Saturday, November 1, 2014

Golgotha, Crucifixion & Tomb of Jesus (Opposition)

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Hello friends, the following is Golgotha (Place of the skull) mentioned in The Bible as the place where our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. 
I have marked this finding with the word, "opposition" due to the fact that there are some who still consider the original site that Queen Helena assigned as the real Golgotha. 
Queen Helena has assigned different Biblical sites wrongly, which is why i don't believe she's right on this one (Check Mount Sinai, another place Queen Helena assigned)
This time she assigned Golgotha under what used to be a pagan temple and is now a church. 
I will first post a couple of pictures that clearly show why this place was called, Golgotha (The place of the skull) then i will share some of the theories of the man who found and shared the site, Charles Gordon.
 Then i will show you two articles, the first is a quick introduction to Queen Helena's site and then what is known today as, "Skull hill" in Jerusalem, which seems like a very likely place for Golgotha. 
Skull hill is also near a garden tomb. (Credit given at the bottom of each article :D)

Fun Fact:

Skull hill, according to topographical maps of the area, is the highest point of Mount Moriah, standing an impressive 777 meters high.
The number 7 Is God's Number, and is seen all throughout The Bible. This number represents, "Completion" also "Divine Perfection" in God's Word. 
For more information regarding this topic, please see:

The Treasure Of The Rainbow And The Number 7

I believe Jesus Christ was Crucified on top of this Skull Hill as a symbol of, "Victory over death" 
This is the reason why our Lord Jesus Christ Died for us; to give us Eternal Life; A complete victory over death. 

Matthew 27 

27 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
36 And sitting down they watched him there;
37 And set up over his head his accusation written, This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews.
38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.
57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Praise The Lord JESUS CHRIST!!!

Skull Hill as seen in 1901 from the northern walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

A view of Jeremiah's Grotto and Skull Hill from the south ca. 1900

Skull hill today

Charles Gordon's theories

Gordon accepted the arguments put forward by Howe and Conder regarding Skull Hill and went beyond them to passionately propose additional arguments which he himself confessed were "more fanciful" and imaginative. Gordon proposed a typological reading of Leviticus 1:11: "[The sheep for a burnt-offering] shall be slaughtered on the north side of the altar before the LORD". Gordon interpreted this verse to mean that Christ, the prototype, must also have been slain north of the "alter" (Skull Hill being north of Jerusalem and of the Temple Mount).[37] This typological interpretation, though obviously theological and not scientific in nature, has been given some credence even by prominent detractors of "Gordon's Calvary" - such as Major-General Charles Wilson.[38]

Gordon also commented on the appropriateness of the location in a letter he sent to his sister on January 17th 1883, his second day in Jerusalem:

I feel, for myself, convinced that the Hill near the Damascus Gate is Golgotha. ... From it, you can see the Temple, the Mount of Olives and the bulk of Jerusalem. His stretched out arms would, as it were, embrace it: "all day long have I stretched out my arms" [cf. Isaiah 65:2]. Close to it is the slaughter-house of Jerusalem; quite pools of blood are lying there. It is covered with tombs of Muslim; There are many rock-hewn caves; and gardens surround it. Now, the place of execution in our Lord's time must have been, and continued to be, an unclean place ... so, to me, this hill is left bare ever since it was first used as a place of execution. ... It is very nice to see it so plain and simple, instead of having a huge church built on it.

—Charles George Gordon

Where was Jesus really buried?

There are two particular sites in Jerusalem that claim the location of the Crucifixion and the temporary resting place of Jesus' body afterwards. The first to make that claim is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is located inside the current walls of the Old City. The second is the Garden Tomb which is located just slightly north of the Damascus Gate of the Old City. There are also some who would argue that the location could have been on the Mount of Olives, though there's not a strong case for this location.
Typically, groups Lamb & Lion Ministries takes on a tour of Israel when they go into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can really become turned off by all of the blatant idolatry and the suffocating darkness of the building. Whereas, the Garden Tomb is bright, airy and peaceful, indicating a more restful garden-like atmosphere. Much emotion is tied to both locations, but getting over the emotion of it all, where strictly from a scientific, archaeological viewpoint was Jesus crucified, buried, and resurrected?
This question was posed to Dr. James Fleming, one of the most knowledgeable teachers of Biblical Archaeology, on our show Christ in Prophecy. Dr. Fleming has lived and taught in Israel for the past 37 years at Jerusalem University College and at the Hebrew University. His first claim to fame is that he discovered the ancient Eastern Gate buried beneath the current one. Dr. Fleming has walked or motorcycled about every square mile of Israel, and is so familiar with Israel past and present that Israeli tour guides come to him for training. He now operates the Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia, an interactive museum where people here in the U.S. can experience the life and times of Christ.

