Jerusalem from the Traditional Garden of Gethsemane
The Bible does not actually link the place of Gethsemane with a garden. It is called Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36) and an olive grove (in some versions, a garden). Both names are correct. Gethsemane (which means “oil[s] press”) would have been located in or near an olive grove referred to as “a garden.’ Jesus apparently went to an olive press located near an olive grove.This photograph was taken in the area traditionally called the Garden of Gethsemane. It is located on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, near the city of Jerusalem, and at the edge of the Kidron Valley. Only (twelfth- and thirteenth- century) tradition gives support to this specific location, but because it fits the Biblical description, it helps give people a clearer picture of the appearance of the place where Jesus spent his last evening before crucifixion. No remains of a gethsemane have been found on the grounds of this garden.The olive trees on both sides of the path are ancient. Some have suggested the roots could even date back to Jesus’ time, and the trees are probably more than 1,000 years old. The flowers are a modern addition. Just beyond the stone wall is the bottom of the Kidron Valley. The slope of the hill on which Jerusalem is built, also covered by olive trees, is visible beyond the valley. The wall of Jerusalem (built in the fifteenth century) still maintains an ancient appearance and actually follows the line of the wall of Jesus? time. Beyond the all is the Temple Mount. This gate is now called the Golden Gate. It was the main eastern gate to the Temple Mount at the time of the Temple. It is probable that the guards sent by the Temple authorities came through this gate on their way to arrest Jesus. While it is not clear exactly where Gethsemane was, it must have been nearby. Jesus could have seen the mob that was coming for him because of the proximity of Gethsemane to the city and the Temple. The guards were carrying torches in the dark night.
A cave nearby was recently identified as containing an ancient olive press. Early (sixth-century) tradition supports this cave as being Jesus’ Gethsemane. Its location near Jerusalem, near the olive groves, close to the Kidron, and in a cave where pilgrims to Jerusalem might stay the night (Matt. 26:30, 36) make it a possibility. Of course, regardless of whether it is the actual place where Jesus went to pray, its location and appearance in a large cave can help us picture Jesus enduring his night of agony.
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