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Kidron Valley

The Kidron Valley is located between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives and has been equated to Petra.

The valley continues north into the Judean Desert towards the Dead Sea and in the spring, everything is carpeted with wild flours.

In Hebrew the Kidron Valley, means the whole wadi, and the upper section that most people think of is referred to as Valley of Yehoshafat (Josaphat) or the King’s Valley.

This section is a part of the Holy Basin which a section of Jerusalem which encompasses the the Old City of Jerusalem and its immediate surroundings.

The Valley of Yehoshafat was considered in ancient times to a part of the Mount of Olives, as part of the necropolis.

There are tombs here dating back to the First Temple and Second Temple periods.

There are tombs from the First Temple Period dating between the 9th and 7th centuries BCE.

Still today you can see caves hewn into the cliff beneath the modern village and many more are scattered among the houses of Silwan.

These were burial caves, carved out of the rock for the nobles of Jerusalem in the First Temple period.

At the end of a row of houses there is a cube-like structure cut into the bedrock.

This is a tomb from the First Temple period, which is popularly known as the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter.

The name comes from the fact that it was once topped with stone pyramid so it was believed to have been the Tomb of King Solomon’s Egyptian wife.

However, the pyramid was cut into pieces and removed for quarry, during the Roman Period leaving a flat roof.

During the Second Temple period, this was the main burial grounds of Jerusalem where hundreds of tombs have survived until today.

The three in particular are very well preserved.

Tomb of Absalom

The Tomb of Absalom, or Absalom’s Pillar, or Yad Avshalom is an ancient rock-cut tomb with a conical roof.

The name of the tombstone indicates a tradition that links it to a tombstone built by Absalom, the son of King David.

However, this is impossible due to the time period in which it was built.

The name Tomb of Absalom comes from the wrong assumption by Christian Pilgrims during the Middle Ages.

These wrong assumptions were not uncommon by Christian pilgrims and Crusaders, just like they wrongly assumed the Tower of David was King David’s palace.

In fact, modern scholars believe that may actually be the tomb of King Agrippa Herod’s grandson.

In part, this is because the near by Jehoshaphat Cave is a very large and ornamented cave that was used for family burial.

It is s believed by some to be the resting place Agrippa’s family members while he and his wife were buried in the so called “Tomb of Absalom.”

Tomb of Benei Hezir

The Tomb of Benei Hezir dates to the Hasmonean period, and is hewn entirely inside the cliff is and the oldest of four monumental rock-cut tombs in the Kidron Valley

A Hebrew inscription above the cave indicates that a family of priests from Bnei Hazir are buried in the cave.

“This is the grave and the Nefesh of Eliezer Hania Yoazar and Yehuda Shimon Yochanan sons of Yosef son of Oved Yosef and Elazar sons of Hania, Kohanim of the Hezir family.”

The tomb’s inscription shows that the cave was used by several generations of the Benei Hezir family.

In the Hebrew Bible there are two mentions of men with the name of Hezir.

One was the founder of the 17th priestly division (1 Chron. 24:15); the other one was among the leaders who set their seal to the covenant with Nehemiah (Neh. 10:20).

It is not known if there is a relation between the family buried here and the biblical Hezirs.

The inscription mentions a nefesh, which means soul in Hebrew but was meant burial monument.

It has been proposed that the Tomb of Zechariah, is actually this nefesh.

Another option is that the additional façade to the north of the Doric dystilos-in-antis was the original nefesh.

Having a nefesh in front of a tomb was popular in the Second Temple Period among the rich.

Tomb of Zechariah

The Tomb of Zechariah is an ancient stone monument adjacent to the Tomb of Benei Hezir.

It is believed by many to be the tomb of the cohen (Temple priest) Zechariah ben Jehoiada.

However, it is a monolith, which means it is completely carved out of the solid rock and does not contain a burial chamber.

Also, Zechariah ben Jehoiada was from the First Temple Period and this nefesh is from the Second Temple Period so it can’t be Zechariah’s Tomb.

It’s style is similar to that of the Tomb of Benei Hezir, and making it likely that it is the nefesh.

Another opinion is that it is the nefesh of grave had never been hewn for some reason, such as the Great Revolt.

How to Get to the Kidron Valley

Walking

From Dung Gate located near the Western Wall, cross the street and walk down towards the City of David.

Continue walking down the road as it curves to the left for about 30 meters until you see the stairs on the right going down to Absalom’s Tomb.

By Car

Street parking near the Mount of Olives Information Center located at 5 Derech Jericho, Jerusalem.

Take the stairs down to the Kidron Valley.

By Bus

From the Central Bus Station

Take bus line 1 or 3 in the direction of the Western Wall.

Get off three stops before the Western Wall at the stop called Derech Jericho/Derech HaOfel.

Make your way towards the traffic light and cross the street at the crosswalk.

Continue towards the cemetery (until just after the large church).

On the right hand side you will see a large Israeli flag and the Mount of Olives Information Center.

Take the stairs down to the Kidron Valley.

From the Old City

Take line 83/83a or 51 towards Mount of olives. Get off at the bus stop called Har-Hazetim that is right to the Information center.

Take the stairs down to the Kidron Valley.

First Station Free Shuttle Service:

You can take the free shuttle from the First Station service to Dung Gate in the Old City.

From there you cross the street and walk down towards the City of David.

Continue walking down the road as it curves to the left for about 30 meters until you see the stairs on the right going down to Absalom’s Tomb.

See the First Station website for shuttle hours.

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