The Kidron Valley

This, together with its companion lower down the page, are among my favourites from the illustrations of David Roberts! Apart from their own inherent attractiveness they show clearly the defensive position held by the Temple Mount, Jerusalem - both the biblical and later one on up to the nineteenth century, and south of it, the even older Jebus, later the old City of David which drops away below the southern wall of the Temple Mount (seen to better advantage in the second of the two). Defended on the east not only by the deep Valley of Kidron but also by the range of hills to the east of the valley: the Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus and on the west by the deep Valley of Hinnom. The artist, in the first, is about half way up Mt. Scopus, probably not too far from today's Mormon University, just below the campus of the Hebrew University. The Kidron Valley is known in the Old Testament as the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Here it is, according to the Old Testament, that God will judge the whole world: In those days and at that time, when I restore again Judah and Jerusalem. I will gather all the nations, and bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There will I enter into judgement against them for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations and parted from my land. Joel III: 1-2.). The word "Jehoshaphat" is directly derived from the Hebrew Ya-Hu shofet" "God will judge".

Mt. Scopus is where Titus had made his command camp during the seige of Jerusalem because he had a good commanding look-out over the area of the Temple Mount - hence its name Mount Scopus. Down in the valley, barely seen against the background of the trees, must surely be the Tomb of Mary dating from Byzantine times, built at the end of the 4th century under Theodosius 1st. The Crusaders later added to it. Mary's parents are traditionally buried there and facing them on the opposite side of the steps leading down to the chapel is buried Melissanda the wife of Fulke d'Anjou, famous for her extreme piety and for having had her own special Psaltery published. Following the line of trees stretching away from the Tomb of Mary and round to the left, beyond the edge of the spur, we would be able to see the area of today's Garden of Gethsemane and the remains of the Byzantine and later Crusader church now occcupied by the Church of the Agony.

Further beyond still, lower down and just sticking up behind the next spur, we can see the pointed, concave dome of the Pillar of Absalom, which he prepared for himself because he had no sons to remember him, and beyond that, hidden completely from sight, the tombs of the Priestly family B'nei Hezir and the Tomb of Zacharia.

In the second picture we are looking north from a point somewhere between Bethlehem and Jerusalem - not too far from either. The clump of buildings in the valley could well mark the Spring of Rogel - the boundary marker between the settlements of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The two domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can be see quite clearly left of centre on the skyline of Jerusalem. The eastern flank of the City of David, south of the walls of Jerusalem, where it drops into the Valley of Kidron could, perhaps, be a little more precipitous.

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