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Sites In The Holy Land Coin Series
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
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.
of the Coins
Obverse: 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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P.O. Box 20255
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268