70 AD

- נ ת ה -

The Western Wall, the most venerated remnant of the Temple in Jerusalem

70 AD

Jerusalem is surrounded by steep valleys and ravines from the west, south, and east. Though the north is technically more accessible, one must pass through three separate walls – built to protect the new neighborhoods that had emerged in previous decades – before reaching Temple Mount. Temple Mount itself is also fortified with tall walls and towers. Titus therefore decides to attack from the northwest, as this is the city’s most vulnerable area. Though Josephus tries to persuade the defenders on the ramparts to reach a compromise and save Jerusalem and the Temple, his cries fall on deaf ears. The rebels are determined to fight the Romans to the death.

Titus’ soldiers begin an assault using their battering rams. On the 15th day, a segment of Jerusalem’s third wall finally collapses. The attackers approach the second wall. However, John of Gischala’s men fend them off, while Simon bar Giora defends the upper city’s walls. Titus then proceeds to crucify captives around the city, in a move to warn and dissuade the rebels. The second wall eventually also collapses. There is now only one wall standing between the Romans and the Temple.

Josephus desperately tries to convince his obstinate brethren to save the city and their own lives. He shares his knowledge with the rebels and makes every effort to reach a compromiseyet all of his attempts fail.

“And now, upon the finishing the Roman works, the workmen measured the distance there was from the wall, and this by lead and a line, which they threw to it from their banks; for they could not measure it any otherwise, because the Jews would shoot at them, if they came to measure it themselves; and when they found that the engines could reach the wall, they brought them thither. Then did Titus set his engines at proper distances, so much nearer to the wall, that the Jews might not be able to repel them, and gave orders they should go to work” (Josephus Flavius, The Jewish Wars, Book 5, Chapter 6, paragraph 4)

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