Mount of Olives
OLIVES, MOUNT OF (called Olivet twice in the kjv—2Sam.15.30; Acts.1.12).
I. Geographical. The [[Mount of Olives]] is a flattened, rounded ridge with four identifiable summits. Its name is derived from the olive groves that covered it in ancient times. It is of cretaceous limestone formation, something over a mile (almost two km.) in length, and forms the highest level of the range of hills to the east of Jerusalem (Ezek.11.23; Zech.14.4), rising 250 feet (78 m.) higher than the temple mount, and to 2,600 feet (813 m.) above sea level. Hence the supreme tactical significance of the Mount of Olives, demonstrated in the Roman siege of Jerusalem under Titus in a.d. 70. The Romans seem to have named the northern extension of the ridge “the Lookout,” or Mount Scopus, for this very reason. It gave “a plain view of the great temple,” according to Josephus (Wars 5.2.2). The legions had a large camp on the mount itself, which, as Josephus describes it in the same context, “lies over against the city on the east side, and is parted from it by a deep valley interposed between them.” The valley is the so-called [[Valley of Jehoshaphat]], through which flows the Kidron stream, encompassing the city in a slight curve to the east, before turning SE to flow down the long valley to the Dead Sea.
Near the foot of the Mount of Olives, on the western slope above the Kidron, is the likely site of the Garden of Gethsemane. In NT times the whole area seems to have been a place of resort for those who sought relief from the heat of the crowded city streets. Dean Stanley called it the “park” of Jerusalem. In much earlier times it must have been heavily wooded, for when the Feast of the Tabernacles was restored in 445 b.c., Nehemiah commanded the people to “go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths” (Neh.8.15). The palm fronds of Palm Sunday were also gathered there. Four summits are traditionally distinguished. Scopus has already been mentioned. R. A. S. Macalister (HDB, p. 668) considers it erroneously named, and not the vantagepoint to which Josephus refers. Second, there is the “Viri Galilaei,” the Latin invocation of Acts.1.11 (“Men of Galilee”), and the reputed site of the Ascension. To the south, above the village of Silwan (old Siloam) is the so-called Mount of Offense. This vantage-point is separated from the rest of the mount by a deep cleft. It faces west along the line of Jerusalem’s second valley, the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom or Gehenna. The eminence derives its name from the tradition that Solomon here built his altars to Chemosh, “the detestable god of Moab,” and to Molech, “the detestable god of the Ammonites” (1Kgs.11.7). The “offense” of this blatant paganism was purged by Josiah four and a half centuries later (2Kgs.23.13). The Josian context adds Ashtoreth to the “abominations” on the site.
II. Historical. Historical associations have found incidental reference above, where their significance is inseparable from topography. The following points should be added. The ridge, besides being a tactical vantage point in war, was a peacetime highway into Jerusalem. It was the route of David’s flight from Absalom in the time of the palace rebellion (2Sam.15.30; 2Sam.16.1, 2Sam.16.13) and, significantly, was the route of Christ’s approach for the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, for it was there that the acclaiming multitude met him. Hence, too, the prominence of the mount in Josephus’s account of the “Egyptian false prophet” and his thirty thousand dupes (Wars 2.13.5). “These he led round from the wilderness,” the account runs, “to the mount which is called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place.” Here, it would appear, Felix met the rebels with his legionary force and broke the revolt. The remaining OT reference to the Mount of Olives is the scene of the theophany of Zech.14.4, an obscure apocalyptic portion that awaits a clear explanation.
