Jehoshaphat, Valley of
Jehoshaphat, Valley of
(עֵמֶק יַהוֹשָׁפָט, Sept. Κοιλ1ς, Vulg. Vallis Josaphat), a valley mentioned in Scripture by the prophet Joel only, as the spot in which, after the return of Judah and Jerusalem from captivity, Jehovah would gather all the heathen (Joe 3:2 [4:2]), and would there sit to judge them for their misdeeds to Israel (Joe 3:12 [5:4]). The nations referred to seem to be those who specially oppressed Israel and aided in their overthrow, particularly the Sidonians, Tyrians, and Phoenicians generally (Joe 3:4). The passage is one of great boldness, abounding in the verbal turns in which Hebrew poetry so much delights; and, in particular, there is a play between the name given to the spot — Jehoshaphat, i.e. "Jehovah's judgment" — and the "judgment" there to be pronounced. The Hebrew prophets often refer to the ancient glories of their nation: thus Isaiah speaks of the "day of Midian," and of the triumphs of David and of Joshua in "Mount Perazim" and in the "valley of Gibeon," and in like manner Joel, in announcing the vengeance to be taken on the strangers who were annoying his country (Joe 3:14), seems to have glanced back to that triumphant day when king Jehoshaphat, the greatest king the nation had seen since Solomon, and the greatest champion of Jehovah, led out his people to a valley in the wilderness of Tekoah and was there blessed with such a victory over the hordes of his enemies as was without a parallel in the national records (2 Chronicles 20: see J. E. Gerhardt, Dissert. v. d. Citation ins Thal Josaphat [Bayreuth, 1775]). SEE JOEL.
But, though such a reference to Jehoshaphat is both natural and characteristic, it is not certain that it is intended. The name may be only an imaginary one, conferred on a spot which existed nowhere but in the vision of the prophet. Such was the view of some of the ancient translators. Thus Theodotion renders it χώρακρίσεως, and so the Targum of Jonathan — "the plain of the division of judgment." Michaelis (Bibel für Ungelehrte, Remarks on Joel) takes a similar view and considers the passage to be a prediction of the Maccabaean victories. By others, however, the prophet has been supposed to have had the end of the world in view (see Henderson, Keil, etc., ad loc.).
The name "Valley of Jehoshaphat" (generally simply el-Jôs, more fully wady Jusafat, also wady Shafat or Faraun), in modern times, is attached to the deep ravine which separates Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, through which at one time the Kedron forced its stream. At what period the name was first applied to this spot is not known. There is no trace of it in the Bible or in Josephus. In both the only name used for this gorge is KIDRON (N.T. "CEDRON"). We first encounter its new title in the middle of the 4th century, in the Onomasticon of Eusebius and Jerome (s.v. Coelas) and in the commentary of the latter father on Joel. Since that time the name has been recognized and adopted by travellers of all ages and all faiths. It is used by Christians — as Arculf, in 700 (Early Trav. p. 4); the author of the Citez de Jherusalem, in 1187; and Maundrell, in 1697 (Early Trav. p. 469) and by Jews, as Benjamin of Tudela, about 1170 (Asher 1:71; see Reland, Palaest. p. 356). By the Moslems it is still said to be called by the traditional name (Seetzen, 2, 23, 26), though the name usually given to the valley is wady Sitti-Maryam. Both Moslems and Jews believe that the last judgment is to take place there. To find a grave there is a frequent wish of the latter (Briggs, Heathen and Holy Lands, p. 290), and the former show as they have shown for certainly two centuries the place on which Mohammed is to be seated at the last judgment: a stone jutting out from the east wall of the Haram area, near the south corner, one of the pillars which once adorned the churches of Helena or Justinian, and of which multitudes are now imbedded in the rude masonry of the more modern walls of Jerusalem. This pillar is said to be called et-Tarik, "the road" (De Saulcy, Voyage, 2, 199). From it will spring the bridge of As-Sirat, the crossing of which is to test the true believers. Those who cannot stand the test will drop off into the abyss of Gehenna, in the depths of the valley (Ali Bey, p. 224, 5; Mejr ed-Dîn in Robinson's Research. 1, 269). The steep sides of the ravine, wherever a level strip affords the opportunity, are crowded in places almost paved by the sepulchres of the Moslems, or the simpler slabs of the Jewish tombs, alike awaiting the assembly of the last judgment. (For a full description of this valley, see Robinson, Bibl. Researches, 1, 342, 355, 396-402; 2, 249.)
So narrow and precipitous a glen is quite unsuited to the Biblical event, but this inconsistency does not appear to have disturbed those who framed or, those who hold the tradition. It is, however, implied in the Heb. terms employed in the two cases. That by Joel is émek (עֵמֶק), a word applied to spacious valleys such as those of Esdraelon or Gibeon (Stanley, Syria and Palest., Appendix, § 1). On the other hand, the ravine of the Kidron is invariably designated by náchal (נִחִל), answering to the modern Arabic
wady. There is no instance in the O.T. of these two terms being convertible, and this fact alone would warrant the inference that the tradition of the identity of the émek of Jehoshaphat and the náchal Kidron did not arise until Hebrew had begun to become a dead language. The grounds on which it did arise were probably these:
1. The frequent mention throughout this passage of Joel of Mount Zion, Jerusalem, and the Temple (Joe 2:32; Joe 3:1,6,16-18) may have led to the belief that the locality of the great judgment would be in the immediate neighborhood. This would be assisted by the mention of the Mount of Olives in the somewhat similar passage in Zechariah (Zec 14:3-4).
