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Golgotha (Aram.: "skull"; Gr.: kranion; L.: calvarius), translated "Place of a skull" or simply "Calvary," was a hill near Jerusalem in the Roman Province of Judea. Upon this execution site, Jesus Christ was put to death by crucifixion along with two thieves.

Etymology

All four gospel accounts call the hill "Kranion," with most recording "Kranion Topus" (place of a skull). The Gospel of John fails to call it by the local name of Golgotha, an Aramaic word closely related to the Hebrew with the same meaning. The hill is therefore related in some way to the skull. The common name of "Calvary" was chosen by translators of the Gospel of Luke based on the common liturgical use of the Latin version.

The most likely reason the hill had this name was because of its shape, though tradition for a location bearing that description is found nowhere in ancient literature. While it is clear that the Aramaic of AD 33 meant simply "skull," an ancient Hebrew equivalent could have been based on the place name "Goath" (Full name Gol Goath) which means "bellowing." This location was near a mass grave near Jerusalem[1].

Location

The exact location of Golgotha is unknown. However, John declared that it was "near the city" of Jerusalem[2] where everyone coming by could read the inscription over the cross.

Tradition from AD 333 identified the site as near the center of the city as it stood in that day. Construction had been done by Hadrian in AD 160 obscured sites all over the city as he Romanized the former Jewish capital. Contemporary Christian testimony spoke of the site of Golgotha being "in the middle of" one of Hadrian's main streets.

The writer to the Hebrews used an analogy to the sin offerings, of which only the blood was used on the day of atonement. Just like the bodies of these animals were taken outside the encampment or city walls to be burned, so Jesus "suffered outside the camp."[3]

Consequently, three sites have been considered: the traditional site (most history), a site outside the north gate of the ancient walls (Gordon's Calvary), and one outside of eastern gate. The Apostle John, having been an eyewitness, gives us the only dependable fact: Golgotha was close to the main street of Jerusalem.

Verses

  1. Jeremiah 31:39-40 (Link)
  2. John 19:20 (Link)
  3. Hebrew 13:11-13 (Link)

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