87:2 The gates of Tzion
This short psalm praises Hashem’s connection to Tzion. In order to express God’s love for Yerushalayim, the psalmist writes: “Hashem loves the gates of Tzion, more than all the dwellings of Yaakov.” The wall currently surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City, built in 1538 by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, has several gates around its perimeter, each of which is known by a different name. The gate at the southwestern corner of the wall is called “Zion Gate,” or Shaar Tzion (שער ציון) in Hebrew, based on this verse. Thus, it has the oldest biblical name of any of the gates. However, the Arabic name for this gate is David’s Gate, referring to the traditional location of David’s tomb. The Zion Gate is also quite significant in modern Israeli history; it was through this gate that the Palmach Brigade of the Israeli army broke into the Old City during the 1948 War of Independence, releasing the Jewish quarter from its isolation. The Jordanians, however, re-conquered the Old City shortly afterwards, and Jews were forced to leave the walls of Jerusalem for the next nineteen years. Only after it was recaptured during the 1967 Six Day War were Jews again able to enter the Old City of Yerushalayim.