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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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This word is sometimes taken in the sense of rock, and is applied figuratively to God, as the refuge of his people. See ROCK. The Hebrews gave the name of "stones" to the weights used in commerce; no doubt because they were originally formed of stone. "Just weights," is therefore in Hebrew, "just stones." "The corner stone," or "the head stone of the corner," is a figurative representation of Christ. It is the stone at the angle of a building, whether at the foundation or the top of the wall. Christ was that corner stone, which, though rejected by the Jews, became the corner stone of the church, and the stone that binds and unites the synagogue and the Gentiles in the unity of the same faith. Some have thought the showers of stones cast down by the Lord out of heaven, mentioned several times in the Old Testament, to be showers of hail of extraordinary size; which was probably the case, as they even now sometimes occur in those countries in a most terrific and destructive form, and show how irresistible an agent this meteor is in the hands of an offended God. The knives of stone that were made use of by the Jews in circumcision, were not enjoined by the law; but the use of them was founded, either upon custom, or upon the experience that this kind of instrument is found to be less dangerous than those made of metal. Zipporah made use of a stone to circumcise her sons, Exodus 4:25 . Joshua 5:2 , did the same, when he caused such of the Israelites to be circumcised at Gilgal, as had not received circumcision during their journey in the wilderness. The Egyptians, according to Herodotus, made use of knives of stone to open dead bodies that were to be embalmed; and Pliny assures us, that the priests of the mother of the gods had sharp stones, with which they cut and slashed themselves, which they thought they could not do with any thing else without danger. Great heaps of stones, raised up for a witness of any memorable event, and to preserve the remembrance of some matter of great importance, are among the most ancient monuments. In those elder ages, before the use of writing, these monuments were instead of inscriptions, pyramids, medals, or histories. Jacob and Laban raised such a monument upon Mount Gilead in memory of their covenant, Genesis 31:46 . Joshua erected one at Gilgal, made of stones taken out of the Jordan, to preserve the memorial of his miraculous passage over this river, Joshua 4:5-7 . The Israelites that dwelt beyond Jordan also raised one upon the banks of the river, as a testimony that they constituted but one nation with their brethren on the other side, Joshua 22:10 . Sometimes they heaped up such a collection of stones upon the burying place of some odious persons, as was none in the case of Achan and Absalom, Joshua 7:26 ; 2 Kings 18:17 .

A "heart of stone" may be understood several ways. Job 41:24 , speaking of the leviathan, says, that "his heart is as firm as a stone, yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone:" that is, he is of a very extraordinary strength, boldness, and courage. It is said, 1 Samuel 25:37 , that Nabal's heart died within him, and he became as a stone, when he was told of the danger he had incurred by his imprudence; his heart became contracted or convulsed, and this was the occasion of his death.

Ezekiel 36:26 , says, that the Lord will take away from his people their heart of stone, and give them a heart of flesh; that is, he will render them contrite, and sensible to spiritual things. "I will give him a white stone,"

Revelation 2:17 ; that is, I will give him full and public pardon and absolution. It is spoken in allusion to an ancient custom of delivering a white stone to such as they acquitted in judgment. They used likewise to give a white stone to such as conquered in the Grecian games.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Stone'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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