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Don Stewart :: What Was Golgotha? (Mount Calvary)

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Don Stewart

One of the most important places with respect to the ministry of Jesus was Golgotha. Golgotha is an Aramaic word meaning, "the place of the skull." All four gospels testify that it was the place of Jesus' crucifixion.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull (Matthew 27:33).

Mark says.

Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull (Mark 15:22).

Luke records.

When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left (Luke 23:33).

John wrote.

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha) (John 19:17).

Calvary Is Latin For Skull

The Latin word for skull is Calvaria. This is where the term Mount Calvary was derived. When the New Testament was translated into Latin the word Calvaria was used. The King James translators used the familiar word "Calvary" in their translation.

The Name Skull Hill Has An Unknown Origin

The exact reason why it is called "skull hill" is unknown. A number of possible explanations have been put forward. They include the following.

1. It Was The Place Of Execution

It has been suggested that this was the place of public execution and skulls were left lying around after people had been executed. This does not seem very likely when the Jewish practice of burial of the dead is considered.

2. The Hill Was Shaped Like A Skull

It has been argued that the name "skull hill" was derived from the shape of the hill - it looked like a human skull. The fact that executions took place on this hill was merely coincidental.

The Exact Site Is Unknown

The exact site of Christ's crucifixion is a matter of debate. The two most prominent candidates are the church of the Holy Sepulcher and Gordon's Calvary. Gordon's Calvary is on a hill that looks like a skull yet no one can be certain as to the exact location of Jesus' death.

The Site Was Outside Of The City

We do know that Jesus was taken outside the city of Jerusalem to be executed.

And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood (Hebrews 13:12).

The Site Was Near A Road

The site of the crucifixion was also near a public road.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads (Matthew 27:39).

John wrote.

Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek (John 19:20).


According to all four gospels Jesus was crucified at a place called Golgotha - an Aramaic word for skull. The Latin term is Calvaria where the name Calvary comes from. The reason why it was called "skull hill" is unknown. Possibly because it was the site of executions of because the hill was shaped like a human skull. The exact location is unknown. We do know that Jesus was crucified outside of the city walls on a public road.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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