From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


1. The Greek terms. —Apart from the vb. ‘to stone’ (for wh. see Stoning), there are 5 Gr. words translation ‘stone’ in the NT which call for notice in the present article. (1) λίθος (LXX Septuagint for אָבֶןִ) is the general term. It occurs very frequently in the Gospels, and is the word with which in this art we are chiefly concerned. λίθος is distinguished from πέτρα as in English ‘stone’ is distinguished from ‘rock.’ (2) λίθινος (fr. λίθος), ‘made of stone’; found in the Gospels only in  John 2:6 λίθιναι ὑδρίαι, ‘waterpots of stone.’ (3) πέτρος is rendered ‘stone’ only in Authorized Version of  John 1:42 ‘Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a stone.’ AVm [Note: Vm Authorized Version margin.] gives ‘Peter,’ while Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 has ‘Peter’ in the text and ‘rock or stone’ in the margin. ‘Rock’ is certainly more adequate than ‘stone,’ for πέτρος properly denotes a mass of detached rock, as πέτρα does a living or solid rock. (So πετρώδης in the parable of the Sower [ Matthew 13:5;  Matthew 13:20,  Mark 4:5;  Mark 4:16] does not mean ‘stony’ [Authorized Version] but ‘rocky’ [Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885]—not ground full of loose stones, but a thin soil with shelves of rock lying underneath). Probably, however, the sense is best conveyed by the proper name ‘Peter’—the meaning of ‘Peter’ being, of course, understood (cf.  Matthew 16:18). (4) λαξευτός, ‘hewn in stone (fr. λᾶς ‘stone’ and ξἑω ‘scrape’ or ‘carve’), applied in  Luke 23:53 to the tomb in which Jesus was laid. Mt. ( Matthew 27:60) and Mk. (mrak 15:46), however, describe it as hewn out of rock (πέτρα). (5) ψῆφος, ‘pebble,’ represents ‘stone’ in the ‘white stone’ which in the Ep. to the Church in Pergamum Christ promises to him that overcometh ( Revelation 2:17).

2. Stones crying out. —The stones of Christ and the Gospels form a suggestive subject. There are sermons in these stones, we might say, for they have lessons to impart to us regarding Christ’s history, His teaching, and His Person as the Messiah.

(1) His history .—( a ) Whether or not we accept the ancient tradition that Jesus was born in one of the limestone caves of Bethlehem, it is very likely that His manger would be a manger of stone—built with stones and mortar if not hollowed out of the solid rock (see Thomson, LB [Note: The Land and the Book.] [ed. 1878] p. 413). If so, the first bed on which the Lord was laid, like the last one to which He was carried by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea ( John 19:38 ff.), was a bed of stone.

( b ) In Christ’s spiritual struggles on the very threshold of His public life, He had to do with the stones. It is a curious fact that they play a part in two out of the three acts that make up the drama of the Temptation in the Wilderness. In the one case, Jesus is tempted to use His miraculous powers to turn the stones that lie about Him on the rough mountain-side into loaves of bread wherewith to satisfy His hunger ( Matthew 4:2-4,  Luke 4:2-4). In the other, He is tempted to leap from a pinnacle of the Temple by the reminder that it is written ( Psalms 91:11-12) that God’s child shall be upheld by angels, and so preserved from dashing his foot against a stone ( Matthew 4:5-7,  Luke 4:9;  Luke 4:12). In the one case, the stones were to nourish His life; but contrary to God’s law of sowing and reaping. In the other, they were to refuse to dash Him to death; but contrary to the Divinely fixed law of gravitation. Satan meant the stones to be stones of stumbling to Jesus, on that difficult path of obedience and self-renunciation to which in His baptism He had just consecrated Himself. But Jesus by His faith and patience turned them into stepping-stones to higher things.

( c ) At Cana of Galilee Jesus ‘manifested his glory’; and there, we might say, He was again beholden to the stones; for the six waterpots by whose aid He wrought His first miracle were waterpots of stone ( John 2:6).

( d ) But not always were the stones His servants and ministers. Twice in Jn.’s Gospel ( John 8:59;  John 10:31, cf.  John 11:8) we read how the enemies of Jesus took up stones to cast them at Him, because He claimed that He was the Son of God.