Archaeology Panel
Dr. Fleming: May I quote one of my favorite sayings as a teacher which the student don't like? "Let me enrich you with a new uncertainty."
You know, I am honored to be an archaeological advisor for the Garden Tomb, and it is one of my favorite places in Jerusalem to go to and reflect and pray. It deserves the sanctity. The Garden Tomb has, of course, a beautiful garden. It has a site that looks like a tomb within the garden.
On the other hand, the Holy Sepulchre houses six different denominations, sometimes having services at the same time and in terrible competition with one another. It is hard to feel the Spirit of Christ there.

Sepulcher Golgotha
Nathan Jones: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre houses the Catholic traditional sites of both the crucifixion and tomb. This spot is where Jesus supposedly was crucified.

Stone Kissers
Nathan Jones: Catholics kissing the stone slab Jesus' body supposedly rested on after being taken down from the cross. While the architecture in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is wonderful, the gross idolatry in the "church" rivals a Hindu shrine. Jerusalem Jews think of this when they think "Christianity."
Dr. Fleming: I once while visiting the Garden Tomb saw an Armenian Orthodox priest who I recognized as working in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and there he was praying. After he finished his prayer, I went up to him and asked, "What's a nice Armenian like you doing at a place like this?" Listen to his answer. I think it reflects the view of many Christians. He said, "We might have the right place at the Holy Sepulchre, but for me this is a nicer place to remember it."
Most evidences for any site's authenticity will fall into three categories: 1) geographical evidence, 2) historical evidence, and 3) archaeological evidence.
The Garden Tomb has excellent geographical evidence. It was outside the walls of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. It is also located along a major road that went both from Jerusalem north to Damascus and from Jerusalem east to the Mount of Olives in Jericho. The Romans liked crucifying on major roads. It has a huge water cistern within it which is too large for a house. It was probably for irrigation that would naturally go with a garden.
The Garden Tomb has near it an Old Testament stone quarry that left a cliff, and most ancient quarries that left cliffs were reused as cemeteries because it is nicer to have a wall entrance to a tomb then a floor entrance to a tomb. A tomb is actually located there. The face of the quarry still looks like a skull. There are three reasons why it can be described as looking like a skull. It is called Golgotha or Skull because it either looks like a skull, it is smooth on top like the top of a cranium, or skull skeletons were found nearby. Looking from the Garden Tomb, at a certain angle the facade of the cliff looks like a skull. Again, it is smooth on top like the top of a skull and nearby are tombs.

The weaknesses of the Garden Tomb being the actual location of the Crucifixion and burial place of Christ are the second two: history and archaeology. By the way, the Garden Tomb staff are always very conscious to end every one of their little talks with the claim that they cannot be sure it is actually the tomb of Jesus, but that it is an empty tomb which reminds us of the importance of the Resurrection. They always say, "Wherever the tomb is, it is empty."
Concerning the other two weaknesses of the Garden tomb, no one suggested the Garden Tomb until the 1880's AD. Many denominations were kicked out of the Holy Sepulchre, so if there was any memory of an alternate site you would think one of them would have gone to the Garden Tomb instead.
Many of the holy sites, like the site of the birth of Jesus, and the site of the death, burial and resurrection were all selected by the mother of Constantine some 300 years after the event. The three main sites she picked were the Church of the Nativity, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Church of the Ascension. Those three fall under the three categories that her churches fall into. One is close, which is the Church of the Nativity. One is mistaken, which is the Church of the Ascension, though it is over a Jewish tomb from the time of Jesus.
One of those churches is probably accurate, and I'll quickly summarize why all Herodian Period archaeologists I know feel that the Holy Sepulchre has good archaeological evidence. It is over a Herodian period tomb, which means it would have been outside of the wall during the Herodian period, though we don't know for sure where exactly that wall was. Now, compared to the Holy Sepulchre Church, we do know the Garden Tomb is indeed outside. If there is a Herodian Period cemetery, which means 37 BC to 70 AD, that would be the exact kind of tomb.
Unfortunately, and it is hard for me to say it because I love the Garden Tomb so much, but it is an Old Testament style tomb in a line of Old Testament style tombs. Did you know that three feet inside the wall of the Garden Tomb is an Old Testament tomb with bones and pottery still in it from the Old Testament period? Remember then that Joseph of Arimathea's tomb was a newly cut tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Now, it is technically true that Mrs. Arimathea could have said, "Listen, Joe, I don't care if everybody else is making these fancy, schmancy Herodian period tombs. If you want me to be buried with you, you'll make them like they were in the Old Testament period." But, you see the point is it is near Old Testament tombs that still have Old Testament pottery in it.
Helena, the mother of Constantine, was not an archaeologist. She was probably not even a historian. She even probably knew little of the Bible. She selected them by writing a letter which we have to her son the Emperor. It went something like, "Dear Consti, you'll be glad to know that the local believers say that they have received from their ancestors an exact tradition for where the burial of Jesus was. It is under the Venus Aphrodite Pagan Temple that the Romans built." Did you know that we have the names of all the bishops of the Jerusalem church from James the relative of Jesus in the book of Acts until Helena?
Until 135 AD the location had a Jewish name because they were Jewish believers in Jesus. But, then the Jews had to leave Jerusalem, then so it went by a Gentile name. If there would be any site parents are going to pass onto their kids, it would be the tomb of the Resurrection for theological reasons. Sure enough, when they tore down the Venus Aphrodite site, they found what we now know is a Herodian period tomb. It is complicated, but it has all the characteristics of tombs in that very restricted period from 37 BC to 70 AD.
The Garden Tomb is still the nicer place to remember Jesus' sacrifice for us. Isn't it great how the Garden Tomb reminds us that a body is missing? An empty tomb points to the deeper theological truth, that the spirit of the raised Christ is alive and well and dwelling in our hearts today.

