Among the many sites normally visited during a tour of the holy land, Jerusalem naturally stands high up on the priority list. Being a sacred place to the three major religions, you will find many sites that are considered holy, some because of their references in the scriptures and prophecies, and others due to their historical value in the formation of religions. It is not uncommon to find a place that has major significance to all of the 3 major religions present in the city: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; In this series of articles, we will be exploring three holy places that all share the strong presence of the spirit of Jerusalem: old, majestic, intense and powerful.
Mount of Olives in Judaism
Countless Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions speak of the Mt. of Olives; this is where the messiah is due to arrive first, where the resurrection of the dead will begin during the end of times, and is considered by many to be the most breathtaking viewpoint of Israel’s scenery.
The Jewish cemetery on the Mt. of Olives is the most ancient Jewish cemetery that exists today, and hosts the tombstones of Jews starting at 3000 years ago and until this day. According to tradition, this is where the messiah will arrive on judgement day, and those buried there will be the first to rise into the new world. Followed by the myth, all the bodies burried on-site have their feet pointed towards the Temple Mount, to ease their walk to the Temple due to be built on the Mountain. After all, getting up and walking after thousands of years underground could be quite a challenge! It’s no wonder that throughout the generations, Jewish leaders, from prophets to prime-ministers and prominent religious leaders, have chosen to be buried here.
The Mountof Olives in Christianity
The Mount of Olives is of high value to Christianity, having been a placewhere Jesus spent much of his time. According to the scriptures, this is where Jesus came riding on his donkey, to spend the last week before his crucifixion. This is where Jesus returned after the last supper (traditionally on Mt. Zion) and where he was taken by roman soldiers to be crucified. According the the scriptures, Mt. of Olives is also where Jesus sat and cried for the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The spot where he cried is where the Franciscan Dominus Flevit chruch (translation: “The Lord Wept”) stands today, as mentioned in Luke 19:
“The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
The Mount of Olives is also where Jesus had returned after being resurrected and the place where he is believed to have ascended after 40 days of wandering the holy land. There are five locations on the Mountain which are considered to be the place from which he had ascended.
In Muslim tradition, in the end times there will be a bridge with seven arches leading from the Mount of Olives to the Temple Mount. The bridge is said to be as wide as the width of a hair: the righteous will pass over it and walk to heaven, whilst the evil ones shall fall into hell. This Muslim belief is the source of the name “Seven Arches”, which is the only hotel built in Jerusalem during the time of the Jordanian rule in that part of the city (1948-1967). The hotel was renamed from the original “Intercontinental”, and the seven arches hint at the Islamic tradition prophecy of the seven arches of the bridge.
For more remarkably Spiritual places in Jerusalem check out our articles about Mount zion and the temple mount.