Zion (Hebrew: צִיּוֹן, (Persian: صهیون,"tziyyon"; Tiberian vocalization: "tsiyyôn"; transliterated "Zion" or "Sion") is a term that most often designates the Land of Israel and its capital, Jerusalem. The word is found in texts dating back almost three millennia. It commonly referred to a specific mountain near Jerusalem ("Mount Zion"), on which stood a Jebusite fortress of the same name that was conquered by David and was named the City of David.

The term "Zion" came to designate the area of Jerusalem where the fortress stood, and later became a metonym for Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, the city of Jerusalem and the entire Promised Land to come, in which, according to the Hebrew Bible, God dwells among his chosen people.

Modern use

The name "Zion" appears 154 times in the "Tanakh" (Hebrew Bible). Some examples from the book of Psalms, which have been frequently recited and memorized by Jews for centuries, state:

* "By the streams of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion." (Psalms 137:1)
* "For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us "required of us" mirth, "saying", Sing us "one" of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget "her cunning". If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase "it", rase "it", even to the foundation thereof; O daughter of Babylon, that art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that repayeth thee as thou hast served us." (Psalms 137:3-8) (King James Version, with italics for words not in the original Hebrew)
* "The builder of Jerusalem is God, the outcast of Israel he will gather in... Praise God O Jerusalem, laud your God O Zion." (Psalms 147:2-12)


Zionism is a political movement and an ideology that supports a homeland for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, where the Hebrew nation originated over 3,200 years ago and where Hebrew kingdoms and self-governing states existed up to the 2nd century AD. While Zionism is based in part upon religious tradition linking the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, the modern movement is largely secular, beginning largely as a response to rampant antisemitism during the 19th century. After a number of advances and setbacks, and after the Holocaust had destroyed Jewish society in Europe, the Zionist movement culminated in the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and succeeded in reaching the Zionist dream or goal.


The Jewish longing for Zion, starting with the deportation and enslavement of Jews during the Babylonian captivity, was adopted as a metaphor by Christianized Black slaves. Thus, Zion symbolizes a longing by wandering peoples for a safe homeland. This could be a literal place such as in Ethiopia for Rastafari for example. For others, it has taken on a more spiritual meaning—a safe "spiritual" homeland, like in heaven, or a kind of peace of mind in one's present life.

Rastafari movement

For Rastafarians, Zion is to be found in Africa, and more specifically in Ethiopia, where the term is also in use. Some Rastas believe themselves to represent the real Children of Israel in modern times, and their goal is to repatriate to Africa, or to Zion. Rasta reggae is peppered with references to Zion; among the best-known examples are the Bob Marley songs '"Zion Train," "Iron Lion Zion," and the Damian Marley song featuring Nas; "Road to Zion." Reggae groups such as Steel Pulse and Cocoa Tea also have many references to Zion in their various songs. In recent years, such references have also "crossed over" into pop music thanks to artists like OAR, Sublime, Lauryn Hill, Boney M (Rivers of Babylon), Dreadzone with the reggae-tinged track "Zion Youth."

Example from the Mad Professor song "Africa Is Zion": "Africa is Zion and Zion is Africa, Ethiopia is Mount Zion / Them tell us that Africa is Africa, the Bible tell us it's Zion."

"Zion" stands for a Utopian place of unity, peace and freedom, as opposed to "Babylon," the oppressing and exploiting system of the western world and a place of evil.

Ugaritic texts and the Bible

In texts uncovered at Ugarit, references to "Zephon" (Tsephon) have been identified with the Syrian mountain Jebel Aqra. In these texts, the mountain is the holy place of the gods, where the god known as the "Lord" reigns over the divine assembly. The word "Zephon" is a common Semitic word for "North", and somewho have considered it to be possibly cognate with the Hebrew name Zion (Tsiyyon). bibleref2|Psalm|48:2 mentions both terms together: "...Har-Tsiyyon yarktey Tsafon..." ("Mount Zion on the Northern side"), usually taken to refer to the north side of Mount Zion, not necessarily indicating that Zion is found to the North.

Mount Zion

Mount Zion is also the modern name of a hill south of the Old City's Armenian Quarter—the result of a misnomer dating from the Middle Ages when pilgrims mistook the relatively large, flat summit for the original site of the City of David. The Dormition Church (right) is located upon that hill.

