Names of Jerusalem

Names of Jerusalem refers to the multiple names by which the city of Jerusalem has been known and the etymology of the word in different languages. According to the Jewish Midrash, "Jerusalem has 70 names".[1] Lists have been compiled of 72 different Hebrew names for Jerusalem in Jewish scripture.[2]

Today, Jerusalem is called Yerushalayim (Hebrew: יְרוּשָׁלַיִם‎) and Al-Quds (Arabic: اَلْـقُـدْس‎). Yerushalayim is a derivation of a much older name, recorded as early as in the Middle Bronze Age, which has however been repeatedly re-interpreted in folk etymology, notably in Biblical Greek, where the first element of the name came to be associated with Greek: ἱερός (hieros, "holy"). The city is also known especially among religious-minded Muslims as Bayt al-Maqdis (Arabic: بَـيْـت الْـمَـقْـدِس‎), which means House of Holiness.

Early extra-biblical and biblical names


A city called Rušalim in the Execration texts of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (c. 19th century BCE) is sometimes identified as Jerusalem although this has been challenged.[3][4]

Jerusalem is called either Urusalim (URU ú-ru-sa-lim) or Urušalim (URU ú-ru-ša10-lim) in the Amarna letters of Abdi-Heba (1330s BCE).[5] Also in the Amarna letters, it is called Beth-Shalem, the house of Shalem.[6]

The Sumero-Akkadian name for Jerusalem, uru-salim,[7] is variously etymologised to mean "foundation of [or: by] the god Shalim": from Hebrew/Semitic yry, ‘to found, to lay a cornerstone’, and Shalim, the Canaanite god of the setting sun and the nether world, as well as of health and perfection.[8][9][10][11]

Jerusalem is the name most commonly used in the Bible, and the name used by most of the Western World. The Biblical Hebrew form is Yerushalaim (ירושלם), adopted in Biblical Greek as Hierousalēm, Ierousalēm (Ιερουσαλήμ), or Hierosolyma, Ierosolyma (Ιεροσόλυμα), and in early Christian Bibles as Syriac Ūrišlem (ܐܘܪܫܠܡ) as well as Latin Hierosolyma or Ierusalem. In Arabic this name occurs in the form Ūrsālim (أْوْرْسَـالِـم).

The name "Shalem", whether as a town or a deity, is derived from the same root as the word "shalom", meaning peace,[12][13] so that the common interpretation of the name is now "The City of Peace"[9][14] or "Abode of Peace".[15][16]

The ending -ayim indicates the dual in Hebrew, thus leading to the suggestion that the name refers to the two hills on which the city sits.[17][18] However, the pronunciation of the last syllable as -ayim appears to be a late development, which had not yet appeared at the time of the Septuagint. In fact, in the unvocalized Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible the yod that would be required for the -ayim ending (so that it would be written ירושלים, as in post-biblical Hebrew, rather than ירושלם) is almost always absent. It is only the much later vocalization, with the vowel marks for a and i squeezed together between the lamed and the mem, that provides the basis for this reading.

In Genesis Rabbah 56:10, the name is interpreted as a combination of yir'eh, "He will see [to it]," and Shalem, the city of King Melchizedek (based on Genesis 14:18). A similar theory is offered by Philo in his discussion of the term "God's city." [19] Other midrashim say that Jerusalem means "City of Peace".[20]

In Greek, the city is called either Ierousalēm (Ἰερουσαλήμ) or Hierosolyma (Ἱεροσόλυμα). The latter exhibits yet another re-etymologization, by association with the word hieros (Greek: ἱερός, "holy").[21][22] Similarly the Old Norse form Jorsala exhibits a re-interpretation of the second element as -sala, denoting a hall or temple, common in Old Norse toponyms.


The name Shalem/Salem (שלם šālêm) is found in the account of Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18: And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God (El Elyon).

That the name Salem refers to Jerusalem is evidenced by Psalm 76:2 which uses "Salem" as a parallel for "Zion", the citadel of Jerusalem. The same identification is made by Josephus and the Aramaic translations of the Bible.

