From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

Mount Zion was the name given to that hill section of Jerusalem that lay inside the city wall along the eastern side. A Canaanite fortress on the southern part of this hill had enabled the inhabitants of Jerusalem to withstand enemy attacks for centuries. When David conquered the city he determined to build a temple for God on Zion, though the site chosen was to the north rather than the south ( 2 Samuel 5:6-9;  2 Samuel 24:18-25;  2 Chronicles 3:1;  Psalms 78:68-69;  Isaiah 8:18; for map see Jerusalem ). The temple was built during the reign of David’s son, Solomon ( 1 Chronicles 22:8-10).

Since the temple was God’s symbolic dwelling place, Israelites regarded Zion as a holy hill and Jerusalem as a holy city ( Psalms 2:6;  Psalms 9:11;  Isaiah 52:1). They often used the name Zion figuratively to refer to both the temple and the city ( 2 Kings 19:31;  Psalms 9:14;  Psalms 51:18;  Psalms 87:1-3;  Matthew 21:5; see Jerusalem ; Temple ). Because of the people’s wickedness and idolatry, Jerusalem, far from being a holy city, was a sinful city ( Isaiah 1:21;  Isaiah 10:11;  Micah 3:10).

Nevertheless, Zion was the location of God’s symbolic dwelling place, and psalmists and prophets mentioned it repeatedly. To them it spoke of God and his salvation of Israel ( Psalms 20:1-2;  Psalms 53:6;  Isaiah 28:16;  Micah 4:2;  Micah 4:7; cf.  Romans 11:26).

New Testament writers used Zion as a symbol of a far greater salvation, a salvation that is not limited to one city, one nation, one people or one era. To them it spoke of the heavenly Jerusalem, whose citizens are those ‘born from above’ ( Hebrews 12:22-24;  Galatians 3:26-29;  Galatians 4:26-28;  Revelation 3:12;  Revelation 21:1-4).

People's Dictionary of the Bible [2]

Zion ( Zî'On ), and Sion ( Sî'On ), Dry, Sunny Mount. This hill in Jerusalem is first mentioned as a stronghold of the Jebusites.  Joshua 15:63. It remained in their possession until captured by David, who made it "the city of David," the capital of his kingdom. He built there a citadel, his own palace, houses for the people, and a place for the ark of God.  2 Samuel 5:7;  1 Kings 8:1;  2 Kings 19:21;  2 Kings 19:31;  1 Chronicles 11:5;  2 Chronicles 5:2. In the prophetical and poetical books the name occurs no less than 148 times, viz., in  Psalms 38:1-22 times.  Song of Solomon 1:1-17,  Isaiah 47:1-15,  Jeremiah 17:1-27, Lamentations 15, Joel 7,  Amos 2:1-16,  Obadiah 1:2, Micah 9,  Zephaniah 2:1-15,  Zechariah 8:1-23. In the New Testament it occurs seven times as "Sion," making the total number of times the name occurs 161. It was in the later books no longer confined to the southwestern hill, but denoted sometimes Jerusalem in general,  Psalms 149:2;  Psalms 87:2;  Isaiah 33:14;  Joel 2:1, etc.; sometimes God's chosen people,  Psalms 51:18;  Psalms 87:5, etc.; sometimes the church,  Hebrews 12:22, etc.; and sometimes the heavenly city.  Revelation 14:1, etc. Hence, Zion has passed into its present common use in religious literature to denote the aspirations and hopes of God's children. A part of the hill is cultivated, and thus the traveller is frequently reminded of the prophecy, "Zion shall be ploughed Like a field."  Jeremiah 26:18;  Micah 3:12. See Jerusalem.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

(See Jerusalem .) Lieut. Conder (Palestine Exploration Quarterly Statement, Oct. 1877, p. 178) takes Zion for a district name, like "Mount Ephraim." It means sunny mountain. Hezekiah brought his aqueduct ( 2 Chronicles 22:30;  2 Chronicles 33:14) from Gihon, the Virgin's fountain, to the western side of the city of David (which is thus Ophel). Zion was the city of David ( 2 Samuel 5:9;  1 Chronicles 11:7;  1 Chronicles 11:2 Chronicles 5); even the temple was sometimes said to be on Zion ( 1 Maccabees 4:5:2)

The name thus appears to have had a somewhat wide application; but it mainly applies to the eastern of the two main hills on which Jerusalem latterly was built. W. F. Birch (Palestine Exploration Quarterly Statement, July 1878, p. 129) remarks that ancient Jerusalem stood on a rocky plateau enclosed on three sides by two ravines, the king's dale on the W. and S., the brook Kedron on the E. Another ravine, the valley of Hinnom, cleft the space thus enclosed. Between the "brook" and "valley" was the ridge on the southern end of which stood at the beginning of David's reign the hereto impregnable fortress of Jebus (afterward called Zion). In the valley W. of the ridge lay the rest of the city, once captured by the Israelites, but now occupied by the Jebusites. On its eastern side near the" brook" was an intermittent fountain, called then Enrogel, once Gihon in the "brook," afterward Siloah, now the fountain of the Virgin.

Tsinor , "gutter," as the subterranean aqueduct was called, should be commander in chief. Joab ventured and won.

How David heard of the secret passage, and how Joab accomplished the feat, is not recorded; but Capt. Warren (3000 years subsequently) found the ascent of the Tsinor  Judges 2:22-26).

(See Temple .)

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

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

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

When David took it from the Jebusites ( Joshua 15:63;  2 Samuel 5:7 ) he built on it a citadel and a palace, and it became "the city of David" ( 1 Kings 8:1;  2 Kings 19:21,31;  1 Chronicles 11:5 ). In the later books of the Old Testament this name was sometimes used ( Psalm 87:2;  149:2;  Isaiah 33:14;  Joel 2:1 ) to denote Jerusalem in general, and sometimes God's chosen Israel ( Psalm 51:18;  87:5 ).

In the New Testament (see  Hebrews 12:22 ), and sometimes the heavenly city ( Revelation 14:1 ).

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): ( n.) Hence, the theocracy, or church of God.

(2): ( n.) A hill in Jerusalem, which, after the capture of that city by the Israelites, became the royal residence of David and his successors.

(3): ( n.) The heavenly Jerusalem; heaven.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Zi'on. See Jerusalem .

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [8]

See Jerusalem

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [9]

ZION. —See Jerusalem, vol. i. p. 850b f.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [10]

ZION . See Jerusalem, esp. 11. 1.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [11]

See Sion .

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [12]

See Mount Zion

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

zı̄´on ( ציּון , cı̄yon  ; Σιών , Siṓn ):

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 צהה , cāhāh , "to be dry"; Delitzsch from צוּה , ciwwāh , "to set up" and Wetzstein from צין , cı̄n , "to protect." Gesenius finds a more hopeful suggestion in the Arabic equivalent ṣihw , the Arabic ṣahwat 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 . - T he 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. naḥal - 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 ,  Micah 3:12;  Zechariah 1:14 ,  Zechariah 1:17;  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 Macc 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 f;   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. See Ophel . 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.


See especially chapter 6 in Smith's Jerusalem  ; for a defense of the older view see Kuemmel, Materialien z. Topog. des alt. Jerusalem .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Zion'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/z/zion.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [15]

That one of the four hills on which Jerusalem is built, on the SW. of the city, and the site of the palace of King David and his successors.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]