From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

Pillar . 1 . With two or three unimportant exceptions, ‘pillar’ in OT is the rendering of two very distinct Heb. terms, ‘ammûd and mazzçbâh . The former denotes in most cases for a conspicuous exception see Jachin and Boaz a pillar or column supporting the roof or other part of a building (  Judges 16:25 f.,   1 Kings 7:2 f.), also the pillars from which the hangings of the Tabernacle were suspended (  Exodus 26:32 and oft.). From this sense the transition is easy to a column of smoke (  Judges 20:40 ), and to the ‘ pillar of cloud ’ and the ‘ pillar of fire ’ of the Exodus and the Wanderings (  Exodus 13:21 etc.). The further transition to the figurative use of the term ‘pillar,’ which alone prevails in NT (  Galatians 2:9 ,   1 Timothy 3:15 ,   Revelation 3:12;   Revelation 10:1 ), may be seen in   Job 9:6;   Job 26:11 passages reflecting an antique cosmogony in which the pillars of earth and heaven were actual supports.

2 . It is with the second of the two terms above cited, the mazzçbâh , that this article has mainly to deal. Derived from a root common to the Semitic family, mazzçbâh denotes something ‘set up’ on end, in particular an upright stone, whether it he a megalithic monument, such as the stones known to contemporary archæology as menhirs or ‘standing stones,’ or a less imposing funerary stele. Three varieties of mazzçbâhs may be distinguished in OT.

( a ) For reasons that will appear at a later stage, our survey may start from the stone erected over a grave or elsewhere as a memorial of the dead. The mazzçbâh set up by Jacob upon the grave of Rachel (  Genesis 35:20 ) was of this kind. This was the prevailing application of the term among the PhÅ“nicians (see Cooke, Text-book of N. Sem. Inscrips . 60). To this category may also be reckoned the memorial pillar which Absalom erected for himself in his own lifetime (  2 Samuel 18:18 ).

( b ) In a second group may be placed the stones set up to commemorate, or, in Biblical phrase, ‘for a witness’ of, some important incident (  Genesis 31:44 f.,   Joshua 24:27 ) in particular the appearance or manifestation of a Divine being (a theophany) at a given spot. Such, in the present form of the story for the probable original form, see § 4 below was the stone which Jacob set up and anointed at Bethel (  Genesis 28:18;   Genesis 28:22; cf.   Genesis 31:13;   Genesis 35:14 ). Other examples of mazzçbâhs , interpreted by the Heb. historians as commemorative monuments, are the stone Ebenezer of   1 Samuel 7:12 , and the cromlech ( gilgal ) set up by Joshua after the crossing of the Jordan ‘for a memorial unto the children of Israel’ (  Joshua 4:7 ).

( c ) The third and most important class of mazzçbâhs comprises the pillar-stones which stood beside the altar at every Canaanite sanctuary (see High Place). For this class AV [Note: Authorized Version.] has the misleading term ‘image’ (except   Deuteronomy 12:3 ), for which RV [Note: Revised Version.] has substituted ‘pillar,’ with ‘ obelisk ’ in the margin. That the local sanctuaries, in most cases taken over from the Canaanites, at which the Hebrews worshipped J″ [Note: Jahweh.] were provided with such pillar-stones, is evident both from the references in   Hosea 3:4;   Hosea 10:1 f., and from the repeated condemnation of them in the successive law codes (  Exodus 34:13;   Exodus 23:24 ,   Deuteronomy 7:5;   Deuteronomy 12:3 etc.), and by the Deuteronomic historians (  1 Kings 14:23 , 2Ki 18:4;   2 Kings 23:14 [for Judah]   2 Kings 17:10 [Israel]).

A special variety of pillar associated with idolatrous worship emerges in the later writings, the chammânîm or sun-pillars (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘images,’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘ sun-images ’). They were probably connected with sun-worship (Lagrange, Études sur les relig. Sémit . 2 314 f.).

