In religious Christian hymns, especially old ones, we often hear some strange names and things. For example, who is the daughter of Zion that is mentioned in Biblical texts and Christian songs? What is that Zion who has a daughter? We know the answer!
Zion in the Bible and today
What do we know about Zion, to begin with? What is it? In Jerusalem, there is a hill called Zion. It’s located to the south west of the city. In ancient times, there was a fortress on its top. The Zion name meaning is still not exactly clear.
There’s a Jewish word that sounds similar and means a fortress or a fortified house on a hilltop. Since the ancient times, the Jewish tradition has associated Zion with a landmark, a guiding sign. For the Jewish people, Jerusalem is that very Zion and Zion is the Promised Land where they all want to gather again.
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Zion’s history from the very beginning
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Before King David conquered Jerusalem, Zion was possessed by Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe, which lived there before the land was taken by the Jews. It was the Jebusites who built the fortress on the hilltop. After the land was conquered by King David, Zion received another name meaning “David’s City”. The rocks under Sion bore tombs of David and other kings.
Later, the name “Zion” spread over the Ophel hill, too, sometimes embracing even the Temple Mount. During the rule of the Hasmonean dynasty, the upper town of Jerusalem was called Zion as well. Among the three walls that surrounded Jerusalem, the one around Zion is the oldest. This area was circled with a wall during the 1st century A.D.
What’s Zion meaning in the Bible?
The Bible calls it the city of David, the King, the Holy Mount, the house and dwelling of the Lord, the majestic Lord’s city, and in a metaphoric sense means Jerusalem, the Judaea kingdom, the entire Judaea, the entire Jewish people. Prophets in the Bible often use the name of Zion to call the Lord’s kingdom in all its fullness, on the earth and in heaven, which will last until everything is completed in eternity.
Finally, in the widest meaning, Zion is a place where the Lord lives in heaven, where the Lord’s glory shines at the highest point. From this place, the Lord comes to people, wrapped in glory, and to this place the atoned ones will depart with joy and happiness.
From all this, we can come to the conclusion that there are several Zions. One of them is located on the earth, and it’s Jerusalem as the place where the Jewish people scattered among the nations should gather. It’s not that important what the borders of the place are but it’s important that all the believers know exactly that it lies in the area of Jerusalem. The other Zion is a heavenly one, which belongs to the Lord and is a source of the eternal bliss.
It’s easy to notice how Zion biblical meaning adds sense to the earthly one, making Jerusalem the Promised place for all its sons and daughters. Now, it’s time to try to find out who this mysterious Zion’s daughter is.
Who is the daughter of Zion?
They mention the “daughter of Zion” several times in the Old Testament. These are mostly prophecies but one mentioning refers to poetry. Zion means Jerusalem and entire Israel and its people, the Chosen People of the Lord, then Zion’s daughter is not a single person, it’s not a particular person; It’s the people of Israel..
So the daughter of Zion is a phrase that shows how the Lord loves his people and how patient he is with them, just like a loving father with his daughter.
There are several pieces of Biblical texts that speak about the daughter of Zion.
- When Assyria threatened Jerusalem, Hezekiah the king turned to the Lord for the defense and the Lord responded through Isaiah that any threats to the innocent daughter of Zion are considered as an insult against the Lord himself.
- Hezekiah the King was a rare case for Judaea: most of the local kings of that time were rather into rioting against the Lord than staying faithful to him. Jeremiah warns them saying that if they don’t fight evil, the Lord will punish them and people will be as defenseless in front of the Lord’s rage as a daughter of Zion in labor is defenseless against attackers.
- The woman in labor turns into a bull that smashes its enemies. Represented as a defenseless weak creature, the daughter of Zion eventually turns into a bull with iron horns and cloves made of bronze, which will smash all its enemies.
- The daughter of Zion is a people waiting to be saved. After the punishment of exile, the Lord promises restoration of Israel. His chosen people will know gladness again when the Lord himself will praise them and save them.
- The daughter of Zion is also a land waiting for a king. It’s a prophecy that says: all the enemies of Israel will be destroyed, all the sins will be fought. She is supposed to be happy and rejoice because the King is coming, riding a saddled donkey. In spite of the fact that the daughter has not once rioted against the Father, he promises to give her a King, his son Jesus.
The very statement “daughter of Zion” means that the lord is a loving father who cherishes his people even when they stand against him, his will and testaments. Naming the people of Jerusalem and entire Israel the daughter of Zion, the Lord shows that no matter how lost, sinful, evil they are, in the end, they will stay beside their heavenly Father and he, in his love, will forgive them all their sins.
Apart from these canonic meanings, there are more contemporary ways to understand the term. Sometimes, all Jewish women who have once been scattered among the nations all around the world, are called daughters of Zion while men are called sons of Jerusalem.
In the most modern understanding of the Bible, some believers say that Zion is a place where all those with pure hearts gather. Where there are righteous people, there is another Zion, now those who are full of faith and divine hope create new Zions.
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