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Reference: Zion Or Sion


In the New Testament, the highest and southernmost mount of Jerusalem, rising about twenty-five hundred feet above the Mediterranean, and from two to three hundred feet above the valleys at its base. It was separated from Akra on the north and Moriah on the north-west by the valley Tyropeon; and had the valley of Gihon on the west, that of Hinnom on the south, and that of the Kidron on the south-east. It was a fortified town of the Jebusites till subdued by David, and thenceforward was often called "the city of David," 2Sa 5:7; 1Ki 8:1. He seems to have greatly delighted in its beauty and strength, and to have loved it as a type of the church of the Messiah: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." "Walk about Zion, and go round about her; tell the towers thereof; mark ye well her bulwarks; consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generation following:" "The kings were assembled, they passed by together; they saw it, and so they marveled; they were troubled, and hasted away," Ps 48:2,12-13. A mosque near its southern brow now covers the "tomb of David" so called, most jealously guarded by the Mohammedans, 1Ki 2:10; 11:43; 22:50. This mount, together with Moriah and Ophel, was enclosed by the first wall, and fortified by citadels, 1Ch 11:5. Upon it were erected the magnificent palaces of Solomon and long afterwards of Herod. It was finely adapted for the purposes of military defense, and so strongly was it fortified at the time of its capture by the Romans, that the emperor exclaimed, "Surely we have had God for our aid in the war; for what could human hands or machines do against these towers?" Great changes have occurred on this surface, and a considerable portion of it lies outside of the modern wall on the south, and is occupied by cemeteries, or "ploughed as a field," according to Jer 26:18; Mic 3:12. Two rabbis, we are told, approaching Jerusalem, observed a fox running upon the hill of Zion, and Rabbi Joshua wept, but Rabbi Eliezer laughed. "Wherefore dost thou laugh?" said he who wept. "Nay, wherefore dost weep?" demanded Eliezer. "I weep," replied the Rabbi Joshua, "because I see what is written in the Lamentations fulfilled; because of the mount of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it." "And therefore," said Rabbi Eliezer, "do I laugh; for when I see with my own eyes that god has fulfilled his threatenings to the very letter, I have thereby a pledge that not one of his promises shall fail; for he is ever more ready to show mercy than judgment."

Zion, and "the daughter of Zion," are sometimes used to denote the whole city, including especially Moriah and the temple, Ps 2:6; 9:11; 74:2; Isa 1:8; Joe 2:23, and sometimes figuratively for the seat of the true church on earth and in heaven, Jer 8:19; Heb 12:22; Re 14:1. See JERUSALEM.

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