When Hurdus expanded the Har Habayis, he made his expansion on one flat level. However, the original mountain slopes down, so they had to build vaulted chambers, as well as fills of earth and other stuff, to support the Har Habayis surface. Although most of these vaults were destroyed during the Churban, the southeastern vaults were later rebuilt, and support the southeastern part of the current plaza. This vaulted area is known as Shlomo's stables. The original vaults were probably used as storage rooms; and had windows to let in light. Near the triple gate, a window frame was found, this frame had grooves for metal bars, as well as holes for the hinges of the shutters to open and close it.
As mentioned in a previous post, running along the southern wall was a stepped walkway, 6.4 m (21 ft) wide. This walkway was built on top of rooms with vaulted roofs, these rooms most probably were stores. When the Romans destroyed Yerushalayim, they filled these stores up with wood, and lit them on fire. (The burning of this area of Yerushalayim is mentioned by Josephus, Wars 6:6:3.) The Har Habayis is mostly built from limestone, which crumbles and turns into powder when exposed to very hot temperatures (This is how lime (סיד) is made). Before these stores and the walkway totally collapsed from the heat, the fire left a burnt imprint on the Har Habayis wall, which was the back wall of these rooms, in the shape of the interior of these stores. These burnt marks have enabled us to figure out how the stores looked. (When the stones are examined closely, you can see that a semicircular line was scratched into the wall to help the builders build these vaults correctly.)
65.6 meters (215 feet) to the east of the double gate is the triple gate (sometimes called the eastern Chuldah gate). It is 15.5 meter (51 feet) wide; and is made up of three 4-meter (13-feet) wide arched doors, separated by two 1.8-meter (6-feet) wide piers. The lowest stone of the western gate jamb, which is part of the master course, has a decorative molding on it. This stone is the only surviving stone of the original Herodian gate that stood here, the rest of the gate is from a later period, most probably from the Umayyad period. During the Crusader period, when they turned this part of the wall into the city wall (as it is today), the crusaders blocked up this doorway.
This stone is 1.22 meter (4 feet) long, of which 76.5 centimeters (30 inches) on the left are dressed like regular Herodian stones, and the remaining 45.5 cm (18 in) on the right have the molding. The first 8 centimeters (3 inches) of the molding are a flat band to distinguish between the rest of the stone and the molding.
101 m (331 ft) east of the western edge of the southern wall is a double gate, almost the whole gate is still standing, besides for part of the easternmost doorpost. In front of this gate a tower was built during the crusader era, which covers up the western gate, and most of the eastern. (However, the gate itself was not sealed, and you can go from the tower through this gate.) The eastern gate was blocked up with small stones at the same time.
This gate is sometimes called the (Western) Chuldah gates, although these are not the actual gates the Mishna (Middos 1:3) mentions, as those were in the wall of the square, 500 amah Har Habayis, and these are in the wall of Hurdus's expansion. (However, since these gates led to the real Chuldah gates, you can call them "Sharey Chuldah", and that might be why the Kaftor Vaferach [Perek Vov] calls them Sharey Chuldah.) However, this (and the triple gate) might be the gates Josephus refers to when he writes (Antiquities 15:11:5) that there were gates in the middle of the southern Har Habayis wall.
Running along the southern wall was a stepped walkway, 6.4 m (21 ft) wide, with stores built under it. In front of this was a large plaza, with steps leading to the two gates in this wall.
The southern wall of Hurdus's expansion of Har Habayis, is 281 m (922 ft) long. This wall is approximately at a ninety-degree angle to the Western Wall. This wall is entirely from Hurdus's time, as can be seen from the style of the stones. This wall extends from Nachal Kidron in the east, to the Tyropoeon valley in the west; the western part of the wall is actually built over the valley. In this wall are two gates, the double gate and the triple gate, which we will Imy"h discus in future posts.
By the southwest corner of the Har Habayis, next to the gate above Robinson's arch, were chambers. On the roof of these chambers, a Kohen used to blow a trumpet every Friday, to signal that Shabbos is coming. During Binyamin Mazar's excavations, a stone was found, that mentioned this "Beis Hatekiah"-place of trumpeting. This corner is very suitable for this task, as it was high up, and faced the whole city, so it was easily heard. It was also right next to the main road of Yerushalayim, so everyone who was there knew it was time to close up shop and get ready for Shabbos.
