Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Room for the Dead on the Mount of Olives

From thestar.com:

For the past 3,000 years, Jewish families have been bringing their dead to the Mount of Olives cemetery.

A maze of hillside tombs, this graveyard is the holiest place for those in the Jewish faith to be laid to rest.

Many Jews believe that when the Messiah comes to Earth riding on a white donkey, the dead will rise from their graves and walk to the holy Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.

From the Mount of Olives cemetery, that’s only a few hundred metres.

“Everyone in that cemetery is buried with their feet facing the Temple Mount so they come straight up and don’t even have to turn around. No one is going to get confused on the walk,” said Ira Rappaport, 67, who moved from New York to Israel 41 years ago and whose parents are buried in the cemetery.

“Some Jews also believe in a mystic interpretation of the scriptures that the dead roll over in the grave to get rid of their sins,” Rappaport said. “But because the land at the Mount of Olives is so pure, you don’t have to worry about that.”

Authorities have identified more than 150,000 burials here — the cemetery has been used for more than 3,000 years so there are surely other undiscovered plots — but administrators say new plots are becoming scarce.

In as few as 10 years, there will be no room for new graves, said Chananya Shachor, manager of the Jerusalem Burial Society, the largest of 13 societies that arrange funerals.

The rest of the article gives some more history and gives the price of a plot. It is interesting that the author connects the resurrection with Zechariah 9 and the Messiah on the donkey and not Zechariah 14 where the Lord lands on the Mount of Olives to save Jerusalem.

HT: Charles Savelle

Mount of Olives aerial from southeast, bb00030046

Cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
Photo from the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands



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