Mount Zion (Jerusalem)

Mount Zion (Jerusalem) and surrounding area

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2 Kings 19:31 For out of Jerusalem a remnant will go out, and out of Mount Zion those who shall escape. The zeal of Yahweh will perform this.'

Isaiah 4:5 Yahweh will create over the whole habitation of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.

Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom Yahweh has given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Yahweh of Armies, who dwells in Mount Zion.

Isaiah 10:12 Therefore it will happen that, when the Lord has performed his whole work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the willful proud heart of the king of Assyria, and the insolence of his haughty looks.

Isaiah 18:7 In that time, a present will be brought to Yahweh of Armies from a people tall and smooth, even from a people awesome from their beginning onward, a nation that measures out and treads down, whose land the rivers divide, to the place of the name of Yahweh of Armies, Mount Zion.

Isaiah 24:23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for Yahweh of Armies will reign on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; and before his elders will be glory.

Isaiah 29:8 It will be like when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he eats; but he awakes, and his hunger isn't satisfied; or like when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he drinks; but he awakes, and behold, he is faint, and he is still thirsty. The multitude of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion will be like that.

Isaiah 31:4 For thus says Yahweh to me, "As the lion and the young lion growling over his prey, if a multitude of shepherds is called together against him, will not be dismayed at their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them, so Yahweh of Armies will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its heights. Jeremiah

Isaiah 37:32 For out of Jerusalem a remnant will go forth, and survivors will escape from Mount Zion. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this.'

Lamentations 5:18 For the mountain of Zion, which is desolate: The foxes walk on it.

Joel 2:32 It will happen that whoever will call on the name of Yahweh shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the remnant, those whom Yahweh calls.

Obadiah 1:17 But in Mount Zion, there will be those who escape, and it will be holy. The house of Jacob will possess their possessions.

Obadiah 1:21 Saviors will go up on Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom will be Yahweh's.

Micah 4:7 and I will make that which was lame a remnant, and that which was cast far off a strong nation: and Yahweh will reign over them on Mount Zion from then on, even forever."

Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable multitudes of angels,

Revelation 14:1 I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a number, one hundred forty-four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads.


zi'-on (tsiyon; Sion):

1. Meaning of the Word

2. The Zion of the Jebusites

3. Zion of the Prophets

4. Zion in Later Poetical Writings and Apocrypha

5. Omission of Name by Some Writers

6. The Name "Zion" in Christian Times


1. Meaning of the Word:

A name applied to Jerusalem, or to certain parts of it, at least since the time of David. Nothing certain is known of the meaning. Gesenius and others have derived it from a Hebrew root tsahah, "to be dry"; Delitzsch from tsiwwah, "to set up" and Wetzstein from tsin, "to protect." Gesenius finds a more hopeful suggestion in the Arabic equivalent cihw, the Arabic cahwat signifying "ridge of a mountain" or "citadel," which at any rate suitably applies to what we know to have been the original Zion (compare Smith, HGHL, under the word).

Considerable confusion has been caused in the past by the want of clear understanding regarding the different sites which have respectively been called "Zion" during the centuries. It will make matters clearer if we take the application of the name: in David's time; in the early Prophets, etc.; in late poetical writings and in the Apocrypha; and in Christian times.

2. The Zion of the Jebusites:

Jerus (in the form Uru-sa-lim) is the oldest name we know for this city; it goes back at least 400 years before David. In 2 Samuel 5:6-9, "The king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites..... Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion; the same is the city of David.... And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David." It is evident that Zion was the name of the citadel of the Jebusite city of Jerusalem. That this citadel and incidentally then city of Jerusalem around it were on the long ridge running South of the Temple (called the southeastern hill in the article JERUSALEM, III, (3) (which see)) is now accepted by almost all modern scholars, mainly on the following grounds:

(1) The near proximity of the site to the only known spring, now the "Virgin's Fount," once called GIHON (which see). From our knowledge of other ancient sites all over Palestine, as well as on grounds of common-sense, it is hardly possible to believe that the early inhabitants of this site with such an abundant source at their very doors could have made any other spot their headquarters.

(2) The suitability of the site for defense.-The sites suited for settlement in early Canaanite times were all, if we may judge from a number of them now known, of this nature-a rocky spur isolated on three sides by steep valleys, and, in many sites, protected at the end where they join the main mountain ridge by either a valley or a rocky spur.

(3) The size of the ridge, though very small to our modern ideas, is far more in keeping with what we know of fortified towns of that period than such an area as presented by the southwestern hill-the traditional site of Zion. Mr. Macalister found by actual excavation that the great walls of Gezer, which must have been contemporaneous with the Jebusite Jerusalem, measured approximately 4,500 feet in circumference. G. A. Smith has calculated that a line of wall carried along the known and inferred scarps around the edge of this southeastern hill would have an approximate circumference of 4,250 feet. The suitability of the site to a fortified city like Gezer, Megiddo, Soco, and other sites which have been excavated, strikes anyone familiar with these places.