Golgotha Skull Hill Jerusalem

Golgotha Skull
Golgotha "Skull Hill", Jerusalem

Aprocryphal scripture tells that Adam directed that his body, together with gold, incense, and myrrh, should be taken aboard the Ark and, after the flood, should be laid in the middle of the earth. God would come from thence and save mankind. [Platt, p. 66, 80 (2 Platt, Rutherford H. Jr. (ed.) The Forgotten Books of Eden, Meridian, New York, 1927.Adam 8:9-18, 21:7-11) 

The Crucifixion 

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).

OUR SEARCH FOR THE TOMB OF Jesus book by Simon brown.

Chapter Three -
Jerusalem Then and Now.  

Jerusalem is at once the most wonderful and most terrible city on the face of the planet. The site of the greatest miracle of all has been, down the years, bathed in violence and bitter struggle both religious and secular. As I write, Israel is in the midst of what some call the ‘Second Intifada’, a bloody conflict between Israeli and Palestinian factions, which has seen over six-thousand people lose their lives in the last eight years.

As a consequence, exploring in the Holy Land is as dangerous now as it has ever been. The first part of my quest to find the tomb of Jesus had to take place without my wife Emma, who was understandably nervous about the situation. She wasn’t the only one. Upon my arrival at Stanstead airport I was apparently mistaken for a terrorist. This happens tiresomely frequently to me, due to my obvious Middle Eastern heritage. After simply making an enquiry at the check-in queue, I was followed around the terminal by suspicious security guards. Eventually they took me aside for questioning, and during my half-hour interrogation, I wondered what might have happened if I hadn’t been a UK citizen.

Eventually they seemed to get bored and let me continue through the terminal. My humiliation was not yet complete, however, as the baggage check involved my possessions being strewn across the counter as if I had just been arrested for burglary and they were checking for evidence. Then two Israeli gentlemen searched, scanned and scowled at me while examining my passport in minute detail, before I was finally allowed to board the aircraft. The whole experience was so impersonal and devoid of human interaction that I felt rather like a piece of baggage myself by the time it was over.

Groping for a silver lining as I finally took my seat, I reflected that if even half the people on the flight had gotten the same treatment as me, it was unlikely that there was a bomb on board.

Fortunately this lack of courtesy did not extent to Jerusalem itself, where I was received warmly at my hotel, which had an outstanding view of the old city that really put me back in the mood to explore a bit. But first, a little history:
The city of Jerusalem has probably the most intriguing and often violent history of any other in the world, and yet for all of her stories, there are many blanks in the history of this place where Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected. In order to help us construct a better idea of the events that took place around that glorious event, it will be helpful to examine the history of Jerusalem with particular reference to the geography of the area and some of the legends that surround her most famous historical landmarks such as Mount Moriah and the Temple of Solomon.

At the time of Jesus, Jerusalem was ruled by a highly controversial man named Herod the Great. Herod was half Jewish and little trusted by many of his subjects, but he ruled the city with an iron fist largely thanks to his skill at winning favour among the rich and powerful. Herod did deals with the Roman leaders Mark Antony and Caesar Augustus, and kept the ruling classes of Jerusalem, including the influential priests, satisfied with their material lot in life. Some scholars have suggested that there were no poor people in first century Jerusalem, but there is plenty of evidence that in fact the society was very much two-tiered, with a large wealthy class and equally large impoverished population. This latter interpretation is backed up somewhat by the notes of material injustice present in many of Jesus’ sermons. Herod build vast monuments to himself and other wealthy notables whom he wished to flatter, of which the most famous is the great Temple built on the site of Solomon’s temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians almost six centuries previously. Since the law forbade the temple to be built larger than the original, Herod had an an enormous platform constructed for the temple to sit up, some 35 acres in total with thirty feet high walls. This platform came to be known as Temple Mount, and Jesus famously predicted its downfall when he visited the city for the last time. The temple was razed to the ground by the Romans just a few decades later.

