This is a Biblical name for a fortress that became the city of Jerusalem specifically, and the entire state of Israel generally. It has often been extended to refer to the Jewish people and community.

The word is found 152 times in the Old Testament, the first time in 2 Samuel 5:7:

Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion – which is the City of David.

2 Samuel was likely written in the 600s BC.

The etymology is vague. I found dozens of possibilities. Example: it might come from a similar Arabic word that means “protect” or “defend.”

Related concepts:

Why I Looked It Up

I’m reading the book of Isaiah, and it comes up a lot. I had a general idea that it meant Israel, and a degree in political science meant that I knew what Zionism was in general. I just wanted to know the specifics of the term and how it came into use.

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