Mount of Olives

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Essa Grayeb on October 2, 2007

The Mount of Olives (also Mount Olivet, Hebrew: הר הזיתים‎, Har HaZeitim; Arabic: جبل الزيتون, الطور, Jebel ez-Zeitun, Jebel et-Tur, "Mount of the Summit") is a mountain ridge to the east of Jerusalem. It is named from the olive trees with which its sides are clothed. At the foot of the mountain is the Gardens of Gethsemane where Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives is the site of many important Biblical events. Roman soldiers from the 10th Legion camped on the Mount during the Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD, which lead to the destruction of the city.

In the Book of Zechariah the Mount of Olives is identified as the place from which God will begin to redeem the dead at the end of days. For this reason, Jews have always sought to be buried on the mountain, and from Biblical times to the present day the mountain has been used as a cemetery for the Jews of Jerusalem. There are an estimated 150,000 graves on the Mount, including those of many famous figures such as Zechariah (who prophesied there) (though, this is most likely not the prophet's actual tomb), Yad Avshalom (likewise, almost certainly not Yad Avshalom's actual tomb), and a host of great rabbis from the 15th to the 20th centuries including Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel.

Major damage was suffered while the Mount was controlled by Jordan between the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and 1967, with Jordanians using the gravestones from the cemetery for construction of roads and army latrines, including gravestones from millennia-old graves. The late King Hussein permitted the construction of the Intercontinental Hotel at the summit of the Mount of Olives together with a road that cut through the cemetery which destroyed hundreds of Jewish graves, some of which were from the First Temple Period. Some fifty thousand Jewish graves out of a total seventy thousand were destroyed or defaced during the nineteen years of Jordanian rule. After the Six-Day War, the Israelis painstakingly repatriated as many of the surviving gravestones as possible. The modern neighbourhood of A-Tur is located on the mountain's summit.

[edit] Biblical references The Mount of Olives is first mentioned in connection with David's flight from Jerusalem through the rebellion of Absalom (2 Samuel 15:30), and is only once again mentioned in the Old Testament, in Zechariah 14:4. It is, however, frequently alluded to (I Kings 11:7; II Kings 23:13; Nehemiah 8:15; Ezekiel 11:23).

It is frequently mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 21:1;26:30, etc.). The road from Jerusalem to Bethany runs over the mount as it did in Biblical times. According to the Bible, it was on this mount that Jesus stood when he wept over Jerusalem.

Jesus is said to have spent a good deal of time on the mount, teaching and prophesying to his disciples (Matthew 24-25), including the Olivet discourse, returning after each day to rest (Luke 21:37), and also coming there on the night of his betrayal (Matthew 26:39).

This mount, or rather mountain range, has four summits or peaks: (1) the "Galilee" peak, so called from a tradition that the angels stood here when they spoke to the disciples (Acts 1:11); (2) the "Mount of Ascension," the supposed site of that event, which was, however, somewhere probably nearer Bethany (Luke 24:51, 52); (3) the "Prophets," from the catacombs on its side, called "the prophets' tombs;" and (4) the "Mount of Corruption," so called because of the "high places" erected there by Solomon for the idolatrous worship of his foreign wives (I Kings 11:7; II Kings 23:13).

The Mount of Olives is also the site of the prophecy of Zechariah and Ezekiel's theophany.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on October 2, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Essa Grayeb
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX Optio S45
    • Taken on 2007/10/01 18:38:24
    • Exposure: 0.250s (1/4)
    • Focal Length: 6.80mm
    • F/Stop: f/2.800
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash