The Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14)

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Illustration: The Garden of Gethsemane

The Mount of Olives forms a ridge running north and south for about three km just across the Kidron Valley east of Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:4 speaks of a split in this mountain that will run from the east to the west in the eschatological (end times) future. This gulch will provide an avenue of escape, so the text tells us, when Jerusalem comes under a terrible siege (14:2).

The Mount of Olives is explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament only here and in 2 Samuel 15:30. However, the “hill east of Jerusalem” where Solomon constructed shrines to pagan gods (1 Kings 11:7-8, cf. 2 Kings 23:13) was probably the same location. In these Old Testament references there seems to be some association of the Mount of Olives with crisis and judgement. This trend continues in the New Testament, where the Mount of Olives is prominent in the ministry of Jesus:

  • When Jesus in His triumph entry approached Jerusalem, moving downward from the Mount of Olives, He wept over the city’s coming destruction (Luke 19:30-44).
  • The cursing of the fig tree (Matthew 21:17-19), a symbol of judgement on Israel, appears to have occurred there.
  • From this vintage point Jesus delivered His “Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24, Mark 13), a prophecy of judgement.
  • Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30-42), as well as Juda’s betrayal of Him (John 18:1-3), both occurred there.


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