Herod’s temple signified what the Jerusalem of the time was all about. Religion was the city’s primary economic driver, and the animal sacrifices around which many rituals were based kept farmers all around in pocket. Visitors from far away would generally sell their own animals locally before they set off on their journey, and then buy fresh animals from within or nearby the city. The reason for this was that religious law required the animals to be unblemished, and people didn’t want to take that risk on such a long journey. Coins bearing the images of men (such as Roman coins did) were forbidden for such purposes, and so people would change their Roman money for faceless shekels at a money changer. It is these money changers against whom Jesus railed on the temple platform just a few days before his crucifixion. At the time of a great festival such as Passover, as many as 250,000 visitors might descend upon Jerusalem, all passing along the main road, a freshly built Roman one, in order to visit the temple. The hills around Jerusalem would have been filled with great camps of people celebrating life and eating well.

The Roman garrison where Pontius Pilate was stationed stood on high ground to the north west of the great temple. It was named Antonia, one of Herod’s clever tributes to his Roman masters. The garrison was a source of conflict within the community. People were already confused by the transformation of their faith into something so brazenly wealthy, and the submissiveness of their leaders to Rome made many purists angry. In one particular flashpoint, a group of Jewish students attempted to remove a Roman eagle from the temple’s decoration, and as a result of the riots that followed 2000 men were crucified. The environment harboured a swelling undercurrent of resentment, which helps to explain the attitude of the priests towards Jesus when he showed up during passover and challenged their authority so vocally on the platform of the temple itself. They were worried that he would ignite the spark that sent the whole city into uproar. The priests were happy with the status quo, which amongst other things had made them all very wealthy.

Crucifixions took place, by tradition, outside the city walls. In the same way that Spartacus’ soldiers were hung along the Appian Way in Rome, the condemned men of Jerusalem would have been executed along the main roads outside the city, so as to be seen by as many passers-by as possible. Maps of first century Jerusalem differ, though they indicate that the Via Delorosa, the path marked today as the one which Jesus’ would have walked on the way to his place of crucifixion, is almost certainly inaccurate and based more on 14th century geography rather than the main roads of the period. This also casts substantial doubt on the final destination of the Via Delorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally considered to stand on ‘Golgotha’ (the place of the skull), and thought by many to be the site of the tomb in which Jesus was buried. Some maps of the time would have put this spot outside the city walls, and archeological studies of the area indicate that this may be right, which would make it an unlikely candidate to be the spot for any execution.

Today’s Jerusalem is quite different to the Jerusalem of 2,000 years ago. Many of the famous landmarks, including the Temple of Herod, have been destroyed (and many rebuilt) as a result of centuries of turmoil and war. The narrow, winding streets of some districts, like the market streets in the lower city, can evoke a similar atmosphere to that which they would have back then. But the area around the temple itself, and particularly at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, has changed so much that it virtually impossible to imagine the events that are supposed to have taking place there. Tourism has replaced religion as the primary business of the city, though that has suffered in recent years with the continuing violent, and you will be hard-pushed to take a walk around without someone trying to sell you a souvenir statue of the Virgin Mary or some such.

When I came to Jerusalem at the start of our search for the tomb of Jesus, I got talking to a man in a cafe about where we might begin. He offered to take me to the tomb, but instead led me into a series of local ‘gift shops’ and other such places. Fifteen minutes in, I began to fear that I was in the hands of footpads and brigands, a suspicion that was undiminished as we arrived in a tourist ‘emporium’, the owner of which was very friendly with, if not related to my ‘guide’. With my cash reserves depleted (partly because I still hoped that these men could actually help me, and partly out of a desire not to stir up trouble - Jerusalem is a very dangerous place these days), I was eventually able to persuade our guide to show us to an actual site of historical interest. Which turned out to be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Pilgrimage to the holy land has been a very popular activity over the years, but never so blatantly commercial as it is now, not even in the days of Herod’s extravagance.
Outside of the main tourist areas though, it is still possible to get a feel for the landscape as it would have been in Jesus’ time. I cannot describe the feeling of being in this ancient Holy city. It was as if God himself was walking at my shoulder. The variety of dress and religions in this one small corner of the world gave me food for much thought. It was strange to see so many young Israeli soldiers of both sexes walking the city, heavily armed with automatic weapons. A reminder of the significance this land holds some two-thousand years later, that these young people are prepared to fight and die for it. One wonders what Jesus would think of it all. Perhaps someday we will find out.

To the north of the city, and outside the old city walls, stands the highest peak on the mountain rage known as Mount Moriah. Some 777 meters high, and just as imposing as it would have been millennia ago, some scholars believe this, rather than Temple Mount, to be the actual location where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Topographical maps of the area show that the area of Mount Moriah known as Temple Mount forms a clear image of the Hebrew letter ‘Yod’, the first letter of God’s name, which tallies with the Old Testament’s account of God telling his people to make sacrifices “where I shall place my name.” And we believe that the highest point of Mount Moriah may have been the site of the most famous sacrifice of all, as the curious observer will note, etched in the sheer rock, distinct and imposing, the image of a skull.

