Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives

Olives, Mount of, or Olivet, ridge, E of Jerusalem, mentioned in the Old Testament as the scene of David's flight from the city, Ezekiel's theophany, and Zechariah's prophecy, and in the New Testament as a frequent resort of Jesus and the scene of his Ascension. The principal hill of the mount is often called "the Ascension." Bethany and Bethphage lie near its foot, and the garden of Gethsemane is on the western slope. 2 Sam. 15.30; Ezek. 11.23; Zech. 14.4; Mat. 21.1; Acts 1.12.
Mount of Olives: see Olives, Mount of.
The Mount of Olives (also Mount Olivet, جبل الزيتون, الطور, Jebel az-Zeitun הר הזיתים, Har HaZeitim;) is a mountain ridge in east Jerusalem with three peaks running from north to south. The highest, at-Tur, rises to 818 meters (2,683ft). 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

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. 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." 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). According to the Book of Zechariah, the dead will be resurrected on the Mount of Olives in the days of the Messiah.

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.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. 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."

New Testament references

The Mount of Olives is frequently mentioned in the New Testament (;26:30, etc.) as the route from Jerusalem to Bethany and the place where Jesus stood as 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 (). At the foot of the Mount of Olives lies the Garden of Gethsemane.

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). Important rabbis from the 15th to the 20th centuries are buried there, among them Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel. Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin asked to be buried on the Mount of Olives rather than Mount Herzl.

Roman era

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

Jordanian rule

When the Mount of Olives was controlled by Jordan between the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and 1967, tombstones from the cemetery were used to build roads and army latrines. 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. Some fifty thousand Jewish graves out of a total seventy thousand were destroyed or defaced during the nineteen years of Jordanian rule. 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 and the Seven Arches Hotel.

Cultural references

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

Notable graves

Image gallery


External links

Search another word or see Mount of Oliveson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature