Gethsemane


The yellow circle to the lower left indicates the location of the Cave of Gethsemane

Matt 26:36-38 "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." NIV

In the early part of the decade I had saved my entire two weeks vacation for the year to go to Israel; missing a family reunion. In Jerusalem I stayed at the Christ Church Guest House. Christ Church was built in 1852 after the Turks allocated land in appreciation of British military aid during the Crimean War. It is inside the Jaffa Gate where the British General Allensby entered during a WWI campaign to oust the Turks who were allied with the Germans.

In the morning I awoke and listened to the doves and pigeons cooing. There were church bells ringing in the Christian Quarter and sometimes the blare of the mosque loudspeakers from the Moslem Quarter. I ate breakfast in the dining commons, breakfast was included with the price of my room. I remember a photographer returning from the Mt. of Olives where he had been since dawn trying to get the morning light shining on the city as dawn and dusk were the best times to get soft lighting without glare bleaching out the photos. It was nice to have fellowship with English speaking people in a foreign land.

One day I was sitting at the courtyard patio outside the kitchen where people congregated to chat and a young couple who were Jewish Christians were introduced to me. He had lost his job and they offered to guide me around the city. They led me to the Kidron Valley and showed me an olive grove where people had tied paper with Bible scriptures on branches with yarn or string. They showed me a cave under the road where they thought Jesus and his disciples might have hidden the night of Jesus' arrest. The Franciscan Cave of Gethsemane was further up the slope and there were probably other caves on the Mt. of Olives also, although some may had been converted to mortuaries.

Later I found the Latin Cave of Gethsemane where an ancient olive press was located. There was a square hole cut into the limestone that held the wooden beam of the press. Gethsemane meant place of olive oil. El Greco (the Greek) painted a famous scene of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that I had seen in a humanities class in college. The experience of finding the settings for the Gospels helped me to gain knowledge, more than if I had wandered aimlessly.

David Q. Hall dqhall59@yahoo.com

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