( e ) Against the cave which was Lazarus’ tomb there lay a stone ( John 11:38)—rolled there to shut in the dead during the awful process of decay ( John 11:39), as well as to shut out the ravening wild beasts. ‘Take ye away the stone,’ Jesus said ( John 11:39); and when they had done so, another word of command turned that gravestone at Bethany into a parable to all the ages of the rolling away from human hearts of the crushing bondage of death ( Hebrews 2:14 f.) by Him who is the Resurrection and the Life ( John 11:25).

( f ) It was not long after, when the Lord’s own body was carried to another tomb ‘hewn in stone’ ( Luke 23:53), and laid on one of the stone shelves prepared for such a purpose. Against the door of His sepulchre also ‘a great stone’ was rolled ( Matthew 27:60 ||), and a seal was set upon the guardian stone. And that great stone, which the Jewish rulers would fain have made the incontrovertible proof that the world had seen the last of Jesus of Nazareth ( Matthew 27:62 ff.), has become the shining and perennial monument of His victory over death—proclaiming, in St. Peter’s words, that ‘it was not possible that he should be holden of it’ ( Acts 2:24). For whenever Christian men think of the Lord’s sepulchre, they always see that great stone rolled back from the door, and the angel of the Resurrection sitting upon it ( Matthew 28:2 ||).

(2) His teaching .—One of the most self-evident proofs that Jesus ever gave of the Heavenly Father’s love and the reality of prayer, lay in the question, ‘What man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone?’ ( Matthew 7:9). One of the most memorable examples of His heart-searching irony was when He said to the accusers of a sinful woman, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her’ (John 8 :[7]). One of the most striking assertions of His claim to Messianic dignity lay in His answer to the Pharisees when they appealed to Him to rebuke the enthusiastic shouts of His disciples: ‘I tell you that if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out’ ( Luke 19:40). One of His clearest and most emphatic predictions of the coming fate of Jerusalem was when He said of the Temple, adorned with goodly stones, ‘There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down’ ( Mark 13:2 ||).

In the Ep. to the Church in Pergamum the author of the Apocalypse represents Jesus Christ as promising a ‘white stone’ to the victor in the good fight of faith ( Revelation 2:17). Numerous explanations of this white stone have been suggested, but the one that seems best to satisfy all the requirements is that which takes it to be the tessara gladiatoria , bestowed on the victorious young gladiator when he exchanged the name of tiro for that of spectatus (see ExpT [Note: xpT Expository Times.] i. [1889] p. 2, viii. [1897] p. 291; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible iv. 618b).

The 5th of the Oxyrhynchus (1897) ‘Sayings of Jesus’ contains the striking words, ‘Jesus saith … Raise the stone and there shalt thou find me; cleave the wood and there am I.’ The words have lent themselves to various ingenious explanations; but the most probable interpretation is the one which also most readily suggests itself—that we have here an affirmation of the immanence of Christ in natural things. The saying may be understood in a sense that is perfectly in keeping with teaching that is found in the NT ( e.g.  John 1:3,  Colossians 1:16 f.), but was more probably written with a leaning to a kind of Gnostic Pantheism. It is generally agreed that, in their present form at least, these ‘Sayings of Jesus’ were not spoken by the Lord Himself, and do not even belong to the earliest age (see Lock and Sanday, Two Lectures on the ‘Sayings of Jesus ’ (1897); cf. ExpT [Note: xpT Expository Times.] ix. [1898] p. 194 ff.).

(3) His Person .—On one occasion ( Luke 20:17 =  Matthew 21:42) Jesus took a stone (λίθος; cf. His symbolic use of ‘rock’ (πέτρα) in  Matthew 7:24 f., ||,  Matthew 16:18, and St. Paul’s ‘spiritual rock,’ ‘that rock was Christ,’  1 Corinthians 10:4) as a symbol of His own Person. He had just spoken the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, and after announcing their doom, He quoted epexegetically  Psalms 118:22 ‘The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.’ Thus He identified the rejected ‘Son’ of the parable with the rejected stone of the Psalm, and the wicked husbandmen with the scribes and Pharisees as the ‘builders’ of Israel’s theocratic edifice; but at the same time intimated to the latter that they must not think that by rejecting Him and putting Him to death they would be done with Him for ever. So far from that, He went on to say, ‘Every one that falleth on that stone shall be broken to pieces; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust’ ( Luke 20:18 =  Matthew 21:44).