(4) The archaeological remains on these hills found by Warren and Professor Guthe, and more particularly in the recent excavations of Captain Parker (see JERUSALEM), show without doubt that this was the earliest settlement in pre-Israelite times. Extensive curves and rock-cuttings, cave-dwellings and tombs, and enormous quantities of early "Amorite" (what may be popularly called "Jebusite") pottery show that the spot must have been inhabited many centuries before the time of David. The reverse is equally true; on no other part of the Jerusalem site has any quantity of such early pottery been found.

(5) The Bible evidence that Zion originally occupied this site is clear. It will be found more in detail under the heading "City of David" in the article JERUSALEM, IV, (5), but three points may be mentioned here:

(a) The Ark of the Covenant was brought up out of the city of David to the Temple (1 Kings 8:1 2 Chronicles 5:2), and Pharaoh's daughter "came up out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon had built for her"-adjacent to the Temple (1 Kings 9:24). This expression "up" could not be used of any other hill than of the lower-lying eastern ridge; to go from the southwestern hill (traditional Zion) to the Temple is to go down.

(b) Hezekiah constructed the well-known Siloam tunnel from Gihon to the Pool of Siloam. He is described (2 Chronicles 32:30) as bringing the waters of Gihon "straight down on the west side of the city of David."

(c) Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:14) built "an outer wall to the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley" (i.e. nachal-the name of the Kedron valley).

3. Zion of the Prophets:

Zion, renamed the City of David, then originally was on this eastern ridge. But the name did not stay there. It would almost seem as if the name was extended to the Temple site when the ark was carried there, for in the pre-exilic Prophets the references to Zion all appear to have referred to the Temple Hill. To quote a few examples: "And Yahweh will create over the whole habitation of mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night" (Isaiah 4:5); "Yahweh of hosts, who dwelleth in mount Zion" (Isaiah 8:18); "Let us go up to Zion unto Yahweh our God" (Jeremiah 31:6); "Yahweh will reign over them in mount Zion" (Micah 4:7). All these, and numbers more, clearly show that at that time Zion was the Temple Hill.

4. Zion in Later Poetical Writings and Apocrypha:

In many of the later writings, particularly poetical references, Zion appears to be the equivalent of Jerusalem; either in parallelism (Psalm 102:21 Amos 1:2 Micah 3:10, 12 Zechariah 1:14, 17; Zechariah 8:3 Zephaniah 3:16) or alone (Jeremiah 3:14 Lamentations 5:11); even here many of the references will do equally well for the Temple Hill. The term "Daughter of zion" is applied to the captive Jews (Lamentations 4:22), but in other references to the people of Jerusalem (Isaiah 1:8; Isaiah 52:2 Jeremiah 4:31, etc.). When we come to the Apocrypha, in 2 Esdras there are several references in which Zion is used for the captive people of Judah (2:40; 3:2, 31; 10:20, 39, 44), but "Mount Zion" in this and other books (e.g. 1 Maccabees 4:37, 60; 5:54; 6:48, 62, etc.) is always the Temple Hill.

5. Omission of Name by Some Writers:

It has been pointed out as a curious and unaccountable exception that in Ezekiel as well as in Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, there is no mention of Zion, except the incidental reference to David's capture of the Jebusite fort. The references in the other Prophets and the Psalms are so copious that there must be some religious reason for this. The Chronicler (2 Chronicles 3:1), too, alone refers to the Temple as on Mount Moriah. It is also noticeable that only in these books (2 Chronicles 27:3; 2 Chronicles 33:14 Nehemiah 3:26; Nehemiah 11:21) does the name "Ophel" appear as a designation of a part of the southeastern hill, which apparently might equally fitly have been termed Zion. SeeOPHEL. Josephus never uses the name "Zion" nor does it occur in the New Testament, except in two quotations (Hebrews 12:22 Revelation 14:1).

6. The Name "Zion" in Christian Times:

Among the earlier Christian writers who mention "Zion," Origen used it as equivalent to the Temple Hill, but in the 4th century writers commence to localize it up the southern part of the western hill. It was a period when Biblical topography was settled in a very arbitrary manner, without any scientific or critical examination of the evidence, and this tradition once established remained, like many such traditions, undisputed until very recent years. To W. F. Birch belongs much of the credit for the promulgation of the newer views which now receive the adherence of almost every living authority on the topography of Jerusalem.


Seeespecially chapter vi in Smith's Jerusalem; for a defense of the older view see Kuemmel, Materialien z. Topog. des alt. Jerusalem.

E. W. G. Masterman

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