Zion (Hebrew: צִיּוֹן, (Persian: صهیون,"tziyyon";
Tiberian vocalization: "tsiyyôn"; transliterated "Zion" or "Sion") is a term that most often designates the Land of Israeland 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 Jebusitefortress of the same name that was conquered by Davidand 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 Landto come, in which, according to the Hebrew Bible, Goddwells among his chosen people.
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
ideologythat supports a homelandfor 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 Holocausthad 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 Ethiopiafor 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 mindin one's present life.
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 Israelin modern times, and their goal is to repatriate to Africa, or to Zion. Rasta reggaeis peppered with references to Zion; among the best-known examples are the Bob Marleysongs '"Zion Train," " Iron Lion Zion," and the Damian Marleysong featuring Nas; "Road to Zion." Reggae groups such as Steel Pulseand Cocoa Teaalso 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), Dreadzonewith the reggae-tinged track "Zion Youth."
Example from the
Mad Professorsong "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 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 Ageswhen 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 Mountis 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 textputs 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")
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."
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