The Kidron is both a valley and a streambed running below the southeast wall of Jerusalem and separating the city from the Mount of Olives on the east. It then turns southeast from Jerusalem and follows a winding course to the Dead Sea. The Kidron can be described as a river bed that is nearly always dry, since the watercourse flows only in the rainy season, partly maintained by the two irregular springs, Gihon and En-rogel.
The Gihon was the vital water source for the old City of David, and in Hezekiah’s day an underground tunnel was cut in the rock to guarantee a water supply in time of siege, thus supplying the pool of Siloam within the city walls.
The term “brook” found in John 18:1 ( KJV) would be better translated “winter flow” or “winter course,” since the original word intends to convey this seasonal character of the creek rather than to suggest a river.
The two most important functions of the Kidron Valley for the city of Jerusalem were related to the military and to funerals. The walls of the city have always towered over the valley, and its steepness made it extremely difficult for any attack to succeed from that side. Over the centuries rubble from nearby ruins has raised the floor of the valley. In places the present floor is some forty feet above earlier historic levels; it is not certain how many ancient caves and tombs must lie below the present surface. The wide space just south of the city, where the Kidron meets and merges with the Tyropean and Hinnom Valleys, has always been a favorite spot for the royal gardens, irrigated from the two nearby springs.
Since the fourth century AD, the Kidron has been called “the valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:12), scene of the judgment of nations at the last day, and this tradition is strong among both Muslims and Jews. Today the sides of the Kidron Valley are crowded with tombs. Even before the exile it was a popular place for burial. Second Kings 23:4-12 refers to the graves of the common people and to the dumping of idolatrous refuse there.
The first reference to the Kidron Valley is in 2 Samuel 15:23, where David and the people crossed over toward the desert. This strategic move would give them a way of escape if rebellious Absalom’s forces decided to attack the city. The people and the king wept bitterly during this move (2 Samuel 15:30) because it had such a depressing significance; David was abandoning Jerusalem without a fight. Later the offensive Shimei was forbidden to cross the Kidron by Solomon (1 Kings 2:36-38) on pain of death. The ancient historian Josephus mentions that the wicked queen Athaliah was put to death in the Kidron Valley (Antiquities 9.7.3), but it is not clear from 2 Kings 11:16 whether the horses’ entrance to the palace (where she died) opened onto the Kidron.
The last reference to the Kidron is the occasion of Jesus’ crossing it with his disciples on the eve of his betrayal (John 18:1). This parallels with the crossing of David, King of the Jews in a sense. The prophet Jeremiah foretells a time when the Kidron will be sacred to the Lord (Jeremiah 31:38-40) as part of the restoration of Israel.

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