Language Name Translit.
LXX Σαλήμ[23] Salēm
Greek (variant) Σόλυμα[24] Solyma
Biblical Latin Salem
Arabic سَـالِـم Sālim
Hebrew שָׁלֵם Šālēm

Shalem was the Canaanite god of dusk, sunset, and the end of the day, also spelled Shalim.[25] Many scholars believe that his name is preserved in the name of the city Jerusalem.[26] It is believed by some scholars that the name of Jerusalem comes from Uru + Shalem, meaning the foundation of Shalem or founded by Shalem or city of Shalem, and that Shalem was the city god of the place before El Elyon.[27]


Mount Zion (Hebrew: הר צִיּוֹן Har Tsiyyon) was originally the name of the hill where the Jebusite fortress stood, but the name was later applied to the Temple Mount just to the north of the fortress (also known as Mount Moriah, possibly also referred to as "Daughter of Zion" (i.e., as a protrusion of Mount Zion proper) originally).

Still later (Second Temple era), the name came to be applied to a hill just to the south-west of the walled city. This latter hill is still known as Mount Zion today. From the point of view of the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE), Zion has come to be used as a synonym of the city of Jerusalem as a whole.

Other biblical names

  • Mount Moriah (now the Temple mount) was a part of Yevus (Jebus, see Judges 19:10) city inhabited by the Jebusites. According to the Bible, this land was sold to King David by Ornan (the Jebusite) for the full price of purchase (six hundred shekels of Gold). 1Chr 21:26 in order to build an altar in the threshing floor for sacrifice, in staying the plague God had visited upon Israel. Solomon later built the Temple there. The Jebusite stronghold at that time was called Zion which David took by force, and it afterward began to be called The City of David. 2Sam 5:7-10
  • City of David: The City of David (Hebrew Ir David עיר דוד Tiberian Hebrew עִיר דָּוִד ʿIyr Dāwiḏ) is the biblical term for the Iron Age walled fortress; now the name of the corresponding archaeological site just south of the Temple Mount
  • City of Jebus (Jebusite city) in Judges 19:10
  • Adonai-jireh "The Lord sees", in Vulgate Latin Dominus videt. In the opinion of some Rabbinic commentators, the combination of Yir'eh (יראה) with Shalem (שלם) is the origin of the name Jerusalem (ירושלם).
  • Neveh Tzedek (נווה צדק) "Oasis of Justice", Tiberian Hebrew נְוֵה-צֶדֶק Nəwēh Ṣeḏeq, in the Book of Jeremiah 31:22.
  • Ariel (אֲרִיאֵל) in Isaiah 29:1-8 [28]
  • "Ir Ha-Kodesh", Ir Ha-Kedosha, meaning "City of the Holy Place/Holiness"(עיר הקודש)
  • City of the Great King
    • Hebrew: kiryat melekh rav (קרית מלך רב) as in Psalm 48:2.
    • Koine Greek: polis megalou basileos (πόλις μεγάλου βασιλέως) as in Matthew 5:35.
    • Tiberian Hebrew קִרְיַת מֶלֶךְ רָב Qiryaṯ Meleḵ Rāḇ

Middle Persian

According to "Shahnameh", ancient Iranian used "Kang Diz Huxt" کَـنْـگ دِژ هُـوْخْـت or "Diz Kang Huxt" دِژ کَـنْـگ هُـوْخْـت to name Jerusalem . "Kang Diz Huxt" means "holy palace" and was the capital of "Zahhak" and also "Fereydun's" kingdom.[29] [30] Another variant of the name is Kang-e Dožhuxt (Dožhuxt-Kang), which is attested in Shahnameh. It means "[the] accursed Kang".[31]


Aelia Capitolina was the Roman name given to Jerusalem in the 2nd century, after the destruction of the Second Temple. The name refers to Hadrian's family, the gens Aelia, and to the hill temple of Jupiter built on the remains of the Temple. During the later Roman Era, the city was expanded to the area now known as the Old City of Jerusalem. Population increased during this period, peaking at several hundred thousand, numbers only reached again in the modern city, in the 1960s.

