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(zi' uhn) The transliteration of the Hebrew and Greek words that originally referred to the fortified hill of pre-Israelite Jerusalem between the Kedron and Tyropean valleys. Scholars disagree as to the root meaning of the term. Some authorities have suggested that the word was related to the Hebrew word that meant “dry place” or “parched ground.” Others relate the word to an Arabic term that is interpreted as “hillcrest,” or “mountainous ridge.”

The name “Zion” was mentioned first in the account of David's conquest of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:6-10 ; 1 Chronicles 11:4-9 ). The phrase “stronghold of Zion” may have referred to only the fortified section of the city. Jerusalem was the name of the city state as a whole and included numerous villages and houses located outside of the fortified area of the city itself. After David captured Zion, he resided there and changed its name to the “city of David.”

Zion was used by biblical writers in a variety of ways. Many of the psalmists used the term to refer to the Temple built by Solomon ( Psalm 2:6 ; Psalm 48:2 ; Psalm 84:7 ; Psalm 132:13 ). In Isaiah 1:27 , the idea of “Zion” included the whole nation. Zion also stood for the capital of Judah (Amos 6:1 ). The most common usage of Zion was to refer to the city of God in the new age (Isaiah 1:27 ; Isaiah 28:16 ; Isaiah 33:5 ).

Zion was understood, also, to refer to the heavenly Jerusalem (Isaiah 60:14 ; Hebrews 12:22 ; Revelation 14:1 ), the place where the Messiah would appear at the end of time. The glorification of the messianic community will take place on the holy mountain of “Zion.” See Jerusalem .

James Newell

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Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Zion'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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