2. The belief that Christ would reappear in judgment on the Mount of Olives, from which he had ascended. This was at one time a received article of Christian belief and was grounded on the words of the angels, "He shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Adrichomius, Theatr. Terrae Sanctae, s.v. Jerusalem, § 192; Corn. à Lapide on Acts 1). Sir John Maundeville gives a different reason for the same. "Very near this" — the place where Christ wept over Jerusalem — "is the stone on which our Lord sat when he preached; and on that same stone shall he sit on the day of doom, right as he said himself." Bernard the Wise, in the 8th century, speaks of the church of St. Leon, in the valley, "where our Lord will come to judgment" (Early Travels, p. 28).
3. There is the alternative that the valley of Jehoshaphat was really an ancient name of the valley of the Kidron, and that, from the name, the connection with Joel's prophecy and the belief in its being the scene of Jehovah's last judgment have followed. This may be so, but then we should expect to find some trace of the existence of the name before the fourth century after Christ. It was certainly used as a burying place as early as the reign of Josiah (2Ki 23:6), but no inference can fairly be drawn from this.
But, whatever originated the tradition, it has held its ground most firmly, as is evinced by several local circumstances.
(a) In the valley itself, one of the four remarkable monuments which exist at the foot of Olivet was at a very early date connected with Jehoshaphat. At Arculf's visit (about 700) the name appears to have been borne by that now called "Absalom's tomb," but then the "tower of Jehoshaphat" (Early
Travels, p. 4). In the time of Maundrell, the "tomb of Jehoshaphat" was what it still is — an excavation, with an architectural front, in the face of the rock behind "Absalom's tomb." A tolerable view of this is given in plate 33 of Munk's Palestine; and a photograph by Salzmann, with a description, in the Texte (p. 31) to the same. The name may, as already observed, really point to Jehoshaphat himself, though not to his tomb, as he was buried, like the other kings, in the city of David (2Ch 21:1). SEE ABSALOMS TOMB.
(b) One of the gates of the city in the east wall, opening on the valley, bore the same name. This is plain from the Citez de Jherusalem, where the Porte de Iosafas is said to have been a "postern" close to the golden gate way (Portez Oiris), and to the south of that gate (pars devers midi, § 4). It was, therefore, at or near the small walled-up doorway, to which M. de Saulcy has restored the name of the Pôterne de Josaphat, and which is but a few feet to the south of the golden gateway. However this may be, this "postern" is evidently of later date than the wall in which it occurs, as some of the enormous stones of the wall have been cut through to admit it, and in so far, therefore, it is a witness to the date of the tradition being subsequent to the time of Herod, by whom this wall was built. It is probably the "little gate leading down by steps to the valley" of which Arculf speaks. Benjamin of Tudela (1163) also mentions the gate of Jehoshaphat, but without any nearer indication of its position than that it led to the valley and the monuments (Asher, 1:71). (c) Lastly, leading to this gate was a street called the street of Jehoshaphat (Citez de Jherusalem, § 7).
If the "king's dale" (or valley of Shaveh) of Ge 14:17, and of 2Sa 18:18, be the same, and if the commonly received location of them be correct, then we have the valley of Jehoshaphat identified with that of Melchizedek, and its history carries us back to Salem's earliest days. But at what time it became a cemetery we are not informed. SEE SHAVEH.
Cyril, in the 4th century, mentions it in a way which indicates that in his day tradition had altered, or that the valley was supposed to embrace a wider sweep of country than now, for he speaks of it as some furlongs east of Jerusalem — as bare, and fitted for equestrian exercises (Reland, Palaestina, p. 355). Some old travellers say that it was "three miles in length, reaching from the vale of Jehinnen to a place without the city which they call the sepulchres of the kings" (Travels of Two Englishmen two centuries ago). Some of the old travellers — such as Felix Fabri, in the 15th century — call it Cele, from the Koilas of Eusebius and the Coelas of Jerome; and they call that part of the Kidron which is connected with it Crinarius or Krinarius the place of judgment (Evag. 1, 371). We may add that these old writers extend this valley considerably upwards, placing Gethsemane and the traditional tomb of the Virgin in it. They seem to have divided the Kidron bed into two parts: the lower, called the valley of Siloam or Siloe; the upper, the valley of Jehoshaphat, from which the eastern gate of the city in early times was called, not, as now, St. Stephen's, but "the gate of the valley of Jehoshaphat." The present valley of Jehoshaphat occupies the Kidron hollow and the adjoining activities on both sides. Its limits have not been defined, but it is supposed to begin a little above the fountain of the Virgin (Um ed-Deraj), and to extend to the bend of the Kidron, under Scopus. The acclivity to the eastern wall of Jerusalem is — at least towards the top — a Turkish burying ground; and the white tombs, with the Koran (in stone) at the one end, and a turban at the other, look picturesque as they dot for several hundred yards the upper part of the slope. The other acclivity, ascending the steep between Olivet and the Mount of Corruption, is crowded all over with flat Jewish tombs, each with the Hebrew inscription, and speckled here and there with bushy olive trees. Thus Moslems and Jews occupy the valley of Jehoshaphat between them, with their dead looking across the Kidron into each others' faces, and laid there in the common belief that it was no ordinary privilege to die in Jerusalem and be buried in such a spot. The valley of the present day presents nothing remarkable. It is rough to the feet and barren to the eye. It is still, moreover, frequently a solitude, with nothing to break the loneliness but perhaps a passing shepherd with a few sheep, or a traveller on his way to Anâta, or some inhabitant of Silwân or Bethany going into the city by the gate of St. Stephen. Tombs and olives and rough, verdureless steeps are all that meet the eye on either side. SEE JERUSALEM.