Palestine and the Garden of Gethsemane overwhelmed by plague of locusts in 1915
The plague referred to occured in the spring and summer of 1915 when Palestine was closed to the outside world by the war.
They ravaged the country from the borders of Egypt to the Taurus mountains and were a source of anxiety for many months
both to the Turkish authorities and the native population. They consumed every green thing - which meant a serious shortage
of food and fodder, which greatly militated against the movement of the Turkish forces. The destruction caused by these flying clouds was enormous.
Swarms of locusts had flown overhead in such thick clouds as to obscure the sun for the time being. However, before they were seen a loud noise, produced by the flapping of myriads of wings, was heard, described as resembling thedistant rumble of waves
or as the Bible has it "the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running into battle." It was several
days later that the locusts were first seen in Jerusalem. The clouds of them would be so dense as to appear quite black. It was
the 28th day of May when the larvae, already transforming itself in the pupa stage, reached the quiet of the Garden of Gethsemane (literally means “oil press" is located on a slope of the Mount of Olives), now in its full summer bloom; but scar-
cely had a day passed before every tender thing was consumed, and even the leaves of the woody cypress and of the Olive
trees, the latter about one thousand years old, were attacked. The garden was ravaged. The entire city of Jerusalem, with
the exception of the portion within the walls, fell a prey to the ravages of the creeping pests, while the entire land from "Dan to Beersheba" was laid desolate. The devastation was complete, and only those resident in the country at the time could appre-
ciate the sufferings and hardships the locusts caused. All vegetables and fruits virtually dissapeared as by magic. Olives and
Olive oil were almost unabtainable.
El Butini weakened by the swarms of locusts
"El Butini," the most famous of the Garden of Gethsemane's Olive trees, under which the Saviour is supposed to have walked during the Night of the Agony was later (1920) blown down in a snow storm. It had, as a matter of fact, been practically killed
in 1915, when an unprecedented plague of locusts swept down on Jerusalem, destroying every green thing for many miles
around. Twice it was bound round with iron braces to prevent it from falling.
Legend of Turkish fall comes true
According to tradition this tree would fall when the Turkish empire fell. The significance of this prophecy comes to us at a time
when the allies have about concluded to drive the Turks from Constantinople.
Currently, there are 8 Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane
These trees with their age-split trunks are old, extremely old. 1000 years? 2000years? No one knows. Tradition, of course, dates them back to the time of Christ. It is unlikely that these trees were in the garden in the time of Christ because, the Romans, according to Flavius Josephus, cut down all the trees in the vicinity during their siege of Jerusalem in AD 70.