Chapter Five - 
Further down the Garden Path 

“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.”
- John 19:41

Near the Damascus Gate of northern Jerusalem, a popular site for crucifixions in the time of Jesus, and in the shadow if the tallest peak of Mount Moriah with its skull face sunk into the rock, there is a garden. Visitors to the garden today will find it to be both beautiful and serene, amazingly so considering the noise and bustle that engulfs the rest of the city. We know that this spot would also have been a garden in Jesus’ time thanks to the excavation of both a superb wine-press and a huge water cistern, one of the biggest in Jerusalem even now holding a quarter of a million gallons of rain water. This indicates two things; firstly that the garden two thousand years ago was almost certainly a vineyard as well as a beautiful garden, an secondly that it would have belonged to a very wealthy man. We know from the gospel’s description of Joseph of Arimathea that he was indeed a wealthy man, and that it was his own tomb in his own garden which he gave for Jesus to be buried in. A new tomb, never before used.

The Garden Tomb is often thought to have been ‘discovered’ as it were by the British General Charles Gordon, also known affectionately as Chinese Gordon by the British public thanks to his heroic fighting in China. He also played a substantial role in smashing up the North African slave trade. This was a man, by all accounts, with a good heart and a finely-tuned sense of morality. Gordon stood before the great cliff with the skull sunken into it and immediately declared that nearby must be the location of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. His certainty about this, we understand, was bolstered partly by his military knowledge, which told him that this would have been far and away the most visible place to crucify a man and send a signal to everyone for miles around, and partly by his belief that the traditional site of Jesus’ tomb, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, would have been outside the city walls in Jesus’ time and therefore unlikely to have staged any executions. This assertion splits archaeologists even today, but some very old maps show that Gordon may well have been right about this. We will return to the maps later, but for now sufficed to say that General Gordon returned to England and raised money to purchase the site so that it might be preserved for future generations. For this, we owe him a deal of gratitude. The Garden Tomb today is still owned by the Garden Tomb Association, a British charitable trust. This British connection is actually very interesting, and again we shall return to it in time.

I mention that Gordon popularized (to some extent) the legitimacy of this Golgotha and therefore by extension also the Garden Tomb, but there had actually been pilgrims before him to whom the sight of this great skull in the rock indicated clearly that this must be Calvary. In 1842, some forty years before Gordon, a German scholar by the name of Otto Thenius observed as such. His certainty was matched by a British Major, Claude Condor, and the scholar Fisher Howe in 1871. Mostly these claims appear to have fallen on deaf ears, and it is still the case today that the Garden Tomb seems to resist acceptance by the establishment and those who have not experienced the place for themselves. It’s almost as if acceptance of the Garden Tomb is meant to demand a measure of faith.

Skeptics have claimed that the skull features of the cliff are caused by quarrying activity. While it is true that there are stone quarries at the foot of the cliff, it is highly unlikely that these extend vertically, and as you can see in the photographs, this would be, if it were true, probably the world’s riskiest quarry ever. There is no evidence that the skull feature of the cliff that I believe to be Golgotha are man-made, and indeed photographs dating back to the late 1800s show that the skull was even more pronounced back then, indicating that it has gradually weathered away over time. It is very likely that the features were much bolder and more striking in the time of Jesus, and that if there were a place in Jerusalem known back then as ‘the place of the skull’, this must almost surely be it.

Interestingly, the naming of such a geographical feature in such a way fits entirely with Jewish practice of the time. Other examples include Gamia, a Jewish city on the Golan which is built upon a hill like a camel’s hump. ‘Gamia’ means ‘the camel’. Also ‘Susita’, Aramaic for ‘the horse’.

The cliff face with the skull etched into it, according to topographical maps of the area, is the highest point of Mount Moriah, standing an impressive 777 meters high. Biblical scholars have described 777 as “God’s number”, as opposed to 666, the number of the Devil. This is partly due to the fact that God created the earth in seven days, and partly due to the book of Revelations, which describes seven churches having seven stars, which are seven angels. The number 777 is said to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

One of the most exciting memories of our pilgrimage is of Einar, Peter and myself attempting to gain access to the cemetery atop this highest point, Gordon’s Calvary as it is sometimes known, as we believed it to be the place where Abraham sacrificed his son Isaac. The graveyard is very ancient, and it is a minor miracle in itself how it has managed to survive thousands of years’ worth of wars right here in the middle of Jerusalem. Personally, I see God’s hand directly shielding it from harm, to ensure that the memory of Abraham’s sacrifice, and later of his own son Jesus Christ, would never be lost.

