Mount of Olives – Israel

The Mount of Olives holds a special place in Scripture. For it is here that the Lord Jesus Christ’s feet will set down at His Second Coming.  This is the location where history will meet its culmination!

The Mount of Olives is separated from Mount Moriah (i.e., the Temple Mount) by the
Kidron Valley (a.k.a., the Valley of Jehoshaphat). This limestone ridge stretches
nearly 2 miles from north to south and makes up eastern Jerusalem.

Historical Significance

The abundance of olive groves here in the past explains the origin of the mountain’s name. The heavy number of trees and predominance of the Garden of Gethsemane lend themselves to the beauty of the area.

It is such a good spot to take in the city that Roman commander Titus set his headquarters up on Olivet’s northern ridge. He called it “Mount Scopus” (or “Lookout Hill”) due to the view it provided. It reaches a height of nearly 2,700 feet and has three peaks. The 10th Legion of Rome made camp here during its seige of 70AD.  Roman catapults situated here, hurled heavy stones and fiery material into the city during its seige.

Scriptural Significance

The Mount of Olives is connected with some dramatic events in the Old Testament:

  • When Absalom rebelled, David fled by way of this mount (II Samuel 15: 30)
  • Solomon built altars to the gods of his wives here (I Kings 11: 7 – 8)
  • Due to its idols, Josiah called it the Mount of Corruption (II Kings 23: 13)
  • Shortly before Jerusalem’s destruction, Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord depart the Temple and move out over this mountain (Ezekiel 11: 23)
  • Scripture makes it clear that one day the Shekinah Glory will return to the Temple by way of the east (Ezekiel 43: 2)
  • Zechariah sees a vision where the Lord Himself descends and sets His feet on the Mount of Olives as the age draws to its conclusion (Zechariah 14: 4).  An earthquake splitting the Mount in two immediately follows.

Note: Some believe biblical ‘Nob’ was found somewhere on the ridge (see Isaiah 10: 32).  If that is correct, David escaped through here and obtained the holy bread and Goliath’s sword from Ahimelech while under pursuit by Saul (I Samuel 21 and 22).

For thousands of years, Jews having been burying their dead on the mountain. This seems to be directly related to Zechariah’s prophecy. Estimates range from 70,000 to 150,000 graves are found here. Sadly, the Jordanians desecrated many of these graves during their occupation of eastern Jerusalem from 1948 through 1967.  Gravestones were used for the construction of roads, buildings, and even lavatories. Israel tried to restore many of these after the Six day War of 1967.