3 . The OT evidence for the mazzçbâhs as an indispensable part of the furnishing of a Canaanite high place has been confirmed in a remarkable degree by the excavations of recent years, in the course of which pillar-stones of diverse shapes and sizes have been brought to light. Even to summarize the archæological evidence would extend this article beyond due limits (see Vincent, Canaan d’après l’exploration récente [1907], 102 115; Benzinger, Heb. Arch . 2 [1907], 321 ff.; Kittel, Studien zur heb. Arch . [1908], 126 ff.). It must suffice to refer briefly to the magnificent series of mazzçbâhs which formed part of the high place at Gezer (for full details see PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , 1903, 23 ff., and Macalister, Bible Sidelights , etc., 54 ff.). Originally ten in number, eight of them are still standing in situ . ‘They are unhewn blocks, simply set on end and supported at the base by smaller stones … and range in height from 10 ft. 6 in. to 5 ft. 5 in.’ The smaller dimensions are those of the second stone of the series, which is supposed to have been the original beth-el (see next §) of the high place. The fact that this stone, alone of the group, has its top smooth and polished, as if by long-continued anointing on the part of the worshippers, is greatly in favour of this view. Several of the larger stones are provided with cavities, either at the top or in one side. This provision, which is also characteristic of the mazzçbâhs found at Taanach and Megiddo, must evidently, as will presently appear, have some relation to the ritual of the worship of these ancient sanctuaries.

4 . It now remains to deal with a question which may be thus formulated, What significance did the Canaanites, and the Hebrews after them, attach to these mazzçbâhs , and what place did they hold in the ancient cult? This question can hardly be approached without a reference to the still unsolved problem of the religious significance of ‘standing stones’ all the world over. This world-wide phenomenon ‘must rest on some cause which was operative in all primitive religions’ (W. R. Smith, RS [Note: S Religion of the Semites.] 2 209). It will probably be found, on consideration of all the conditions to be satisfied, that the desire to appease the spirit of the dead lies at the beginning, while the conception of the pillar-stone as a representation of the deity, beside the altar dedicated to his worship, comes at the end of a long process of evolution. On this view, a stone, over or beside the grave of the dead, afforded, to the primitive mind, a convenient abode for the departed spirit, when it chose to return to receive the homage and offerings of the living. The blood of the sacrifice was poured over the stone, and thus brought into contact with the indwelling spirit (cf. the cup-marks on the cap-stones of the dolmens on the east of the Jordan and elsewhere). With this desire to do honour to the dead, the idea of keeping alive his memory by a conspicuous or upright stone was sooner or later associated. When and where higher ideas of the spirit world prevailed, the mazzçbâh became a memorial stone and nothing more, as in group ( a ) above.

The belief that a stone might become the abode of any numen marked a distinct step in advance. In   Genesis 28:1-22 it is admitted that we have a later adaptation of a Canaanite temple myth, which explained the origin of the sanctuary at Bethel, and especially the sanctity attaching to the original beth-el , i.e. , the abode of an el or numen (  Genesis 28:22 ), round which the sanctuary grew up. In the original form of the story the anointing of the stone was an offering to the indwelling numen . The second of the Gezer mazzçbâhs shows an exact counterpart to this. The cavities in the other recently discovered mazzçbâhs , above mentioned, were no doubt originally intended to receive similar offerings of blood, wioe, or oil (cf.   Genesis 35:14 ).

When this fetish worship had been outgrown, the mazzçbâh became merely a symbol or representation of the deity , who had his horme elsewhere. The conical pillar standing in the court of the temple of Astarte, as represented on the coins of Byblus, is an illustration of this higher conception. We may be sure that the worshippers of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] regarded the Canaanite mazzçbâhs in this light from the first. But the danger of contamination was great (see High Place, § 6 ), and the condemnation of the mazzçbâhs is a recurring feature of all the law codes (reff. above).

