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Panoramic of the Mount of Olives

The Mount of Olives (also Mount Olivet, Hebrew: הר הזיתים‎, Har HaZeitim ;Arabic: جبل الزيتون, الطور‎, Jebel az-Zeitun) is a mountain ridge in east Jerusalem with three peaks running from north to south.[1] The highest, at-Tur, rises to 818 meters (2,683 ft).[2] It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The Mount of Olives is associated with Jewish and Christian traditions.


Religious significance


Biblical references

Absalom's Tomb (Yad Avshalom)

The Mount of Olives is first mentioned in connection with David's flight from Absalom (II 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.[1] The sacred character of the mount is alluded to in the 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."[1] Solomon built altars to the gods of his wives on the southern peak (I Kings 11:7-8). During the reign of King Josiah, the mount was called the Mount of Corruption (II Kings 23:13).

The New Testament, tells how Jesus and his friends 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 Mt of Olives as recorded in the book of Acts 1:9-12. It will be the Mt of Olives to which he is to return as stated in the book of Acts 1:11.

Jewish customs

The religious ceremony marking the start of a new month was held on the Mount of Olives in the days of the Second Temple.[3] After the destruction of the Temple, Jews celebrated the festival of Sukkot on the Mount of Olives. They made pilgrimages to the Mount of Olives because it was 80 meters higher than the Temple Mount and offered a panoramic view of the Temple site. It became a traditional place for lamenting the Temple's destruction, especially on Tisha B'Av.[3] In 1481, an Italian Jewish pilgrim, Rabbi Meshulam Da Volterra, wrote: "And all the community of Jews, every year, goes up to Mount Zion on the day of Tisha Be-’Av to fast and mourn, and from there they move down along Yoshafat Valley and up to Mount of Olives. From there they see the whole Temple (the Temple Mount) and there they weep and lament the destruction of this House."[4]

New Testament references

The Mount of Olives is frequently mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 21:1;26:30, etc.) as the route from Jerusalem to Bethany and the place where Jesus stood when he wept over Jerusalem. Jesus is said to have 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 also coming there on the night of his betrayal (Matthew 26:39). At the foot of the Mount of Olives lies the Garden of Gethsemane.

Jewish cemetery

Mount of Olives viewed from the Old City showing the Jewish cemetery.

From biblical times until today, Jews have been buried on the Mount of Olives. There are an estimated 150,000 graves on the Mount, including tombs traditionally associated with Zechariah and Avshalom (Absalom). Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar, author of Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh, is also buried there. Important rabbis from the 15th to the 20th centuries are buried there, among them Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, and his son Zvi Yehuda Kook. Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin asked to be buried on the Mount of Olives near the grave of Etzel member Meir Feinstein, rather than Mount Herzl national cemetery.[5]

In September 2005, most of the 48 bodies from the Gush Katif cemetery were reburied at the Mount of Olives, as part of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Roman era

Roman soldiers from the 10th Legion camped on the Mount during the Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD, which led to the destruction of the city.

Jordanian rule

Jewish burials were halted in 1948, and massive vandalism took place from 1948-1967. During the nineteen years of Jordanian rule, 40,000 of the 50,000 graves were desecrated.[6] 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 from the First Temple Period. [7] [8][9] After the Six-Day War, restoration work began, and the cemetery was re-opened for burials.


The Arab neighborhood of at-Tur is located on the mountain's summit. Landmarks on the Mount of Olives include Yad Avshalom, the Tomb of Zechariah, the Church of all Nations, the Church of Maria Magdalene, Dominus Flevit Church, Gethsemane, Mary's Tomb, the Mount of Olives Hotel and the Seven Arches Hotel. At the base of the slope is the Emek Tzurim National Park and the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation.[10]

Cultural references

Christ on the Mount of Olives is the title of an oratorio by Ludwig van Beethoven, and of a painting by Caravaggio. Mount of Olives is the title of two poems by Henry Vaughan.

Notable graves

Image gallery

See Also


  1. ^ a b c This is Jerusalem Menashe Har-El, Canaan Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1977, p.117
  2. ^ Hull, Edward (1885). Mount Seir, Sinai and Western Palestine. Richad Bently and Son, London. pp. 152. 
  3. ^ a b Har-el, Menashe (1977). This is Jerusalem. Jerusalem: Canaan. pp. 120–123. 
  4. ^ Nom de Deu, J. (1987). Relatos de Viajes y Epistolas de Peregrinos Jud.os a Jerusalén. Madrid. pp. 82. 
  5. ^ The good jailer - Haaretz - Israel News
  6. ^ City of Stone, Meron Benvenisti
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Fact Sheets #8 - Jerusalem". Jewish Virtual Library. May 19, 2005. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  9. ^ Alon, Amos (1995). Jerusalem: Battlegrounds of Memory. New York: Kodansha Int'l. pp. 75. ISBN 1568360991. "After 1967, it was discovered that tombstones had been removed from the ancient cemetery to pave the latrines of a nearby Jordanian army barrack." 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c "Mt. of Olives National Authority to be Formed". Israelnationalnews. 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  12. ^ Gabriel A. Shrem
  13. ^ Rabbi Haim Moussa Douek

This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.