Standing atop the place of the skull, it is clear as day that if there was one spot that could have been seen from anywhere in the city during Jesus’ time, this was it. Around the back of the hill, we found the entrance to the cemetery and made to enter it, when a young man sitting on the steps leading up to the entrance asked us where we were going. We explained that we meant no harm, and only wanted to look around, but the man replied simply, “It is forbidden.” This was somewhat strange, because while we stood there, others were allowed to pass and enter the place, and it became apparent that we were unwelcome because of our cameras. I cannot express the sheer disappointment of not being allowed to stand atop Golgotha myself and record the site for all of you to see for yourselves how breathtaking that place was. I admit to being completely crushed, with moist eyes, and I remembered Genesis 22:14 - “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” I was desperate to see some mark or stone where Abraham sacrificed the lamb, I was sure in my heart that it was there. But words could not move the guardian of the graveyard, and so we were forced to re-trace our steps.

After a short distance however, something gave me pause. I really felt that this place was much too important to our quest to simply walk away, and so quietly, I suggested to two of the team the possibility of bribing the gatekeeper.

We returned to the gate and found the man somewhat less surly when the subject of money was hinted at. However he was too worried about losing his employment to let us through. Evidently there were forces in control of this area who were very strict indeed about exploration, and precious in guarding their secrets. My feet did not want to move and eventually I heard my own voice saying, ‘I’ll give you 100 shekels to let us in’. To this he finally agreed after swearing us to secrecy. I called to Einar and Peter and we followed the keeper through the gate.

We walked slowly through the old graveyard until we stood at the edge of the cliff. We were now on top of the Skull, the place where we believe Jesus was crucified, and had unobstructed views across the old city. As we started to film the area, I felt that the money I had given the keeper of the gate was well spent. Alas, very shortly he was back and insisting that we leave. I badly wanted to examine the ancient stones for any mention of Abraham, but even those I could see were so weathered as to be illegible. We headed back toward the entrance with much reluctance, and were met by another man who was apparently our keeper’s boss. Oh dear.

A conversation ensued in a tongue none of us understood, whilst I stood on this incredible historic site feeling nothing but frustration. In the end I offered the boss 100 shekels also and he asked me what I wanted to see. This is probably the kind of extortion that Jesus would have frowned upon. I asked him if he knew of any stones or tombs bearing the name Abraham. Neither man understood my English and I was reduced to sign language, miming cutting a throat with my hand as it was all that I could think of. After further discussion between the two, he took our money and guided us toward the farthest point of the cemetery.

We arrived at the cliff edge, slightly lower than the Place of the Skull, where there were no grave stones, just large rocks protruding from the earth. A fence lined the edge of the cliff and I stood wondering why they had brought us to this particular spot. Climbing onto the fence, I looked downward over the edge and what I saw amazed me. Below was the area of the Garden Tomb, and half way up was a large square shaped hole. I knew at once what this excavation was. The possible site of the Arc of the Covenant.

Ron Wyatt was an American archaeologist whose work I had admired for years. In 1978, with his two sons, he travelled to the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba for a spot of scuba diving. Wyatt believed that Moses crossed the Red Sea in this area and they were searching for horse skeletons, chariot parts and any other evidence on the sea bottom. Later he visited this area around the Damascus gate and in the company of an authority on Roman Antiquities, walked over the ancient stone crossing known as the Calvary Escarpment. On his arrival at this spot he claims to have had a supernatural experience, where his hand just pointed to the area of this hole that we could now see plain as day. Quite involuntarily he told his companion that Jeremiah’s Grotto and the Arc of the Covenant lay beneath.

The Antiquities man appeared quite unfazed, and assured him there would be no problem with permits etc if he would excavate the site. Wyatt himself did not understand the experience he had just undergone and wondered if God himself was speaking to him. He had been most successful with his quests to date, having found what many believe to be Noah’s Ark in Turkey and chariot parts together with what could be the bones of the Pharaoh’s army on the bed of the Red Sea. However, he had never had such an experience as this before. It had struck him like a thunderbolt and he was now certain that this ground contained the Ark, which was hidden by Jeremiah at the siege of Nebuchadnezzar when he sacked Jerusalem.

In 1979, together with his sons, Ron began a dig here which was to last for three and a half years. He claims to have found not only the Ark, but also evidence that this was the exact site of the crucifixion. This was to include dried blood that had trickled down a 20 ft deep crack in the rock, coming to rest on top of the Ark of the Covenant! On examination, the blood was found to contain 24 Y chromosomes and only a single X chromosome instead of the usual 24: he believed it to be the blood of Christ. He also claimed to have discovered 3 cross holes and the rolling stone which covered the garden Tomb entrance. He then fitted a trap door at the site and covered the whole lot with rocks and earth.