In  Acts 4:11 we find St. Peter taking up Christ’s symbol, and boldly declaring to the Sanhedrin that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the stone set at naught by them the builders, but made by God the head of the corner. And in his Epistle he returns to this parable of the stone as a symbol of Christ’s Person, and dwells upon it with much greater fulness ( 1 Peter 2:4-8). He describes the Lord now, with evident reference to His Resurrection (cf.  Acts 4:10 with  Acts 4:11), as a ‘living stone,’ rejected indeed by men, but to God chosen and precious, upon whom His people are built up into a spiritual house. The allusion to the verse in Psalms 118 is unmistakable; but in what he proceeds to say the Apostle makes use further of two passages in Isaiah. First he quotes  Isaiah 28:16 ‘Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner stone,’ etc., and next the words of  Isaiah 8:14 about the ‘stone of stumbling and the rock of offence.’ And it seems clear that his reminiscence of the latter passage has been inspired by his recollection of the Lord’s own words as to those who fall upon the Stone which is Himself, and those upon whom that Stone shall fall (cf.  Isaiah 8:7-8 with  Luke 20:17-18 =  Matthew 21:42;  Matthew 21:44). See, further, art. Rock.

Literature .—The Lexx. on the various Gr. words, and the Comm. on the passages quoted.

J. C. Lambert.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

A — 1: Λίθος (Strong'S #3037 — Noun Masculine — lithos — lee'-thos )

is used (I) literally, of (a) the "stones" of the ground, e.g.,  Matthew 4:3,6;  7:9; (b) "tombstones," e.g.,  Matthew 27:60,66; (c) "building stones," e.g.,  Matthew 21:42; (d) "a millstone,"  Luke 17:2; cp.  Revelation 18:21 (see MILLSTONE); (e) the "tables (or tablets)" of the Law,   2—Corinthians 3:7; (f) "idol images,"  Acts 17:29; (g) the "treasures" of commercial Babylon,  Revelation 18:12,16; (II) metaphorically, of (a) Christ,  Romans 9:33;  1—Peter 2:4,6,8; (b) believers,  1—Peter 2:5; (c) spiritual edification by scriptural teaching,  1—Corinthians 3:12; (d) the adornment of the foundations of the wall of the spiritual and heavenly Jerusalem,  Revelation 21:19; (e) the adornment of the seven angels in  Revelation 15:6 , RV (so the best texts; some have linon, "linen," AV); (f) the adornment of religious Babylon,  Revelation 17:4; (III) figuratively, of Christ,  Revelation 4:3;  21:11 , where "light" stands for "Light-giver" (phoster).

A — 2: Ψῆφος (Strong'S #5586 — Noun Feminine — psephos — psay'-fos )

"a smooth stone, a pebble," worn smooth as by water, or polished (akin to psao, "to rub"), denotes (a) by metonymy, a vote (from the use of "pebbles" for this purpose; cp. psephizo, "to count"),  Acts 26:10 , RV (AV, "voice"); (b) a (white) "stone" to be given to the overcomer in the church at Pergamum,  Revelation 2:17 (twice); a white "stone" was often used in the social life and judicial customs of the ancients; festal days were noted by a white "stone," days of calamity by a black; in the courts a white "stone" indicated acquittal, a black condemnation. A host's appreciation of a special guest was indicated by a white "stone" with the name or a message written on it; this is probably the allusion here.

 John 1:42Rock.

B — 1: Λιθοβολέω (Strong'S #3036 — Verb — lithoboleo — lith-ob-ol-eh'-o )

"to pelt with stones" (A, No. 1, and ballo, "to throw"), "to stone to death," occurs in  Matthew 21:35;  23:37;  Luke 13:34 (  John 8:5 in some mss.: see No. 2);   Acts 7:58,59;  14:5;  Hebrews 12:20 .