From this name derive Arabic إِيْـلْـيَـاءʼĪlyāʼ, Tiberian Hebrew אֵילִיָּה קַפִּיטוֹלִינָה ʼÊliyyāh Qappîṭôlînāh, Standard Hebrew אֵילִיָּה קַפִּיטוֹלִינָה Eliyya Qappitolina. The Roman name was loaned into Arabic as ʼĪlyāʼ, early in the Middle Ages, and appears in some Hadith (Bukhari 1:6, 4:191; Muwatta 20:26), like Bayt ul-Maqdis.


Jerusalem fell to the Muslim conquest of Palestine in 638. The medieval city corresponded to what is now known as the Old City (expanded in the 2nd century as Roman Aelia Capitolina). Population at the time of the Muslim conquest was about 200,000, but from about the 10th century it declined, to less than half that number by the time of the Christian conquest in the 11th century, and with the re-conquest by the Khwarezmi Turks was further decimated to about 2,000 people (moderately recovering to some 8,000 under Ottoman rule by the 19th century).

The modern Arabic name of Jerusalem is اَلْـقُـدْس al-Quds, and its first recorded use can be traced to the 9th century CE, two hundred years after the Muslim conquest of the city. Prior to the use of this name, the names used for Jerusalem were إِيْـلْـيَـاء Iliya (from the Latin name Aelia) and بَـيْـت الْـمَـقْـدِس (Bayt al-Maqdis) or بَـيْـت الْـمُـقَـدَّس (Bayt al-Muqaddas).[32]

Al-Quds is the most common Arabic name for Jerusalem and is used by many cultures influenced by Islam. The name may have been a direct translation of the Hebrew nickname for the city, "Ir HaKodesh" (עיר הקודש "The Holy City" or "City of the Holiness"). The variant اَلْـقُـدْس الـشَّـرِيْـف al-Quds aš-Šarīf ("Al-Quds the Noble") has also been used, notably by the Ottomans, who also used the Persian influenced Kuds-i Şerîf.*

Bayt al-Maqdis or Bayt al-Muqaddas is a less commonly used Arabic name for Jerusalem though it appeared more commonly in early Islamic sources. It is the base from which nisbas (names based on the origin of the person named) are formed - hence the famous medieval geographer called both al-Maqdisi and al-Muqaddasi (born 946.) This name is of a semantic extension from the Hadiths used in reference to the Temple in Jerusalem, called Beit HaMikdash (בית המקדש "The Holy Temple" or "Temple of the Sanctified Place") in Hebrew.[34]

  • Avar Байтул Макъдис (Baytul Maqdis)
  • Azerbaijani Beytül-Müqəddəs
  • Malay Baitulmuqaddis
  • Persian بيت مقدس (Beit-e Moghaddas)
  • Turkish Beyt-i Mukaddes
  • Urdu بيت مقدس (Bait-e Muqaddis)

Arabic: اَلْـبَـلَاطal-Balāṭ is a rare poetic name for Jerusalem in Arabic, loaned from the Latin palatium "palace". Also from Latin is إِيْـلْـيَـاء ʼĪlyāʼ, a rare name for Jerusalem used in early times Middle Ages, as in some Hadith (Bukhari 1:6, 4:191; Muwatta 20:26).

