The Garden of Gethsemane

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

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).

The garden 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 it.

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 . . ." (Matthew 26:30, 36, HBFV).

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."

What is it?

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 that were planted roughly nine hundred years ago!

Garden of Gethsemane picture

Judas betrayed Jesus in this quiet and peaceful setting of Gethsemane 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).

How was Jesus heard?

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. In such cases (there are many in Scripture) God reveals the events or words spoken to one of his prophets or servants in order to record them for others (cf. 2Timothy 3:16 - 17, 2Peter 1:19 - 21).

Furthermore, in the case of Jesus' speaking in Gethsemane, it is extremely unlikely that all of his words spoken in prayer (John 17) would have been heard by the disciples even if they had remained awake. This is because He prayed at some distance from His disciples (Matthew 26:36 - 45).

In a final note of irony, it was in Eden where man received the kiss of life from God. Mankind "returned the favor" to his Creator by giving Jesus, through Judas, the kiss of death in the garden of Gethsemane.

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Credits / References
Photo courtesy of Beko