“They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, ‘Sit here while I go and pray.’” Mark 14:32
AFTER THE LAST SUPPER, Jesus and most of his disciples went to Gethsemane to pray.
Judas, however, went to get temple officers. He brought them to Gethsemane, where they arrested Jesus.
The Bible doesn’t say where Gethsemane was. But early Christian pilgrims said it was an olive grove on the Mount of Olives. The name means “olive press.”
Archaeologists say a notch on the wall of a cave there is the kind farmers once used to press olives. They would slip a board in the notch and then hang stones on the other end of the board to crush baskets of olives pressed under the board.
Pilgrims today visit a nearby garden courtyard at the Church of All Nations. Old olive trees are the main attraction.
Scholars say it’s unlikely they date back to the time of Jesus, partly because a history writer from Jesus’s century—Josephus—said Roman General Titus ordered all the Jerusalem trees cut down. He needed them to make siege weapons for the attack that demolished Jerusalem in AD 70.
Excerpt from Stephen M. Miller’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, coming April 1, 2013.