5 . Another unsolved problem may be mentioned in conclusion. What is the relation of the mazzçbâh to the altar  ? Shall we say, with the distinguished author of the Religion of the Semites 9 (p. 204), that ‘the altar is a differentiated form of the primitive rude stone pillar, the nosb or massebah  ; or, with the latest investigator, that ‘the massebah is nothing else than the artificial substitute for the sacrificial stone’ (Kittel, op. cit. 129, 134)? If the views expressed in the previous section are correct, the second alternative offers the more probable solution. The pillar will then be a differentiated form of the most ancient altar (Altar, §§ 1. 2 ), the cause of the differentiation, as we have seen, being the desire to commemorate, as well as to appease, the dead.

A. R. S. Kennedy.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

The pillar (στύλος) is the symbol of stability and firmness, that which upholds and sustains. Its figurative use is confined to the NT, in the following passages.

1.  Galatians 2:9.-Ἰάκωβος καὶ Κηφᾶς καὶ Ἰωάνης, οἱ δοκοῦντες στύλοι εἶναι, ‘James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars.’ στύλοι, which was used quite commonly as a descriptive title for the great Rabbis, here refers to those already mentioned ( Galatians 2:2) ‘who were of repute’-the recognized leaders, and (v. 6) ‘those who were reputed to be somewhat’-considerable persons, ‘those who are the great authorities with you Galatians now’ (Ellicott, in loc.).

2.  1 Timothy 3:15.-ἥτις (sc. οἶκος) ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος, στύλος καὶ ἐδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας, ‘which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground (stay) of the truth.’ ἑδραίωμα is ἅπαξ λεγ. in both classical and NT Greek. ‘House of God’ in the OT denoted, in the first place, the Temple, and then, by metonymy, the covenant people-familia Dei. Here it stands for the congregation of believers among whom God dwells. Hort (The Christian Ecclesia, p. 172 ff.) renders, ‘a household of God, which is an Ecclesia of a living God, a pillar and stay of the truth,’ and contends that the absence of the article is not immaterial, and says, in opposition to the rendering in the RV_: ‘There is no clear evidence that the rare word ἑδραίωμα ever means “ground” = “foundation.” It is rather, in accordance with the almost universal Latin rendering firmamentum, a “stay” or “bulwark.” St. Paul’s idea then is that each living society of Christian men is a pillar and stay of “the truth” as an object of belief and a guide of life for mankind, each such Christian society bearing its part in sustaining and supporting the one truth common to all’ (cf. ExpT_ viii. [1896-97] 471). The reference would then be to the local Church of Ephesus. But a large body of interpreters favour the rendering of the AV_ and the RV_-the whole society of believers, the Church universal, is regarded as the ground and stay of the truth (cf. J. Strachan, Westminster NT, ‘The Captivity and the Pastoral Epistles,’ London, 1910, p. 218). The Church is first pictured as a house, inhabited by a living God, and then, by a quick change of metaphor, is described as στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα, holding up the truth, the saving truth of the gospel. Attempts have been made to avoid the mixture of metaphor by referring ‘pillar’ and ‘stay’ to Timothy himself. But, though there is no insuperable objection to this, it is not needful. ‘There is no intolerable mixture of metaphors in speaking of Christians first as a house and then as a pillar, any more than in speaking of any one as both a pillar and a basis. In  1 Timothy 6:9 we have the covetous falling into a snare and hurtful lusts such as drown men’ (A. Plummer, Expositor’s Bible, ‘The Pastoral Epistles,’ London, 1888, p. 131 n._).