B — 2: Λιθάζω (Strong'S #3034 — Verb — lithazo — lith-ad'-zo )

"to stone," virtually equivalent to No. 1, but not stressing the casting, occurs in  John 8:5 (in the most authentic mss.); 10:31-33; 11:8;   Acts 5:26;  14:19;  2—Corinthians 11:25;  Hebrews 11:37 .

B — 3: Καταλιθάζω (Strong'S #2642 — Verb — katalithazo — kat-al-ith-ad'-zo )

an intensive form of No. 2, "to cast stones at," occurs in  Luke 20:6 .

C — 1: Λίθινος (Strong'S #3035 — Adjective — lithinos — lith'-ee-nos )

"of stone" (akin to A, No. 1), occurs in  John 2:6;  2—Corinthians 3:3;  Revelation 9:20 .

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]


I. In OT . 1. Several different words are rendered ‘stone,’ but the one of by far the most frequent occurrence is ’ebhen , which has the same wide range of application as its English equivalent. Palestine is a stony country, arid the uses to which stone was put were numerous and varied. In its natural state a stone served for a pillow (  Genesis 28:18 ) or a seat (  Exodus 17:12 ), for covering the mouth of a well (  Genesis 29:2 ff.) or closing the entrance to a cave (  Joshua 10:18; cf.   Matthew 27:30 etc.). Out of it, again, might be constructed a knife (  Exodus 4:25 , Heb. tsûr . RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘flint’), a vessel (  Exodus 7:19; cf.   John 2:6 ), a mill (  Deuteronomy 24:8 ). Above all, stone was employed in architecture. Houses (  Leviticus 14:42 etc.), walls (  Nehemiah 4:8 ,   Habakkuk 2:11 ), towers (by implication in   Genesis 11:3 ), and especially the Temple (  1 Kings 5:17 f. etc.), are referred to as built of stone. We read of foundation-stones (  1 Kings 5:17 ), of a corner-stone (  Psalms 118:22 ), of a head-stone or finial (  Zechariah 4:7 ); and in   2 Kings 16:17 mention is made of a pavement of stone. Masonry was a regular trade (  2 Samuel 5:11 etc.), and stone-hewing is frequently referred to (  2 Kings 12:12 etc.). Belonging to the aesthetic and luxurious side of life are precious stones and the arts of cutting and graving and setting them (  Exodus 28:9;   Exodus 28:11;   Exodus 31:5 etc.); see, further, Jewels and Precious Stones. The profusion of stones made it natural to use them as missiles. Stone-throwing might be a mark of hatred and contempt (  2 Samuel 16:6;   2 Samuel 16:13 ), or the expedient of murderous intentions against which provision had to be made in legislation (  Exodus 21:18 ,   Numbers 35:17 ). In war, stones were regular weapons of offence. Usually they were hurled with slings (  1 Samuel 17:49 ,   1 Chronicles 12:2 ), but, later, great stones were discharged by means of ‘engines’ (  2 Chronicles 26:15 , 1Ma 6:51 ). Stoning to death was a natural and convenient method of execution. At first an expression of popular fury (  Joshua 7:25 ), it was afterwards regulated by law as an appointed means of capital punishment (  Deuteronomy 17:5-7; cf.   Acts 7:58 f.). See, further, Crimes and Punishments, § 10 . The use of stones as memorials was common. Sometimes a single large stone, at other times a heap of stones, was raised (  Genesis 31:45 f.,   Joshua 8:29;   Joshua 24:26 ). Akin to this was their employment to mark a boundary (  Joshua 15:6 etc.). Stones would be the ordinary landmarks between the fields of one person and another, the removal of which was strictly forbidden (  Deuteronomy 19:14 etc.). In religious worship stones were employed in the forms of the pillar (  Genesis 28:18;   Genesis 28:22;   Genesis 31:45;   Genesis 35:14 ) and the altar. The latter was at first a single great stone (  1 Samuel 6:14 f.), but afterwards was built of several stones, which must be unhewn (  Exodus 20:25 ,   Deuteronomy 27:5-6 ). See, further. Pillar and Altar. The use of stone for literary purposes (cf. the Moabite Stone) is illustrated by the tables of stone on which the Decalogue was written (  Exodus 24:12 etc.) and the inscribed stones of the altar on Mt. Ebal (  Deuteronomy 27:2 ff.,   Joshua 8:30 ff.).