See also


  1. ^ Numbers Rabbah, 14, 12; Midrash Tadsha (Baraita Phinehas ben Jair 10; Midrash Zuta Song of Songs 3,1; Midrash ha-Gadol Genesis 46, 8;
  2. ^ Ilana Caznelvugen lists the 72 names in her two articles "Many names for Jerusalem" and "70 Names for Jerusalem", Sinai 116, Mosad Harav Kook, 1995. The Jerusalem municipality website lists 105 Hebrew names.
  3. ^ David Noel Freedman; Allen C. Myers; Astrid B. Beck (2000). Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 694–695. ISBN 978-0-8028-2400-4. Retrieved 19 August 2010.. Nadav Naʼaman, Canaan in the 2nd Millennium B.C.E., Eisenbrauns, 2005 p. 177ff., offers a dissenting opinion, arguing for the transcription Rôsh-ramen, etymologised to r'š (head) and rmm (be exalted), to mean 'the exalted Head', and not referring to Jerusalem.
  4. ^ G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren (eds.) Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (tr. David E. Green), William B. Eerdmann, Grand Rapids Michigan, Cambridge/UK 1990, vol. VI, p. 348.
  5. ^ Urusalim e.g. in EA 289:014, Urušalim e.g. in EA 287:025. Transcription online at "''The El Amarna Letters from Canaan''". Retrieved 11 September 2010.; translation by Knudtzon 1915 (English in Percy Stuart Peache Handcock, Selections from the Tell El-Amarna letters (1920).
  6. ^ See, e,g,, Holman Bible Dictionary, op. cit. supra.
  7. ^ See Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, p. 410 (1990). Hamilton also asserts that Sumerian uru is ye, meaning "city."
  8. ^ Meir Ben-Dov, Historical Atlas of Jerusalem, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002, p. 23.
  9. ^ a b Binz, Stephen J. (2005). Jerusalem, the Holy City. Connecticut, USA.: Twenty-Third Publications. p. 2. ISBN 9781585953653. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  10. ^ See the Anchor Bible Dictionary for an extensive discussion with citations. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ See Holman Bible Dictionary, ; National Geographic, ("As for the meaning of the name, it can be assumed to be a compound of the West Semitic elements "yrw" and "s[h]lm," probably to be interpreted as "Foundation of (the god) Shalem." Shalem is known from an Ugaritic mythological text as the god of twilight.").
  12. ^ Elon, Amos. Jerusalem. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-00-637531-6. Retrieved 26 April 2007. The epithet may have originated in the ancient name of Jerusalem—Salem (after the pagan deity of the city), which is etymologically connected in the Semitic languages with the words for peace (shalom in Hebrew, salam in Arabic).
  13. ^ Ringgren, H., Die Religionen des Alten Orients (Göttingen, 1979), 212.
  14. ^ Hastings, James (2004). A Dictionary of the Bible: Volume II: (Part II: I -- Kinsman), Volume 2. Honolulu, Hawaii: Reprinted from 1898 edition by University Press of the Pacific. p. 584. ISBN 1-4102-1725-6. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  15. ^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (2007). Historic cities of the Islamic world. The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. pp. 225–226. ISBN 90-04-15388-8. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  16. ^ Denise DeGarmo (9 September 2011). "Abode of Peace?". Wandering Thoughts. Center for Conflict Studies. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  17. ^ Wallace, Edwin Sherman (August 1977). Jerusalem the Holy. New York: Arno Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-405-10298-4. A similar view was held by those who give the Hebrew dual to the word
  18. ^ Smith, George Adam (1907). Jerusalem: The Topography, Economics and History from the Earliest Times to A.D. 70. Hodder and Stoughton. p. 251. ISBN 0-7905-2935-1. The termination -aim or -ayim used to be taken as the ordinary termination of the dual of nouns, and was explained as signifying the upper and lower cities. (see here)
  19. ^ With Letters of Light: Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Early Jewish Apocalypticism, Magic and Mysticism, eds. Daphna Arbel and Andrei Orlov
  20. ^ Bar Ilan University, Prof. Yaakov Klein
  21. ^ Alexander Hopkins McDannald (editor), The Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 16, Americana Corporation, 1947, entry Jerusalem
  22. ^ Gerhard Kittel (editor), Gerhard Friedrich (editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (editor),Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume, Eerdmans, 1985, entry Sion [Zion], Ierousalem [Jerusalem], Hierosolyma [Jerusalem], Hierosolymites [inhabitants of Jerusalem]
  23. ^ E.g. found in the Septuagint and the writings of Philo; cf. Melchizedek as "king of peace" (Σαλήμ) in Heb. 7.1–2, based on Gn. 14.18; cf. also Philo, leg. all. 3.79.
  24. ^ Cf. e.g. Flavius Josephus, Ant. J. 1.180.
  25. ^ Shalem; Shalim.
  26. ^ E.g., L. Grabbe, "Ethnic groups in Jerusalem", in Jerusalem in Ancient History and Tradition (Clark International, 2003) pp. 145-163; John Day, Yahweh and the gods and goddesses of Canaan, Sheffield Academic Press 2002, p. 180; see also Shalim.
  27. ^ Yisrael Shalem, "Jerusalem: Life Throughout the Ages in a Holy City", Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies, Bar-Ilan University (2012). See also Karel van der Toorn, et al., Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, under entry ZEDEQ, p. 931.
  28. ^ See Encyclopedia Judaica: Ariel. For etymologies, see Abarim.
  29. ^
  30. ^ C.Mowlā'i /Kang Diz Huxt and Kuling Dus-Hut (An Investigation into the Name of Żahhāk's Palace in the Shāh-nāma and in Sanī Mulūk al-Arż v-al-Anbiyā’) / Journal of Research Literary Studies, 2014, 47(3):145-156
  31. ^ Lurje, Pavel. "KANGDEZ". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  32. ^ El-Awaisi, Khalid. "From Aelia To Al-Quds: The Names Of Islamicjerusalem In The Early Muslim Period", 2011. Retrieved on 16 June 2019.
  33. ^ See 'JERUSALEM', Engraved by Lodge in George Henry Millar, The New & Universal System Of Geography (London: Alexander Hogg, 1782)
  34. ^ Carrol, James. "Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How The Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World", 2011. Retrieved on 24 May 2014.


