Kidron



In the Kidron Valley near Jerusalem, with structures dating from the Hellenistic period.

KIDRON. KJV Apoc. form of Kedron.

KIDRON kĭd’ rən (קִדְרֹ֔ון, dark, turbid); CEDRON se’ drən (Κεδρών, G3022, KJV only in John 18:1). Name of a valley E of Jerusalem c. 3 m. in length which lies between the walls of the city and the Mount of Olives, and takes its name from the brook running through it. It is now known as the Wadi Sitti Maryam or “Valley of St. Mary.” Opposite St. Stephen’s gate its depth is at least 100 ft. The lower part of the valley is today called Wadi en-Nār. After leaving Jerusalem the brook bears to the SE, winds through the wilderness of Judah and eventually drains into the Dead Sea.

Jerusalem itself is located on the central limestone ridge of Pal. c. 2500 ft. above sea level at a place where the ridge has become a small plateau. Extending S from this plateau are two promontories, separated by a valley called in Rom. times the Tyropoeon Valley (now called El-Wad) but which today is largely filled with debris. The western side later became known as Zion and the eastern side was Ophel (City of David). East of Ophel, separating it from the Mount of Olives is the Kidron Valley, through which an intermittent spring, the Gihon, courses. It was once the source of Jerusalem’s main water supply. It is now called Ain Sitti Maryam, or “Spring of Mary.” Water flows through it only during the season of heavy rains in the winter. To the S, where the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys meet, is a second spring, En-Rogel.

Charles Warren (c. 1870) discovered a shaft cut through the rock from the city to the spring, similar to the one at Gezer, which enabled the inhabitants to secure water without going outside the city. The waters of the Gihon spring were diverted through a tunnel to a cave which served as a reservoir. Going up from this was a vertical shaft about forty ft. high, at the top of which was a platform where the women could stand to lower and raise their water vessels. This water system was prob. in use when the Jebusites occupied Jerusalem through the period of the Judges to the time of David. The water was later diverted by a rock tunnel to the pool of Siloam (prob. during the reign of Hezekiah).

The Davidic kings owned property in the valley which caused it to be known as the King’s Valley. As David fled from Absalom, he crossed over the Kidron (2 Sam 15:23). Shimei was warned by Solomon that if he left Jerusalem and crossed beyond the limits of the Kidron, he would be put to death (1 Kings 2:37).

The portion of the valley on the E side has been used as a common burial ground from ancient times even until today. Perhaps for this reason one finds that idols, altars, images, and the Asherah were taken from the Temple and burned here as a part of the reform of various kings (Asa, 1 Kings 15:16; Josiah, 2 Kings 23:4-12; Hezekiah, 2 Chron 29:16; 30:14). Josephus says Athaliah was taken to the Kidron for execution so that the Temple would not be defiled by her blood (Antiq. IX. vii. 3). There are four towerlike burial monuments in the Kidron Valley surrounded by a modern Jewish cemetery, which have been identified as the tombs of Jehoshaphat, Absalom, James the Less, and Zechariah; however, they prob. date from the Herodian period. Square letters on stone inscrs. have been found at the so-called grave of Jacob in the Kidron Valley. The poorer people were interred outside the city in simple graves, one of these places being in the Kidron Valley (2 Kings 23:6; cf. Jer 26:23).

Herod restored the Temple during his reign and greatly enlarged the surrounding area by erecting new foundation walls. At its outermost pinnacle (cf. Matt 4:5) the Temple enclosure was 170 ft. above the valley of the Kidron, prompting Josephus to comment, “One who looked down grew dizzy” (Antiq. XV. xi. 5, Loeb library).

Gethsemane was on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, just across from the brook Kidron away from the city of Jerusalem. From the western descent of the Mount of Olives one has a view directly across the Kidron Valley to Jerusalem. Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with His disciples after leaving the Upper Room to spend the night in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1). Judas undoubtedly led the soldiers across the Kidron to the place where Jesus was praying, for he “knew the place” well (John 18:2).

Jeremiah looked forward from his time to the day when the city of Jerusalem would be rebuilt and the places of burial, including the fields as far as the brook Kidron, would be sacred to God (Jer 31:40).

Bibliography

J. Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past (1946), 149, 159, 236; G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology (1957), 126, 221; M. Noth, The Old Testament World (1966), 155, 169, 171, 221.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A place which, in obedience to Antiochus Sidetes, Cendebaeus fortified (1 Macc 15:39 ff), to which, when defeated, he fled, hotly pursued by John and Judas, sons of Simon the Maccabee, who burned the city (1 Macc 16:4 ff). It is named along with Jamnia (Yebna) and Azotus (Esdud). It is possibly identical with Katrah], a village about 3 miles Southwest of `Aqir (Ekron).