The Daughter of Zion

The location of the Temple was neither a mountain nor a city, nor even the highest elevation near the city, but rather a smallish hill (Mount Moriah), and this hill is sometimes considered to be what is meant by the phrase "Daughter of Zion" - as though the Temple Mount is the "daughter" of Mount Zion. Another cryptic verse, bibleref2|Zechariah|4:7, seems to refer to this hill, but is also ambiguous, depending on the punctuation. In Hebrew it reads "Mi attah Har-haGadol lifnei Zerubbabel l'mishor..."; the plain text has no punctuation, but the Masoretic text puts a pause following "Har-haGadol", to mean "Who are you, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, [you will become just] a plain..." However, if the pause is placed following "Zerubbabel", it would mean instead "What are you, "great mountain" before Zerubbabel? [You are just] a plain..." Since this hill is where Zerubbabel built the Second Temple, it appears to be a reference to the "Daughter of Zion" (the hill), as distinct from Zion (the mountain).


* Steven Zarlengo: "Daughter of Zion: Jerusalem's Past, Present, and Future". (Dallas: Joseph Publishing, 2007).
*Damian Marley: "Road to Zion" (Song from the album "Welcome to Jamrock")
*Zao: "The Last Song of Zion" (Song from the album "Funeral of God")
*Trevor Hall: "To Zion" (Song from the album "The Elephant's Door")
*Bob Marley: "Iron Lion Zion (Song from the album "Songs of Freedom")
*Band P.O.D. (or Payable on Death) also mentions Zion in several of their songs one of them actually being called "Set Your Eyes To Zion".
*Sonic Syndicate: "Zion Must Fall" (Song from the album "Eden Fire")
*The Matrix (series): "Zion"(city of freedom)
*Sublime "Rivers of Babylon" (40 oz. to freedom) *mentions rivers of zion
*Members of Canadian Instrumental Pioneers Godspeed You! Black Emperor have gone on to form the band Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra La La La Band.
*Lauryn Hill: "Zion" (Song from the album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill")
*Pour Habit: "Zion" (Song from the album "Suiticide")
*The band Tool makes reference to Zion in the song "10,000 Days."

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Zion — (hebräisch ציון, gräzisiert Sion) hieß nach 2 Sam 5,7 EU ursprünglich eine Turmburg der Jebusiter an der südöstlichen Stadtgrenze des vorisraelitischen Stadtstaats Jerusalem. Seit deren Eroberung durch König David und dem Bau des ersten… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ZION — (Mount Zion; also Sion, Mountain of Zion; (Heb. הַר צִיּוֹן ,צִיּוֹן), hill and fortress in Jerusalem. The origin of the name is uncertain. Suggestions have included a rock, stronghold (צָיוֹן), a dry place (צִיּוֹן), or running water (Hurrian:… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Zion++ — est un client de peer to peer se connectant sur le réseau Direct Connect. Basé sur le client DC++, il est également programmé dans le langage C++. Zion++ profite d améliorations graphiques et fonctionnelles par rapport à Direct Connect, mais… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Zion — Zion, OK U.S. Census Designated Place in Oklahoma Population (2000): 48 Housing Units (2000): 18 Land area (2000): 1.714033 sq. miles (4.439326 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.714033 sq. miles… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Zion I — (gesprochen „Zion Eye“) ist der Name eines Hip Hop Duos aus Oakland, Kalifornien. Es besteht aus dem MC Zumbi (auch Zion, geboren als Steve Gaines) und dem Produzent und DJ Amp Live (geboren als Anthony Anderson). Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Karriere 2… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Zion — Zion,   Sion, nach 2. Samuel 5, 6 ff. Bezeichnung für die von David eroberte Festung des vorisraelitischen Jerusalem. Die »Burg Zion«, der Ofel (befestigte Anhöhe in altorientalischen Städten) des jebusitischen Jerusalem, lag gut gesichert auf… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Zion — Zion, navn på et af Jerusalems høje, oprindelig den sydøstlige høj, der ved en (i senere tid udjævnet) sænkning var skilt fra den nord for liggende høj. På Zion var jebusitterbyen bygget. Denne erobredes først af David og kaldtes nu Davids byen.… …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Zion I — Pays d’origine Oakland, Californie, États Unis Genre musical Hip hop Années d activité 1997 Labels Live UP Records Site officiel …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Zion, IL — U.S. city in Illinois Population (2000): 22866 Housing Units (2000): 8036 Land area (2000): 8.197166 sq. miles (21.230562 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 8.197166 sq. miles (21.230562 sq. km)… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Zion, OK — U.S. Census Designated Place in Oklahoma Population (2000): 48 Housing Units (2000): 18 Land area (2000): 1.714033 sq. miles (4.439326 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.714033 sq. miles (4.439326 …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

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