3.  Revelation 3:12.-ὁ νικῶν ποιήσω αὐτὸν στύλον ἐν τῷ ναῷ τοῦ θεοῦ μου, καὶ ἔξω οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃ ἔτι, ‘He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple (sanctuary) of my God, and he shall go out thence no more.’ The letter to the Church of Philadelphia ‘gives the pledge of safety from the hour of trial, of steadiness like the pillar of a temple, of everlasting guarantee against disaster and eviction, of exaltation above the enemies who now contemn and insult.… It was always in dread of the last hour of trial, and was always kept from it. It stood like a pillar, the symbol of stability and strength’ (Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, p. 411 f.). The history of Philadelphia does not belie the splendid promise made to its church. It stood like a pillar against the troubles of the times, and a bulwark of civilization. The town is still largely Christian (cf. EBi_ iii. 3692). ‘Philadelphia alone has been saved by prophecy, or courage.… Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins: a pleasing example that the paths of honour and safety may sometimes be the same’ (E. Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vii.2 [1902] p. 27). It has been said that among the few ruins of Philadelphia there are four strong marble pillars standing in one spot, and on the sides of these pillars inscriptions are found. W. M. Ramsay (op. cit.) traces in the promise to this church suggestive references, which, he thinks, a Philadelphian could not fail to discover, e.g. to the disasters and earthquakes common to the district: ‘he that overcometh shall never again require to go out and take refuge in the open country. The city which had suffered so much and so long from instability was to be rewarded with the Divine firmness and steadfastness.’

Augustine (quoted by R. C. Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia3, London, 1867, p. 188) says: ‘Quis non desideret illam civitatem, unde amicus non exit, quo inimicus non intrat?’

The majority of commentators, followed by the RV_, take the name as written upon the victor and not on the pillar (the metaphor being dropped), but De Wette adopts the latter rendering, so that στῦλοι become also στῆλαι. As to the inscription itself, Ramsay (op. cit.) contends that there are not three names, but one ‘which has all three characters, and is at once the name of God, the name of the Church, and the new name of Christ.’

Literature.-F. J. A. Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, London, 1897; W. M. Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, do., 1904; P. Brooks, The Candle of the Lord, do., 1881, p. 60 f.; C. J. Ellicott, NT Commentary, 1884, in loc.

W. M. Grant.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [3]

The pillar of cloud, and the pillar of fire in the wilderness, which went before and followed Israel, were among the symbols of the divine presence. I do not presume to say as much, or to decide upon a subject of such infinite importance; but, when we take into one mass of particulars, all that we read of the Lord Jesus Christ in those early ages of the church, methinks I cannot hesitate to believe, that it was Christ that they went before, and that thus surrounded his people during their whole eventful history. Jacob at Bethel, and Moses at the bush, had real views of JEHOVAH'S glory and fulness in Christ. The manifestation made on both occasions as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, plainly shows that the covenant of redemption, in the seed of the woman, was the great and leading cause of all. And as the Holy Ghost hath graciously been pleased in so many words to tell the church, that the Rock which followed Israel was Christ; ( 1 Corinthians 10:4) it should seem as if this was intended by the blessed Spirit, to act as a key for opening; similar manifestation to the church in those other tokens of divine, love, which appear in their wonderful history. Nothing can be more blessed in confirmation of the Redeemer's love to his church and people, than thus beholding him in the "pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of are by night," conducting and guarding them through all their journey: And as then, so now, every manifestation, under all the various forms of it, was intended to show the church the love he bore to them, and to lead his people into the most endearing views of love and good will. And hence; the sacred writers, through the several parts of sacred Scriptures, keep up the remembrance of those manifestations in the wilderness, as so many proofs of the Lord's presence with his people. We are told that "when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, all the people rose up, and stood every man at, his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses." ( Exodus 33:8-9) So again the Psalmist saith, that "he spake unto them in the cloudy pillar." ( Psalms 99:7) Who was it spake unto them but, God in Christ? Surely all that we hear from God is received in him, and by him, and through him, who is the only Mediator, the Glory-man Christ Jesus. For the Holy Ghost, by John the apostle, tells the church that no man hath seen God at any time; but he graciously adds, that "the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." ( John 1:18) And what then can be more plain and evident in proof that Christ is the visible Jehovah and by whom alone all revelations are made? I need not add what endearing representations all those things made of his person and his love to his church, when taken into one mass of particulars, which we read of Christ under such a vast variety of manifestations which he hath made of himself.

