|OLIVES, MOUNT OF |
Ezekiel 11:23, called also OLIVET, 2 Samuel 15:30, a ridge running north and south on the east side of Jerusalem, its summit about half a mile from the city wall, and separated from it by the valley of the Kidron. It is composed of chalky limestone, the rocks everywhere showing themselves. The olive-trees that formerly covered it, and gave it its name, are now represented by a few trees and clumps of trees which ages of desolation have not eradicated. There are three prominent summits on the ridge; of these the southernmost, which is lower than the other two, is now known as the "Mount of Corruption," because Solomon defiled it by idolatrous worship, 1 Kings 11:5-7 2 Kings 23:13. Over this ridge passes the road to Bethany, the most frequented road to Jericho and the Jordan. The sides of the Mount of Olives towards the west contain many tombs, cut in the rocks.
The central summit rises two hundred feet above Jerusalem, and presents a fine view of the city, and indeed of the whole region, including the mountains of Ephraim on the north, the valley of the Jordan on the east, a part of the Dead Sea on the southeast, and beyond it Kerak in the mountains of Moab. Perhaps no spot on earth unites so fine a view, with so many memorials of the most solemn and important events. Over this hill the Savior often climbed in his journey to and from the holy city. Gethsemane lay at its foot on the west, and Bethany on its eastern slope, Matthew 24:3 Mark 13:3. It was probably near Bethany, and not as tradition says on the middle summit, that our lord ascended to heaven, Luke 24:50 Acts 1:12, though superstition has built the "Church of the Ascension" on the pretended spot, and shows the print of his feet on the rock whence he ascended! From the summit, three days before his death, he beheld Jerusalem, and wept over it, recalling the long ages of his more than parental care and grieving over its approaching ruin. Scarcely any thing in the gospels moves the heart more than this natural and touching scene. No one can doubt that it was God who there spoke; his retrospect, his predictions of his future judgments in the earth, Zechariah 14:4. See view of the central summit in GETHSEMANE. Also SEPULCHRES.