What's the difference between ציון and ירושלים?

Initially I thought that they are just synonyms but after reading some phrases in the bible I doubt whether it's correct or not.

The phrases that caused to me this doubt are:


"אָז יַקְהֵל שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת כָּל רָאשֵׁי הַמַּטּוֹת נְשִׂיאֵי הָאָבוֹת לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה יְרוּשָׁלָ‍ִם לְהַעֲלוֹת אֶת אֲרוֹן בְּרִית ה' מֵעִיר דָּוִד הִיא צִיּוֹן."

It seems that ציון was a difference place from ירושלים, hence they wanted לְהַעֲלוֹת אֶת אֲרוֹן בְּרִית ה' מֵעִיר דָּוִד הִיא צִיּוֹן to ירושלים.


"וְחָפְרָה הַלְּבָנָה וּבוֹשָׁה הַחַמָּה כִּי מָלַךְ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת בְּהַר צִיּוֹן וּבִירוּשָׁלַ‍ִם וְנֶגֶד זְקֵנָיו כָּבוֹד."

Also from here it seems that they are two difference places, maybe next to each other.

  • IIRC Malbim says Tzion was the part of the city where the leadership lived. Kind of like "the protestors hate Wall Street and [the rest of] New York City."
    – Shalom
    Dec 7, 2018 at 11:05
  • To the best of my knowledge Zion refers to Mt. Zion, a mountain south of Mt. Moriah, the Temple Mount. It's the mountain that the City of David is built on.
    – ezra
    Dec 7, 2018 at 16:39
  • I'm pretty certain that I asked this Q (or similar) about 2 years ago. Maybe someone can locate it? (Go figure. I tend to remember many of the questions I ask except for the ones where I dupe my own question. I must like myself too much ;-)
    – DanF
    Dec 7, 2018 at 16:53
  • IIRC, Tzion refers to the Temple Mount and its immediate area.
    – DanF
    Dec 7, 2018 at 16:55
  • You need to look at the specific context, (written Torah, Chumash, Navi, etc., halacha, midrash or kabbalah) where these expressions are used. Their meaning changes significantly according to the context. Dec 7, 2018 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


Tzion is a specific place within the city of Yerushalayim. Interestingly, Tzion can refer either to the Temple Mount or to Ir David.

With the poetic parts of NACH, Tzion and Yerushalayim are used practically interchangeably. The author would take the liberty of using them interchangeably (the Malbim would disagree and say the word choice is always significant, while all the Rishonim ignore the difference when in poetic context.)

  • More sources would make this answer a lot better.
    – ezra
    Dec 13, 2018 at 4:24
  • Yes, More sources can make it a lot more better
    – Rh Haokip
    Jan 13, 2019 at 7:11
  • The source is Metzudas David for the first assertion. Don’t have the specific location. It’s in Shmuel Bais. The second assertion I believe is a Metzudos in Yeshayahu. As far as the second paragraph, that’s the recurring view of the major meforshim (rashi, radak, metzudos)
    – LN6595
    Jan 13, 2019 at 17:14

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