2 . Stones = testicles (  Leviticus 21:20 ,   Deuteronomy 23:1 ,   Job 40:17 ).

II. In NT . Here tithos is the ordinary word, and is found in most of the connexions already referred to. Noteworthy is the fact that Jesus, after quoting   Psalms 118:22 , took the rejected and exalted stone as a symbol of Himself (  Matthew 21:42 ff.,   Luke 20:17 f.). St. Peter adopts the symbol in his address to the Sanhedrin (  Acts 4:11 ), and enlarges it, with further reference to   Isaiah 8:14;   Isaiah 28:13 , in his figure of the ‘living stone,’ which is at once the foundation of God’s spiritual house and a stone of stumbling to the disobedient (  1 Peter 2:4-8 ). The stone ( petros ) of   John 1:42 should be ‘rock,’ or still better ‘Peter’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ); ‘stony’ ( petrôdçs ) in   Matthew 13:5 ,   Mark 4:5;   Mark 4:16 should be ‘rocky.’ The ‘white stone’ of   Revelation 2:17 represents Gr. psçphos , ‘a pebble,’ and the ref. perhaps is to the tessara gladiatoria bestowed on the victorious young gladiator.

J. C. Lambert.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [4]

The stone is used as a type of many things throughout the Scripture. In both the Old Testament and the New, it represents the Lord Jesus Christ or the child of GOD, or the truth of GOD. Sometimes it represents glory and beauty. It stands for solidity and permanence. We will give here some of these typical meanings:

 Genesis 11:3 (c) Man-made doctrines are substituted for GOD's Word.

 Genesis 49:24 (a) This represents the Lord Jesus Christ

 Exodus 20:25 (c) The thought in this passage probably is that the stones represent GOD's truth as revealed in His Word, and man is not to alter it nor change it in any way. False teachers and leaders do take GOD's Word and twist the meaning to suit their own theology. They take the passage from its text and misuse it. It is this that is forbidden by this type. (See also  Deuteronomy 27:6;  Joshua 8:31;  1 Kings 6:7).

 Exodus 24:12 (c) The commandments were on stone, not on rubber, which would bend or stretch. It speaks of permanence and durability.

 1 Samuel 17:49 (c) This may represent a portion of the Scripture, the Gospel.

 Job 28:3 (b) We may understand these to be matters that are difficult to understand, and require much investigation and research.

 Psalm 118:22 (b) There is no doubt but that this type represents the Lord Jesus Christ as the One in whom we trust for eternity. Israel rejected him as the foundation of their faith, but GOD exalted Him as the foundation of the Church. (See  Isaiah 28:16;  1 Peter 2:6).

 Psalm 144:12 (a) These represent beautiful daughters, refined, cultured, substantial and solid in their faith. They are dependable and trustworthy.

 Proverbs 26:27 (b) This is probably a type of gossip, malicious lie, or a false report which when started returns to injure the one who told it.

 Isaiah 8:14 (a) This type represents the Lord Jesus for He stood in the way of Israel. In rejecting Him they fell from their place of power and influence, and have been scattered abroad as a punishment for their sins. His Name and His presence are an offense to the nation of Israel. (See also  Matthew 21:42;  Mark 12:10).

 Isaiah 28:16 (a) This type of Christ reveals Him as being tried and tested by men and circumstances, and proving His perfection.

 Isaiah 34:11 (b) These are types of those matters which look good, but have no value. They make a big show, but have no reality. These things are hypocritical, pretending to be what they are not. They look like stones, but really are puff balls.

 Lamentations 3:9 (b) GOD permitted His prophet to be surrounded with wicked men and evil workers so that he could not go about His work easily nor comfortably.

 Ezekiel 28:14 (b) Satan's glory is thus described. The unsaved follow the Devil's plans and programs, thinking he has permanent value, and will give permanent blessing.

