Mount Of Olives - The Hill That Jesus Loved
( Originally Published 1908 )
WE had seen from Mizpah the sharp ridge of the Mount of Olives, rising beyond Jerusalem. Our road thither from the camp led us around the city, past the Damascus Gate, and the royal grottoes, and Herod's Gate, and the Tower of the Storks, and St. Stephen's Gate, down into the Valley of the Brook Kidron. Here, on the west, rises the precipitous Temple Hill crowned with the wall of the city, and on the east the long ridge of Olivet.
There are several buildings on the side of the steep hill, marking supposed holy places or sacred events—the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin, the Latin Chapel of the Agony, the Greek Church of St. Mary Magdalen. On top of the ridge are the Russian Buildings, with the Chapel of the Ascension, and the Latin Buildings, with the Church of the Creed, the Church of the Paternoster, and a Carmelite Nunnery. Among the walls of these in-closures we wound our way, and at last tied our horses outside of the Russian garden. We climbed the two hundred and fourteen steps of the lofty Belvidere Tower, and found ourselves in possession of one of the great views of the world. There is Jerusalem, across the Kidron, spread out like a raised map below us. The mountains of Judah roll away north and south and east and west—the clean-cut pinnacle of Mizpah, the lofty plain of Rephaim, the dark hills toward Hebron, the rounded top of Scopus where Titus camped with his Roman legions, the flattened peak of Frank Mountain. Bethlehem is not visible; but there is the tiny village of Bethphage, and the first roof of Bethany peeping over the ridge, and the Inn of the Good Samaritan in a red cut of the long serpentine road to Jericho. The dark range of Gilead and Moab seems like a huge wall of lapis-lazuli beyond the furrowed, wrinkled, yellowish clay-hills and the wide gray trench of the Jordan Valley, wherein the river marks its crooked path with a line of deep green. The hundreds of ridges that slope steeply down to that immense depression are touched with a thousand hues of amethystine light, and the ravines between them filled with a thousand tones of azure shadow. At the end of the valley glitter the blue waters of the Dead Sea, fifteen miles away, four thousand feet below us, yet seeming so near that we almost expect to hear the sound of its waves on the rocky shores of the Wilderness of Tekoa.
On this mount Jesus of Nazareth often walked with His disciples. On this widespread landscape His eyes rested as He spoke divinely of the invisible kingdom of peace and love and joy that shall never pass away. Over this walled city, sleeping in the sunshine, full of earthly dreams and disappointments, battlemented hearts and whited sepulchres of the spirit, He wept, and cried: "O Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her own brood under her wings, and ye would not!"