As I stood wondering why the two keepers led us right to this very spot, I had the overwhelming feeling that this view, and not the graveyard itself is what they were protecting. Standing here, knowing what I knew and now seeing with my own eyes, the experience recounted by Ron Wyatt became very real to me. It may very well be that The Ark is still buried under that place, protected by authorities who keep such secrets from their own people. Doubtless in time we will know the truth.

We returned to the cemetery office with the two men and chatted a while. They told us that in the past, some Americans were researching the same area, until they were asked to leave by the local police. Powerful authorities indeed were at work in concealing the secrets of the skull rock. But I knew than where our next destination was to be, and we had seen it from atop Golgotha, a stone’s throw from this most likely site of the crucifixion, an ancient garden containing a two-thousand year old ‘new tomb’.

The tomb in the garden has been dated by archaeologists as being from around the first century, which obviously puts it smack in the right period to have been Jesus’ burial place. The outside has a small entrance, and a rolling channel where a large rolling stone would have been used to cover the entrance. As an interesting aside, locals report that this stone rolling channel has been more recently used as a manger to feed animals. This similarity between the place of Jesus’ birth, and that of his burial, is quite striking.

We also know from the book of Matthew that Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus’ body in a clean linen cloth, possibly the famous Shroud of Turin, and rolled a heavy stone across the entrance of the tomb in order to seal it. Matthew also tells us that Pilate ordered his man to make the tomb as secure as possible, because the Romans were afraid that Jesus’ followers would steal his body and claim that he had risen from the dead, and they knew what trouble this would stir up in the city. We have no specific details of how they secured the tomb, but one would imagine that an iron chain would have been used to cover the rolling stone and prevent it from being moved. To the left of the entrance to the Garden Tomb, in the rock, is a hole such as might have been made by an iron peg being driven into the wall. Skeptics once claimed that the hole was simply caused by gunfire during the 20th century, but forensic tests on the metallic residue inside the hole indicate that it does actually date back to around the first century. Unfortunately the wall on the other side of the tomb entrance, where a second hole might have confirmed this theory, has collapsed over time and had to be restored, so will will never know for sure.

Additionally, archaeologists have found signs of what they believe may have been a crude church built onto the front of the tomb some time probably not long after the time of Jesus’. There is an anchor symbol carved into the rock, which scholars believe is a reference to Hebrews 6:19-20, “Jesus is the anchor to our soul.” If these observations are correct, it would mean evidence of worship at this site long before we have evidence of worship at the site of the Holy Sepulcher, which is not recorded as being recognized as Jesus burial place until around the third century. There is also a large crack in the stone outside the tomb, which would be typical of damage caused by an earthquake, such as the one the gospels record as having taken place at the moment of Jesus’ death.

Inside the tomb the first thing you notice is its size. This was obviously the tomb of a rich man, with its large weeping chamber and rather smoothly hewn-out features. There is a loculus (the place where the body would have laid) diagonally opposite the tomb’s entrance which seems to have been extended in a hurry, at least the chiseling of this section of the tomb is much rougher than the rest. An adjacent loculus remains unfinished. If this was the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea, one could reasonably assume that the first loculus would have been for him, and the unfinished second for his wife. The length of the first loculus without the roughly extended section would have accommodated a man of around 5’7-8 in height, yet the extension makes it a comfortable for for a man approaching 5’11 or so. For now, I would just like you to keep that figure of 5’11 in your mind, it will be important. There is old graffiti inside the tomb where someone has painted red crosses , as well as greek symbols representing alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, a phrase used by Christ to describe himself: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

The gospels state that when Mary came to anoint the body of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion, she looked into the tomb and saw two angels. The layout of the Garden Tomb fits this description, as the place where Jesus would have laid is visible right across from the entrance, and there is plenty of room for two angels to have sat on the raised stone areas near where his head and feet would have been. There is also a small window in the tomb which would have let light fall right upon the spot where Jesus’ body would have lain. These kinds of holes were sometimes incorporated into tombs to allow the soul to escape, which Jews believed happens on the third day following a person’s death. This, incidentally, is probably the reason why Jesus raised Lazarus after four days, because if he had done so sooner people might have said that Lazarus wasn’t truly dead, as his soul had not yet left his body.
And on the subject of bodies, New Testament scholar Chris Hutson recalls further evidence in favour of the Garden Tomb in his, “Great Preaching on the Resurrection”:
"I read this week about the excavation that took place nearly two hundred years ago in Jerusalem, when General Gordon uncovered the tomb of Christ. When General Gordon uncovered the tomb now called Gordon's Tomb, scientists scraped up dirt from the tomb and submitted it to chemical analysis. After a thorough chemical analysis of the dirt, they concluded, "no human body ever decayed in that tomb."”

