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Meaning and etymology of the name Zion

Zion Zion

Zion was originally a Jebusite stronghold located in or near Jerusalem or is equal to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:7). King David captures this stronghold and it is renamed City Of David. David sets up the tabernacle there and Solomon retrieves it from there to place the ark and utensils in the temple. The prophet Isaiah mentions that YHWH dwells on Mount Zion (8:18) and later writers relate the name Zion to the eternal Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22) and heaven (Revelation 14:1).

Because Zion was originally not Israeli, the name Zion comes to us probably from a language other than Hebrew. HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament mentions an Arabic root s-w-n (under 1910), to protect, defend, which may give Zion the meaning of fortress. Others (says HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament) suggest derivation from a root saha, be bald.

Spelled the way it is, however, the name Zion is identical to the Hebrew word Zion (sayon) meaning place of dryness, from the assumed root syh (syh). This verb's derivation syh (siya), meaning dryness, drought, occurs in Psalm 105:41.

Perhaps the notion of a dry place taps into the creation account, and specifically the third day, or in the Noahic flood account. A dry place is not a place where people die of thirst, but rather a place where the sea is no more, after it has given all her treasures (Revelation 21:1).

On the Biblical canvass, the name Zion means Dry Place. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Very Dry. NOBS Study Bible Name List goes with the Arabic cognate mentioned above, and reads Fortress.

Another name that means Dryness is Horeb.



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