We recently took the 80 minute guided tour called “Behind the Scenes of The Western Wall.” The main reason I signed up for this tour was to revisit a Monumental Hall from the late Second Temple Period (New Testament era).
View looking northwest at the northern and western walls of the hall. Click on Images to Enlarge and/or Download.
Note the finely finished stones in both walls as well as the chest high decorative horizontal ridge/railing that separates the lower and upper portion of the walls. Near the corner of the west (left) wall note the delicately carved protruding pilaster.
I visited this all in the 1970’s with Gabi Barkai and I thought he said it might be Hasmonean. But our guide said it was Herodian (37–4 B.C.) with possibly some Hasmonean elements.
I am not sure of its function but it certainly is “monumental.” In my Zondervan Atlas of the Bible I labeled it as a “Public Building” (p. 250).
View of the northeastern corner of the Monumental Hall.
In the above image note the delicate protruding pilaster to the right of the center of the image and to the left of center note the well–defined horizontal “railing” that is about chest high that separates the lower and upper portions of the wall.
View looking at the southeastern corner of the Monumental Hall.
On the left (east) wall there are two huge doorways. Note the large carved doorposts and the huge lintels. Currently these doorways lead to the ritual bath that I described in my previous post, but originally they may have led to something else.
I believe that that far wall, with a doorway and other openings is secondary, and that the original hall extended farther south.
Could this have been the hall where the Sanhedrin met? If so, possibly Jesus, some apostles, Stephen, and/or Paul appeared here. (Unconfirmed speculation)
I am away from my library and am on the road, and could not verify all of my musings above. The early explorer Charles Warren called this structure the “Hall of the Freemasons (see below). Additional comments/suggestions/correction are appreciated.
Not my “cup of tea” below.
From the Gallery of Masonic Sights from Israel
Hall of the Freemasons, Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel.
Discovered and named by the Freemason, Bro. Lieutenant Charles Warren [!] during the excavations of the late 1860’s near Wilson’s Arch. Second Temple construction by Zerubbabel (536-516 BCE).