 Daniel 2:34 (b) The Lord JESUS is this stone who comes in His sovereign power to crush all opposition, to defeat his enemies, and to set up his own kingdom throughout the earth.

 Zechariah 3:9 (b) This also is a type of CHRIST who is brought before men for their trust and confidence. It also represents CHRIST, Spirit-filled and Spirit-led, and yet the One who sends and gives the Holy Spirit. (See also  Zechariah 4:7).

 Matthew 21:44 (a) Christ Jesus is this stone, the Rock of ages, the foundation of all GOD's church and kingdom. When He crushes His enemies beneath His feet, they will be utterly broken, but those who, feeling their need, rest their lives and hearts on Him, they are eternally blessed. (See also  Luke 20:18).

 Luke 20:17 (a) Christ Jesus is this stone. He was rejected by Israel, and is still rejected by that nation. (See also  Acts 4:11;  1 Peter 2:4-7).

 1 Corinthians 3:12 (b) The good works of GOD's people carried on for the glory of GOD, the honor of CHRIST, and by the leading of the Spirit, are solid, substantial and eternal in their character.

 1 Peter 2:5 (a) Christians are reckoned to be a part of CHRIST, and so they are as small stones broken off from the big stone, the Rock of Ages. They partake of His appearance and character.

 Revelation 2:17 (b) Since the Scripture says that no man knows what this represents, we can hardly dare to express an opinion. It certainly represents some pure precious gift solid and eternal in character which the Lord will give to the overcomer.

 Revelation 17:4 (b) This type refers to the great wealth and beauty that is seen and adorns false religions. Their magnificence is wonderful and attracts those who do not know our Lord.

 Revelation 21:11 (b) This is poetic language which describes the glory of GOD by telling us of things we can understand, as a comparison to things we cannot understand.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

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.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [6]

'Eben ( אֶבֶן , Strong'S #68), “stone.” A comparison of Semitic languages shows that 'eben was the common word for “stone” among the ancients. Exact philological and semantic cognates are found in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Old South Arabic, and several Ethiopic dialects. The Greek Old Testament usually has lithos (lithos) for 'eben. Used almost exclusively for movable stone(s), 'eben is to be distinguished from cela’ , “rock,” and tsur , “cliff.”

The noun 'eben occurs in the Old Testament 260 times, with almost equal frequency in the singular (and collective) as in the plural. It appears more frequently in prose than in poetry.

Palestine was (and is) famous for its ubiquitous “stone.” So much was “stone” a part of the ancient writer’s consciousness that it served the literary interests of simile (Exod. 15:5), metaphor (Ezek. 11:19), and hyperbole (1 Kings 10:27; 2 Chron. 1:15; 9:27). That building with “stone” was the rule rather than the exception in Palestine is suggested by the biblical writer’s allusion to the Mesopotamian custom of using clay bricks (Gen. 11:3). Yet it seems that Israelite craftsmen at the time of David lagged behind somewhat in the art of stonework, for stonemasons from Tyre were employed in constructing the royal residence (2 Sam. 5:11).

Beyond their use as a construction material, “stones” served as covers for wells (Gen. 29:3ff.), storage containers (Exod. 7:19), weights (Deut. 25:13; Prov. 11:1), and slingstones (1 Sam. 17:49). Plumblines were suspended stones (Isa. 34:11); pavement was sometimes made of “stone” (2 Kings 16:17); and the Bible speaks of hailstones (Josh. 10:11; Ezek. 13:11ff.). The Israelite custom of cave burials presumes stone tombs (Isa. 14:19); on 3 occasions when bodies were not interred, they were heaped with “stones” (Josh. 7:26; 8:29; 2 Sam. 18:17).

Pentateuchal laws relating to purity-impurity concepts stipulated that certain crimes were punishable by stoning. The standard formula employed either the verb ragam or caqal —followed by a preposition and the noun 'eben. Included under this penalty were the crimes of blasphemy (Lev. 24:23; Num. 15:35-36), Molech worship (Lev. 20:2), idolatry (Deut. 13:10), and prostitution (Deut. 22:21, 24). Originally, stoning was a means of merely expelling the lawbreaker from the community; however, in ancient Israel it was a means of capital punishment whereby the community could rid itself of the impure offender without coming into direct contact with him.