Historically the Mount of Olives finds its chief interest in NT times, where it is a locality intimately connected with the Jerusalem ministry of Christ. It is important here to distinguish authentic history from the thick accretions of legend and tradition. Christ’s first sight of the city was from the summit of the Mount of Olives (Luke.19.41), and his visits to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany must have frequently taken him that way (Luke.21.37). The barren fig tree of his striking object lesson on fruitless profession was probably on the slopes (Matt.21.19). The mount was also the scene of his apocalyptic utterance, inspired no doubt by the prospect of doomed Jerusalem from the mountainside (Matt.24.1-Matt.24.51-Matt.25.1-Matt.25.46). Gethsemane has already been mentioned as a place somewhere on the Mount of Olives. The rest is wavering ecclesiastical tradition. Macalister remarks (HDB, p. 668) that “the places pointed out have by no means remained unaltered through the Christian centuries, as becomes evident from a study of the writings of the pilgrims.” He lists among the spurious sites the Tomb of the Virgin; the Grotto of the Agony; one or both of the sites of the Garden, admitted though it is that it was somewhere on the mount; the “footprint of Christ” in the Chapel of the Ascension; the Tomb of Huldah, the impossible site for Christ’s lament over Jerusalem; the place where he taught the [[Lord's Prayer|Lord’s Prayer]], and where the Apostles’ Creed was composed. This does not exhaust the list of legends. It has been the fate of Jerusalem to suffer thus from the pious but not too scrupulous imagination of men. More authentic are a few archaeological remains, some Jewish and Christian tombs, and an interesting catacomb known as “the Tombs of the Prophets.”——EMB
MOUNT OF OLIVES (הַר הַזֵּיתִ֜ים, τὸ ὄρος τω̂ν ἐλαιω̂ν, meaning the mount of olives; τὸ ὄρος τὸ καλούμενον ἐλαιω̂ν, meaning the mount called olives, Luke 19:29; 21:37; του̂ ἐλαιω̂νος, meaning the olives or olivet, Acts 1:12). A N to S ridge c. two m. long across from the Kidron Valley E of Jerusalem, known for its abundance of olive trees.
Names and geography.
There is reason to believe that in ancient times the Mt. of Olives had many more olive groves on it than it does today, which accounts for the derivation of its name. It is called the same in Arab. today, viz., Jebel Zaitun, literally, Mt. of Olives. The Mt. is really a ridge running parallel to the Kidron Valley E of Jerusalem. There are undulations along it separating several high points. Although the northernmost of these has been connected with Nob of Isaiah 10:32 and the Mt. Scopus of Josephus (War II. xi. 4. 7; V. iv. 1), that is prob. incorrect. The northernmost peak is not on the usual route to Jerusalem from the N. Today this is called Ras el-Mesharif. On the S part of that elevated area today are the original Hadassah Hospital and the Augusta Victoria German Lutheran Hospital. The road from Jerusalem goes due E from the N part of the old city and up the mountain where there is a shallow depression. To the right or S is the beginning of the village of et-Tur (the mount or tower) which is strung southward along the hill. This middle height is sometimes named after the Gr. Orthodox monastery of Viri Galilaei. It is directly opposite the Haram es-Sharif of Old Jerusalem. The Mt. of Olives drops off to the S where the modern road to Jericho runs. The third and southernmost summit, which some do not even consider a part of the same ridge, is the Mt. of Offense, so named because of Solomon’s placing pagan worship shrines for his many foreign wives on the location (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13). On its slopes is the Jerusalem suburb of Silwan.
The center part of the Mt. of Olives or Olivet rises c. 100 ft. higher than Jerusalem or c. 2,700 ft. above sea level. To the E is a magnificent view of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea c. fifteen m. distant in a straight line. Beyond are the mountains of Moab. To the S and SE one can see the expansive wilderness of Judea. To the W the finest, most unforgettable, panoramic view of the old city of Jerusalem is available.
The hill is made of cretaceous limestone with a chalk-like top layer. The olive tree, which is one of the hardiest trees, thrives here, but there are many pines as well. The wind blows hard from the NW and gives many of the trees a decided bent to the SE. In fact, the southernmost peak is called by the Arabs Jebel Batn el-Hawa (the Mt. of the Belly of the Wind) because it blows so hard through that valley separating it from the central summit.
In the OT.
Considering the proximity of the Mt. of Olives to Jerusalem, there are surprisingly few mentions of it. It first occurs in 2 Samuel 15:30 where one reads that David went up the ascent of the Mt. of Olives. (The word “mount” is not in the MT.) Absalom had been wooing the men of Israel and it had become unsafe for David to remain in Jerusalem. Verse 32 states that “David came to the summit, where God was worshiped.” Up to this point no mention had been made of a sanctuary on the Mount, but knowing the propensity of ancient peoples to worship on mountains, it would not be a surprise to find a shrine there. David met Hushai there, dispatched him back to Jerusalem, and continued on his way toward the wilderness. 2 Samuel 16 opens with David passing over the summit where he met Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth. Then he went to the village of Bahurim (2 Sam 16:5) and eventually down to the [[Jordan River]] (v. 14). Bahurim has been identified tentatively with Ras et-Tmim on the E slope of the hill and N of the old Jericho road which went straight over the hill rather than around its S slope as the modern one does. Because of the word ascent in 2 Samuel 15:30, some have figured his route as the almost staircase-like trail which bears left up the hill past the Roman Catholic Garden of Gethsemane and reaches the top near the Gr. Orthodox monastery.
