The Life of Jesus in Harmony
THE MOUNT OF OLIVES
The Mount of Olives
prayed was outside the city, opposite the eastern wall of the Temple
. Here was the garden of Gethsemane
which means "olive press."
A north-to-south ridge of hills east of Jerusalem
where Jesus was betrayed on the night before His crucifixion. This prominent
feature of Jerusalem's landscape is a gently rounded hill, rising to about
the height of 830 meters (2,676 feet) and overlooking the Temple.
The closeness of the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem's walls made this series of
hills a grave strategic danger. The Roman commander Titus had his headquarters
on the northern extension of the ridge during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
He named the place Mount Scopus, or "Lookout Hill," because of the view which
it offered over the city walls. The whole hill must have provided a platform
for the Roman catapults that hurled heavy objects over the Jewish fortifications
of the City.
In ancient times the whole mount must have been heavily wooded. As its name
implies, it was covered with dense olive groves.
The Mount of Olives is also mentioned in a reference by the prophet
Zechariah to the future Day of the Lord: "In that day His feet will stand on
the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives
shall be split in two from east to west, making a very large valley; half of
the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south" (Zech
In the New Testament the Mount of Olives played a prominent part in the last
week of our Lord's ministry. Jesus approached Jerusalem from the east, by way of Bethphage
, at the Mount of Olives (Mt 21:1; Mk 11:1). On the night of His betrayal, He
and His disciples sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives (Mt 26:30; Mk
14:26), to the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36; Mk 14:32). In this garden, on
the slopes of the Mount of Olives, Jesus was betrayed by Judas and delivered
into the hands of His enemies.