History records that the Roman Emperor Hadrian planned to rebuild Jerusalem to its former glory after its destruction in 70 A.D. But after the Jewish revolt of 132-135 A.D., he decided to obliterate any remnant of the Jews and rebuild Jerusalem as a Roman city. This he did, and renamed the city “Aelia Capitolina.” He also renamed Israel “Palestina,” the Latin name for the Philistines, the ancient enemies of Israel.
The new city was built around a typical Roman Cardo, a major north-south thoroughfare, which has been recently discovered in archaeological excavations. The construction of the Cardo caused the destruction of remaining Jewish homes that were in the way.
Hadrian also sought to obliterate the symbols of that Jewish sect, the Christians. His action was not anti-Christian, it was anti-Jewish. Using Herodian-style ashlars (huge foundation stones) that were probably from the destroyed Temple, Hadrian erected a wall around the tomb of Jesus and the nearby place where He was crucified, which was just outside the city wall. The walls were then filled with dirt and ultimately covered with paving stones. Upon this platform was built a temple to the pagan goddess Venus. The Greek equivalent of Venus is Aphrodite.
Since this action was taken only about sixty-five years after the destruction of Jerusalem and only about one-hundred years after the crucifixion of Jesus, it is probable that the location of the tomb of Jesus and of Calvary was well known. It must have been for Hadrian to take such decisive and expensive action as building the foundation wall and moving tons of earth.
It is interesting that Hadrian, in his drive to obliterate anything Jewish, did not destroy the traditional Temple Mount. In the opinion of many, the reason was that the Temple Mount was not the location of the Jewish Temple of God, but was the Roman fort Antonia.
Hadrian may have obscured the location of the tomb and Calvary, but at the same time he preserved the location. Less than 200 years after the temple of Venus was completed, the Bishop of Jerusalem petitioned Emperor Constantine to tear down the pagan temple and uncover the tomb of Jesus. This was done and later a church was built over the tomb. It was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The church was later destroyed by the Persians in 638, rebuilt and then destroyed yet again by the Muslims in 1009. The church building we see today was completed by the Knights Templar in 1149.
Today the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a bit of a circus. There are hordes of tourists, the trappings of man’s religious tradition are everywhere, and the noise of a nearby mosque contribute to the mix. As “unholy” as this site is currently being presented, I believe it could be the actual location of the tomb of Jesus. I believe that the location of the tomb of Jesus (and therefore, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) was marked out before it could be lost in the mists of time. This loss is also what happened to the Tomb of David, Mount Zion, other features of ancient Jerusalem and possibly the Temple itself.
I was able to look inside what I believe to be the correct tomb. While in Israel we saw two or three tombs proclaimed as the tomb of Jesus. No matter, they were all empty! Praise the Lord for raising Jesus from the dead!