The second occurrence of the name Mt. of Olives is in Zechariah 14:4: “On that day [i.e., the day of the Lord’s coming] his feet shall stand on the [[Mount of Olives]] which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward.”
In the NT.
The Mt. of Olives is most important in the closing week of Jesus’ life on earth. Undoubtedly He crossed over it many times in His going to and from festivals in Jerusalem. Since the custom was not to pass through Samaria, Galileans prob. detoured across the Jordan in the N and then recrossed to the W bank near Jericho. This would account for Jesus’ appearances in Jericho, the geography of His parable of the Good Samaritan, and His presence in Bethany and Bethphage.
The first actual reference to the Mt. of Olives in the NT is in the questionable account of the woman taken in adultery. John 8:1f. records that Jesus went to the Mt. of Olives and the next day went to the Temple where the scene took place. Otherwise, all references to the famous Mt. are during and after Passion week.
Mark and Luke both mention Bethany, Bethphage, and the Mt. of Olives together in their record of the triumphal entry (Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29). The descriptions and location of Biblical Bethany fit well with the Arab village of el-Azariyeh SE of the Mt. astride the modern Jericho Road. Bethphage is adjacent to Bethany, but nearer the top of the Mt. of Olives. Abu-Dis represents it today, although there is a case for identifying it with the village of et-Tur on the very top.
As Jesus came over the crest of the hill and caught sight of the Holy City, He wept (Luke 19:41). When He returned from the city that night He went to Bethany, apparently again to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus or the home of Simon the leper (Mark 11:11; 14:3). The next day He went into the city again and on His way cursed a fig tree (Matt 21:19; Mark 11:13). It was prob. to the Mt. of Olives that the Savior referred when He said, “If you have faith and never doubt...but...say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will be done” (Matt 21:21).
The following day, after having spent the previous night in Bethany and having returned from the Temple, Jesus was sitting on the Mt. of Olives with His disciples as He discoursed about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world (Matt 24:3; Mark 13:3). In a summary statement Luke (21:37) says that every night after teaching in the Temple Jesus went out to the Mt. called Olivet. For a Galilean, the seclusion from the hustle of the city which the groves on the hillside offered undoubtedly was welcome. Furthermore, there was prob. no room in the inns of Jerusalem at Passover time.
It was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the W slopes of the Mt. of Olives that Jesus agonized with the Father (Matt 26:30, 36ff.; Mark 14:26, 32ff.; Luke 22:39ff.; John 18:1ff.), and there Judas betrayed his Lord.
Lastly, it was from the Mt. called Olivet that the disciples returned after witnessing the Ascension of their Lord (Acts 1:9-12; cf. Luke 24:50).
The shrines on the mount.
Apart from the city of Jerusalem, there is prob. no greater concentration of shrines than on the Mt. of Olives. To trace the history, significance, and denominational connection of each would be an impossible task. About the only things that are certain are the location of the hill itself and the location of Bethany to the SE. There are three “Palm Sunday” trails over the hill, three Gardens of Gethsemane, two or three sites for the Ascension, two Jericho roads, and so forth. Faithful devotees of Jesus and the land on which He walked have marked with the church of Dominus Flevit the exact spot where He wept over Jerusalem, and have recovered the stone on which He stepped as He mounted the donkey on Palm Sunday in Bethphage. A Muslim shrine called Inbomon, built within the ruins of an octagonal church originally constructed in 375, later destroyed but restored by the crusaders, contains a footprint in the rock floor reputed to be the last footprint of Christ on earth. The credit for the most gross abomination or the most extravagant enterprise must go, however, to the Arab selling rides on a white donkey which he says is a direct descendant of the one Jesus rode!
The first sanctuary on the Mt. was begun in a.d. 325 by Helena, the mother of Constantine, on the S end of the central hill. Called the Eleona (Olives), the structure sheltered a grotto in which Jesus was to have taught the disciples. The Persians destroyed it in the 7th cent., but over it in 1869 was built the Church of the Pater Noster on the assumption that the Lord’s Prayer (the “Our Father”) was given there (Luke 11:1-4). That church has the Lord’s Prayer written on panels on the walls of the sanctuary and cloister in forty different languages.
In addition to the Inbomon, with its footprint, is the Russian Orthodox Monastery of the Ascension with its tall and most distinctive bell tower. Another monastery, a Gr. Orthodox one called Viri Galilaei, may be named from the words in Acts 1:11, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?”
