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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Zion and many meanings

Many things called "Zion" - the hill of the Maccabees - synonym for the Jewish people - churches, synagogues and mosques on Mt. Zion - "David's tomb" on Mt. Zion - expressions with Zion

from: Zion; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 16

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)

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[Things called "Zion" - the hill of Zion in Jerusalem of the Maccabees]

<ZION (Mount Zion; also Sion, Mountain of Zion; hill and fortress in Jerusalem.

The origin of the name is uncertain. Suggestions have included:

-- a rock, 
-- stronghold,
-- a dry place,
-- or running water (Hurrian: seya (ṣeya)).

The name Zion was first used for the Jebusite fortress ("the stronghold of Zion"), on the southeast of Jerusalem, below the Ophel and the Temple Mount. On its capture by David it was renamed "City of David" (II Sam. 5:7; I Kings 8:1), and the name later included also the Ophel (Micah 4:8; Isa. 32:14).

[[According to the latest archeology king David did not exist because there is not one single stone found of a Jerusalem of this time there should have been a Jerusalem, see the work of famous Jewish archaeologists: Finkelstein / Silberman: The Bible Unearthed. So also the name of "Zion" for a fortress or for a hill seems to be very doubtful - or Jerusalem was at another place at this time and still has not been found]].

[Zion in poetry and in songs]

In poetry Zion was used by way of synecdoche for the whole of Jerusalem (Isa. 2:3; 33:14; Joel 3:5), and "daughter (or virgin) of Zion" referred to the city and its inhabitants (Isa. 1:8; 30:16; Songs 1:5).

[Zion as a synonym for Judea or people of Judea - Maccabean period with "Mountain of Zion" (upper city)]

Zion often referred by way of metonymy to Judea (Isa. 10:24; 51:11) or the people of Judea (ibid. 51:16; 59:20). Sometimes Zion referred simply to the Temple Mount (Joel 4:17, 21; Ps. 20:3) and it was this use that became the regular one by the Maccabean period, when the Temple Mount was called "Mountain of Zion" (1 Macc. 7:32-33), as opposed to the lower city, the upper city, and Acra (on the southwestern hill of ancient Jerusalem).

By Josephus' time "the stronghold" (of Zion) was identified with the upper city and the upper agora (Wars, 5:137; cf. Ant., 7:62), which included the sited identified at present with Mt. Zion, as well as David's Tower.

[A wall around Mt. Zion]

By the first century C.E. the whole of that elevation, called Mt. Zion, was surrounded by a wall, part of which (in the southwest section) lay under the present city wall and part (its northern line) ran along the present King David Street, while the eastern wall ran through the present Jewish quarter. The fact that the Acra was situated at the northeast corner, and the royal palaces were there, probably encouraged the belief that Zion was to be identified with this area.

["Christian" churches on Mt. Zion - "Franciscan" monastery since 1936]

In the first century C.E. a small church was built on the southern end of the hill, and it was identified with the Coenaculum ("Room of the Last Supper"). In 1342 the Franciscans rebuilt it and this is substantially the building (col. 1030)

surviving to this day. The Franciscans were expelled by the Muslims in 1551 and were permitted to return and build a monastery near there only in 1936. This is the Church of the Dormition of Mary.

[From 7 synagogues survives 1 synagogue - excavations - "David's tomb"]

The Traveler from Bordeaux (333) cites that a single synagogue, one of the seven synagogues of ancient times, was left on Mt. Zion. This is confirmed by archaeological excavations performed at the northern wall of David's Tomb, where evidence for the existence of a late Roman synagogue was found, which seems to have been repaired during the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-3). The synagogue was associated with David as early as the fourth century, and by the tenth century his grave was located there, probably because of the biblical dictum that he was buried "in the city of David" (1. Kings 2:10). It is believed by some that Saladin fortified the Coenaculum and David's Tomb by a wall in the 12th century, but the present city wall runs behind them.

[[According to the latest archeology king David did not exist because there is not one single stone found of a Jerusalem of this time there should have been a Jerusalem, see the work of famous Jewish archaeologists: Finkelstein / Silberman: The Bible Unearthed. So also the David's tomb cannot exist, or Jerusalem had been at another place at this time and still has not been found]].

["David's tomb" turned into a mosque since 1524 - "David's tomb" turned into a synagogue since 1948 - Holocaust Chamber on Mt. Zion - Zionism]

In 1524 the site was turned into a mosque of "the Prophet David".

After 1948, when Mount Zion was the only section of east Jerusalem to remain in Jewish hands, David's Tomb was once again turned into a synagogue and became the most important pilgrimage center for Jews in Israel (see *Pilgrimage; *Holy Places).

The archaeological remains of the Hellenistic Fullers' Quarter just south of the grave have been uncovered.

Next to the tomb is "the Holocaust Chamber" dedicated to those who died under the Nazis [[and their collaborators]].

[Expressions]

The name Zion also lent itself in modern times to organizations connected with Judaism or Jews, e.g., [[racist]] Zionism, Zion Mule Corps, etc.

See also *Jerusalem.

Bibliography
-- Z. Vilnay: Jerusalem (1969), index
-- M. Benvenisti: The Crusaders in the Holy Land (1970), 51, 52, 54, 73
-- B. Mazar, in: Kadmoniot, 1-2 (1968), 8-10
-- M. Avi-Yonah: ibid., 19-20
-- H.Z. Hirschberg: ibid., 57-59.

[ED.]> (col. 1031)
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Sources
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Zion, vol. 16,
                      col. 1030
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Zion, vol. 16, col. 1030
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Zion, vol. 16,
                      col. 1031
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Zion, vol. 16, col. 1031

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