Garden of Gethsemane

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Gethsemane - Place of Jesus' arrest

Where is the Garden of Gethsemane located? How big is it? How were Jesus' words and prayers heard in such a location?

The Garden of Gethsemane is specifically referenced, by name, only twice in the King James Bible translation (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32). It is also referenced in John 18:1 and Luke 22:40. The area it encompasses is flat and measures less than 57 square yards (47 1/2 square meters). It is located on the western foot of the Mount of Olives, beyond the brook Kidron, and is only a short distance from Jerusalem. The villages of Bethany and Bethphage are also located very near the garden and Gethsemane.

And after singing a hymn (after Jesus' last Passover was completed in Jerusalem), they went out to the Mount of Olives . . . Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane (garden) . . ." (Matthew 26:30, 36, HBFV).

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Composed of two Hebrew words (Gath, Strong's Concordance #H1660 and Shemen, Strong's #H8081), the English word Gethsemane can mean "valley of fatness" or fertile valley, "olive press" or "oil press." Although the Apostle John refers to this place as a garden, it was not the same kind we would have today. Rather than a place to grow vegetables and other foods, it was a location where the planting and harvesting of trees producing olives, pomegranates, and figs took place. Today, some olive trees still exist in the garden that were planted roughly nine hundred years ago!

Judas betrayed Jesus in this quiet and peaceful garden location right after the disciples finished what is commonly called 'the Last Supper.' The arrest of Christ occurred even though it was contrary to both Roman and Jewish law. Our Savior was officially arrested after midnight on Wednesday, April 5 in 30 A.D. The arrest would soon lead to his crucifixion later in the day (John 18:1, 4 - 5, 8).

One common Bible question concerns how all of Jesus' words spoken in this beautiful garden could have been recorded if the disciples were falling asleep at the time. If we think about it, no human being was around to witness the actual events of creation or the creation of Adam mentioned in Genesis 1. In such cases, God simply revealed the events or words spoken in the account in question to one of his prophets even when the prophet (or inspired writer) was not around to witness them (cf. 2Timothy 3:16 - 17, 2Peter 1:19 - 21).

Furthermore, in the case of Jesus' garden speaking, it is extremely unlikely that all of his words spoken in prayer as recorded in John 17 would have been heard by the disciples even if they had remained awake. Notice that according to Matthew 26:36 - 45 He prayed at some distance from His disciples. Could they have really heard Him, even if He prayed aloud?

In a final note of irony, it was in Eden where man received the kiss of life. Mankind 'returned the favor' by giving Jesus, through the person of Judas, the kiss of death in the garden of Gethsemane.

Additional Study Materials
Mountains in the Bible
What did Jesus' birth accomplish?
Did a snake tempt Eve in the garden?
What did the Romans write about Jesus?

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