At Western Wall, burst pipe mistaken for messiah
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At Western Wall, burst pipe mistaken for messiah

Water spotted flowing from Temple Mount sparks short-lived excitement at the prospect of imminent redemption

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

The discovery of walls dripping with water is normally met with frustration and ire, as the slippery sight often signals an inconvenient plumbing problem and expensive repairs.

But for some visitors to Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Tuesday, such an outpouring triggered jubilation rather than irritation. Faced with the sight of water flowing from the ancient stones, the worshipers interpreted the drizzle as no less than a harbinger of the coming of the messiah.

According to biblical prophecy, the arrival of the messiah will be accompanied by a great awakening of nature across the Holy Land, beginning with water gushing out of “the house of the Lord” in Jerusalem to fill all the rivers of Israel.

“In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias,” describes the Old Testament prophet Joel, according to the New International translation.

The book of Zechariah says that we will know the messiah is coming when “living waters will flow out of Jerusalem.”

But despite the initial excitement, maintenance workers were forced to curb the enthusiasm of the hopeful believers. They said the leak, which was detected in the indoor expansion of the men’s section known as Wilson’s Arch, was just the result of a burst water pipe.

According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, a pipe had exploded on the Temple Mount adjacent to the Western Wall and the water seeped into the stones, making its way to the prayer section.

After locating the source, maintenance teams plugged the leak, stanching the mysterious flow and curtailing the prospect of redemption, at least for the time being.

It wasn’t the first time that water leaking from the walls of the Temple Mount caused a messianic stir. A few years ago water was spotted emanating from stones next to the Border Police station adjacent to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. Despite excitement similar to that expressed this week, it eventually emerged that the leak was caused by a blockage in the police station’s bathroom, the Walla news site reported.

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