  • Patterson, David (2005), Hebrew Language and Jewish Thought, Routledge, ISBN 9780415346979

External links

Aelia Capitolina

Aelia Capitolina (Traditional English Pronunciation: ; Latin in full: COLONIA AELIA CAPITOLINA) was a Roman colony, built under the emperor Hadrian on the site of Jerusalem, which was in ruins following the siege of 70 AD, leading in part to the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132–136 AD. Aelia Capitolina remained the official name of Jerusalem until 638 AD, when the Arabs conquered the city and kept the first part of it as 'إلياء' (Iliyā').

Avner Dorman

Avner Dorman (Hebrew: אבנר דורמן; born April 14, 1975 in Tel Aviv, Israel) is an Israeli-born composer, educator and conductor.

Haram (site)

The Arabic term ḥaram (حَرَم [ħaram]) has a meaning of "sanctuary" or "holy shrine" in the Islamic faith or Arabic language.

Index of Islam-related articles

This is an alphabetical list of topics related to Islam, the history of Islam, Islamic culture, and the present-day Muslim world, intended to provide inspiration for the creation of new articles and categories. This list is not complete; please add to it as needed. This list may contain multiple transliterations of the same word: please do not delete the multiple alternative spellings—instead, please make redirects to the appropriate pre-existing Wikipedia article if one is present.

For a list of articles ordered by topic, instead of alphabetically, see Outline of Islamic and Muslim related topics.

For a structured list of existing articles on Islam, please see Category:Islam.


The Jebusites (; Hebrew: יְבוּסִי, Modern: Yevusi, Tiberian: Yəḇûsî ISO 259-3 Ybusi) were, according to the books of Joshua and Samuel from the Hebrew Bible, a Canaanite tribe that inhabited Jerusalem prior to the conquest initiated by Joshua (Joshua 11:3, 12:10) and completed by King David (2 Samuel 5:6–10). The Books of Kings as well as 1 Chronicles state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event (1 Chronicles 11:4). The identification of Jebus with Jerusalem is sometimes disputed by scholars. According to some biblical chronologies, the city was conquered by King David in 1003 BCE.

