The City of Peace

The Epistle to the Hebrews points out that Salem, the name of Melchizedek's city, means 'peace' (Gen. 14:18; Heb. 7:2). Here then, in a type, we have a "King of righteousness" ruling the 'city of peace', prophetic of Jerusalem being "the city of the great King" (Mat. 5:35) in the millennial age.

The Assyrians used the name Ursalimmu for Salem (Heb. Shalem), whilst the Tell elAmarna tablets refer to Ura-Salim, meaning 'city of Salim', and the Ebla archives mention Urusalim. In each of these names there is a similarity-with the name Jerusalem in both its Hebrew and Chaldee (Aramaic) forms Yerushalaim and Yerushalem. (The Chaldee form is used only in the books of Ezra and Daniel.) The name Jerusalem is variously interpreted as 'foundation, vision or possession of peace'.

Before Jerusalem finally fulfils its appointed destiny as the city of the Prince of peace, and capital city of a world at peace, it has had to experience a long period of being trodden down (trampled, NKJV) by the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). It cannot be a matter of chance that Jerusalem's former name when under Gentile Canaanite control was Jebus (Judg. 19:10), a name that translates as a place 'trodden down' or 'trampled under foot'. Just as King David captured the city of the Jebusites (1 Chron. 11:4,5) and made it his capital city, so the greater than David is to free Jerusalem from being trodden down by the Gentiles and make it truly the city of peace.

From the time that Jebus was captured by David's army it is frequently referred to in Scripture as (Mount) Zion. The very first mention of this name is in the phrase "strong hold of Zion" (2 Sam. 5:7). We would expect that the name Zion would be as meaningful as are the names Jebus and Jerusalem. Three suggested meanings deserve consideration. as follows:

1. a dry or parched place;

2. a place of defence, fortress;

3. a signpost, monument, guiding pillar

The first two meanings above are based directly on the Hebrew word siyon (Zion), whilst the third represents the meaning of the related word siyun, which bears the sense of something conspicuous.

Do any of these meanings have significance? The first meaning is not in accord with the purpose of God, for living waters will flow forth from Jerusalem in the age to come (Ezek. 47:1-12; Joel 3:18; Zech. 14:8). The second meaning at first sight does not fit in well with the fact that Jerusalem will be the city of peace in an age of peace. However, the idea of the protection of the righteous through salvation does make a fitting connection, as the following words of the prophet Isaiah show: "We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isa. 26:1-3, NKJV).

With regard to the third meaning a signpost, monument, or guiding pillar, it has been suggested that the name Zion refers to the 'sign' that was given at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah when God provided a ram for a sacrifice in place of Isaac (Gen. 22:13,14). This typical event provides a signpost to the provision of the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world, a sacrifice that would be accomplished "at Jerusalem" (Luk. 9:31).

An alternative suggestion relates to the idea of conspicuousness, for Mount Zion will be "beautiful in elevation" (Ps. 48:2, NKJV), and "the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills" (Isa. 2:2, NKJV).

By David Green