09 Jul The Garden of Gethsemane
Gethsemane (/ɡɛθˈsɛməni/ gheth-SEM-ə-nee; Ancient Greek: Γεθσημανή, romanized: Gethsēmanḗ; Hebrew: גת שמנים, romanized: Gat Shmaním; Classical Syriac: ܓܕܣܡܢ, romanized: Gaḏ Šmānê, lit. ‘oil press’) is an urban garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. In Christianity, it is the place where Jesus underwent the agony in the garden and was arrested the night before his crucifixion.
Gethsemane appears in the Greek original of the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark as Γεθσημανή (Gethsēmanḗ). The name is derived from the Aramaic ܓܕܣܡܢ (Gaḏ-Šmānê), meaning “oil press”. Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32 call it χωρἰον (chōríon), meaning a place or estate. The Gospel of John says Jesus entered a garden (κῆπος kêpos) with his disciples.
According to the New Testament it was a place that Jesus and his disciples customarily visited, which allowed Judas to find him on the night of his arrest.
There are four locations claimed to be the place where Jesus prayed on the night he was betrayed.
The Church of All Nations overlooking a garden with the “Rock of the Agony”.
The location near the Tomb of the Virgin Mary to the north.
The Greek Orthodox location to the east.
The Russian Orthodox orchard, next to the Church of Maria Magdalene.
William McClure Thomson, author of The Land and the Book, first published in 1880, wrote: “When I first came to Jerusalem, and for many years afterward, this plot of ground was open to all whenever they chose to come and meditate beneath its very old olive trees. The Latins, however, have within the last few years succeeded in gaining sole possession, and have built a high wall around it. The Greeks have invented another site a little to the north of it. My own impression is that both are wrong. The position is too near the city, and so close to what must have always been the great thoroughfare eastward, that our Lord would scarcely have selected it for retirement on that dangerous and dismal night. I am inclined to place the garden in the secluded vale several hundred yards to the north-east of the present Gethsemane.”
All of the foregoing is based on long-held tradition and the conflating of the synoptic accounts of Mark (14:31) and Matthew (26:36) with the Johannine account (John 18:1). Mark and Matthew record that Jesus went to “a place called the oil press (Gethsemane)” and John states he went to a garden near the Kidron Valley. Modern scholarship acknowledges that the exact location of Gethsemane is unknown.
According to Luke 22:43–44, Jesus’ anguish on the Mount of Olives (Luke does not mention Gethsemane; Luke 22:39–40) was so deep that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Near the tomb of Mary
According to the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, Gethsemane is the garden where the Virgin Mary was buried and was assumed into heaven after her dormition on Mount Zion.
The Garden of Gethsemane became a focal site for early Christian pilgrims. It was visited in 333 by the anonymous “Pilgrim of Bordeaux”, whose Itinerarium Burdigalense is the earliest description left by a Christian traveler in the Holy Land. In his Onomasticon, Eusebius of Caesarea notes the site of Gethsemane located “at the foot of the Mount of Olives”, and he adds that “the faithful were accustomed to go there to pray”.
Eight ancient olive trees growing in the Latin site of the garden may be 900 years old (see § Olive trees).
In 1681 Croatian knights of the Holy Order of Jerusalem, Paul, Antun and James bought the Gethsemane Garden and donated it to the Franciscan community, who owns it until this day. A three-dimensional plate on the right side next to the entrance to the garden describes the aforementioned gift to the community.
A study conducted by the National Research Council of Italy in 2012 found that several olive trees in the garden are amongst the oldest known to science. Dates of 1092, 1166 and 1198 AD were obtained by carbon dating from older parts of the trunks of three trees. DNA tests show that the trees were originally planted from the same parent plant. This could indicate an attempt to keep the lineage of an older species intact. Then again, the three trees tested could have been sprouts reviving from the older roots. “The results of tests on trees in the Garden of Gethsemane have not settled the question of whether the gnarled trees are the very same which sheltered Jesus because olive trees can grow back from roots after being cut down”, researchers said.
However, Bernabei writes: “All the tree trunks are hollow inside so that the central, older wood is missing … In the end, only three from a total of eight olive trees could be successfully dated. The dated ancient olive trees do, however, not allow any hypothesis to be made with regard to the age of the remaining five giant olive trees.”Babcox said that the roots of the oldest trees are possibly much older and then points out the traditional claim that the trees are two thousand years old.
In 2014, an archaeological survey of the site was conducted by Amit Re’em and David Yeger on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).