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Mount of Olives


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, according to tradition. The Mount of Olives is the site of many important Biblical events.

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. Just a few of these include the tomb of Zechariah (who prophesied there), Yad Avshalom, and a host of great rabbis from the 15th to the 20th centuries including Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel.

Mount of Olives with effects
Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel
Olive Trees on the Mount of Olives
Olive Trees on the Mount of Olives

Major damage was suffered while the Mount was occupied by Jordan between the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and 1967, with Jordanians using the gravestones from the cemetery for construction of roads and toilets, including gravestones from millennia-old graves. When Israel occupied the area in 1967, 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.

Tombs on the Mount of Olives
Tombs on the Mount of Olives
Old Tombs on the Mount of Olives
Old Tombs on the Mount of Olives

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), 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;"
  • (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

Previous information and pictures obtained from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_of_Olives"

Additional Information obtained from Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 16 Nov. 2006 .

Arabic Jabal At-tur, Hebrew Har Ha-zetim, multisummited limestone ridge just east of the Old City of Jerusalem and separated from it by the Kidron valley. Frequently mentioned in the Bible and later religious literature, it is holy both to Judaism and to Christianity. Politically, it is part of the municipality of Greater Jerusalem placed under direct Israeli administration following the Six-Day War of 1967; it is not part of the West Bank (Judaea and Samaria) territory.

The peak usually regarded as the Mount of Olives proper is the southern summit, 2,652 feet (808 m) above sea level. The middle peak (2,645 feet [806 m]) is crowned by the Augusta Victoria Hospital; at the north is the highest peak, commonly called Mount Scopus (Hebrew: Har ha-Zofim; Arabic: R'as al-Masharif; 2,694 feet [820 m]).

First mentioned in the Bible as the “ascent of the Mount of Olives” (2 Samuel 15), it is referred to in the book of Zechariah in the prophecy of the end of days (Zechariah 14).

The Mount of Olives is frequently mentioned in the New Testament; from it, Jesus entered Jerusalem at the beginning of the last week of his life (Matthew 21:1; Mark 11:1); his prophecies of the apocalyptic fall of Jerusalem were delivered there. The traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed just before he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot (Matthew 26; Mark 14), is shown on the western slopes. One of the traditional sites of the Ascension is on the mountain (Acts 1:12). From at least the 4th century AD, Christian churches and shrines have been built there; a number of denominations are now represented. According to ancient Jewish tradition, the messianic era will commence on the Mount of Olives; for this reason, its slopes have been the most sacred burial ground in Judaism for centuries.

On Mount Scopus (north) the cornerstone of the Hebrew University was laid by Chaim Weizmann in 1918; the campus was opened by Lord Balfour in 1925. By 1948 many buildings had been built, including the Jewish National and University Library (1929) and the Rothschild-Hadassah University Hospital (1934), one of the largest in the Middle East. After Israel's War of Independence (1948–49), the university area on Mount Scopus was an exclave (detached portion) of sovereign Israeli territory, separated from Israeli Jerusalem by Jordan. Following the Six-Day War (June 1967), the entire Mount of Olives came under Israeli rule; by the early 1970s the Mount Scopus complex was repaired and was in use by various university faculties.