As for the cult, the carved “stone” figurines commonly worshiped throughout the ancient Near East were strictly forbidden to Israel (Lev. 26:1). To carve “stone” which was to be used in the cult was to profane it (Exod. 20:25). Altars and memorials especially common to the patriarchal age and the period of the Conquest were all made of unhewn “stones” (Gen. 28:18ff.; 31:45; Josh. 4:5; 24:26-27). Of the cult objects in Israel’s wilderness shrine, only the tablets of the Decalogue were made of “stone” (Exod. 24:12; 34:1, 4; Deut. 4:13; Ezek. 40:42—the stone tables of Ezekiel’s temple served only utilitarian purposes).

Precious “stones” such as onyx (Gen. 2:12) and sapphire (Ezek. 1:26) are mentioned frequently in the Bible, especially with regard to the high priest’s ephod and breastplate (Exod. 39:6ff.). The expensiveness of the high priest’s garments corresponded to the special workmanship of the most holy place where Aaron served.

In certain texts, 'eben has been given theological interpretations. God is called the “stone of Israel” in Gen. 49:24. And several occurrences of 'eben in the Old Testament have been viewed as messianic, as evidenced by the Greek Old Testament, rabbinic writings, and the New Testament, among them: Gen. 28:18; Ps. 118:22; Isa. 8:14; 28:16; Dan. 2:34; Zech. 4:7.

King James Dictionary [7]

STONE, n. Gr.

1. A concretion of some species of earth, as lime, silex, clay and the like, usually in combination with some species of air or gas, with sulphur or with a metallic substance a hard compact body, of any form and size. In popular language, very large masses of concretions are called rocks and very small concretions are universally called gravel or sand, or grains of sand. Stones are of various degrees of hardness and weight they are brittle and fusible, but not malleable, ductile, or soluble in water. Stones are of great and extensive use int he construction of buildings of all kinds, for walls, fences, piers, abutments, arches, monuments, sculpture and the like. When we speak of the substance generally, we use stone in the singular as a house or wall of stone. But when we speak of particular separate masses, we say, a stone, or the stones. 2. A gem a precious stone.

Inestimable stones, unvalud jewels.

3. Any thing made of stone a mirror. 4. A calculous concretion in the kidneys or bladder the disease arising from a calculus. 5. A testicle. 6. The nut of a drupe or stone fruit or the hard covering inclosing the kernel, and itself inclosed by the pulpy pericarp. 7. In Great Britain, the weight of fourteen pounds. 8,12,14, or 16. Not used in the United States, except in reference to the riders of horses in races. 8. A monument erected to preserve the memory of the dead.

Should some relentless eye glance on the stone where our cold relics lie--

9. It is used to express torpidness and insensibility as a heart of stone.

I have not yet forgot myself to stone.

10. Stone is prefixed to some words to qualify their signification. Thus stone-dead, is perfectly dead, as lifeless as a stone stone-still, still as a stone, perfectly still stone-blind, blind as a stone, perfectly blind.

To leave no stone unturned, a proverbial expression which signifies to do every thing that can be done to use all practicable means to effect an object.

Meteoric stones, stones which fall from the atmosphere, as after the displosion of a meteor.

Philosophers stone, a pretended substance that was formerly supposed to have the property of turning any other substance into gold.

STONE, a. Made of stone, or like stone as a stone jug.


1. To pelt, beat or kill with stones.

And they stoned Stephen calling on God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.  Acts 7 .

2. To harden.

O perjurd woman, thou dost stone my heart. Little used.

3. To free from stones as, to stone raisins. 4. To wall or face with stones to line or fortify with stones as, to stone a well to stone a cellar.

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(1): ( n.) The glass of a mirror; a mirror.

(2): ( n.) To free from stones; also, to remove the seeds of; as, to stone a field; to stone cherries; to stone raisins.

(3): ( n.) To wall or face with stones; to line or fortify with stones; as, to stone a well; to stone a cellar.

(4): ( n.) A weight which legally is fourteen pounds, but in practice varies with the article weighed.

