The Biblical meaning of Zion
The word Zion in the Bible is mentioned over 150 times. The Biblical meaning of this word represents “fortification.” Zion is both the city of David and the city of God in the land of Israel. The first mention of this word in the Scripture is in 2 Samuel 5:7, “Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David.” The city was originally the name of the ancient Jebusite fortress in Jerusalem. After King David captured it, he called it “the City of David” (1 Kings 8:1; 1 Chronicles 11:5; 2 Chronicles 5:2).
The City of David was the lower part of the city of Jerusalem. There, King David had his royal palace (2 Samuel 5:6–9; 1 Chronicles 11:5, 7). The hill where the Temple was erected was north of the Zion ridge. The Western Hill (or Mount Zion) was not settled until the area around the Eastern Hill began to fill up.
When Solomon built “the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah” (2 Chronicles 3:1), the name of the city expanded in meaning to include the temple and the area surrounding it (Psalm 2:6; 48:2, 11-12; 132:13).
Eventually, the word was extended to mean the city of Jerusalem, the land of Judah, and the nation of Israel. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “O Zion, you who bring good tidings, get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, you who bring good tidings, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9 also Jeremiah 31:12; Zechariah 9:13; Psalm 48:2).
This word in the Bible also carries a spiritual meaning. In the Old Testament, the Cornerstone of that city refers to the Messiah (Isaiah 28:16). And in the New Testament, the apostle Peter presents the same idea, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6). This stone is the one that lines up the foundation and the superstructure and binds the walls together (Ephesians 2:20).
And the phrase the daughter of Zion refers to the children of God. The prophet Zechariah writes, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
Also, this word refers to a place in the heavenly Jerusalem. The apostle John writes, “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1 also Hebrews 12:22). The 144,000 are here seen with the Lamb on Mt. Zion to declare their victory over the beast and his image.
The restoration of this city
The Lord promises that at the end of time, this city will be ultimately restored to Him. And “the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you the City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 60:14).
At that anticipated time of deliverance when the great controversy will be ended, it will happen that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in the kingdom of heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). These words offer a comforting assurance that the time will come when Zion will be rebuilt, and the redeemed will live there in peace in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 5:11–14).
In His service,