On the W slope of the hill near the bottom are the Gardens of Gethsemane. Three churches with three gardens are there for the pilgrim’s choice. Nearer the center of the hillside is the Russian church of [[Mary Magdalene]] with its typical Byzantine architecture. Below it is the famous Roman Catholic Church of All Nations sheltering the “Rock of Agony.” This site has a long tradition behind it. In the garden to the N are 1,000-year old olive trees. Further N is a church built c. a.d. 455 over the supposed tomb of Mary. It is operated by the Greeks and the Coptics.
On the N end of the ridge of the Mt. of Olives is the magnificent Augusta Victoria Hospital built by Kaiser Wilhelm II. It is not intended to mark a Biblical site, however, although in the digging of the foundations in 1907 remains of a very ancient settlement were discovered. A modern luxury hotel now dominates the S end of the central ridge overlooking the many tombstones of the centuriesold Jewish cemeteries.
G. Dalman, Sacred Sites and Ways (1935), 261-270; K. Kraeling, Bible Atlas (1956), 396-398; G. A. Barrois in Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary, IV (1962).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
See [[Mount of Olives]]; [[Jerusalem]].
2. Situation and Extent
3. [[Old Testament]] Associations
(1) David’s Escape from Absalom
(2) The Vision of Ezekiel
(3) The Vision of Zechariah
4. [[High Places]]
5. Olivet and Jesus
6. View of the City from Olivet
7. Churches and Ecclesiastical Traditions
Olivet comes to us through the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Oliverum, "an oliveyard."
Josephus frequently uses the expression "Mount of Olives" (e.g. Ant, VII, ix, 2; XX, viii, 6; BJ, V, ii, 3; xii, 2), but later Jewish writings give the name har ha-mishchah, "Mount of Oil"; this occurs in some manuscripts in 2Ki 23:13, and the common reading har ha-mashchith, "[[Mount of Corruption]]," margin "destruction," may possibly be a deliberate alteration (see below). In later ages the Mount was termed "the mountain of lights," because here there used to be kindled at one time the first beacon light to announce throughout Jewry the appearance of the new moon.
To the natives of Palestine today it is usually known as Jebel et Tar ("mountain of the elevation," or "tower"), or, less commonly, as Jebel Tur ez zait ("mountain of the elevation of oil"). The name Jebel ez-zaitun ("Mount of Olives") is also well known. Early Arabic writers use the term Tur Zait, "Mount of Oil."
2. Situation and Extent:
The mountain ridge which lies East of Jerusalem leaves the central range near the valley of Sha`phat and runs for about 2 miles due South. After culminating in the mountain mass on which lies the "Church of the Ascension," it may be considered as giving off two branches: one lower one, which runs South-Southwest, forming the southern side of the Kidron valley, terminating at the Wady en Nar, and another, higher one, which slopes eastward and terminates a little beyond el-`Azareyeh (modern Bethany). The main ridge is considerably higher than the site of ancient Jerusalem, and still retains a thick cap of the soft chalky limestone, mixed with flint, known variously as Nari and Ka`kuli, which has been entirely denuded over the Jerusalem site (see JERUSALEM, II, 1). The flints were the cause of a large settlement of paleolithic man which occurred in prehistoric times on the northern end of the ridge, while the soft chalky stone breaks down to form a soil valuable for the cultivation of olives and other trees and shrubs. The one drawback to arboriculture upon this ridge is the strong northwest wind which permanently bends most trees toward the Southeast, but affects the sturdy, slow-growing olive less than the quicker-growing pine. The eastern slopes are more sheltered. In respect of wind the Mount of Olives is far more exposed than the site of old Jerusalem.
