The Place of the Skull and Crucifixion :: By Jeff Van Hatten

1 Samuel 17:54 – “David took the severed head of the Philistine, Goliath, and brought it to Jerusalem.”

Many have tried to convince the world that the place of the skull is a rock face that looks like a skull from a distance. But this is definitely not what scripture is saying when it speaks of the place called Golgotha.

Fun with Greek and Hebrew

Matthew 27:33 – “They came to the place that is called Golgotha, which means Place of the Skull.”

Mark 15:22 – “They brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull).”

Luke 23:33 – “When they came to the place called The Skull, they nailed him to a tree.”

John 19:17 – “They took Yeshua, bearing his own cross, to The Place of a Skull, called Golgotha.”

The Greek word, Golgatha [G1115], is the same as the Hebrew word gulgoleth [H1538]. Both mean skull. Gulgoleth is found in several Older Covenant verses: Judges 9:53, 2 Kings 9:35, 1 Chronicles 10:10, 1 Chronicles 23:3 & 24, and Numbers 1:2. Golgotha, then, is the final word one gets from Goliath of Gath! The transformation goes something like this: Goliath Gath to > GoliGath to > GolGath to > GolGatha.

Where’s the Place of the Skull?

Here is what we do know:

  • Gulgoleth means a skull (as noted above).
  • Gulgoleth is outside the city walls of Jerusalem. This location would have had to have been outside the walls of Jerusalem, in accordance with Jewish law which would not have permitted the Philistine Giant’s head to be buried inside the city walls (Hebrews 13:12).
  • Gulgoleth is located near the city (Luke 23:26).
  • Gulgoleth was located in a place that was well traveled (Matthew 27:39, Mark 15:29, Luke 23:35, and John 19:25).
  • Gulgoleth contains a garden, olive press, and tomb (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32, and John 19:41).
  • Finally, Gulgoleth was a widely known Jewish location with a proper name. Gulgoleth was the place that David buried the head of Goliath of Gath in Jerusalem. The location of the Philistine Giant’s buried head would have been known by all.

Where was Yeshua Crucified?

Many have given their opinion on where Yeshua was crucified. They range from Mount Scopus to the north of the Temple Mount, to the Church of the Sepulchre to the west of the Temple Mount, to the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem which is northwest of the Temple Mount, to various other locations in and around Jerusalem. Many are popular tourist destinations today.

Roman Crucifixion Factors

There were four determining factors regarding where a person was to be crucified, in order of precedence.

  1. They were to be crucified at the scene of the crime.
  2. They were to be crucified at the place where the person was arrested.
  3. They were to be crucified at the place of the high ground.
  4. They were to be crucified at the place of a busy crossroads so everyone would see.

Yeshua Factors

  1. The Scene of Yeshua’s Crime: He was proclaimed a king by the crowds on the Mount of Olives before he descended from the mount into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:5-10, Luke 19:37-38, John 12:12-15).
  2. The Place of Yeshua’s Arrest: Yeshua was arrested in a Garden with a grove of trees which contained a Gethsemane, or Olive Press, on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32, Luke 22:47, John 18:1-26).
  3. The High Ground: Mount Moriah’s altitude, where the Temple Mount stands, is 2,428 feet. Mount Zion’s altitude is 2,510 feet. The Mount of Olive’s altitude is 2,710 feet. Therefore, the Mount of Olives is the high ground.
  4. The Busy Crossroads: The Mount of Olives was the place of a busy crossroads. The north/south road from Bethany and Bethpage crossed at the top of the mount. The east/west bridge from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives met the north/south road at this point (Mark 11:1-4, Mathew21:1, Luke 19:29).

Other Factors

Mathew 27:59 – “When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.”

Luke 23:44-45 – “It was now about the sixth hour, and a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, the sun’s light failing: and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.”

Luke 23:47-49 – “All the multitudes that came together to this sight, when they beheld the things that were done, returned smiting their breasts. And all his acquaintances, and the women that followed with him from Galilee, stood afar off, seeing these things.”

John 19:41-42 – “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb wherein was never man yet laid. So because it was Preparation Day for the Jews, and because the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”

The Mount of Olives is where atonement was made and the Red Heifer was sacrificed. Yeshua fulfills the role of the Red Heifer and makes atonement for us (Numbers 19:1-10). The bridge to the Mount of Olives is also the road one would use to take the scapegoat out into the wilderness. Yeshua also fulfills the role of the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:8-10). The Passover Lamb was placed on the altar facing the Holy of Holies.

It is only from the Mount of Olives that Yeshua, our Passover Lamb, could look into the Temple and see the Veil in front of the Holy of Holies being rent! Remember, only the inside of the Temple was lit at that time by the light of the Menorah, as the entire area around Jerusalem was darkened (Luke 23:44-45).

The Mount of Olives is also a traditional place of burial for thousands of Jews. Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and King David’s son Absalom are all said to be buried there. No doubt Joseph of Arimathea’s new tomb was in this location as well! (Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:42-46, Luke 23:50-53).


The Mount of Olives is the place of the crime, the place of arrest, the high ground, and the place where the busy crossroads met. According to Josephus, the Romans crucified all of the Jewish criminals on the Mount of Olives. Only from the Mount of Olives can one see the Veil being rent. Therefore, it is on the Mount of Olives that the cross was placed, not in some other location.