Glimpses of Israel - The Stones Cry Out

by Joseph Hunting

Archaeology has been described as Israel's national past-time, and it may well be true that no other country or people pay such attention to the stones of their land as do Israelis. A similar observation is also made by the Psalmist: "For thy servants take pleasure in her stones and favour the dust thereof." (102:13).

Stones abound throughout the length and breadth of Israel. Buildings are beautified by them, farmers gather them into heaps, archaeologists dig for them and stones from Eilat are polished to adorn many a necklace. Yet nowhere in Israel do the "stones cry out" more than in Jerusalem.

Two thousand years ago a massive retaining wall was built by Herod the Great to shore up the Temple mount on its western side. One hundred years later the Temple and Jerusalem were levelled to the ground by the Romans on the exact anniversary of its previous destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. In the midst of the carnage and destruction the Roman general Titus gave an order that the only wall to be left intact was the Temple retaining wall. It was to stand as a memorial to future generations of the might and durability of the Romans who had crushed and destroyed the rebellious Jews and their city, Jerusalem.

The Western Wall remains. It is the focal point for every Israeli, and visitors to the land, Jew and non-Jew alike. The glory and might of the Romans have long departed but over the centuries countless Jewish hands and lips have caressed and kissed those stones in the expectancy that one day Messiah will restore Jerusalem to a glory not even known in Solomon's reign.

And just beyond the southern limits of the Temple mount archaeologists have recently uncovered the actual streets along which the crowds thronged when they shouted: "Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees among the multitude said unto Him, Master rebuke thy disciples. And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." (Luke 19:38-40)