(5): ( n.) Fig.: Symbol of hardness and insensibility; torpidness; insensibility; as, a heart of stone.

(6): ( n.) A calculous concretion, especially one in the kidneys or bladder; the disease arising from a calculus.

(7): ( n.) A monument to the dead; a gravestone.

(8): ( n.) Concreted earthy or mineral matter; also, any particular mass of such matter; as, a house built of stone; the boy threw a stone; pebbles are rounded stones.

(9): ( n.) A precious stone; a gem.

(10): ( n.) Something made of stone. Specifically: -

(11): ( n.) To rub, scour, or sharpen with a stone.

(12): ( n.) To make like stone; to harden.

(13): ( n.) To pelt, beat, or kill with stones.

(14): ( n.) One of the testes; a testicle.

(15): ( n.) The hard endocarp of drupes; as, the stone of a cherry or peach. See Illust. of Endocarp.

(16): ( n.) A stand or table with a smooth, flat top of stone, commonly marble, on which to arrange the pages of a book, newspaper, etc., before printing; - called also imposing stone.

Holman Bible Dictionary [9]

 Isaiah 5:2 2 Kings 3:25 Nehemiah 4:3 Leviticus 14:38-40 1 Kings 7:9 1 Kings 6:7 Esther 1:6 Genesis 31:46 Joshua 4:1 Joshua 7:26 1 Kings 7:9-12

Single stones were used to close the mouth of cisterns, wells, and tombs ( Genesis 29:2;  Matthew 27:60;  John 11:38 ). They were also used to mark boundaries ( Deuteronomy 19:14 ). The Israelites sometimes consecrated a single stone as a memorial to God ( Genesis 28:18-22;  1 Samuel 7:12 ).

The Old Testament and the New Testament refer to stones being used as lethal weapons. See  1 Samuel 17:49 ) and about the enemies of the Christian faith stoning Stephen ( Acts 7:58 ).

Stones were often used for weights on scales. They were employed for writing documents. The most obvious example is the writing of the Ten Commandments on stone by the Spirit of God when Moses went up on Mount Sinai.

Symbolically, a stone denotes hardness or insensibility ( 1 Samuel 25:37;  Ezekiel 36:26 ). It could also mean firmness and strength. The followers of Christ were called living stones who were built up into the spiritual temple of Christ. Christ himself became the chief cornerstone ( Ephesians 2:20-22;  1 Peter 2:4-8 ). See Minerals And Metals .

Gary Bonner

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

 Genesis 28:18 Joshua 24:26,27 1 Samuel 7:12 Isaiah 5:2 2 Kings 3:19 1 Peter 2:4,5 Psalm 118:22 Isaiah 28:16 Matthew 21:42 Acts 4:11 Daniel 2:45Rock

A "heart of stone" denotes great insensibility (  1 Samuel 25:37 ).

Stones were set up to commemorate remarkable events, as by Jacob at Bethel ( Genesis 28:18 ), at Padan-aram (35:4), and on the occasion of parting with Laban (31:45-47); by Joshua at the place on the banks of the Jordan where the people first "lodged" after crossing the river ( Joshua 6:8 ), and also in "the midst of Jordan," where he erected another set of twelve stones (4:1-9); and by Samuel at "Ebenezer" ( 1 Samuel 7:12 ).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [11]

The allusion in  Revelation 2:17 may be to the practice at the Olympic games of giving the successful competitor a white stone, inscribed with his name and the value of his prize; or to the mode of balloting with black and white stones on the question of the acquittal of an accused person, or his admission to certain privileges; if the stones deposited in the urn by the judges were all white, the decision was favorable. In early ages, flint-stone knives were in common use, instead of steel,   Exodus 4:25   Joshua 5:2 .

It was also customary to raise a heap or mound of stones in commemoration of any remarkable event,  Genesis 31:46   Joshua 4:5-7   7:26   8:29   2 Samuel 18:17 . The same custom still prevails in Syria, and passing travellers are wont to add each one a stone to the heap. See Corner Stone

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

Copyright StatementThese files are public domain. Bibliography InformationMcClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Stone'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.