What Is The True Meaning of Zion, and Where Is It?
The name “Zion” is used in several ways. In a physical sense, some say the name designates a specific mountain near Jerusalem where a Jebusite fortress had stood, which was conquered by King David and was then named the City of David. And some say Zion is also the name of the Temple Mount where King Solomon's Temple was in Jerusalem.
But, in another sense, Zion is not a physical place, but a symbol for that which is the divine, spiritual source or essence or "foundation" of God's creation, as well as the spiritual or heavenly “residence” of God. And, as you will see, it is also somewhat synonymous with the "Tree of Life."
In the books of the Torah and Tanakh there are references to Zion as a material place or city or mountain or land, but there are also references to it as symbol for that which is not material.
For example, Isaiah 2:2 states that when prophecy is fulfilled, “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the top of the mountains.”
That is obviously symbolic, and refers to that “high and holy place where God inhabits eternity,” as is stated in Isaiah 57:15. It is not a worldly place, but a spiritual state of being.
For the benefit of “he that believes,” Isaiah 28:16 states that the Lord God said: “I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a corner-stone of sure foundation, [so that] he that believes shall not make haste.”
“He that believes” is the servant of God who fulfills prophecy, who does not make haste. And those references are not to a literal mountain or house or stone foundation. The stone is an esoteric symbol for divine truth, and in a sense it is like the “stone” that “shall shatter the image of the King of Babylon shall become as a great mountain that fills the earth,” just as Daniel wrote in Daniel 2:32-35.
Both Daniel and Isaiah speak of that which is like a spiritual "stone foundation," and it is also like a spiritual projectile that will shatter the image of the pretenders, bigots, hypocrites, false shepherds and false prophets. And through Isaiah, God assures the modern son of man that even though he may think his work is all in vain, it is not, and he can have faith that he can bare his soul and fulfill his mission but need not make haste. The prophecies will be fulfilled according to God’s timetable.
Of course, the book of Samuel calls Zion the City of King David. Chronicles states that David took the castle of Zion, which became the city of David. Then the book of Kings repeats that Zion is the City of David. King David himself wrote that The Lord dwells in Zion, in Jerusalem, and Isaiah foresaw Zion as a besieged city. Other Jewish authors and prophets refer to Zion, and the Christian books of Matthew, John, Paul and Peter do too. But, while Zion is the name of a physical place, it is not a physical place from which divine revelation and authority comes.
In the book of Psalms, King David wrote of his reality and vision, that "The Lord dwells in Zion," and that Israel’s "salvation shall come out of Zion," which "abides forever."
Nothing material or physical "abides forever," so David regarded Zion as Isaiah did, as the "high and holy place where God inhabits eternity."
Moreover, David also wrote: "But of Zion it shall be said: 'This man and that was born in her; and the most high [God the Lord of lords and Lord of hosts] shall establish her.’"
David’s reference to Zion as a source of salvation and as a female who "gives birth" refers to God's eternal spiritual residence or state of being. And that is synonymous with "The Bride, which is New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven," as referenced in John’s book of Revelation.
As is discussed in the articles on The Crusades for Jerusalem and The Bridegroom Lamb of God, what John called the "Bride and New Jerusalem," which John saw when he was carried away in spirit to a "great and high mountain," is Zion.
That concept is related to Solomon’s concept of Wisdom as a female aspect or reflection of God:
"Wisdom is beneficent and kind. She is the aura of the power of God, the radiance of the eternal Divine Light, a spotless mirror of God. She renews all things, and passing into holy souls from age to age, She produces friends of God and prophets. She is firm, but Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Her paths are peace. She is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon Her. And Wisdom is far better than weapons of war." –– The Book of Wisdom
Most religious Jews, Christians and Muslims have not understood that, because even though the terms are mentioned repeatedly in the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, it is apparently not clear enough. It must be explained, which is why all the Jewish prophets, including Jesus, foresaw and foretold that it would be explained in due time, when humanity was ready.
Zion as the Symbol for Freedom and Liberation
The Jewish longing for Zion as a place, starting with the deportation and enslavement of Jews during the Babylonian captivity, was adopted by Jews who had scattered throughout Europe in the Great Diaspora following their uprising and subsequent defeat by the Romans in 66 C.E., when the Jewish Temple of Solomon was destroyed.
Ever since then, many religious Jews have been clinging to what is written in the book of Psalms, such as: "By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion." "For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song ... [but] How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" And "The Lord builds up Jerusalem, and gathers together the outcast of Israel. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion."
That concept of Zion was not just Jewish, though. Black Christian slaves in America found comfort in it, and they held on to it even after the Civil War, when they were technically "free" but still oppressed and persecuted. And Zion came to symbolize a longing by oppressed peoples, and by exiles or refugees or wandering peoples who longed for a safe homeland, which is what Zion represents to many people.
For others, however, it has taken on a more spiritual meaning — a safe spiritual home, like in heaven, or a kind of personal peace of mind and state of being — which is what it really is.
