This hill on the south slope of the Mount of Olives has two names – the first pleasing, and the other, rather disturbing.
The “Mount of Anointing” recalls that olive oil from the local trees was used to anoint the kings of Judah in biblical times, but the ancients also believed that this was the “hill east of Jerusalem” where Solomon built altars for the idols of his foreign wives (I Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13). Thus they made a bitter pun on the Hebrew word for anointing – mishkha, turning it into the similar-sounding mashkhit – corruption!
In a more optimistic vein, legend also has it that the olive branch the dove brought Noah came from a tree that grew here.
The roof of the mount’s Catholic guesthouse, the House of Abraham, affords an unusual perspective of the Temple Mount, the Kidron Valley and Mount Zion.