2021 - 2022
MOUNT OF OLIVES
The Mount of Olives is first mentioned in connection with David's flight from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:30): "And David went up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up." The ascent was probably east of the City of David, near the village of Silwan. The sacred character of the mount is alluded to in the Book of Ezekiel 11:23: "And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city." The biblical designation Mount of Corruption, or in Hebrew Har HaMashchit (1 Kings 11:7–8), derives from the idol worship there, begun by King Solomon building altars to the gods of his Moabite and Ammonite wives on the southern peak, "on the mountain which is before (east of) Jerusalem" (1 Kings 11:7), just outside the limits of the holy city. This site was known for idol worship throughout the First Temple period, until the king of Judah, Josiah, finally destroyed "the high places that were before Jerusalem, to the right of Har HaMashchit..."(2 Kings 23:13). An apocalyptic prophecy in the Book of Zechariah states that YHWH will stand on the Mount of Olives and the mountain will split in two, with one half shifting north and one half shifting south (Zechariah 14:4). According to the Masoretic Text, people will flee through this newly formed valley to a place called Azal (Zechariah 14:5). The Septuagint (LXX) has a different reading of Zechariah 14:5 stating that a valley will be blocked up as it was blocked up during the earthquake during King Uzziah's reign. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus mentions in Antiquities of the Jews that the valley in the area of the King's Gardens was blocked up by landslide rubble during Uzziah's earthquake. Israeli geologists Wachs and Levitte identified the remnant of a large landslide on the Mount of Olives directly adjacent to this area. Based on geographic and linguistic evidence, Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau, a 19th-century lingui,st and archeologist in Palestine, theorized that the valley directly adjacent to this landslide is Azal. This evidence accords with Zechariah 14:5 which states that the valley will be blocked up as far as Azal. The valley he identified (which is now known as Wady Yasul in Arabic, and Nahal Etzel in Hebrew) lies south of both Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Many Jews have wanted to be buried on the Mount of Olives since antiquity, based on the Jewish tradition (from the Biblical verse Zechariah 14:4) that when the Messiah comes, the resurrection of the dead will begin there. There are an estimated 150,000 graves on the Mount, including tombs traditionally associated with Zechariah and Absalom. On the upper slope, the traditional Tomb of the Prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi is situated. Notable rabbis buried on the mount include Chaim ibn Attar and others from the 15th century to the present day. The Mount of Olives is frequently mentioned in the New Testament as part of the route from Jerusalem to Bethany and the place where Jesus stood when he wept over Jerusalem. Jesus spent 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 John 8:1), and also coming there on the night of his betrayal. At the foot of the Mount of Olives lies the Garden of Gethsemane. The New Testament tells how Jesus and his disciples sang together – "When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" Gospel of Matthew 26:30. Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives according to Acts 1:9–12.