Valley of Jehoshaphat

Religious Site in East Jerusalem
Image by alefbet / Shutterstock
Image by alefbet / Shutterstock

The word jehoshaphat (yehoshafat in Hebrew) means ‘God has judged’, and this narrow furrow of land located between Temple Mount/Al Haram Ash Sharif and the Mount of Olives is where it is said the events of Judgment Day will take place (Joel 3:12) and all nations will be judged. At the southern end is a series of tombs dating from the Second Temple period.

The northernmost tomb is that of Jehoshaphat; this 1st-century burial cave is notable for the impressive frieze above its entrance. Just in front of it is Absalom’s Pillar, which legend says is the tomb of David’s son (2 Samuel 18:17). Just beyond Absalom’s Pillar is the Grotto of St James, where St James is believed to have hidden when Jesus was arrested nearby. Next to the grotto, carved out of the rock, is the Tomb of Zechariah, where Jewish tradition holds the prophet Zechariah is buried (2 Chronicles 24:25).

Despite their names, the tombs most likely belong to wealthy noblemen of the Second Temple period.