which apparently stood along a street leading up to the Temple Mount, was used for public functions—it may even have been the city council building where important dignitaries were received before entering the Temple compound and the Temple Mount.”2
Preparing to welcome tourists
While Israel has been bereft of tourists, there has been a lot of work going on to prepare for their eagerly anticipated arrival. With an economy heavily dependent on tourism, the pandemic has been a catastrophe in more ways than one, but emptier streets have come in handy. Many of the paths of Jerusalem’s Old City have been made wheelchair accessible for the first time, with elevators and handrails opening up new possibilities to disabled visitors. The City of David Museum has been revamped and expanded and a new light rail has been built in Tel Aviv, to name a few of the upgrades. Intriguing underground tunnels are waiting to be explored in the Western Wall Tunnels Tour which has been developed with new attractions, such as this splendid underground hall, carefully designed with visitors in mind.3
I was privileged to see the underground pilgrim’s road that goes up from the Pool of Siloam to the temple while it was still closed to the public, and the atmosphere was electric. The land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem are very exciting places to be for archaeologists, and for those who love the Bible. It is a place of past, present and future, built into the very fabric of the stones. God is a God of geography, history and all of time.
- Times of Israel, Opulent 2,000-year-old ‘city hall’ unearthed near Western Wall in Jerusalem,8 July 2021
- Israel Hayom, Magnificent 2,000-year-old ‘city hall’ unearthed near Western Wall, 9 July 2021
- Jewish News Syndicate, The best new experiences await tourists to Israel, Abigail Klein Leichman, July 11, 2021