The Big Apple. Beantown. The Motor City. Today, lots of cities have cool nicknames. But did you know that people have been giving metaphorical names to their towns since the beginning of time? True story. Zion is the one the Poet uses to talk about his hometown.
Zion Sweet Zion
In its most literal sense, Zion is just another name for the city of Jerusalem. That means it's just another way of calling out the geographical area that the Babylonians attacked. So, why was this one little city so special?
According to the Bible, Jerusalem was part of the area that God gave specifically to the Jewish people. It's also known as Israel or the Promised Land. The first six books of the Bible are all about how God gave this place to the people, freed them from slavery in Egypt, led them across a desert wilderness, and helped them win control of the land from the Canaanites. It was a big deal.
Jerusalem is especially important because King David made it the capital of Israel during his reign. You know David—he killed the giant Goliath with his slingshot when he was a boy. His son Solomon would go on to build the first Temple there as well. Jews believed that the spirit of God dwelled in the Temple and that the people could keep their good relationship with God going by performing rituals and sacrifices inside its wall. It was the center of the ancient Jewish universe. If God lived there, what could happen, right?
Jewish prophets and history refer to the city over and over again:
- The city of David, which is Zion. (1 Kings 8:1)
- Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion. (Psalm 9:11)
- The Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation. (Psalm 132:13)
- See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone. (Isaiah 28:16)
- I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. (Joel 3:17)
God totally loves this place. It's his home away from home.