Wayne Stiles has never recovered from his travels in the Holy Land. Follow him on Twitter (@WayneStiles) or on his blog at www.waynestiles.com.
the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, archeologists were finally able
to do extensive digging in the Jewish Quarter under the sponsorship of
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Exploration Society, and
the Israel Antiquities Authority. Among other things, they discovered a
first-century house that the Romans had burned in AD 70 along with the
Measuring about 30 square feet, the Burnt House
had a Mikveh, a kitchen, a courtyard, and four rooms. These seven spaces
made up the first level of what would have stood as a much larger home.
the house, archeologists discovered scorched beams and stones and
layers of ash that revealed the house had been destroyed by fire. The
wooden ceiling collapsed under its own weight, burying this house for
20th-century archaeologists to find. Interestingly, the bones from a
woman’s forearm were found in the kitchen area. After discovery, they
call it coincidence. Some call it Providence. But according to
tradition, both the First Temple in 586 BC and the Second Temple in AD
70 were destroyed on the same date in history.
Tisha B’Av marks
the 9th day of the month of Av—the fifth Jewish month. The Babylonian
Talmud lists no less than five tragedies that occurred on Tisha B’Av
throughout history: “Five
calamities happened to our ancestors on . . . the 9th of Ab: . . . it
was decreed that our ancestors should not enter the Holy Land; on that
day the first and second Temples were destroyed, the city of Bethar was
taken, and the site (of Jerusalem) was ploughed up (like a field).”
(Babylonian Talmud, Book 4)
After the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem, the prophet Zechariah recorded a question they asked about Tisha B’Av:
“Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years?” (Zechariah 7:3)
instituted a fast to commemorate the Temple's destruction. Their
question made sense. They observed the fast in exile, but should they
continue to fast on Tisha B’Av now that they were building the Second
Temple? God’s reply took them another direction (Zechariah 7:5-6). The
only fast the Hebrew Scriptures required occurred on Yom Kippur. The
fast on Tisha B’Av was voluntary.
destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 also occurred on Tisha B’Av.
Along with the Temple, the Romans torched the lavish homes on the
Western Hill of Jerusalem.
Josephus described the Romans destroying this neighborhood as follows:
went in numbers into the lanes of the city with their swords drawn,
they slew those whom they overtook without and set fire to the houses
whither the Jews were fled, and burnt every soul in them, and laid waste
a great many of the rest.” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, VI 8.5)
The Burnt House was one of these homes.
the Burnt House today, visitors can examine the rooms an the artifacts
archaeologists discovered: inkwells, cooking utensils, a spear, and
money—the latest coin dating to AD 69. A weight bore the inscription of
the family of Kathros. A video tells visitors the story.
to miss the Burnt House if you’re not looking for it. Walking along the
Tir’eret Israel Street in the Jewish Quarter, the Burnt House is just
west of Misgav Ladach Street.
<Wayne Stiles has never recovered from his travels in the Holy Land. Follow him on Twitter (@WayneStiles) or on his blog at www.waynestiles.com.