Jerusalem, “The City of Peace” is the city where Christians and Jews yearn to ascend to. This city on a hill is surrounded by three valleys that from their depths no doubt made the gleaming Temple look even more impressive and grand; The Tyropoeon Valley, the Hinnom Valley, and the Kidron.
Jerusalem has been at the center of the world for millennia and prior to its religious significance, it had strategic military advantages being surrounded by valleys which created immediate high ground. These valleys have stories and histories as well that reach far beyond just being the beginning of ascent.
The Tyropoeon Valley is also known as “Valley of the Cheesemakers” (though there is no evidence any cheese was ever made there) and it divided the Old City and Mt. Moriah. Today, it is barely recognizable and is filled with houses and debris and streets with close proximity to the Al-Aqsa compound.
The Hinnom Valley, also known as Gehenna translated to “hell”. This small valley has arguably the saddest history of the area, as children were sacrificed to Molech, with drums beating to drown out the screams of the children in the fire. This is spoken of in the books of Jeremiah and 2 Kings 23. In 2 Kings 23:10, it states that King Josiah defiled the valley and ensured that no man would ever make sacrifice of his child there again during this reforms to bring a new covenant with the Lord.
Gehenna as a term was used by Jesus to describe eternal punishment and fire. This was in no way by accident, as the people he spoke to would have been well aware of the dark history of the area.
The Kidron Valley is the most well known of the valleys. It separates the Temple Mount from the Mt. of Olives. This massive valley extends 20 miles, all the way to the Dead Sea. David fled through the valley to escape his son. It is the Kidron Valley to which Satan tempted Jesus to throw himself from the Temple. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he walked through the Kidron Valley to get there and passed back and forth several times through it. In John 18:1, it even mentions the Kidron Valley in conjunction with the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Kidron Valley is lined with graves, as it has long been a place of burial, and it holds massive significance for the Jewish people believing that the Messiah will pass through the valley to the Golden Gate, raising the dead in the cemeteries there on his way. This has made the area very sought after for burial. There are some monumental tombs there as well, the Tomb of Zechariah, the Tomb of Absolom and the Tomb of the Sons of Hezir.
Next time you are in the Old City, remember that the areas around it hold just as much history!