I love the opening view in the video. In the center we see Zechariah’s tomb, located on the eastern side of the Kidron brook, down Mount of Olives, and in front of the Temple Mount. Looking at the Mount of Olives, the Jewish cemetery is spread out in front of us, along the central and southern part of the mountain. This is the largest and oldest burial site among the burial sites in Jerusalem.
Over the course of many generations, thousands of grave, caves, and tombstones were added here. At the end of the 15th century, the Jews began to bury their dead at the bottom of Mount of Olives – between Zechariah’s tomb and Gihon Spring.
As you can see in the video, the tomb of Zechariah is adjacent to the tomb of Benei Hezir and near the Tomb of Absalom to the north. Zechariah’s tomb is also not too far from the tomb of Pharaoh’s daughter to the south.
Zechariah’s magnificent tomb is attributed to several figures from the ancient period and I will refer to some of them.
Let’s start with a tradition that attributes the tombstone as the “tomb” of Zechariah son of Yehoiada the priest, who operated in the 9th century BCE during the First Temple period in the days of King Jehoash.
Zechariah ben Yehoiada was murdered in the temple, after he had reproved King Jehoash and the princes of Judah about their bad deeds as described in the book of 2 Chronicles, chapter 24.
Another version of the tradition refers to Zechariah son of-Berchiah son of-Edo the prophet, who lived during the days of the return to Zion in the 6th century BCE. According to his testimony, which appears in his book, which is the eleventh book of the Twelve Prophets book,
he began to prophesy in the 2nd year of the reign of Darius the Great, king of Persia, and this happens in 520 BCE. The Prophet actively encouraged the return from Babylon to Jerusalem and for the construction of the Second Temple, and his famous prophecies related to this matter, appears in Chapter 8 in the book of Zechariah.
And so, every Tisha B’aav in the Hebrew calendar, which falls in July or August in the Gregorian calendar, the people of Jerusalem came to Zechariah’s gravestone, to weep over the destruction of the temple and pray that the prophet’s words would be fulfilled. His tomb has been sanctified over the generations and is considered the most privileged in the entire Mount of Olives complex, and therefore many instructed to be buried near his tomb.
And the last tradition I will mention is that of the traveler from Bordeaux who visited Jerusalem in 333.
He attributed the tomb to the prophet Isaiah ben Amutz who operated in Jerusalem in the 8th century BCE during the exile of the Kingdom of Israel to Assyria. Isaiah is the son of Amutz, and according to the text in the Talmud, Amutz was son of Jehoash whom we spoke about a moment ago in the context of Zechariah ben Jehoiada the priest.
According to its architecture style, Zechariah’s tomb dates to the Second Temple period to the end of the first century BCE, and therefore the traditions associating the tomb with Zechariah ben Jehoiada the priest or the prophet Isaiah who were both active during the First Temple period, 800 years before the tomb was built, are probably incorrect as well as w.r.t Zechariah ben Berechiah who operated 300 years before the construction of the tomb.
What’s more, if we surround the tomb, we will find it to be sealed and there is no room for burial inside. The tombstone is, a monolithic block, that is one block of stone with dimensions of 5.5 by 5.5 meters and a height just over 12 meters. According to the high walls that surround it, it can be seen that it was carved out of the rock.
In the front, the tombstone is decorated with art in both corners and between them are two half-columns with beautiful Ionic inscriptions. On the inner side of the columns on the side, quarter columns with titles of the same type were carved and you can see various decorations on them.
On the other sides of the tombstone, you can see that the decoration work was not completed, probably due to the fact that they were not visible to the beholder like the front.
Above the capitals of the columns, there is the architrave, this is the beam, and above the architrave is the cornice, which is Egyptian in style, along with the pyramid-shaped roof. So you can see here the influence of both Greek and Egyptian architecture. Regarding the roof, there is similarity to the roof of the tomb of Pharaoh’s daughter from the First Temple period, which was also in the shape of a pyramid, a major different is that the tomb of Pharaoh’s daughter was hollow to allow burial inside.
It is not clear when the place was defined as a tomb, but according to the opacity of the place and the impossibility to burry inside, it is probably a tombstone and not a tomb. In the sources of the Halacha, a tombstone is sometimes referred to as “soul”, and if it is indeed the tombstone or the soul, then where is the tomb?
Various researchers have put forward different proposals – one proposal is that Zechariah’s tombstone is the soul of the nearby Benei Hezir tomb, which was carved to replace the original soul that is now on the north side of Benei Hezir tomb, what is more, the entrance from the north side of Zechariah’s tombstone is a corridor that connects to the corridor of Benei Hezir tomb.
A second possibility – that there was a tomb near here and it did not survive, a third possibility – this is a tombstone or soul whose tomb was never carved due to some unusual event, and a last possibility I will mention – at the bottom of the tombstone there is a carved alcove, and it could be that it belongs to a tomb whose carving was begun but not completed.
I mentioned the subject of the soul and tombstone that developed during the Second Temple period. I will elaborate on this important topic in a separate video.
And to conclude, as usual, I have a question for you – according to the Hebrew bible, where was King David buried, the answer will appear at the end of the video