Mount Zion

Three Ways to Move a Mountain


The hill called Mount Zion today is located outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. However, “Mount Zion” has not always been located there. Throughout Israelite history, the location of the mount has changed. Here’s how:

Conquer a city

Jerusalem did not always belong to the Israelites. When David became king over Israel, the city belonged to the Jebusites. David and his army marched against the Jebusites and “captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David” (2 Sam 5:7). David’s city, the first location of Mount Zion, is located on ancient Jerusalem’s Lower Eastern Hill where David built his palace.

Build a temple

David’s son, Solomon, became king following David’s death. One of Solomon’s building projects was the temple for Yahweh. Solomon built northward from the City of David to the uppermost part of the Eastern Hill, building the temple at the highest point. With this expansion the Temple Mount became known as Mount Zion.

Suffer a defeat (or two) 

Throughout the period of the kings, the walls of the ancient city of Jerusalem expanded westward and included the Western Hill. When the city was destroyed, first at the hands of the Babylonians in 586 BC and again at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD, the name Mount Zion shifted to the Western Hill where it is today.

Today’s Mount Zion is the home of a number of frequently visited sites such as the Dormition Abbey, the Room of the Last Supper, and the Catholic cemetery in which Oskar Schindler is buried. Perhaps not as well known as other sites, but nonetheless worth visiting, is the campus of Jerusalem University College on whose property sits the Protestant cemetery. Buried here are Horatio Spafford, the author of the hymn "It Is Well with My Soul;" James Leslie Starkey, a British archaeologist who was the first to excavate at the site of Lachish; and the headless body of Sir Flinders Petrie, an Egyptologist who donated his brain to science.