The word pillar is sometimes used in the language of Scripture to denote the church of the Lord Jesus, Thus the Holy Ghost, by Paul, calls the church "the pillar and ground of truth." ( 1 Timothy 3:15) And it is not a violence to the expression to consider this as in allusion to her Lord, who is the Head of his body the church. For if Jesus be the pillar of cloud, and the pillar of fire; and if, as it is said, "the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night," ( Isaiah 4:5) —surely there is a great propriety that his church should be called after the name of her Lord, He is the pillar of cloud and of fire; and she by him is made the pillar and ground of truth; and hence his servants who minister in his name shall be called pillars in his temple. "Him that overcometh, saith Jesus, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God." ( Revelation 3:11) (See  Proverbs 9:1) Hence the Lord saith to Jeremiah, ( Jeremiah 1:18) "Behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar." (See  Galatians 2:9) And very blessed it is to see, that while Christ is the foundation stone JEHOVAH hath laid in Zion, all his redeemed ones are built upon this foundation, and are lively stones and pillars in this spiritual house, "to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ." ( 1 Peter 2:5)

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [4]

 Exodus 33:9 (a) This wonderful cloud so mysterious in its composition, and its actions undoubtedly represents the Holy Spirit. He went with Israel, guiding them before, and protecting them behind. This pillar is more fully revealed as the Holy Spirit in the book of Ezekiel. (See also  Psalm 99:7).

 Job 9:6 (b) This probably represent the uncertainty of life. In this figurative language, Job is describing the mighty power of GOD. In the midst of his own unusual losses, he is realizing that GOD can shake the Heaven and the earth, and break all laws that pertain to the hanging of the earth in space. (See also  Psalm 75:3).

 Proverbs 9:1 (a) The seven pillars mentioned here probably are knowledge, discretion, judgment, understanding, equity, righteousness, justice. It is upon these substantial, basic principles that our civilization rests secure and progress is made possible.

 Song of Solomon 3:6 (c) This peculiar figure may represent the case and the certainty of the presence of GOD in one's life. The pillar of smoke drifts easily, without noise, and without effort. So we realize the loving presence of the living GOD.

 Song of Solomon 5:15 (a) It is said that athletes must have firm, substantial legs in order to endure whether it be in wrestling or prize fighting or on the track. Our Lord must be telling us here that the legs of marble represent the stability, firmness and untiring endurance of the Lord Jesus in all His ministry for us, to us, and with us.

 Joel 2:30 (b) The chronology of this passage is uncertain. It probably refers to the time of the end when GOD's judgment will be poured out on the physical earth, and it will be burned up with terrific heat because of the wickedness of rebellious men.

 Galatians 2:9 (a) This is a symbol of the substantial and stalwart character of the man of GOD who occupies a prominent and responsible place in the church.

 Revelation 3:12 (a) Here we see a type of the blessed position and condition which will be granted to the Christian who lives for GOD, honors His Name, and fulfills His requirements as mentioned in this passage.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

There are several Hebrew words translated 'pillar': the principal are

1. matstsebah, from 'to set, put, place;' and hence anything that is set up. It is used for the stone that Jacob had had for a pillow, which he set up, and on which he poured oil and made his vow. Also for the heap of stones he raised when Laban and he parted.  Genesis 28:18,22;  Genesis 31:13,45-52;  Genesis 35:14,20;  Exodus 24:4;  Isaiah 19:19 . From  Deuteronomy 12:3 it would appear that pillars of some sort were also connected with idolatry. These may resemble the cairns often found in what were idolatrous lands. Absalom raised up for himself a pillar to keep his name in remembrance because he had no son.   2 Samuel 18:18 .

2. The word ammud occurs many times for the pillars of the tabernacle and the temple. It is also used for the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire; also symbolically for the pillars of the heavens and the pillars of the earth.  Exodus 13:21;  Exodus 27:10-17;  1 Kings 7:2-42;  Job 9:6;  Job 26:11;  Psalm 75:3;  Ezekiel 40:49;  Ezekiel 42:6 .

