The Golden Gate is located on the eastern side of Jerusalem's old city wall,  thus one of names it is known by is an Eastern Gate. It faces the of Mount of Olives right across the Kidron valley. The Golden Gate consists of the two gates that lead directly to the Temple Mount. The southern part of the gate is called the Gate of Mercy  as in ancient times Jews would pray in front of the gate asking Almighty for mercy.

 





















 

Kidron Valley


Kidron Valley, also known as the Valley of Jehoshaphat and Valley of the King is a deep ravine stretching from the eastern slope of Mount Moriah through the Judean Desert and continues for about 20 miles until it reaches the Dead Sea. For the most of the year Kidron Valley is a dry place except when the seasonal rains create a stream that runs underneath the surface.

The stretch of the Kidron Valley between the Temple Mount, and Mount of Olives is referred in the Bible as Valley of Jehoshaphat. Translated from Hebrew Jehoshaphat means "God will judge". It was named after a righteous King of Judah who was encouraged by prophets to stand up against the aggression of superior confederate army of Moab, Edom and Ammon.

Kidron Valley

According to Josephus, "Jehoshaphat placed priestly trumpeters and Levite singers on the front line. Before the pagan armies could reach the Jehoshaphat positions, God struck the enemy with such terror and confusion that they fought one another and not one man of that vast army escaped". We find a reference to the Valley of Jehoshaphat in the Book of Joel 3:2-12, where the Hebrew prophet has predicted the judgement day when God will hold court over the nations for the injustices they perpetrated against his chosen people.

"And in that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations, and will bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will contend with them for My very own people, Israel, which they scattered among the nations. For they divided My land among themselves."

 Kidron Valley is prominently featured in the Bible. Book of Samuel tells the story of King David fleeing across the Kidron Valley escaping from his rebellious son Absalom, who had a blind ambition to be a king at the expense of his father. After the rebellion was dealt with, Kind David instructed one of his generals, Joab, to “deal gently with the young man”. Joab has caught up with Absalom and killed him defying King David’s orders.

Absalom was buried in a pit beneath the pillar the renegade prince had built for himself as described in 2 Samuel 18:18, "for he thought, 'I have no son to keep my name in remembrance'; and he called the pillar after his own name; and it is called Absalom's monument unto this day" Located on the eastern side of the Kidron Valley and facing the Temple Mount, the Tomb of Absalom with its conical shaped roof was cut out of the solid rock. Over the centuries the visitors developed a custom of throwing stones at the Absalom pillar to show their disgust for the disloyal son of their beloved king.

Although traditionally it was associated with prince Absalom, archeologists have determined that shrine can be dated back to the 1st century C.E. almost a thousand years after the events described in the Bible. The Absalom pillar is one of the best preserved monuments from that period and represents a mixture of Jewish and greco-roman styles.

Behind Absalom's Tomb is the rock-cut opening of the Cave of Jehoshaphat. The cave contains an underground network of tombs with eight burial chambers. Inside each chamber there are stone benches where the ossuaries were kept during the First and Second Temple periods.

It those days the bodies of the deceased were left in the tombs for a year to go through a decomposition process, after which the bones were collected and placed in ossuaries. At times a sign with a curse was placed in the entrance to the tomb in order to ward off the potential grave robbers. In antiquity people took curses pretty seriously.

Tomb of Zechariah is an unfinished structure also carved out of the bedrock. The legend has it that the Jewish priest Zechariah, son of Yehoyada the Priest, was scolding people in front of the temple for not following God's ways and worshiping the pagan idols. Angry crowd has stoned him to death.

Because It does not contain a burial chamber some archeologists speculate that Zachariah's tomb is a Nefesh or a monument for a tomb of Benei Hezir. Situated right next to Zerchariah’s tomb it is dated back to the beginning of the 1BCE, during the Hasmonean rule over Jerusalem. The tomb is a burial cave dug right into the cliff. At the entrance a Hebrew inscription reveals it to be a burial place for Cohanim or priestly family by the name of Benei Hezir.

According to the New Testament, Jesus passed through the Kidron Valley and the Golden Gate on his way to Jerusalem during his Triumphal Entry. Jesus also traveled through the Kidron on his way to Bethany, where he brought Lazarus back to life.

All three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, believe that the Day of Judgement is coming. According to Jewish tradition, Machiach or Messiah will come from the East, make his way over the Mount of Olives and through the Valley of Jehoshphat before arriving on the Temple Mount. His arrival will bring the dawn of the current age and open the door for the new beginning with eternal peace.

There are cemeteries situated on the both slopes of the valley since the dead who are buried there will be the first to face the judgement on the resurrection day. In Jewish tradition being buried close to the Temple Mount is a great honor which is usually reserved for the righteous people who would have the best chance to make it to Gan Eden or Garden of Eden.

The dead will be resurrected and divided into three groups: the wicked, the righteous and those who fall in between. As per Daniel 12:2, " And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence."

It is not surprising that Jews and Arabs fought fiercely over the control of Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Liberation, given the significance of the holy city to the both sides. In 1949, Isralel signed an armistice agreement with Jordan brokered by the United Nations. Under the terms of the agreement the Jordanians took control of the Old City with all the holy sites, including the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and ancient tombs at the Valley of Jehoshaphat.

Initially Jordenians agreed to allow the Jews access to the holy sites but reneged on that promise. Not only they did not keep their part of the bargain, but when it came to Kidron, vandalized thousands of Jewish graves, some of them dating back thousands of years.

Portion of the Kidron Valley bordering Temple Mount wall has risen in elevation due to centuries of debris accumulated from wars and renovations. Amount of trash being dumped into the valley only increased over the last twenty years. Some of it is just a plain garbage, but there are also a lot of discarded pieces of Jewish history being purposely thrown away by Palestinians in order to get rid of any traces of Jewish presence on the Mount.

Israeli archeologists and historians do their best to sift through tons of rubble bulldozed from Temple Mount into Kidron Valley by Palestinians. Their efforts resulted in finding thousands of artifacts from the Second Temple period, including arrowheads, tiles, ancient seals, coins and jewelry.

In addition, efforts are underway to rehabilitate Kidron from the effects of the sewage running through the valley as recent development and overpopulation have left it badly polluted. Unfortunately anything concerning the status of Jerusalem inevitably runs into the political infighting between Jewish and Arab politicians. Hopufully they can overcome any disagreements and find a way to save this historical landmark for future generations to enjoy.