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Historical Sites In The Holy Land Coin Series

KIDRON VALLEY - 1984. The Kidron Valley, or the Valley of Jehoshaphat (also called the "Valley of Fire"), forms the gentle slope between the Temple Mount and the City of David (the spot where Jerusalem was first inhabited), and the Mount of Olives. Since Biblical days and the realm of King David, the Kidron Valley has played a major role in Jerusalem's history. Today, the fabulous scenery in and around this valley offers a stunning glimpse of ancient Jerusalem, for the Kidron Valley remains almost totally untouched by modern development. Among the few structures are four sepulchers - the Kidron Valley Monuments.

Dating back to the end of the Second Temple era, the monuments are prized by archaeologists for the study of ancient Jewish burial customs. The Kidron Valley Monuments, hewn into the rocky slopes of the Mount of Olives, are unique in Israel for their architectural composition and for their almost perfectly intact state.

  1. Absalom's Pillar ("And Absalom erected a pillar for himself." - n Samuel 18:18) is the largest, most imposing and most handsome of the monuments. Rising 20 meters high, Absalom's Pillar (Hebrew - Yad Avshalom) features a stylistic blending of Ionic columns with Doric frieze and Egyptian cornice.

    A legend attributes it to Absalom, the son who rebelled against his father. King David.

    Because of Absalom's rebellion, pilgrims of the Moslem, Christian, and Jewish faiths became accustomed to throwing stones at the monument in order to express their rage at Absalom's betrayal of his father, the King.

  2. The Cave ofJehoshaphat, adjoining Absalom's Pillar, is known in the Bible as the future site of the Judgment Against Nations. The cave contains a subterranean network of tombs and an entranceway decorated in the style of Jewish ornamentation of the Second Temple period. It has been thought that the principal chamber was once used as a Christian chapel, possibly the chapel that enclosed the tomb of St. James in the times of the Franks. One discovery therein indicates its use for prayer by Jews; several straps of phylacteries (tfillin) were found in the cave's inner chamber.

  3. Some meters further south on the road to Jericho is the Sons of Hezir Tomb, also known as the Grotto of St. James. This is the only tomb that can be positively identified, thanks to an ancient inscription preserved on the monument to this day. The tomb features two Doric columns and a Doric frieze with triglyphs, and over the cornice the Hebrew inscription, "The tomb and monument of the priests of the family of Hezir."

  4. The Pyramid of Zecharia is named after the prophet who, according to Jewish tradition, was murdered on Mount Moriah (II Chronicles 24:21, 22. End of the first century B.C.E.) This tomb is entirely hewn into the rock, considered a remarkable execution - one can still see the holes that supported the ancient scaffolding of the masons. A monolithic monument in the shape of an Egyptian pyramidical chapel, adomed with Ionic columns and half-columns at the sides and square pillars at the corners. Above runs a bare cornice and blunted pyramid. The Pyramid of Zecharia is an impenetrable structure; no entrance has yet been found.

    Jews became accustomed to praying before Zecharias' tomb for salvation, especially during periods of persecution, droughts, and other tragedies which befell them for many centuries.

    Not only the Jews, but other faiths, also believed that in this place, their prayers would bring forth help and deliverance from their foes.
Description of the Coins
Kidron Valley Monuments. stressing Absalom's Tomb. Olive trees allude to the Mt. of Olives (Gethsemane). In the background, the hills of Jerusalem and the Old City walls. The words "Valley of Kidron" in English and Hebrew.

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