Intrigued by these findings, I went in search of maps of ancient Jerusalem which may indicate the location of Jesus’ tomb. One particular map, annotated in French and therefore also presumably drawn in France, identifies a place near the site of the crucifixion as “Jeremiah’s Grotto”. Jeremiah’s Grotto is thought to be the place where the Prophet Jeremiah retired to write the Book of Lamentations, a book of the Old Testament which chronicles the destruction of Jerusalem in 589BC. The Real Discoveries team went looking for Jeremiah’s Grotto in the area described by this map, and found a cavern fitting its description right near the site of the Garden Tomb, which is currently being used as a banana warehouse. The owner was happy to talk to us, and confirmed that the locals indeed believed this to be Jeremiah’s Grotto.

Furthermore, the book of Jeremiah (2:13) mentions, “broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Near to the warehouse, along the foot of Gordon’s Calvary, is a broken cistern that has been cleaved clean in two. Cisterns of this kind certainly pre-date Jeremiah, though it is impossible to tell at what point this particular one was broken. I therefore mention it merely as a curiousity.

According to our map then, this being Jeremiah’s Grotto as the locals believe, would place the Garden Tomb at exactly the right spot to be the legitimate tomb of Jesus.
The question is, can we trust this map? I showed the map to some experts, who confidently concluded that it must have been drawn in France around the 16th century. On the surface, it would appear unlikely that a map of this origin and date would be more accurate then one drawn in Jerusalem itself, but remember when we traced the story of Joseph of Arimethea? Various historical accounts suggest that Joseph of Arimethea, along with several other followers of Jesus including Lazarus and Mary Magdelene, left Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension and headed across Europe to France and then England, whether they established Glastonbury Abbey. It would make perfect sense that the very people who knew exactly where Jesus had been buried would tell the story to everyone they met along the way. It is also entirely possible, even probable that some of them had descendants who grew up in France and England. I don’t believe it is a coincidence this map, whose accuracy we verified ourselves by visiting Jeremiah’s Grotto, originated from the place where we know Jesus’ followers journeyed to after his death. It may also be no coincidence that the movement to secure the Garden Tomb as the legitimate site of Jesus’ burial originated in England with General Gordon. Knowledge of such events is passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth, as well as in written accounts, and I strongly believe this to be the case here.

If further corroboration of this map were necessary, we were able to line up our French map of Jerusalem exactly with another map from a different time period, which placed the site of the crucifixion exactly where the Garden Tomb is today. The same map also placed Jesus’ tomb near that of Saint Stephen, an early Christian Martyr who preached the teachings of Jesus and handed out aid to the poor, and who was put on trial and executed for it. We did not have to search long for the tomb of Saint Stephen, as there is a church dedicated to him exactly on the spot marked by our ancient maps - in exactly the same position relative to the crucifixion site on the maps as the Garden Tomb today is to the Church of Saint Stephen. Another very early map of Jerusalem shows what appears to be a chapel near the Damascus Gate, again in the same spot as the Garden Tomb. This would confirm the archaeological findings around the tomb itself, which indicated that a chapel-like structure may have been built on to the front of the tomb. If this is true, it is further evidence of Christian worship at the site of the Garden tomb centuries before similar references to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Damascus Gate itself is interesting, because there is evidence that at least from the fifth century A.D. onwards it was also referred to as ‘St. Stephen’s Gate”. This would indicate that nearby (the top of the skull hill) was the site where St. Stephen was stoned to death. Jewish custom was that once ground had been made unclean by acts such as execution, then the same ground would be used for further such acts, so as not to desecrate other, clean land. It is likely then that if our Golgotha near the Damascus Gate was the place where St. Stephen was executed, it would also have been the place where Jesus was crucified.

The sheer volume of evidence pointing to the Garden Tomb as being the authentic site of the resurrection of Jesus Christ left us reeling, but at the same time, in our hearts, we were not surprised. Visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is an experience to be sure, but we didn’t get any strong feeling from it, it was quite impossible to imagine the place as it might have been in Jesus’ time. Walking in the gardens of the Garden tomb, however, we were unanimous in feeling like our footsteps fell on Holy ground. The tranquility of the place, especially in the context of a busy city like Jerusalem is simply amazing. Before we even undertook our investigations into the historical and scientific evidence for the Garden Tomb being the real tomb of Jesus, I think we knew for ourselves that it was. We had faith. And the mountain of evidence that we found simply confirmed that faith. Will this settle the debate as to where the real site of the resurrection lies? Probably not. I expect that there is far too much at stake for those factions involved with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But for us, we feel that we have sought, and found. Just as Jesus said.


  1. Golgottha back then was the Miphkad or Inspection gate, had nothing to do with some rock formation. Also it is possibly related to Adam's burial place in the same general area facing the Temple. The land of Moriah back then included the Mount of Olives. You ever wonder how on earth could anyone see the Temple curtain rip from any other place but from the Mount of Olives?