The Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb was discovered by chance in 1867 by a Greek man who dug in the rubble on a hill hoping to find a cistern. Instead, he found a hole full of skulls and bones. The man abandoned the place in fear and it remained undisturbed for a number of years. 

 

In 1883, a famous British general and Bible scholar, Charles Gordon, was impressed by a topography of the hill which is reminiscent of a skull and he thought it might be the site of Golgotha. Later in the whole area was purchased by the  Christian association founded in Britain in 1894. Since then, the association has been managing the site and welcomes millions of pilgrims who come to experience the last events of Jesus’ life. 

On shady paths of Garden Tomb
On shady paths of Garden Tomb
The tomb
The tomb

This tomb and perhaps the garden belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, the secret disciple of Jesus. He obtained a permission from Pontius Pilate to bury the body of Christ before the beginning of the Sabbath.

 

The possible evidence of the garden's existence is the water cistern that has been discovered at the site. This is third largest in Jerusalem rainwater cistern holding over 900,000 liters (over 200,000 gallons) of water. In 1924, a wine press was also discovered. Together, these finds suggest that the garden was originally a vineyard, maybe owned by a rich man such as Joseph of Arimathea.

 

The tomb itself was unearthed in 1867, though its entrance had been damaged, perhaps by an earthquake. It is not a natural cave but is hewn out of solid rock and is obviously unfinished.

 

The rolling stone was not found at the site and the groove in front of the tomb might not be for the stone but for another unknown purpose, possibly part of a  channel system of the Crusaders period, built for providing water to the garden.  

Experiencing the events of death and ressurection of Jesus
Experiencing the events of death and ressurection of Jesus

Gospel Narrative

The skull's likeness of the hill thought to be Golgotha
The skull's likeness of the hill thought to be Golgotha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"They came to a place called Golgotha, which means 'The Place of The Skull'. There they offered Jesus wine mixed with a bitter substance; but after tasting it, He would not drink it. they crucified Him and they divided His clothes among them by throwing dice"  (Matthew 27:33).

 

Thousands of people visit this site annually. Many of them discover a deeper and more profound understanding of the events that had happened 2000 years ago. In Evangelical Christian circles, this place is often called the Resurrection Garden. In the scientific community,  it is called Gordon's Golgotha.

 

There is a dispute among the archaeologists and historians about whether or not this is the real place of Jesus' crucifixion. The authenticity of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as the site of the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus is also disputed, although many faiths accept it as such. We will discuss this subject without trying to settle the dispute.

 

Many Bible scholars observed that Gordon's Golgotha bears a remarkable resemblance with the Gospel's description of the site. It says the place was situated outside the city gate:

"Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate" (Hebrews 13:13).

 

The Garden is also just outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City. The Damascus gate did not change its location since the ancient times. According to the Scripture the place also was near the city:

"Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin" (John 19:20).

 

More likely it was a noisy open site by a busy and heavily travelled road. And indeed, an ancient road to Damascus passed in vicinity of the Garden. The Apostle John described a garden in area near the site of the crucifixion,

"Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid" (John 19:41).

Other paths of Garden Tomb
Other paths of Garden Tomb
An ancient column in Garden Tomb
An ancient column in Garden Tomb

The Tomb

replica of the rolling stone of the tomb
replica of the rolling stone of the tomb
 The entrance to the tomb
The entrance to the tomb

The exact dating of the tomb is disputed, though some features fit the Bible narrative.

 

The tomb is cut of the rock, which is consistent with the passage:

"And laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb and departed" (Matthew 27:60).

 

According to the Gospel at the place of burial there was a garden and Mary mistakenly identifies Jesus with the gardener:

"She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away" (John 20:15).

 

Though, in the light of the modern research, the identification of the tomb made by renown Cathleen Kenyon was proved wrong later. She thought the tomb belonged to the 1st AD century, but it is typical of the earlier 1st Temple Period. The secondary use of the tomb would contradict the Gospel narrative:

"Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid" (John 19:41).

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