I am not sure whether the name "Tziyon" refers to all of the city of Yerushalayim or only the Temple Mount. For example, Psalms 137:1 (my translation):

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and also cried as we remembered Tziyon.

Is Tziyon here, and in general, referring to the city of Yerushalayim or just the Temple mount? Or both? Why did it get this name? What is its origin or meaning?

  • Yeshaya 2:3 implies tzion isn't Yerushalayim. כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה וּדְבַר יְהוָה מִירוּשָׁלָ‍ִם. I'm pretty sure it refers to the temple mount. Don't know why though.
    – robev
    Jul 16, 2017 at 17:43
  • @robev I think that verse implies they are the same
    – Double AA
    Jul 16, 2017 at 17:48
  • Why is Har Sinai called Har CHorev and Har HaElokim? Why is Shechem called Eilon Moreh? Because Hashem said so Jul 16, 2017 at 18:05
  • @PloniAlmoni OMG (No pun intended)! You can see how many places in the world that are mentioned throughout Tanac"h were named by people and not G-d. Even if G-d did assign the name "Tziyon" to Yerushalayim, we can still delve into its meaning and reasoning.
    – DanF
    Jul 16, 2017 at 18:08
  • 1
    @rober you can choose to assume whatever you want to, but we're discussing what the verse implies and the implication is definitely that these two phrases are being equated, just like how the rest of that verse and the next one are made up of parallel couplets. As radak wrote a few verses earlier and later, כפל עניין במילים שונות a doubled idea in different words.
    – Double AA
    Jul 16, 2017 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


In this essay, I cite some opinions that holds that Zion is a separate city from Jerusalem proper and that the two were later joined into one city. In other cases, it refers to the Temple or Temple Mount. See https://ohr.edu/this_week/whats_in_a_word/7985 for more about this.

  • Tzion is referring to the seat of Kingship, meaning the City of David, which is also within the boundary of Yerushalyim and adjacent to the Temple mount. The word 'tzion' (ציון) alludes to this idea in that it is the precursor to the full city of Jerusalem in the sense that Yosef HaTzaddik (יוסף, gematria 156, the same as ציון) was the precursor or 'road marker' (also the meaning of ציון) to the monarchy of David. For details, see the introduction to Parshat Eliezer on Sefer Karnayim by Rabbi Eliezer Fishel of Strizov. May 16, 2019 at 15:09

I think this article from Chabad.org might be able to answer your question:

Inner Meaning

The Hebrew word for Zion, Tzion (ציון), can be translated as “indication” or “marking.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, explains that the Jewish people are called Tzion by virtue of their study of Jewish texts and fulfillment of G‑d’s commandments. This causes them to be distinguished, or marked, for their uniqueness. As it states in Jewish law, “When a physical object has a sign, a marking, should it be lost, the sign enables it to be returned to its owners.”

So too, the Jewish nation has its marking; thus they are not lost among the rest of the world, and always return to their Owner.

Because Tzion describes Bnei Yisrael as being marked and unique among the rest of the world, it would make sense that our holiness city is named after one of our nation's holiest attributes.

  • Does the article say, as you do, that the city is called Zion? If so, I recommend you edit that citation into the answer, since that's the claim that answers the question.
    – msh210
    Jul 24, 2017 at 18:35

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