Mount Zion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Langfur
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Mount Zion
The Upper Room
Peter in Gallicantu
The name "Zion" originally applied to the Jerusalem that David conquered: "Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion; the same is the city of David." (2 Samuel 5:7.). This original city was located on a southern spur of the mountain where the Temple was later built. After Jerusalem expanded to include a higher hill to its west, the prophets continued to use the name Zion as a synonym for Jerusalem, e.g. Isaiah: "For out of Jerusalem a remnant will go out, and out of Mount Zion those who shall escape." (2 Kings 19:31.)

However, in the Byzantine period (if not earlier), the term came to mean just the western hill. The reason has to do with the way people read the following verses from Micah (3:12):

Therefore Zion for your sake will be plowed like a field,
and Jerusalem will become heaps of rubble,
and the mountain of the temple like the high places of a forest.

Often the prophets say the same thing consecutively in different ways (a stylistic usage known as parallelism), but a pilgrim from Bordeaux (333 AD: our earliest Christian source describing the holy places) speaks of coming "out of Jerusalem to go up Mount Zion," with the pool of Siloam on the left. A few lines later the pilgrim cites the text from Micah. He appears to have understood it as follows: Jerusalem is the whole thing. We know that the mountain of the temple was the eastern hill. Zion must refer, therefore, to Jerusalem's other, western hill. O'Connor suggests that on the basis of such interpretations, the application of the name contracted to the western hill.

Although outside the present Old City wall, the part of the western hill that we today call Mt. Zion was inside the wall in Jesus' time:

Model with Mt Zion