The lofty ridge of Olivet is visible from far, a fact now emphasized by the high Russian tower which can be seen for many scores of miles on the East of the Jordan. The range presents, from such a point of view particularly, a succession of summits. Taking as the northern limit the dip which is crossed by the ancient Anathoth (`anata) road, the most northerly summit is that now crowned by the house and garden of Sir John Gray Hill, 2,690 ft. above sea-level. This is sometimes incorrectly pointed out as Scopus, which lay farther to the Northwest. A second sharp dip in the ridge separates this northern summit from the next, a broad plateau now occupied by the great Kaiserin Augusta Victoria Stiftung and grounds. The road makes a sharp descent into a valley which is traversed from West to East by an important and ancient road from Jerusalem, which runs eastward along the Wady er Rawabeh. South of this dip lies the main mass of the mountain, that known characteristically as the Olivet of ecclesiastical tradition. This mass consists of two principal summits and two subsidiary spurs. The northern of the two main summits is that known as Karem es Sayyad, "the vineyard of the hunter," and also as "Galilee," or, more correctly, as Viri Galilaei (see below, 7). It reaches a height of 2,723 ft. above the Mediterranean and is separated from the southern summit by a narrow neck traversed today by the carriage road. The southern summit, of practically the same elevation, is the traditional "Mount of the Ascension," and for several years has been distinguished by a lofty, though somewhat inartistic, tower erected by the Russians. The two subsidiary spurs referred to above are:
(1) a somewhat isolated ridge running Southeast, upon which lies the squalid village of el `Azareyeh--Bethany;
(2) a small spur running South, covered with grass, which is known as "the Prophets," on account of a remarkable 4th-century Christian tomb found there, which is known as "the tomb of the Prophets"--a spot much venerated by modern Jews.
A further extension of the ridge as Batn el Hawa, "the belly of the wind," or traditionally as "the Mount of Offence" (compare 1Ki 11:7; 2Ki 23:13), is usually included in the Mount of Olives, but its lower altitude--it is on a level with the temple-platform--and its position South of the city mark it off as practically a distinct hill. Upon its lower slopes are clustered the houses of Silwan (Siloam).
The notices of the Mount of Olives in the Old Testament are, considering its nearness to Jerusalem, remarkably scanty.
3. Old Testament Associations:
(1) David’s Escape from Absalom:
David fleeing before his rebellious son Absalom (2Sa 15:16) crossed the Kidron and "went up by the ascent of the mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered, and went barefoot: and all the people that were with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went (2Sa 15:30). .... And it came to pass, that, when David was come to the top of the ascent where he was wont to worship God, (m), behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head (2Sa 15:32). And when David was a little past the top of the ascent, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and a hundred clusters of raisins, and a hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine" (2Sa 16:1).
It is highly probable that David’s route to the wilderness was neither by the much-trodden Anathoth road nor over the summit of the mountain, but by the path running Northeast from the city, which runs between the Viri Galilaei hill and that supporting the German Sanatorium and descends into the wilderness by Wady er Rawabi.
(2) The Vision of Ezekiel:
Ezekiel in a vision (11:23) saw the glory of Yahweh go up from the midst of the city and stand "upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city" (compare 43:2). In connection with this the Rabbi Janna records the tradition that the shekhinah stood 3 1/2 years upon Olivet, and preached, saying, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near"--a strange story to come from a Jewish source, suggesting some overt reference to Christ.
(3) The Vision of Zechariah:
In Zec 14:4 the prophet sees Yahweh in that day stand upon the Mount of Olives, "and the Mount of Olives shall be cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."
In addition to these direct references, Jewish tradition associates with this mount--this "mount of Corruption"--the rite of the red heifer (Nu 19); and many authorities consider that this is also the mount referred to in Ne 8:15, whence the people are directed to fetch olive branches, branches of wild olive, myrtle branches, palm branches and branches of thick trees to make their booths.
4. High Places:
5. Olivet and Jesus:
On the lower slopes of Olivet, in the Garden of Gethsemane (see [[Gethsemane]]), Jesus endured His agony, the betrayal and arrest, while upon one of its higher points--not, as tradition has it, on the inhabited highest summit, but on the secluded eastern slopes "over against Bethany" (Lu 24:50-52)--He took leave of His disciples (compare Ac 1:12).
