The Hill of Evil Counsel, just south of Jerusalem’s Old City, is an important stop on any Christian tour. The hilltop here is covered with pleasant, shaded paths and offers views of scripturally significant locations in every direction. Today it’s a mixed Jewish and Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem with the name Abu Tor, which means “Father of the Bull” in Arabic, referring to an officer in Saladin’s army in 1187, which accompanied Saladin on a bull.
The hill’s name harkens back to an incident, described in the Book of John, where the High Priest Joseph Caiaphas took counsel with Judas and the Pharisees to plan the ultimate betrayal of Jesus in a home he owned at this location. A monastery or convent dedicated to St. Mark (whose emblem was an ox) have once been there.
Abu Tor was developed as a residential quarter in the late 19th century by Muslim and Christian Arabs from Jerusalem. A Jewish neighborhood called Beit Yosef was established in 1888. In January 1949, Israel and Jordan, represented by Moshe Dayan and Abdullah el-Tell, held talks on the status of Jerusalem. Dayan presented the partition of Jerusalem as a common interest, and offered an exchange of territories that included the military post in Abu Tor, but his offer was turned down.
Abu Tor is one of the few Jerusalem neighborhoods with a mixed Arab and Jewish population. Due to its mixed population, many journalists, diplomats and United Nations employees choose to live there. The Jerusalem headquarters of the United Nations is situated on the Hill of Evil Counsel near a forest of tall, narrow pine trees called the Peace Forest.
To the east, pilgrims can view the Kidron Valley, mentioned in the Book of John. From that vantage point, it is possible to see the Garden of Gethsemane at the bottom of the Mount of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane is where Jesus often met with his disciples and where Jesus said his final prayers just before his arrest. Look up to the top of the Mount of Olives to view the Dome of the Ascension, mentioned in the Book of Acts.
Where the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys meet, you can see the City of David, where King David built his palace and established his capital. The Judean Desert over Bethany is also visible from this outlook.