Jerusalem Sights

Hinnom Valley

  • 6 Nachon St. Map It
  • Mount Zion

Published 05/04/2017

Fodor's Review

A few minutes from the Jaffa Gate is the deep Hinnom Valley, which offers some fine views of Mount Zion and the Old City walls. The area achieved notoriety in the 7th century BC during the long reign of the Israelite king Menasseh (697–640 BC). He was not merely an idolater, the Bible relates, but supported a cult of child sacrifice by fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. Over time, the biblical Hebrew name of the valley—Gei Ben Hinnom, contracted to Gehennom or Gehenna—became a synonym for a hellish place of burning, in both Hebrew and New Testament Greek.

In the late 1970s, Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkai discovered a series of Old Testament–period rock tombs at the bend in the valley, below the fortress-like St. Andrew's Scots Church. The most spectacular finds were two tiny rolled strips of silver, designed to be worn as amulets around the neck. The painstaking opening of the little cylinders revealed the biblical "priestly benediction" (Nos. 6), inscribed in the ancient Hebrew script. This 7th-century-BC sample, beginning "The Lord bless you and keep you," is the oldest biblical passage ever found. The tombs are an open site, accessed through the Menachem Begin Heritage Center during its visiting hours.

Sight Information

Address:

6 Nachon St., Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 9411014, Israel

Map It

Phone:

02-565–2020

Sight Details:

  • Free
  • Tomb site closed Sat.

Published 05/04/2017

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