6. View of the City from Olivet:
The view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives must ever be one of the most striking impressions which any visitor to Jerusalem carries away with him. It has been described countless times. It is today a view but of ruin and departed glory compared with that over which Jesus wept. A modern writer with historic imagination has thus graphically sketched the salient features of that sight:
"We are standing on the road from Bethany as it breaks round the Mount of Olives and on looking northwest this is what we see. .... There spreads a vast stone stage, almost rectangular, some 400 yards. North and South by 300 East and West, held up above Ophel and the Kidron valley by a high and massive wall, from 50 to 150 ft. and more in height, according to the levels of the rock from which it rises. Deep cloisters surround this platform on the inside of the walls. .... Every gate has its watch and other guards patrol the courts. The crowds, which pour through the south gates upon the platform for the most part keep to the right; the exceptions, turning westward, are excommunicated or in mourning. But the crowd are not all Israelites. Numbers of Gentiles mingle with them; there are costumes and colors from all lands. In the cloisters sit teachers with groups of disciples about them. On the open pavement stand the booths of hucksters and money-changers; and from the North sheep and bullocks are being driven toward the Inner Sanctuary. This lies not in the center of the great platform, but in the northwest corner. It is a separately fortified, oblong enclosure; its high walls with their 9 gates rising from a narrow terrace at a slight elevation above the platform and the terrace encompassed by a fence within which none but Israelites may pass. .... Upon its higher western end rises a house `like a lion broad in front and narrow behind.’ .... From the open porch of this house stone steps descend to a great block of an altar perpetually smoking with sacrifices. .... Off the Northwest of the Outer Sanctuary a castle (the Antonia) dominates the whole with its 4 lofty towers. Beyond .... the Upper City rises in curved tiers like a theater, while all the lower slopes to the South are a crowded mass of houses, girded by the eastern wall of the city. Against that crowded background the sanctuary with its high house gleams white and fresh. But the front of the house, glittering with gold plates, is obscured by a column of smoke rising from the altar; and the Priests’ Court about the latter is colored by the slaughterers and sacrifices--a splash of red, as our imagination takes it, in the center of the prevailing white. At intervals there are bursts of music; the singing of psalms, the clash of cymbals and a great blare of trumpets, at which the people in their court in the Inner Sanctuary fall down and worship" (extracts from G.A. Smith’s Jerusalem, II, 518-20).
7. Churches and Ecclesiastical Traditions:
To the Bible student the New Testament is the best guide to Olivet; tradition and "sites" only bewilder him. Once the main hilltop was a mass of churches. There was the "Church of the Ascension" to mark the spot whereby tradition (contrary to the direct statement of Luke) states that the Ascension occurred; now the site is marked by a small octagonal chapel, built in 1834, which is in the hands of the Moslems. There a "footprint of Christ" is shown in the rock. A large basilica of Helena was built over the place where it was said that Christ taught His disciples. In 1869 the Princess de Latour d’Auvergne, learning that there was a Moslem tradition that this site was at a spot called el Battaniyeh south of the summit, here erected a beautiful church known as the Church of the Pater Noster and around the courtyard she had the [[Lord's Prayer|Lord’s Prayer]] inscribed in 32 languages. When the church was in course of erection certain fragments of old walls and mosaics were found, but, in 1911, as a result of a careful excavation of the site, the foundations of a more extensive mass of old buildings, with some beautiful mosaic in the baptistry, were revealed in the neighborhood; there is little doubt but that these foundations belonged to the actual Basilica of Helena. It is proposed to rebuild the church.
Mention has been made of the name Viri Galilaei or Galilee as given to the northern summit of the main mass of Olivet. The name "Mount Galilee" appears to have been first given to this hill early in the 4th century and in 1573 AD Rawolf explains the name by the statement that here was in ancient times a khan where the Galileans lodged who came up to Jerusalem. In 1620 Quaresmius applies the names "Galilee" and Viri Galilaei to this site and thinks the latter name may be due to its having been the spot where the two angels appeared and addressed the disciples as "Ye men of Galilee" (Ac 1:11). Attempts have been made, without much success, to maintain that this "Galilee" was the spot which our Lord intended (Mt 28:10,16) to indicate to His disciples as the place of meeting.
The Russian enclosure includes a chapel, a lofty tower--from which a magnificent view is obtainable--a hospice and a pleasant pine grove. Between the Russian buildings to the North and the Church of the Ascension lies the squalid village of et tur, inhabited by a peculiarly turbulent and rapacious crowd of Moslems, who prey upon the passing pilgrims and do much to spoil the sentiment of a visit to this sacred spot. It is possible it may be the original site of BETHPHAGE (which see).
PEF, Memoirs, "Jerusalem" volume; G. A. Smith, Jerusalem; Robinson, BRP, I, 1838; Stanley, Sinai and Palestine; Baedeker’s Palestine and Syria (by Socin and Bensinger); Tobler, Die Siloahquelle und der Oelberg, 1852; Porter, Murray’s Palestine and Syria; R. Hofmann, Galilaea auf dem Oelberg, Leipzig, 1896; Schick, "The Mount of Olives," PEFS, 1889, 174-84; Warren, article "Mount of Olives," in HDB; Gauthier, in EB, under the word; Vincent (Pere), "The Tombs of the Prophets," Revue Biblique, 1901.