According to Luke (21:37) and John (18:2), Jesus frequently retreated to this hillside and “garden” for rest, prayer, and fellowship with His disciples. He did so on the night of His betrayal. After the and the singing of the Passover hymn, He left the upper room, (possibly located in S Jerusalem near the Zion Gate), crossed the Kidron Valley, and ascended the Mt. of Olives, across the valley from the Temple. Upon entering the area, Jesus spoke to the disciples about their being scattered as sheep, His resurrection and reunion with them in Galilee, and the temptation of Peter and of their going to deny Him (
The precise site of Gethsemane is a matter of contention in Christian tradition; different sites are identified by Western, Russian, Armenian, and a.d. 326, fixed the site of Gethsemane at the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin, and the place of Jesus’ prayer a stone’s throw up the hill (
The tradition that eight very ancient olive trees mark the site is prob. not well founded, since Josephus records that Titus (a.d. 70) cut down all the trees E of the city (Jos. War VI. i. 1).
Hastings, HDCG, I, 646, 647; E. G. Kraeling, Rand McNally Bible Atlas (1956), 394-404; The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible (1956), 107-109.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(Gethsemanei (for other spellings and accents see Thayer, under the word); probably from the Aramaic gath shemanim, "oil press"): Mentioned (
Tradition, dating from the 4th century, has fixed on a place some 50 yds. East of the bridge across the Kidron as the site. In this walled-in enclosure once of greater extent, now primly laid out with garden beds, by the owners--the Franciscans--are eight old olive trees supposed to date from the time of our Lord. They are certainly old, they appeared venerable to the traveler Maundrell more than two centuries ago, but that they go back to the time claimed is impossible, for Josephus states (BJ, VI, i, 1) that Titus cut down all the trees in the neighborhood of Jerusalem at the time of the siege. Some 100 yards farther North is the "Grotto of the Agony," a cave or cistern supposed to be the spot "about a stone’s cast" to which our Lord retired (