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Mount Zion

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Basic Information

Location 31°46′18″N 35°13′43″E
Country Israel
City Jerusalem

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility yes
Website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Zion
Geographical Coordinates 31.77167,35.22904


General

Mount Zion is a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City.

History and time period

According to the Book of Samuel, Mount Zion was the site of the Jebusite fortress called the "stronghold of Zion" that was conquered by King David, becoming his palace and the City of David.

Cable car to Mount Zion Sometime after the construction of King Solomon's Temple, Mount Zion referred to the Temple Mount. It is mentioned in the Book of Isaiah (60:14), the Book of Psalms, and the first book of the Maccabees (c. 2nd century BC). Just before the Roman conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple, Josephus described Mount Zion as a hill across the valley to the west.Thus, the western hill extending south of the Old City came to be known as Mount Zion, and this has been the case ever since. In 1948, Mount Zion was linked to the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in West Jerusalem via a narrow tunnel. During the war, an alternative was needed to evacuate the wounded and transport supplies to soldiers on Mt. Zion. A cable car capable of carrying a load of 250 kilos was designed for this purpose. The cable car was only used at night and lowered into the valley during the day to escape detection. The ride from the Israeli position at the St. John Eye Hospital to Mount Zion took two minutes. Mount Zion was conquered by the Harel Brigade on May 18, 1948. Between 1948 and 1967, when the Old City was under Jordanian occupation, Israelis were forbidden access to the Jewish holy places. Mount Zion was a designated no-man's land between Israel and Jordan. Mount Zion was the closest accessible site to the ancient Jewish Temple. Until East Jerusalem was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War, Israelis would climb to the rooftop of David's Tomb to pray. The winding road leading up to Mount Zion is known as Pope's Way (Derekh Ha'apifyor). It was paved in honor of the historic visit to Jerusalem of Pope Paul VI in 1964.


Biblical references

he Tanakh reference to Har Tzion (Mount Tzion) that identifies its location is derived from the Psalm 48 composed by the sons of Korah, i.e. Levites, as "the northern side of the city of the great king", which Radak interprets as the City of David "from the City of David, which is Zion (1 Kings 8:1-2; 2 Chron. 5:2)". 2 Samuel 5:7 also reads, "David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David," which identifies Mount Tzion as part of the City of David, and not an area outside today's Old City of Jerusalem. Rashi identifies the location as the source of "joy" mentioned in the Psalm as the Temple Courtyard, the location of atonement offerings in the northern part of the Temple complex.

Archaeology

In 1874, an Englishman, Henry Maudsley, discovered a large segment of rock scarp and numerous ancient dressed stones on Mount Zion that were believed to be the base of Josephus's First Wall. Several of these stones were used to construct a retaining wall outside the main gate of the Bishop Gobat school (later known as the American Institute of Holy Land Studies and Jerusalem University College). Archaeological excavations on the eastern hill south of the Old City uncovered an Iron Age building that has led to a theory that this was the original location of Mount Zion.

Landmarks

Important sites on Mount Zion (as currently defined) are Dormition Abbey, King David's Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper. Most historians and archeologists today do not regard "David's Tomb" there to be the actual burial place of King David. The Chamber of the Holocaust (Martef HaShoah), the precursor of Yad Vashem, is also located on Mount Zion. Another place of interest is the Catholic cemetery where Oskar Schindler, a Righteous Gentile who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews in the Holocaust, is buried. Notable burials in the Protestant cemetery on Mt. Zion include the architect Conrad Schick.

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