Ancient Treasures and the Dead Sea Scrolls

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1st century CE

Through a Historian's Eyes

Yoseph ben Matityahu (37-100 CE) was born in Jerusalem and taken captive as one of the leaders of the great Jewish revolt against the Romans. He became a Roman citizen, known as Flavius Josephus, and a historian under the patronage of the Flavian Emperors. In his Jewish War, he described the Second Temple of Jerusalem after it had been enlarged and embellished by King Herod:

The exterior of the building wanted nothing that could astound either mind or eye. For, being covered on all sides with massive plates of gold, the sun was no sooner up than it radiated so fiery a flash that persons straining to look at it were compelled to avert their eyes, as from the solar rays. To approaching strangers it appeared from a distance like a snow-clad mountain; for all that was not overlaid with gold was of purest white.
Book Five, Chapter 5:222-223

The western retaining wall is part of the few remains of Herod's Temple mount still standing today. Known as the Wailing Wall, it is a place where Jews gather for contemplation and prayer.