River in Zion

Zion, like Eden, is a well-watered place: There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God (Psalm 46:4). Yahweh Himself is teh river of delights that refreshes Jerusalem’s inhabitants and nourishes its life.

In Isaiah 32:4, the prophet foresees a new Davidic king surrounded by princes who, like Yahweh, are “streams of water” to their subjects. The parallel between Yahweh and the princes is strengthen by Isaiah’s word play on “Zion.” The princes are rivers “in a dry country,” and the word for dry country is tzayon , identical to “Zion” ( tziyon ) apart from the initial vowel. Zion itself means a “parched place” or perhaps a “sunny mountain.” To survive as a site for a city, Zion needs a supply of fresh water. Zion is a desert place that only becomes fruitful because of the presence of the Rock of Israel, the Rock that springs with water and drips with honey.


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