Where Is Golgotha / Calvary?

Holy Sepulchre Church Jesus' Tomb

Golgotha / Calvary


GolgothaWhere is Golgotha?

Holy Sepulchre Church claims that Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, is a rock within its compound. But the Bible says Golgotha is a "place," not a rock, and "where Jesus was crucified was near the city" (John 19:20). Since the Holy Sepulchre Church is inside Jerusalem, not "near" the city, it cannot be the location of Golgotha.

Then where is Golgotha?

The location of Golgotha is given by the name, "Golgotha," which all three Gospels that mention Golgotha identify as, "Place of a Skull." Note that Golgotha isn't the place of skulls (plural) but the place of "a" - singular - skull:

Where is Golgotha?"And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull," (Matthew 27:33)

"And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull" (Mark 15:22)

"And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha," (John 19:17)

Why is Golgotha called, "Place of a Skull"?

"Golgotha" referred to a cliff face whose rock protrusions and indentations gave it the distinct appearance of a human skull (top).

Where is Golgotha?

Golgotha, also known as "Calvary," is located just outside the Damascus Gate and faces the major east-west road that runs just north of Old Jerusalem. It is precisely the type of location where the Romans liked to crucify rebels so that their gruesome handiwork can intimidate the passing masses and deter future rebels against Rome.

This means that Jesus was crucified with the skull-faced cliff in the background - i.e., His cross was at the bottom of this cliff, at ground level, not on top of it. As explained above, the Romans crucified people on major roads, not on hard-to-reach hilltops, because they wanted the passersby to see the victims' gory end up close, not from afar. Besides, access to the top of this cliff is difficult from Old Jerusalem and requires a prohibitively long detour.

Then why is the cross of Jesus always portrayed as being on top of a hill?

That is more picturesque and continues the tradition started by Roman Catholic art. The Bible, however, never says that Jesus was crucified on a hill.

The top photo is of a photo taken in the late 19th century found on a pole facing the cliff. Westerners began to trickle back into Jerusalem in the 19th century. Among them were Christians whose eyes narrowed when they saw the skull-faced cliff above.

Garden Tomb Wine PressExcavations inevitably began in its vicinity and soon enough, they unearthed a first century wine press, now restored (right) and an underground water cavern, both evidences of a garden having been present during the time of Jesus (first century gardens served an economic purpose). And at the other end of this garden, 98 meters from the skull-faced cliff, they found a first century tomb that had been cut into a rock, exactly as described in the Bible: Jesus' Tomb.

The second photo above is of the skull-faced cliff as it appears today. The skull's nose has eroded and the mouth lies below the asphalt cover of a bus station, apparently built in 1953 and resurfaced twice since then, but the eye sockets are still visible. Jack hammering prior to the each resurfacing, as well as vibrations from the passing traffic is said to have caused the face of the cliff to erode, so the eye sockets may not last long either.

Why is the place where Jesus was crucified the back wall of a bus station today?

Christians lack political power in Israel, but still, this is a bit much. The place where Jesus was crucified should be preserved and kept quiet like Jesus' Tomb so that people can take a moment to ponder Why Jesus Was Crucified.

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