I understand that there is a general Jewish tradition that the Western Wall/Kotel was built by the poor (I believe under the command of King Solomon) (link). What is the source for the tradition (being built by the poor, but also when it was built)? All archeology has uncovered is that it was built after the year 20 CE (link).

From Aish:

2) Eternal Symbol

The Sages prophesied that even after the Temple's destruction, the Divine Presence would never leave the Western Wall, and that the Wall will never be destroyed. The Wall is endowed with everlasting sanctity, as the Talmud says: "And I will make your sanctuaries desolate" (Leviticus 26:31) – this means that the sanctuaries retain their sanctity even when they are desolate.

Jerusalem was destroyed and rebuilt nine times. And through it all, one symbol remained intact: the Western Wall.

5) Built with Love and Dedication

When the Temple was being built, the work was divided among different sectors of the population. The building of the Western Wall fell to the poor, and they worked hard to construct it, as they could not afford to hire laborers to do their work for them.

When the enemy destroyed the Temple, the angels descended from on high and – spreading their wings over the Wall – said: "This Wall, the work of the poor, shall never be destroyed." (from "Legends of the Land of Israel")

From NBC News regarding archeological finds (this archaeological data is available elsewhere, I just figured a news source would be considered reliable). I understand it doesn't seem to fit in line with Aish's article, but I'm bringing it here as it's the only physical evidence that relates to the subject of my question:

Newly found coins underneath Jerusalem's Western Wall could change the accepted belief about the construction of one of the world's most sacred sites two millennia ago, Israeli archaeologists said Wednesday....

The coins were found inside a ritual bath that predated construction of the renovated Temple Mount complex and which was filled in to support the new walls, Reich said....

They show that construction of the Western Wall had not even begun at the time of Herod's death. Instead, it was likely completed only generations later by one of his descendants.

  • I don't see where the link cited suggests that this was done during the time of Solomon. Although the wording may be a bit imprecise I don't see anything which would preclude it from being part of Herod's renovation.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Commented Jun 29, 2013 at 1:55
  • 1
    @Yirmeyahu Herod died in 4 BCE
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 29, 2013 at 21:58
  • @Yirmeyahu I drew an inference from the sentence "Jerusalem was destroyed and rebuilt nine times. And through it all, one symbol remained intact: the Western Wall." I have heard elsewhere it was built by Solomon, but the very point of my question is that I am looking for good sources from you guys.
    – A L
    Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 4:16
  • A L, if your source states that the wall not only was built in Solomon's time but is extant since then (i.e. is the same wall as was built then), you should include that in your question. (Otherwise, people might think the answer to your subquestion "when it was built[]? All archeology has uncovered is that it was built after the year 20 CE" could be that two different walls are under discussion.
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 6:37
  • 1
    The idea that the Kosel Hama'aravi is ancient in origin is written explicitly in the Medrash Shir Hashirim Rabba (which is both authentic and over a millennia in age), on the words "Hinei zeh omeid achar kosleinu". It does not mention the poor, so this is not an answer to your question, per se, but the Midrash does insist that the Kotel is both ancient and eternal.
    – LN6595
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 22:53

1 Answer 1


Eretz Chemda 28 says that the Western Wall / Kosel HaMaaravi was originally built by King David.

I sent an e-mail to Aish and received the following response.

As for the story about the angels saying "This Wall, the work of the poor, shall never be destroyed" -- a book called “Agadot Eretz Yisrael” by Ze’ev Vilnai records and notes that it is "a legend." Three other books mention this story -- see "HaBayit Hayehudi" by R' Aharon Zakai (IV pg. 310), "HaRovah HaYehudi" by Ahron Bir (pg. 1), "Yerushalayim" by Yitzchak Shapiro (p. 183). On the website page, I have noted that this is "a popular Jewish legend."

So there is no legitimate source that the Kosel HaMaaravi was built by the poor.

  • shtaygen.co.il/?CategoryID=1186&ArticleID=3348 Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 17:07
  • Note that what we call the Kotel is not the western wall of the Temple.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 17:11
  • @GershonGold I don't feel like this fully answers my question. Also, I'm not good with Hebrew, so I would appreciate if you could translate as a blockquote the part you are referencing. Also please explain, if you can, who wrote that, when, and what they're basing themselves on, as I don't know anything about the Eretz Chemda.
    – A L
    Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 20:38
  • @GershonGold Thank you, let's see what turns up.
    – A L
    Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 20:45

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