In the esoteric mystical tradition of Jewish Kabbalah and its Western offshoot Qabalah, reference to Zion is with regard to the spiritual source from which material reality emanates into "The Tree of Life."
In Chapter 22, the last chapter in the book of Revelation, it first mentions “the river of life, clear as crystal. On both sides of the river is the Tree of Life, which bears twelve manner of fruits and yields Her fruit for each and every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
It also says that the “throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it,” referring to that “Tree of Life” — which speaks not of literal, material, corporeal things or beings, but of the spiritual, divine reality that shall exist in the spiritual realm.
That Tree of Life is not a literal tree, but is symbolized by ten spheres of emanation, and within, between and around those ten spheres are 32 connecting and related principles, also known as the paths of Wisdom. This speaks of spiritual revelation and knowledge that can come only from within, however, and no amount of effort or logic or reasoning or study can attain it. It is a spiritual gift that comes when you least expect it.
Of course, that is symbolic, but the symbolism is not understood by many. For example, some Christians think the “12 fruits” are the 12 apostles, and many others have many other ideas. However, John’s symbolism can be understood only with some knowledge of Kabbalah (aka Qabalah) and its symbolism. (And that is true with other books in the Torah and Tanakh or Old Testament, especially the book of Daniel, which contains much astrological symbolism.)
Anyway, “Zion” is therefore in a sense synonymous with the “Tree of Life,” for both terms speak not of the material world, but of the spiritual realm or heaven. But, unfortunately, what we know generally as "Zionism" has little or nothing to do with that. It generally has to do with materialistic concerns.
The term Zionism was coined by German and Austrian Jews in the late 1800s, and Zionism as a political movement was started in 1897. It was initiated to advocate and support a "return to the national homeland" in Palestine for the Jewish people.
In the years leading up to the First World War the Zionist movement gathered steam, and many were caught up in it because of the rhetoric. For example, a military recruitment poster picturing a woman as "The Daughter of Zion" called Jews to arms, saying: "Your Old New Land must have you! Join the Jewish Regiment."
The Zionist movement in Europe was largely responsible for prompting the United Nations to establish a Partition Plan for Palestine and authorize a Jewish State of Israel in 1948 -- which is why its first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, stated that "God promised it to us."
Of course, Ben-Gurion thought he was doing the right thing. However, we have plainly seen the painful consequences of that theocratic, spiritually ignorant attitude.
Even though Israeli Zionists and American Christian Zionists use that materialistic concept of Zion and Zionism to justify themselves in their quest for power and domain, conveniently linking all Jewish people to the land of ancient Israel, the modern "Zionist" movement is largely secular and actually has little to do with the actual meaning of the Torah and Tanakh of the ancient Jews.
Granted, several of the ancient Jewish prophets did indeed "see" the return of Jews to Jerusalem and the Mid-East from various "islands" and places around the world. However, much of what the government of the modern State of Israel has been doing since 1948 has very little to do with God.
God wants the people of Israel to live in peace and in harmony with her neighbors, by treating them as if they were brothers and sisters, and children of God. God wants all of us to love one another, respect one another, and care for one another. In fact, God wants all of us to seek the Light of Wisdom that is within us, which, as Solomon said, is far better than the weapons of war for making peace.
That kind of Wisdom is beneficent and kind. She is firm, but Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Her paths are peace. For peace cannot be "won" by waging war. It must be made, by confessing our offenses, reconciling our differences, and making amends.
In the final analysis, Jews need to understand that the logic of using isolated words of their prophets to claim the absolute and exclusive right to the land they have taken is flawed.
By that logic, the Native American Indian tribes and "first nations" of North, Central and South America would have the right to reclaim their ancestral homelands, control all the land, and dislocate any European Americans from the land and property the Native American Indians might want to take back.
Needless to say, that would not be fair to European Americans, especially those whose ancestors have lived in the Western Hemisphere or "New World" for generations. Therefore it was not fair for European Jews to move in to Palestine, ignore the rights of Palestinians to their homes and land, and make them refugees. (And that is why it is important to learn and consider the history of Zionism as discussed in the article on The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.)
Furthermore, even though there are Hebrew books in the Tanakh that can lead you to believe it, the notion that Jews are "God’s chosen people" and therefore a favored race and nation is an egocentric and ethnocentric notion that has no place in the modern world. As it is written in the book attributed to Moses, God said Israel could be a "holy nation," but only if it behaved properly. Moreover, it is but one of the many nations of earth, which are all under God.
Jews are our fellow human beings, and we are all children of God. The God of Israel is the same God of all the world’s religions. They each may have a different, man-made concept of God, but all truly Divine inspiration and revelation comes from the same Source, which is God by any other name.
Even though that is not apparent or clear by reading the Christian Bible as we know it, one of the main aspects of the mission of the Jewish son of man, Jesus of Nazareth, was to develop and expand Judaism so that it would become less ethnocentric, and less exclusive.