Running under the main street of Yerushalayim was a large drainage channel, partly cut into the rock. This channel went from the north of the city to the south, passing on the west of the Shiloach pool and exiting the city there. This drain was originally built at some point before Hurdus's time and was roofed with flat stone slabs. When Hurdus expanded the Har Habayis, the walls cut this drain, so a "by-pass” (with a vaulted roof) was made to connect the two severed sections of the drain. This "bypass" cut through several underground caves and cisterns in the area. A network of channels brought the water from the street and nearby buildings to this drainage channel. One paving stone by the western curb of the street, (right by the southwest corner of Har Habayis,) has five slots in it, for the water to go down to these channels, and from there to the main drainage channel. When the Romans destroyed Yerushalayim, some Yidden tried hiding in this drainage channel, but the romans searched for them and found them, and killed them. (Josephus, Wars 6:9:4 [6:429]).
In the previous post, I wrote about the monumental dining hall built during the Second MIkdash era. However, this building underwent significant changes at some point before the Churban
In the post about Wilson's arch, I have described a monumental building located next to it, called by Warren the Masonic Hall. After writing that post, I found more information about the hall, the thick wall next to it, and the Mikva'os behind the pier of Wilson's arch. In the next few posts, I will redescribe these places, based on this new information.
At the southern corner of the Western wall, remains of an arch can be seen. In the times of the Beis Hamikdash, this arch supported a grand staircase which led up to the Har Habayis. It is mentioned by Josephus (Antiquities 15:11:5), who writes: Now in the western quarters of the enclosure of the temple there were four gates; the first led to the king's palace, and went to a passage over the intermediate valley; two more led to the suburbs of the city; and the last led to the other part of the city, where the road descended down into the valley by a great number of steps, and thence up again by the ascent.
Around eighty meters (265 feet) away from the southern corner of the western wall, right by the southern end of the Ezras Nashim by the Kosel, a large lintel, with a blocked-up gate underneath, can be seen. The bottom of this lintel is 2398 ft. 5 in. (731 m) above sea-level. This seems to be the second of the gates which Josephus (Antiquities 15:11:5) says led to the suburbs of the city. (The gate that led over a passage to the king's palace was on top of Wilson's arch, and the road that descended to the valley by a great number of steps was the one on top of Robinson's arch, so the two suburban gates must be Warren's and Barclay's gates.) However, this statement seems slightly problematic, because it opens up straight into the city. R' Zalman Menachem Koren writes (the Beit HaMikdash, pp 146-147) that probably, there is a scribal error here, and that originally, Josephus wrote that two gates led to the Tyropoeon, (meaning that it led to the Tyropoeon valley,) and a copyist mistakenly changed it to "proesteon", which is Greek for suburbs. [You can also explain that since the road that went from in front of this gate went outside the first wall, to the area inside the second wall, (as shown here) therefore Josephus says that the gate led to the suburbs.]
Around thirty meters to the south of Wilson's arch is the Kosel Plaza, where we daven. This section is 58 meters long. In a previous post I have theorized that the reason we daven specifically here is because the inner part of this wall is from Shlomo Hamelech's Har Habayis. (There are various sources (אלה מסעי עמוד ה-ו, מסעות א"י ע' 147, ליקוטים הביאו הב"ח או"ח סי' תקס"א) that say that the Kosel is from Shlomo Hamelech's times, and its foundations were built by Dovid Hamelech. However, this raises a question, because in the east wall of the Har Habayis we see stones from that time, and they are a different style, they are less smooth. Also, we do not see a seam in the western wall, where the original wall and Hurdus's wall would've met, like we see in the eastern wall. However, if we say that the outer stones that we see are actually Herodian, but there are more stones behind from the time of the first Beis Hamikdash, these questions get answered.
I have added sixteen pictures of the third Beis Hamikdash, as well as a new map of it.
My name is Mendel Lewis.
Hashem said to Yechezkel, "Its reading in the Torah is as great as its building. Go and say it to them, and they will occupy themselves to read the form of it in the Torah. And in reward for its reading, that they occupy themselves to read about it, I count it for them as if they were occupied with the building of it. (Tanchuma tzav 14)