The Hill of Calvary (Golgotha) - First Century Jerusalem

Golgotha, the Hill of Calvary  
Photo of Golgotha (Calvary) in the Second Temple Model of Jerusalem

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bar-kochba-coin-small.jpgGolgotha "Place of the skull" was located outside the second wall. The actual site of the Cross is still under discussion.

CAL'VARY (Grk. kranion, a "skull," but having its English form from the translators' having literally adopted the Lat. word calvaria, a bare "skull"; the Gk. is the interpretation of the Heb. Golgotha, which see; the word occurs once, in Luke 23:33, KJV.) Calvary refers to the place where Christ was crucified, designated as the place of a skull (Golgotha), either because of the shape of the mound or elevation or because it was a place of execution. Some claim that Moriah and Calvary are identical. The shift of the city wall from time to time renders it difficult to locate the spot. It would probably have been a prominent place near the public highway, for the Romans selected such places for public executions.

 

From the fourth century to the present day the sites of Calvary and of the Holy Sepulcher have been shown within the precincts of the church of the Holy Sepulcher, a Crusader construction, standing where Constantine's Basilica was raised. Others identify the spot with "Gordon's Calvary," N of the present N wall.

 

GOLGOTHA

 

Golgotha meaning the "place of the skull" was probably where Jesus was crucified. In 135 AD Rome's Emperor Hadrian covered this traditional site of Golgotha and Jesus' tomb with a massive pavement. Two centuries later, Constantine removed it and built the first Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

 

CAL'VARY (Gk. kranion, a "skull," Heb. Golgotha )

 

Calvary refers to the place where Christ was crucified, designated as the place of a skull (Golgotha), either because of the shape of the mound or elevation or because it was a place of execution. Some claim that Moriah and Calvary are identical. The shift of the city wall from time to time renders it difficult to locate the spot. It would probably have been a prominent place near the public highway, for the Romans selected such places for public executions.

 

From the fourth century to the present day the sites of Calvary and of the Holy Sepulcher have been shown within the precincts of the church of the Holy Sepulcher, a Crusader construction, standing where Constantine's Basilica was raised. Others identify the spot with "Gordon's Calvary," N of the present N wall.

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Ancient Jerusalem - First Century Jerusalem Market Pavilions Hill of Calvary (Golgotha) Phasael Tower Hippicus Tower Mariamne Tower Hyrcanus Monument Herod's Barracks Click here to view the illlustration Herod's Palace Upper Agora Hasmonean Palace Xystus Market Palace of Annas Herod's Theater Palace of Caiaphas Tomb of King David Dyers Quarter Wilson's Arch Robinson's Arch Western Wall Adiabenian Palaces Synagogue of the Freedmen Sports Hippodrome Pool of Siloam Huldah Gates Tomb of Huldah Temple Facade Antonia Fortress Pool of Bethesda Alexander Jannaeus Monument Jerusalem Roads Tomb of Absalom Gihon Spring Tunnel of Hezekiah Hakeldama - Field of Blood First Century Jerusalem - Roads Serpent's Pool Western Road Hinnom Valley Kidron Valley Tyropoeon Valley New City Upper City Jerusalem's Lower City City of David Mount of Olives Damascus Gate New City Kidron Valley Pilate's Aquaduct Herod's Bridge Jerusalem Temple Court of the Gentiles Court of the Gentiles Golden Gate Introduction Kidron Bridge Walls Walls Jerusalem's Walls Walls Lower City Walls Hyrcanus Monument Jerusalem Walls Jerusalem Walls Walls Jerusalem Walls Pinnacle of the Temple

"Whoever has not seen Jerusalem in its splendor has never seen a fine city." Babylonian Talmud (Succah, 51b)

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Primary Sources for the Study of First Century Jerusalem: Josephus, The Mishnah, The New Testament, Pliny.

First Century Jerusalem

The Jerusalem of Herod the Great

 

The Jerusalem Jesus knew nowhere near resembled the city David conquered in the tenth century BC. At that time, it had been a small, isolated hill fortress, valued more for its location than its size or splendor. Yet from that time on it was known as the City of David, and the kings of David's dynasty, especially his son Solomon, had enlarged and beautified it.

 

In the sixth century BC, the army of Nebuchadnezzar leveled Jerusalem and drove its citizens into exile. During the long years of captivity in Babylon, the Jews in exiles' prayers and longings focused on the distant Holy City. But the city rebuilt by the Jews who returned a century later was far inferior to its former splendor. It was, ironically, the hated tyrant Herod the Great who restored Jerusalem to its former grandeur.

 

In the 33 years of his reign (37-4 B.C.), Herod transformed the city as had no other ruler since Solomon. Building palaces and citadels, a theatre and an amphitheatre, viaducts (bridges) and public monuments. These ambitious building projects, some completed long after his death, were part of the king's single-minded campaign to increase his capital's importance in the eyes of the Roman Empire.

 

No visitor seeing Jerusalem for the first time could fail to be impressed by its visual splendor. The long, difficult ascent from Jericho to the Holy City ended as the traveler rounded the Mount of Olives, and suddenly caught sight of a vista like few others in the world. Across the Kidron Valley, set among the surrounding hills, was Jerusalem, "the perfection of beauty," in the words of Lamentations, "the joy of all the world."

 

The view from the Mount of Olives was dominated by the gleaming, gold-embellished Temple which was located in the most holy spot in the Jewish world and really God's world. This was the Lord's earthly dwelling place, He mediated His throne here and raised up a people to perform rituals and ceremonies here that would foreshadow the coming of His Messiah kinsman redeemer who would be the lamb of God, slain for the sins of the whole world.

 

The Temple stood high above the old City of David, at the center of a gigantic white stone platform.

 

To the south of the temple was THE LOWER CITY, a group of limestone houses, yellow-brown colored from years of sun and wind. Narrow, unpaved streets and houses that sloped downward toward the Tyropean Valley, which ran through the center of Jerusalem.

 

Rising upward to the west was THE UPPER CITY, or Zion, where the white marble villas and palaces of the very rich stood out like patches of snow. Two large arched passageways spanned the valley, crossing from the Upper City to the temple.

 

A high, thick, gray stone wall encircled Jerusalem. It had been damaged, repaired and enlarged over the centuries, and in Jesus' day it was about 4 miles in circumference, bringing about 25,000 people into an area about a square mile. At intervals along the wall were massive gateways. Just inside each gate was a customs station, where publicans collected taxes on all goods entering or leaving the city.

 

First Century Jerusalem

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