Olives, Mount of JERUSALEM
Olives, Mount of
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Mount of Olives - Panorama - 827h x 3878w (987kb).
OLIVES, MOUNT OF. OLIVET - The heights E. of Jerusalem, separated from the Temple mountain by the Kidron Valley. It is rarely mentioned in the OT. David crossed it when fleeing from Absalom (2 S 15.30). Here branches were cut to make booths for the Feast of Tabernacles (Neh.8.15). Ezekiel (11.23) and Zechariah (14.4) make it the scene of ideal theophanies: the literal interpretation of the latter prophecy has given rise to many curious and unprofitable speculations.
The chief interest of the mountain, however, is its connexion with the closing years of our Lord's life. Over this He rode on His triumphal entry to Jerusalem; and wept over the city as it came into view (Lk.19.41); and during the days when He lodged in Bethany and visited Jerusalem He must necessarily have passed over it daily (Lk.21.37). The fig-tree which He cursed (Mt.21.19) was most probably on the mountain slopes; and here He is said to have delivered to His disciples the great eschatological discourse (Mk.13, Mt.24, 25). On the side of the mountain was Gethsemane (q.v.), where took place the first scene of the final tragedy.
The ridge, of which the mount is a part, is formed of hard cretaceous limestone, surmounted by softer deposits of the same material. It is divided, by gentle undulations and one comparatively deep cleft, into a series of summits. The name Olivet (Ac.1.12 [RSV], 2 S.15.30 [AV]) from Latin Olivetum 'olive grove,' probably applied only to the one opposite the Temple, still called et-tur 'the mount,' by the Arabs.
Ecclesiastical tradition, as might be expected, has been busy with the whole ridge opposite the city. The places pointed out have by no means remained unaltered through the Christian centuries, as becomes evident from a study of the writings of the pilgrims. To-day are shown the tomb of the Virgin; the grotto of the Agony; the Garden of Gethsemane; the chapel of the Ascension (a mosque, with a mark in the floor said to be the 'footprint of Christ'); the site of Christ's weeping over the city; the place where He taught the Lord's Prayer; the place where the Apostles' Creed was composed, etc. The Ascension chapel is on the site of the Inbomon, an unroofed octagonal structure built about AD 380 for celebration of the Ascension. Remains of the Basilica built by Constantine's mother have been found in the court of the Carmelite Convent; it marked the scene of Christ's eschatological discourse (Mk.13.3, Mt.24.3).
[Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963 - R.A.S.M. - E.G.K.]