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Stone, in the Hebrew of the Old Testament pronounced ay-ben, and in the Greek of the New Testament pronounced lee-thoss, forms in one of three general ways: by the cooling of molten material from the earth's interior (igneous rock e.g. granite, basalt), by the stratification of worn mineral material (sedimentary rock e.g. shale, sandstone), or by rock that has been transformed by great pressure or heat (metamorphic rock e.g. slate, marble). Although stone has no life, it's actually part of the "living" earth, in that stones are formed from natural processes (see The Seven Days Of Creation), and then wear or erode away, releasing the elements to eventually continue the cycle (e.g. see Earthquake!).

Stones Stone In Bible History

Stone was widely used as a building material:

"When the House [see "My Father's House"] was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry; so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the Temple [see Temples], while it was being built." (1 Kings 6:7 RSV)

"His own house where he was to dwell, in the other court back of the hall, was of like workmanship. Solomon also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh's daughter whom he had taken in marriage. All these were made of costly stones, hewn according to measure, sawed with saws, back and front, even from the foundation to the coping, and from the court of the house of The Lord to the great court. The foundation was of costly stones, huge stones, stones of eight and ten cubits. And above were costly stones, hewn according to measurement, and cedar." (1 Kings 7:8-11 RSV)

Stones were used as a markers of important events:

"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. He called the name of that place Bethel" (Genesis 28:17-19 RSV)

"And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God; and he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of The Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, "Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of The Lord which He spoke to us" (Joshua 24:26-27 RSV)

Stones were used as weapons:

"When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone, and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine, and killed him; there was no sword in the hand of David." (1 Samuel 17:48-50 RSV) (see David And Goliath)

"Now these are the men who came to David [see King David] at Ziklag, while he could not move about freely because of Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men who helped him in war. They were bowmen, and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand; they were Benjaminites, Saul's kinsmen." (1 Chronicles 12:1-2 RSV)

Stones were used as an analogy for believers, with the Messiah as the "cornerstone":

"Come to Him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in Him will not be put to shame." To you therefore who believe, He is precious, but for those who do not believe, "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner," and "A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall"; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do" (1 Peter 2:4-8 RSV)

Large stones were used as doors for tombs, including the most famous tomb of all:

"When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph [see Joseph Of Arimathea], who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate [see Pontius Pilate] and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed." (Matthew 27:57-60 RSV) (see The Garden Tomb)

Stoning was a specific means of God-commanded execution in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament, Stephen, generally regarded as the first Christian martyr, was killed by stoning:

"The Lord said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, Any man of the people of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, who gives any of his children to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones." (Leviticus 20:1-2 RSV)

"But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:55-60 RSV)

Fact Finder: Did the prophet Daniel describe The Return Of Jesus Christ as a stone, or rock, that will become "a great mountain" and "fill the whole earth"?
Daniel 2:31-45 See Daniel's Statue

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This Week's Bible Quiz

1. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter E

2. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter A

3. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter D

4. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter G

5. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter H

6. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter L

7. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter M

8. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter N

9. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter R

10. Name 2 books of the Bible that begin with the letter Z

For the answers to this June 4 2002 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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