External links

Coordinates: 31°47′00″N 35°15′03″E / 31.7833333°N 35.25083°E / 31.7833333; 35.25083

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Mount Olivet article)

From BibleWiki

(Latin, Mons Olivertus.)

Occurring also in the English Bibles as the Mount of Olives (Mons Olivarum), is the name applied to "the hill that is over against Jerusalem" (III Kings, xi, 7), that is, "on the east side of the city" (Ezech., xi, 23), beyond the torrent Cedron (II Kings, xv, 23, 30), "a sabbath day's journey" from the city (Acts, i, 12). The passages of the books of the Kings show the high antiquity of the name, undoubtedly suggested by the groves of olive trees which flourished there, traces of which still remain. In the Middle Ages it was called by Arabic writers: Tur ez-Zeitun, Tur Zeita, or Jebel Tur Zeitun, of which the modern name, Jebel et-Tur, appears to be an abbreviation. Mt. Olivet is not so much a hill as a range of hills separated by low depressions. The range includes, from N. to S., the Ras el-Musharif (Scopus; 2686 ft. above the sea-level), Ras el-Madbase (2690 ft.) and Ras et-Te la cah (2663 ft.); south of the latter, between the old and the new road from Jerusalem to Jericho, is the Jebel et-Tur, or Mt. Olivet proper, rising in three summits called by Christians, respectively: the Men of Galilee (Karem es-Sayyad, "the vineyard of the hunter", 2732 ft.), the Ascension (on which the village Kafr et-Tur is built), and the Prophets, a spur of the preceding owing its name to the old rock-tombs known as the Tombs of the Prophets; south-west of the new road to Jericho, the range terminates in the Jebel Batn el-Hawa, called by Christians the Mount of Offence, tradition locating there Solomon's idolatrous shrines (IV Kings, xxiii, 13).

Mt. Olivet has been the scene of many famous events of Biblical history. In David's time there was there a holy place dedicated to Yahweh; its exact location is not known; but it was near the road to the Jordan, possibly on the summit of the Karem es-Sayyad (II Kings, xv, 32). The site of the village of Bahurim (II Kings, iii, 16) lay no doubt on the same road. We have already mentioned the tradition pointing to the Jebel Batn el-Hawa as the place where Solomon erected his idolatrous shrines destroyed by Josias (III Kings, xi, 7; IV Kings, xxiii, 13); this identification is supported by the Targum which suggests in IV Kings, xxiii, 13, the reading "Mount of Oil", a good synonym of Mt. Olivet, instead of the traditional "Mount of Offence", found nowhere else. Accordingly the idolatrous sanctuaries were on the south side of Mt. Olivet proper. Finally we learn from the Jewish rabbis that the Mount of Oil was the traditional place for sacrificing the red heifer (Num., xix.; cf. Maimon., "Treat. of the red heifer", iii, 1). But to Christians especially is Mt. Olivet a most hallowed place, because it was, during the last days of Our Lord's public life, the preferred resort of the Saviour. In connection therewith several spots are singled out in the Gospels: Bethania, the home of Lazarus and of Simon the Leper (Mark, xiv, 3; Matt., xxvi, 6); Bethphage, whence started the triumphal procession to Jerusalem (Matt., xxi, 1), identified with some probability by Federlin with the ruins called Habalat el-Amira or Kehf Abu Layan; the site of the Franciscan Chapel of Bethphage, about 1 mile west of El-Azariyeh, is not well chosen; the place where the fig-tree cursed by Our Lord stood (Matt., xxi, 18-22; Mark, xi, 12-14; 20-21); the spot where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke, xix, 41); the site where He prophesied the destruction of the Temple, the ruin of the city and the end of the world (Matt., xxiv, 1 sqq.); the Garden of Gethsemani; lastly the place where the Lord imparted His farewell blessing to the Apostles and ascended into heaven (Luke, xxiv, 50- 51). All these spots the piety of Christian ages has, with more or less success, endeavoured to locate and to consecrate by erecting sanctuaries thereon.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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