Wailing wall
Posted: 18 May 2017 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’d been wondering just how old the epithet is after finding to my surprise that it isn’t a Jewish term at all but a Christian one. OED gives this 1878 cite for a similar term with the actual phrase showing up in 1919.

1878 J. Fergusson Temples of Jews ii. xii. 183 The most interesting particular mentioned by the Pilgrim is the ‘Lapis Pertusus’, which was then the Wailing Place of the Jews.
1919 Q. Rev. Apr. 328 To the Jews the principal Holy Place is the Wailing Wall, the fragment of the Wall of the Temple at which the Jews perpetually mourn for their lost glories and pray for the restoration of them.

I would have expected it to be older but then I thought the Jews called it that so clearly my expectations are anything but great. Has it historically been the Western Wall to Jews and Christians alike before the 19th century? And what is the translation of Lapis Pertusus?

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Posted: 18 May 2017 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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According to Wikipedia, descriptions of the western wall as a place of weeping or wailing originated in Arabic.

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Posted: 18 May 2017 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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What a long and detailed article that is, I should have thought to check that. al-Mabkā, the place of weeping. No sign in the article of just when the Arabs started calling it that and in fact some indication that it predated the Arab conquest. See the following from the third paragraph of the wiki.

During the period of Christian Roman rule over Jerusalem (ca. 324–638), Jews were completely barred from Jerusalem except to attend Tisha be-Av, the day of national mourning for the Temples, and on this day the Jews would weep at their holy places. The term “Wailing Wall” was thus almost exclusively used by Christians, and was revived in the period of non-Jewish control between the establishment of British Rule in 1920 and the Six-Day War in 1967.

BTW that ‘almost exclusively used by the Christians’ seems to contradict the evidence the wiki cites of Arab usage. But I have to confess that I know far more about the term now than I did before reading the article. Thank you for the link, Doc.

As for lapis pertusus I find it translated here as ‘rock with a hole’. Does that make sense in relation to the Wailing Wall?

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Posted: 18 May 2017 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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If this source (p. 290) is to be believed, the lapis pertusus refers to several niches in the wall.

I would translate lapis pertusus as “perforated stone,” but “rock with a hole” is just as good.

BTW that ‘almost exclusively used by the Christians’ seems to contradict the evidence the wiki cites of Arab usage.

Not really. It’s English, not Arabic, even if the English term is a loose translation of an original Arabic term ("place of weeping” not “wailing wall").

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