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The most common modern-day meaning of pillar is a "tall cylindrical vertical upright used to support a building," and although it was applied that way in the Bible, it was also used to translate a number of Hebrew words that covered its comprehensive literal meaning - "anything tall and thin approximating the shape of a column or tower." In Bible History, the term pillar was used for a wide range of things, from supports in the Temple, to various memorials and monuments, and The Lord's "pillar of cloud" as seen by the Israelites during their Wilderness Journey.

The Tabernacle The Lord's Presence in the time of the Exodus (see Rock Of Ages):

"And The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night; the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people." (Exodus 13:21 RSV)

Moses at Mount Sinai:

"Moses came and told the people all the words of The Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, "All the words which The Lord has spoken we will do." And Moses wrote all the words of The Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel." (Exodus 24:3-4 RSV)

As monuments to the living or the dead:

"So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem, and Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel's tomb, which is there to this day." (Genesis 35:19 RSV)

"Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the pillar which is in the King's Valley, for he said, "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance"; he called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom's monument to this day." (2 Samuel 18:18 RSV)

By Jacob at Bethel:

"Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely The Lord is in this place; and I did not know it." And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone which he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it" (Genesis 28:16-18 RSV)

In The Tabernacle In The Wilderness and the Temple (see Temples) in Jerusalem:

"And you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it which has been shown you on the mountain. And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen; in skilled work shall it be made, with cherubim; and you shall hang it upon four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, upon four bases of silver." (Exodus 26:30-32 RSV)

"And King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze; and he was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill, for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon, and did all his work. He cast two pillars of bronze. Eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits measured its circumference; it was hollow, and its thickness was four fingers; the second pillar was the same. He also made two capitals of molten bronze, to set upon the tops of the pillars; the height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits." (1 Kings 7:13-16 RSV)

As idols:

"When My angel goes before you, and brings you in to the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces." (Exodus 23:23-24 RSV)

Fact Finder: Is the true church the "pillar and foundation of Truth"?
1 Timothy 3:15
See also People or Place? and The Elect

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