gethsemane Summary and Overview
gethsemane in Easton's Bible Dictionary
oil-press, the name of an olive-yard at the foot of the Mount of Olives, to which Jesus was wont to retire (Luke 22:39) with his disciples, and which is specially memorable as being the scene of his agony (Mark 14:32; John 18:1; Luke 22:44). The plot of ground pointed out as Gethsemane is now surrounded by a wall, and is laid out as a modern European flower-garden. It contains eight venerable olive-trees, the age of which cannot, however, be determined. The exact site of Gethsemane is still in question. Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book) says: "When I first came to Jerusalem, and for many years afterward, this plot of ground was open to all whenever they chose to come and meditate beneath its very old olivetrees. The Latins, however, have within the last few years succeeded in gaining sole possession, and have built a high wall around it...The Greeks have invented another site a little to the north of it...My own impression is that both are wrong. The position is too near the city, and so close to what must have always been the great thoroughfare eastward, that our Lord would scarcely have selected it for retirement on that dangerous and dismal night...I am inclined to place the garden in the secluded vale several hundred yards to the NE of the present Gethsemane."
gethsemane in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
GETHSEM'ANE (oil-press), a place across the Kedron and at the foot of Olivet, noted as the scene of our Lord's agony. John 18:1; Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39. A garden or orchard was attached to it, and it was a place to which Jesus frequently resorted. Matt 26:36; Mark 14:32; John 18:2. Tradition, which since the fourth century has placed it on the lower slope of Olivet, about 100 yards east of the bridge over the Kedron, seems to agree with the requirements of the Gospel narratives. It is a small, irregular, four-sided spot, enclosed by a high wall, and about 70 paces in circumference. The wall was built in 1847 by Franciscan monks, who say it was necessary to restrain pilgrims from injuring the olive trees. The old olive trees are seven or eight in number, the trunks cracked from age and shored up with stones. The trees are said to date back to the time of Christ. They are surely of great age and size (19 feet in circumference), but Titus cut down all the trees about Jerusalem, and the Crusaders found the country destitute of wood, and we have no mention of old olive trees before the sixteenth century; hence it can only be stated that these old olives are possibly descendants of those which grew here in the time of Christ. The garden now has younger olives and a dozen cypresses. The monks keep in it a flower-garden, and present each visitor with a bouquet of roses, pinks, and other flowers, for which one franc is expected in payment. Olive-oil and rosaries from the olive-stones are also sold at a high price. Tradition, which is not trustworthy, fixes the spot of Christ's suffering at the so-called Cavern of Agony, a grotto in a solid rock, near the garden. The place of the arrest of Christ was pointed out in the Middle Ages at the above spot, and near by the spot where Judas betrayed Jesus was also marked by tradition. Dr. Thomson and some others think the present garden too near the public road for Gethsemane, and would place it farther to the north-east. The Latins control the present garden, and the Greeks have set up a Gethsemane of their own, farther up the Mount of Olives.
gethsemane in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
("oil-press".) Beyond the brook Kedron at the foot of the mount of Olives; where probably oil was made from the olives of the adjoining hill (Luke 22:39; John 18:1). Called a "place" or farm (choorion), Matthew 26:36, to which probably the "garden" was attached. E. of Jerusalem, from the walls of which it was half a mile distant. It was the favorite resort of our Lord with His disciples (John 18:2), the shade of its trees affording shelter from the heat and the privacy so congenial to Him. Bethany lay on the E. of Jerusalem, and toward it our Lord led His disciples before the ascension. In Luke 24:50 the sense is, He led them to the side of the hill where the road strikes downward to Bethany; for Acts 1:12 shows He ascended from the mount of Olives. "Bethany probably includes not only the village but the district and side of the mount adjoining it; even still the adjoining mountain side is called by the same name as the village, el-Azariyeh. This reconciles Luke 24:50 with Acts 1:12. Gardens and pleasure grounds abounded then in the suburbs (Josephus, B.J., 6:1, section 1, 5:3, section 32), where now scarcely one is to be seen. In Gethsemane "without the city" Christ "trod the winepress alone" (Isaiah 63:3; Revelation 14:20). In these passages, however, He is the inflicter, not the sufferer, of vengeance; but in righteous retribution the scene of blood shedding of Christ and His people shall be also the scene of God's avenging His and their blood on the anti-Christian foe (Revelation 19:14). The time of the agony was between 11 and 12 o'clock Thursday night (Friday morning in the Jews' reckoning), two days before the full moon, about the Vernal equinox. The sites assigned by the Latins and Armenians and Greeks respectively are too near the thoroughfare to the city to be probable. Some hundreds of yards further up the vale and N.E. of Mary's church may be the true site. The fact that Titus cut down all the trees round about Jerusalem (Josephus, B.J., 6:1, section 1) is against the contemporary ancientness of the eight venerable olive trees now pointed out. The tenth legion, moreover, was posted about the mount of Olives (5:2, section 3, 6:2, section 8); and in the siege a wall was carried along the valley of Kedron to the Siloam fountain (5:10, section 2). The olives of Christ's time may have reproduced themselves.