That is why the teachings of Jesus were so similar to that of the Buddha Gautama. It is why Jesus spoke as a Hindu Avatar, speaking as and for the Holy One that is within, around and above us all. And it is why, according to the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Jesus taught concepts very similar to those of Lao Tzu in the Book of Tao.
The State of Israel, Zion, and The Fulfillment of Prophecy
"Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness." –– Isaiah 1:27
Zion as the City of David shall be redeemed with justice, but only after she (Israel) acknowledges and accepts the promised righteous judgment.
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment and make the right to go forth to the nations. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. ... He shall make the right to go forth according to the truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he has set the right in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his teaching.” – Isaiah 42:1-4
The modern State of Israel and Jerusalem have been ruled by many spiritually blind people who have committed many crimes against humanity and are guilty of terrible iniquity. And Israel’s iniquity will not be pardoned by God or the world until she repents, and makes amends.
When Israel does make amends, then God will forgive her. And this is what the Lord God said to the son of man [with the Jewish Masoretic Text in brackets]:
“Speak comfortably to Jerusalem [and tell her to take heart], and cry unto her [or proclaim unto her], that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned [and her guilt is paid off]: for she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. [Hark, one calls: 'Clear in the wilderness the way of the Lord, make plain in the desert a highway for our God.] The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” -- Isaiah 40:2-3
It is up to Israel, the physical nation, to heed the words of truth. For until she does, she will suffer, and the servant-messenger of God will suffer.
"For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord." – Isaiah 2:3
Out of Zion (as the Bride and New Jerusalem, which is of the Spirit of truth), shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord. For the modern son of man bears righteous testimony as a witness and servant of the Lord God.
"And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion ... when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from its midst, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of destruction." –– Isaiah 4:3-4
"So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the West, and his glory from the rising of the sun. For distress will come in like a flood ... And a redeemer will come to [or out of] Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, as the Lord says. And the Lord says this is my covenant with them; My spirit that is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from you ... or from your posterity, henceforth and for ever." –– Isaiah 59:19-21
(The "posterity" of the servant of God is not genetic human offspring, but the legacy of his revelation and teaching.)
"For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her triumph goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a torch. And the nations shall see your triumph, and all kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall mark out. ... You shall no more be termed Forsaken [or rejected], nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called, My delight is in Her, and your land, Espoused; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be espoused. For as a young man espouses a virgin, so shall your sons espouse you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you." –– Isaiah 62:1-5
"Come, I will show you the bride, the [Bridegroom] Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God." (Revelations 21:9-10)
"And I John saw the holy city of God, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." (Revelations 21:2)
John wrote those words after being “carried away in spirit,” into the spiritual realm where he saw the future. The "holy city" and the "bride" are appropriate symbols for Zion, and for the greatest spiritual gift God can bestow upon a son of man. That is why in an earlier chapter John reported that the spirit-soul or ghost of Jesus said this:
"Upon him who overcomes will I will write the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God. And I will write upon him my new name." – Revelation 3:12
Thus, according to Prophecies Re: He Who Fulfills Them, and according to Isaiah 62:2 and Revelation 3:12, he who overcomes, the modern son of man, serves in the new name of the Lord (or Christ) which was Jesus of Nazareth, the dearly departed great one. And the modern son of man bears his testimony, as was prophesied by John.
Of course, the title of “Lord” is used for both men and God, but God is the Lord of Lords and the Lord of Hosts. And the “new name of the Lord” mentioned in Isaiah 62:2 and Revelation 3:12 is the new name for the Ancient One who was “before Abraham,” who was represented by Jesus, and who is in heaven with God.
The Ancient One is the original soul, the Oversoul, and Jesus of Nazareth served to redeem the “original man, Adam,” and advance from the cycles or rebirth into the worldly realm, to graduate to everlasting life in heaven. And He is the original soul who is now and shall always be in heaven with God, the “Alpha and the Omega.”
The new name of that Lord and soul is Jehoshuah, the Liberator (also spelled Yeheshuah and other versions). And the modern son of man is His chosen servant and messenger, serving in His name, and also serving God the Lord of lords and Lord of hosts. For as Moses wrote, God is not a man, nor a son of man, and as David wrote, there is no salvation in a son of man, only in God.
That is why you should understand that the modern son of man is from your midst and of your brethren, as Moses said he would be. Like John, he has witnessed the Holy One in “New Jerusalem” on that great mountain Zion. He was called and he was chosen to deliver the spirit of judgment, as prophesied by many prophets, not only of Judaism and Christianity, but of all the religions that speak of one to come.
That judgment, in part, clarifies that the spirit of destruction has come down upon humanity not because it is God’s will, but because it is the karmic consequence of Man’s vain folly, pride, arrogance, offensiveness, and foolishness. And, unfortunately, the rain, like the sunshine, falls on the good and the bad alike.
The promised judgment is relevant and appropriate, regardless of religion, race, or nationality. It is a universal judgment.
That judgment tells us how and why the humble, gentle, kind, peaceful, loving majority shall indeed inherit the earth, just as soon as the divisive trouble makers get the message.