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Kidron

KIDRON

KIDRON (Heb. קִדְרוֹן), valley to the N. and E. of Jerusalem, separating the city from the Mount of Olives. The name derived from the root kdr ("dark," "shady"), refers to its depth. The valley begins near the Sanhedria saddle, northwest of Jerusalem, at a height of 2,585 ft. (788 m.), close to the watershed. It continues eastward for about 1½ mi. (2½ km.) as Naḥal Egozim (Wadi Jauz). At a height of 2,346 ft. (715 m.) the valley turns south. Several valleys converge with the Kidron as it runs southward: the Bethzeita Valley, which traverses the northeast corner of the Old City, at 2,260 ft. (686 m.) from the west; the Tyropoeon Valley, which bisects the Old City, at 2,035 ft. (617 m.); the Ben-Hinnom Valley, which passes the Old City on the west, at 2,000 ft. (606 m.). The Kidron then continues in a southeasterly direction, the banks becoming steeper and more craggy. It passes the monastery of Mar Saba and issues into the Dead Sea 2 mi. (c. 3 km.) south of Ra's al-Fashkha.

The great importance of the Kidron for Jerusalem lies in the fact that it and its confluents determined the orographical shape of the area on which the city was built. The valley protected the City of David and its northern continuation, the Temple Mount, on the east. The Gihon, Jerusalem's only spring, issued from its west slope. Only toward the end of the Second Temple period, when Agrippa i built the Third Wall there, was the westward bend of the Kidron utilized for protection of the city. Situated on the leeward side of the city and presenting rock surfaces suitable for the cutting of tomb caves, the valley served from early times as a necropolis of Jerusalem, the early tombs culminating in the magnificent rock-cut monuments along the eastern slope.

The first biblical reference to the "brook" Kidron occurs in connection with David's flight before Absalom (ii Sam. 15:23). In the time of the divided monarchy, the reforming kings of Judah, Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah, cast away and burnt the various idols which defiled Jerusalem there (i Kings 15:13; ii Kings 23:4, 6, 12; ii Chron. 15:16; 29:16). Jeremiah included the Kidron within the area holy to the Lord (31:39–40). In later times the central part of the valley was called the Valley of Jehoshaphat and was assumed to be the place where the dead were resurrected. In this legend, as adapted by the Muslims, all men had to cross the valley on a sword suspended over it.

bibliography:

Abel, Geog, 1 (1933), 400–1; N. Avigad, Maẓẓevot Kedumot be-Naḥal Kidron (1954); M. Avi-Yonah (ed.), Sefer Yerushalayim (1956), passim. add. bibliography: Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. IudaeaPalaestina. Maps and Gazetteer. (1994), 102, s.v. Cedron Torrens.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]

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