What is the meaning of the word Zion?

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The Hebrew name Tzion (ציון), or “Zion” appears at least 157 times in the Bible. Below are a couple examples of the verses in the Jewish Bible.  Let us find out the meaning of the word Zion.

In many sources, the Rabbis interpreted the passages to be referring to the source of Jewish wisdom as the Sanhedrin was housed in the building adjacent the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Hebrew word for Zion, Tzion (ציון), can be translated as “indication” or “marking.” The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, explains that the Jewish people are called Tzion through their study of Jewish texts and fulfillment of G‑d’s commandments. Causing them to be distinguished, or marked, for their uniqueness.

In Jewish law states, if someone finds an object that has identifiable markings, if the original owner presents these identifiers, the person must return the object. In a similar manner, the Jewish people are like the lost object, and as a result of their fulfilling Gods commandments, they are set aside as Tzion (ציון) unique. It is for this reason that when the Messiah comes, God, as the owner of this lost object will be able to reclaim the Jewish people from the nations of the world.

 

Mount Zion

Psalms 48:3 The fairest of branches, the joy of the entire earth- Mount Zion, by the north side, the city of a great king. גיְפֵה נוֹף מְשׂוֹשׂ כָּל הָאָרֶץ הַר צִיּוֹן יַרְכְּתֵי צָפוֹן קִרְיַת מֶלֶךְ רָב
Obadiah 1:17 And on Mount Zion there shall be a remnant, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall inherit those who inherited them. וּבְהַר צִיּוֹן תִּהְיֶה פְלֵיטָה וְהָיָה קֹדֶשׁ וְיָרְשׁוּ בֵּית יַעֲקֹב אֵת מוֹרָשֵׁיהֶם:
Joel 3:5 And it shall come to pass that whoever shall call in the name of the Lord shall be delivered, for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be a deliverance, as the Lord said, and among the survivors whom the Lord invites. וְהָיָה כֹּל אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָא בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה יִמָּלֵט כִּי בְּהַר צִיּוֹן וּבִירוּשָׁלִַם תִּהְיֶה פְלֵיטָה כַּאֲשֶׁר אָמַר יְהֹוָה וּבַשְּׂרִידִים אֲשֶׁר יְהֹוָה קֹרֵא:

The Daughter of Zion

Micah 4:8,

And you-tower of the flock, the tower of the daughter of Zion-to you it shall come; yea, the former kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. וְאַתָּה מִגְדַּל עֵדֶר עֹפֶל בַּת צִיּוֹן עָדֶיךָ תֵאתֶה וּבָאָה הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה הָרִאשֹׁנָה מַמְלֶכֶת לְבַת יְרוּשָׁלִָם:

 Zechariah 9:9

Be exceedingly happy, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold! Your king shall come to you. He is just and victorious; humble, and riding a donkey and a foal, the offspring of [one of] she-donkeys. גִּילִי מְאֹד בַּת צִיּוֹן הָרִיעִי בַּת יְרוּשָׁלִַם הִנֵּה מַלְכֵּךְ יָבוֹא לָךְ צַדִּיק וְנוֹשָׁע הוּא עָנִי וְרֹכֵב עַל חֲמוֹר וְעַל עַיִר בֶּן אֲתֹנוֹת:

Jeremiah 4:31.

 

For a voice like [that of] a travailing woman I heard, in pain as a woman bearing her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion who will wail, will break her hands. “Woe is to me, for my soul is faint before the murderers.” כִּי קוֹל כְּחוֹלָה שָׁמַעְתִּי צָרָה כְּמַבְכִּירָה קוֹל בַּת צִיּוֹן תִּתְיַפֵּחַ תְּפָרֵשׂ כַּפֶּיהָ אוֹי נָא לִי כִּי עָיְפָה נַפְשִׁי לְהֹרְגִים:

Virgin Daughter of Zion

II Kings 19:21.

 

This is the word that the Lord has spoken about him: ‘The virgin daughter of Zion has despised you and has mocked you. The daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head at you.” זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהֹוָה עָלָיו בָּזָה לְךָ לָעֲגָה לְךָ בְּתוּלַת בַּת צִיּוֹן אַחֲרֶיךָ רֹאשׁ הֵנִיעָה בַּת יְרוּשָׁלָםִ:

Mount Zion on which You dwelt

Psalms 74:2.

 

Remember Your congregation, which You acquired from time immemorial; You redeemed the tribe of Your heritage, Mount Zion on which You dwelt. זְכֹר עֲדָתְךָ | קָנִיתָ קֶּדֶם גָּאַלְתָּ שֵׁבֶט נַחֲלָתֶךָ הַר צִיּוֹן זֶה | שָׁכַנְתָּ בּוֹ:

 

Holy Temple in Jerusalem

Isaiah 2:3:

 

And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, “Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mount, to the house of the God of Jacob, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths,” for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. וְהָלְכוּ עַמִּים רַבִּים וְאָמְרוּ לְכוּ | וְנַעֲלֶה אֶל הַר יְהֹוָה אֶל בֵּית אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב וְיֹרֵנוּ מִדְּרָכָיו וְנֵלְכָה בְּאֹרְחֹתָיו כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה וּדְבַר יְהֹוָה מִירוּשָׁלִָם:

 

The City of Jerusalem

Psalms 87:2, The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. אֹהֵב יְהֹוָה שַׁעֲרֵי צִיּוֹן מִכֹּל מִשְׁכְּנוֹת יַעֲקֹב:

The Land of Israel

Psalms 137:1–6

 

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, we also wept when we remembered Zion. On willows in its midst we hung our harps. For there our captors asked us for words of song and our tormentors [asked of us] mirth, “Sing for us of the song of Zion.” “How shall we sing the song of the Lord on foreign soil?” If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill]. May my tongue cling to my palate, if I do not remember you, if I do not bring up Jerusalem at the beginning of my joy. אעַל נַהֲרוֹת | בָּבֶל שָׁם יָשַׁבְנוּ גַּם בָּכִינוּ בְּזָכְרֵנוּ אֶת צִיּוֹן:בעַל עֲרָבִים בְּתוֹכָהּ תָּלִינוּ כִּנֹּרוֹתֵינוּ:גכִּי שָׁם שְׁאֵלוּנוּ שׁוֹבֵינוּ דִּבְרֵי שִׁיר וְתוֹלָלֵינוּ שִׂמְחָה שִׁירוּ לָנוּ מִשִּׁיר צִיּוֹן:דאֵיךְ נָשִׁיר אֶת שִׁיר יְהֹוָה עַל אַדְמַת נֵכָר:האִם אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי:ותִּדְבַּק לְשׁוֹנִי | לְחִכִּי אִם לֹא אֶזְכְּרֵכִי אִם לֹא אַעֲלֶה אֶת יְרוּשָׁלִַם עַל רֹאשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי:

 

 

The Jewish People

 Lamentations 4:2

 

The precious children of Zion, praised with fine gold; how they are regarded as earthen pitchers, the work of a potter’s hands בְּנֵי צִיּוֹן הַיְקָרִים הַמְסֻלָּאִים בַּפָּז אֵיכָה נֶחְשְׁבוּ לְנִבְלֵי חֶרֶשׂ מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי יוֹצֵר:

Adapted from an article by Rabbi Baruch Davidson on Chabad.org.

 

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