Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Absalom's Pillar and Yom Kippur

You have seen this stained glass window before, I know, I know.
Every year at Yom Kippur I seem to refer you back to my earlier post that explains  the synagogue Yom Kippur window,  just because I have nothing new to tell about the holy day.
But hey, let's look at the real monument that is depicted in the glass!

It is Yad Avshalom,  Absalom's Pillar, at the foot of the Mt. of Olives, in the Kidron Valley.
The bottom part is hewn out of the rock.
Together with the drum and cone, it is 47 feet tall. 

Also called Absalom's Tomb, it was built some 2,000 years ago.
It is Jerusalem's only relatively intact structure from before the Roman destruction of the city in 70 CE.
Both Greek and local styles are blended. 

Avshalom was the son of King David.
David's men killed him after a failed mutiny.

Zev Vilnay says that "For centuries, it was the custom among passersby--Jews, Muslims, and Christians--to throw stones at the monument. Residents of Jerusalem would bring their unruly children to the site to teach them what became of a rebellious son."
Frommer's says that  "At one time, religious Jews would throw stones at Absalom's tomb (Kever Avshalom) in condemnation of Absalom, who rebelled against his father, King David."

See a 17th century engraving of the stoning here

Go to this 19th century photo to see how high the pile of rocks around and inside the monument had reached.
Another view here
A big clean-up was done in 1925.

Just to the right of Absalom's Pillar are the Tomb of the Sons of Hezir and the Tomb of Zechariah.
Enlarge the photo (with two separate clicks) to see the thousands of ancient (and some modern) Jewish graves on the Mt. of Olives. 

Don't get lost, follow the signs!

Lots more information:
360-degree panorama
A short video
Bible sources about Absalom
About Yad Avshalom as a 4th C Christian shrine here and here

Getting back to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement starting tomorrow afternoon . . . I wish you gmar chatima tova, may you be written and sealed in God's Book of Life for a good new year.
(The post participates in Taphophile Tragics, ABC Wednesday, Our World Tuesday, and  Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.)


Fran said...

Love seeing this - a favorite view of mine. Ah Jerusalem, I sit on my own shores and weep, to return to you, just to return to you! (I know, a little dramatic, but I miss Jerusalem!)

Scrappy Grams said...

These are incredible! I can't imagine living where anything that old is still standing. In our Bible Study two years ago we studied David, thankfully. So I didn't have to Google anyone's name in your post today! Bless you for sharing Jerusalem's historic sites.

diane b said...

Wow that is ancient history.

Cloudia said...

Moving post.

May YOU be written & sealed, Dina

Aloha from Honolulu,

Comfort Spiral

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Sara said...

Love the panorama view, I opened it full screen and took a really good look. I can hardly believe the road that passes by there is apparently still unpaved! I walked along that path in 1974 more than once in the company of my Palestinian friend's brother who was escorting me to Silwan Village to meet the family and share a meal. It all looks a bit more cleaned up and tidier though, than I remember, though my memories are a bit vague by now.

Kay said...

We want to wish you a peaceful, serene and happy new year, Dina!

toby said...

Gorgeous photos. As always, I'm so impressed with your deep knowledge of our beautiful area!
Gmar chatima tova to you and yours!

Fun60 said...

Thank you for the history lesson - really informative. I couldn't believe the mountain of stones next to the monument.

Adullamite said...

Link to the TFBA is grand! I have never seen that old pic before!
I hope your New Year is good.

'Tsuki said...


That's a big emotion for me ; I went there when I was a little girl (1986), and it is so weird to see it nowaday, inchange, intemporal.


Nicola Carpenter said...

What a fascinating post and a wonderful monument. Thanks for sharing.

Beneath Thy Feet

Julie said...

Golly, it certainly has been cleaned up since that 19thC photograph was taken. Cleaned up and restored as well.

The photograph showing all the graves down the Mt of Olives fair takes my breath away. HOw could one negotiate around and between. It is like a blasted field ... from the distance only rubble. I know. I know. It is much more than that.

2000 years is such a long time ... someone from my country has a lot of trouble trying to comprehend time measured like that.

Thank you, Dina.

Halcyon said...

Even if you've shown it before, it's nice to see the stained glass. And very interesting "lesson" on the tomb. I so want to visit this part of the world. :)

JM said...

Dina, I don't remember this stained glass window so I'm glad you posted it again. It's a wonderful work!

VP said...

I am glad they cleaned it up: in my picture it is covered by graffiti...

Gary said...

Really interesting post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Spiderdama said...

This is a very special and interesting place. Remember I took a lot of pictures at this place, but I should have gone a little closer to the cave next to the monument.. I will do next time.
Great post Dina:-)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos -- and a lovely post!

TheChieftess said...

You live in a fascinating part of the world Dina...

Roger Owen Green said...

lovely shots, but stoning sounds like a particularly lousy way to die

crystal said...

Great post, Dina :)

Ann said...

That must have been quite something when it was built - its impressive now.

Reader Wil said...

That was very interesting, Dina! The stained glass window is very exquisite. I haven't seen it before.I learnt a new fact about the monuments in Jerusalem, thanks to you. I must go back to Jerusalem and visit the Kidron Valley.Well, I wish you gmar chatima tova as well!

Ann said...

I have studied these this area my whole life growing up but have never been able to visit in person. Maybe someday, thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge.