A footbridge leads from the Western Wall to the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City June 2, 2015. Picture taken June 2, 2015. | (Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
The presence of foxes near the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism in the Old City of Jerusalem, has some saying that fulfillment of biblical prophecy is materializing.
The image of foxes at the site of the Jewish temple appears in Lamentations 5:18, the King James Version of which reads: “Because of Mount Zion which lies desolate, the foxes walk upon it.”
Some translations render the animals in that verse as “jackals.”
The recent sighting of the foxes scurrying about the Temple grounds is serving as a timely reminder of the desolation the Jews have historically experienced.
Beginning Saturday evening the Jewish people will observe Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.
On this day Jews mark the culmination of the Three Weeks — a period of mourning to mark the destruction of the first and second Jewish Temples. During this time they fast as a people, deprive themselves, and pray.
Twice in history have the Holy Temples been destroyed on this date.
In 423 B.C. the First Temple was burned by the Babylonians. In 70 AD, the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Other tragedies have beset the Jewish people on this day in history including their expulsion from England in 1290 and their banishment from Spain in 1492, according to Chabad.org.
While images of foxes near the Temple Mount are seen by some as painful reminders of past losses, Jewish news forums and outlets appear hopeful and consoled in light of a famous rabbinical commentary on the Talmud — the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend — that was written approximately 2,000 years ago.
This specific portion of the Talmud, Makkot 24b, speaks of a group of rabbis — Gamliel, Elazar ben Azaria, Joshua, and Akiva — as they go up to Jerusalem.
Upon arriving at the Temple Mount they see a fox coming out of the Holy of Holies, it is explained. As they see the wild animal the rabbis, except Akiva, all begin weeping; Akiva, however, starts to laugh.
When Rabbi Akiva inquires of the other rabbis as to why they are crying, they explain that to see a wild animal in a holy place, which is off-limits to unfit men, is upsetting.
Rabbi Akiva then says that this was exactly why he laughed, explaining that if the ancient prophecies pertaining to Israel’s destruction are accurate — such as Micah 3:18 which foretells of Zion becoming “heaps of ruin” — so also are the prophetic scriptures about Israel’s future flourishing, such as Zechariah 8:4-5.
“Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there,” the NIV of the passage reads.