Names of the Levant

Over recorded history, there have been many names of the Levant, a large area in the Middle East, or its constituent parts. These names have applied to a part or the whole of the Levant. On occasion, two or more of these names have been used at the same time by different cultures or sects. As a natural result, some of the names of the Levant are highly politically charged. Perhaps the least politicized name is Levant itself, which simply means "where the sun rises" or "where the land rises out of the sea", a meaning attributed to the region's easterly location on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

Place names of Palestine

Place names in Palestine have been the subject of much scholarship and contention, particularly in the context of the Arab–Israeli conflict. The significance of place names in Palestine lies in their potential to legitimize the historical claims asserted by the involved parties, all of whom claim priority in chronology, and who use archaeology, map-making, and place names as their proofs.The importance of toponymy, or geographical naming, was first recognized by the British organization, the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF), who mounted geographical map-making expeditions in Palestine in the late 19th century. Shortly thereafter, the British Mandatory authorities set out to gather toponymic information from the local Arab population, who had been proven to have preserved knowledge of the ancient place names which could help identify archaeological sites.Palestinian place names are generally Arabised forms of ancient Semitic names or newer Arabic language formations, though since the establishment of Israel, many place names have since been Hebraicised or are known officially by their Biblical names. The cultural interchange fostered by the various successive empires to have ruled Palestine is apparent in its place names. Any particular place can be known by the different names used in the past, with each of these corresponding to a historical period. For example, what is today known as Tzippori, was known under Hellenistic rule as Sepphoris, under Roman rule as Diocaesarea, and under Arab and Islamic rule as Saffuriya.


Q-D-Š is a triconsonantal Semitic root meaning "sacred, holy", derived from a concept central to ancient Semitic religion. From a basic verbal meaning "to consecrate, to purify", it could be used as an adjective meaning "holy", or as a substantive referring to a "sanctuary, sacred object, sacred personnel."The root is reflected as qdš (Phoenician 𐤒𐤃‬𐤔, Hebrew קדש) in Northwest Semitic and as qds (Arabic قدس‎) in Central and South Semitic.

In Akkadian texts, the verb conjugated from this root meant to "clean, purify."

Timeline of the name "Palestine"

This article presents a list of notable historical references to the name Palestine as a place name in the Middle East throughout the history of the region, including its cognates such as "Filastin" and "Palaestina".

The term "Peleset" (transliterated from hieroglyphs as P-r-s-t) is found in five inscriptions referring to a neighboring people or land starting from circa 1150 BC during the Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt. The first known mention is at the temple at Medinet Habu which refers to the Peleset among those who fought with Egypt in Ramesses III's reign, and the last known is 300 years later on Padiiset's Statue. The Assyrians called the same region "Palashtu/Palastu" or "Pilistu", beginning with Adad-nirari III in the Nimrud Slab in c. 800 BC through to an Esarhaddon treaty more than a century later. Neither the Egyptian nor the Assyrian sources provided clear regional boundaries for the term.The first appearance of the term "Palestine" was in 5th century BC Ancient Greece when Herodotus wrote of a "district of Syria, called Palaistinê" between Phoenicia and Egypt in The Histories. Herodotus was describing the coastal region, but is also considered to have applied the term to the inland region such as the Judean mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley. Later Greek writers such as Aristotle, Polemon and Pausanias also used the word, which was followed by Roman writers such as Ovid, Tibullus, Pomponius Mela, Pliny the Elder, Dio Chrysostom, Statius, Plutarch as well as Roman Judean writers Philo of Alexandria and Josephus. The word was never used in an official context during the Hellenistic period, and is not found on any Hellenistic coin or inscription, first coming into official use in the early second century AD. It has been contended that in the first century authors still associated the term with the southern coastal region.In 135 AD, the Greek "Syria Palaestina" was used in naming a new Roman province from the merger of Roman Syria and Roman Judaea after the Roman authorities crushed the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Circumstantial evidence links Hadrian to the renaming of the province, which took place around the same time as Jerusalem was refounded as Aelia Capitolina, but the precise date of the change in province name is uncertain. The common view that the name change was intended "sever the connection of the Jews to their historical homeland" is disputed.Around the year 390, during the Byzantine period, the imperial province of Syria Palaestina was reorganized into Palaestina Prima, Palaestina Secunda and Palaestina Salutaris. Following the Muslim conquest, place names that were in use by the Byzantine administration generally continued to be used in Arabic. The use of the name "Palestine" became common in Early Modern English, was used in English and Arabic during the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem. In the 20th century the name was used by the British to refer to "Mandatory Palestine", a territory from the former Ottoman Empire which had been divided in the Sykes–Picot Agreement and secured by Britain through a mandated obtained from the Society of Nations. Starting from 2013, the term was officially used in the eponymous "State of Palestine". Both incorporated geographic regions from the land commonly known as Palestine, into a new state whose territory was named Palestine.


