Mount of Olives yesterday and today
The Mount is one of the most beautiful locations in the Holy Land and it has a unique role in Jesus’s life. Where is it and what happened there? This article opens a series on the Holy Land and the Mount of Olives.
The Mount of Olives separates the city of Jerusalem from the Judean Desert; from here it begins its descent towards the Dead Sea. The Kidron Valley surrounds Jerusalem to the east and separates the Mount from the city. On the south, there is Mount Zion and on the north, there is Mount Scopus.
The Mountain has three areas of uniquely high ground from which descend steep roads to the valley. From the north to the south extends “Karm as-Sayyad” (“vineyard of the hunter”), reaching 818 meters of altitude; in the center is “Jebel et-Tur” (“holy mountain”) at 808 meters; and to the southwest, on the far side of the Jerusalem-Jericho road, is “Bet el Hawa” (“belly of the wind”), also known as “Mount Scandal”, at 713 meters high.
The name of the Mountain comes from the olive trees that have grown on its slopes for thousands of years, and some of the oldest olive trees in the world are still there. The mountain is also known as the Mount of Unction. The reason for it origins from the use of the oil in the Jewish tradition. The oil from the leaves was used to anoint the high priests and the king.
Jesus on the Mountain
Jesus set foot on the mountain immediately after the last supper, crossing the valley into Gethsemane.
An especially relevant episode in Jesus’s life is also one of the most important Christian memories accrued on the Mount of Olives. That is the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer: Eleona or the Grotto of the Lord’s Prayer. But it isn’t the only one: Weeping over Jerusalem: Dominus Flevit. Acclamation upon his entry into the Holy City on the back of a donkey: the sanctuary of Bethphage. The prayer in the garden of Gethsemane followed by his capture: and next to it there are – Garden of Olives and Grotto of Gethsemane. And Jesus’s Ascension into Heaven, which occurred at the summit of the mount: the Edicule of the Ascension.