Zion (Hebrew: צִיּוֹן‎ Ṣîyōn, modern Tsiyyon; also transliterated Sion, Sayon, Syon, Tzion, Tsion) is a placename often used as a synonym for Jerusalem as well as for the Land of Israel as a whole. The word is first found in 2 Samuel 5:7 which dates from c. 630–540 BCE according to modern scholarship. It originally referred to a specific hill in Jerusalem (Mount Zion), located to the south of Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount). Mount Zion held a Jebusite fortress of the same name that was conquered by David and was re-named the City of David; see Names of Jerusalem. That specific hill ("mount") is one of the many squat hills that form Jerusalem, which also includes Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount), the Mount of Olives, etc. Over many centuries, until as recently as the Ottoman era, the city walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt many times in new locations, so that the particular hill known as Mount Zion is no longer inside the city wall, but its location is now just outside the portion of the Old City wall forming the southern boundary of the Jewish Quarter of the current Old City. Most of the original City of David itself is thus also outside the current city wall.

The term Tzion came to designate the area of Davidic Jerusalem where the fortress stood, and was used as well as synecdoche for the entire city of Jerusalem; and later, when Solomon's Temple was built on the adjacent Mount Moriah (which, as a result, came to be known as the Temple Mount) the meanings of the term Tzion were further extended by synecdoche to the additional meanings of the Temple itself, the hill upon which the Temple stood, the entire city of Jerusalem, the entire biblical Land of Israel, and "the World to Come", the Jewish understanding of the afterlife.

In Kabbalah, the more esoteric reference is made to Tzion being the spiritual point from which reality emerges, located in the Holy of Holies of the First, Second and Third Temple.


Shin-Lamedh-Mem is the triconsonantal root of many Semitic words, and many of those words are used as names. The root meaning translates to "whole, safe, intact, unharmed, to go free, without blemish". Its earliest known form is in the name of Shalim, the ancient god of dusk of Ugarit. Derived from this are meanings of "to be safe, secure, at peace", hence "well-being, health" and passively "to be secured, pacified, submitted".

Arabic: س ل م‎ S-L-M (Maltese: S-L-M)

East Semitic S-L-M

South Semitic "S-L-M"

Ge'ez: ሰላም S-L-M

Northwest Semitic Š-L-M

Canaanite Š-L-M (c.f. Shalem)

Hebrew: שלם‎ Š-L-M

Aramaic: ܫܠܡ‎ Š-L-MArabic salām (سَلاَم), Maltese sliem, Hebrew Shalom (שָׁלוֹם), Ge'ez sälam (ሰላም), Syriac šlama (pronounced Shlama, or Shlomo in the Western Syriac dialect) (ܫܠܡܐ) are cognate Semitic terms for 'peace', deriving from a Proto-Semitic *šalām-.

Given names derived from the same root include Solomon (Süleyman), Absalom, Selim, Salem, Salim, Salma, Salmah, Salman, Selimah, Shelimah, Salome, etc.

Arabic, Maltese, Hebrew and Aramaic have cognate expressions meaning 'peace be upon you' used as a greeting:

Arabic as-salāmu ʻalaykum (السلام عليكم) is used to greet others and is an Arabic equivalent of 'hello'. The appropriate response to such a greeting is "and upon you be peace" (wa-ʻalaykum as-salām).

Hebrew shālôm ʻalêḵem, (שלום עליכם) is the equivalent of the Arabic expression, the response being עליכם שלום ʻalêḵem shālôm, 'upon you be peace'.

Maltese sliem għalikom.

Neo-Aramaic (ܫܠܡ ܥܠܘܟ) šlama 'lokh, classically ܫܠܡ ܠܟ, šlām lakh.


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