In the N.T. the word is στύλος, 'a pillar or column.' James, Cephas and John seemed to be 'pillars' in the church at Jerusalem — those to whom matters were referred, as they were afterwards to Paul.  Galatians 2:9 . The church of God is "the pillar and ground of the truth" — the witness that maintains the truth on earth.  1 Timothy 3:15 . The word occurs also in  Revelation 3:12;  Revelation 10:1 .

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

matstsebah amudim  Genesis 35:20 2 Samuel 18:18

2. Shrines both to the Lord and to false gods. Graven images often were pillars set up as gods. God commanded Israel to break down such “images” (Hebrew matstseboth  ;  Exodus 23:24 ). The Canaanites erected pillars at their places of worship, and probably influenced Israelite practice. Archaeologists found pillars, at Gezer. Jacob set up a pillar following his dream ( Genesis 28:18 ) and again when God spoke to him at Bethel ( Genesis 35:9-15 ) as memorials of God's revelation. Moses set up twelve pillars to commemorate the giving of the law to the tribes of Israel ( Exodus 24:4 ).

3. As structural supports, pillars were used extensively. The tabernacle used pillars for the veil ( Exodus 26:31-32 ), the courts ( Exodus 27:9-15 ), and the gate ( Exodus 27:16 ). The Temple in Jerusalem used pillars for its support ( 1 Kings 7:2-3 ), and the porch had pillars ( 1 Kings 7:6 ). Figuratively, pillars were believed to hold up heaven ( Job 26:11 ) and earth ( 1 Samuel 2:8 ).

4. God led Israel through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night ( Exodus 13:21; compare  Exodus 14:19-20 ). These pillars were symbols of God's presence with Israel as much as signs of where they were to go.

5. Solomon's Temple had two free-standing brass pillars ( 1 Kings 7:15 ). See Jachin And Boaz .

Mike Mitchell

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [7]

1: Στῦλος (Strong'S #4769 — Noun Masculine — stulos — stoo'-los )

"a column supporting the weight of a building," is used (a) metaphorically, of those who bear responsibility in the churches, as of the elders in the church at Jerusalem,  Galatians 2:9; of a local church as to its responsibility, in a collective capacity, to maintain the doctrines of the faith by teaching and practice,  1—Timothy 3:15; some would attach this and the next words to the statement in ver. 16; the connection in the Eng. versions seems preferable; (b) figuratively in  Revelation 3:12 , indicating a firm and permanent position in the spiritual, heavenly and eternal Temple of God; (c) illustratively, of the feet of the angel in the vision in  Revelation 10:1 , seen as flames rising like columns of fire indicative of holiness and consuming power, and thus reflecting the glory of Christ as depicted in  Revelation 1:15; cp.  Ezekiel 1:7 .

King James Dictionary [8]

PIL'LAR, n. L. pila, a pile, a pillar, a mortar and pestle. The L. pila denotes a heap, or things thrown, put or driven together.

Literally, a pile or heap hence,

1. A kind or irregular column round an insulate, but deviating from the proportions of a just column. Pillars are either too massive or too slender for regular architecture they are not restricted to any rules, and their parts and proportions are arbitrary. A square pillar is a massive work, called also a pier or piedroit, serving to support arches. &c. 2. A supporter that which sustains or upholds that on which some superstructure rests.  Galatians 2 3. A monument raised to commemorate any person or remarkable transaction.

And Jacob set a pillar on her grave.  Genesis 35;  2 Samuel 18

4. Something resembling a pillar as a pillar of salt.  Genesis 19

So a pillar of a cloud, a pillar of fire.  Exodus 13

5. Foundation support.  Job 9 6. In ships, a square or round timber fixed perpendicularly under the middle of the beams for supporting the decks. 7. In the manege, the center of the volta, ring or manege ground, around which a horse turns. There are also pillars on the circumference or side, placed at certain distances by two and two.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [9]

Pillar. The notion of a pillar is of A Shaft Or Isolated Pile Either Supporting Or Not Supporting A Roof. But, perhaps, the earliest application of the pillar was The Votive or Monumental. This, in early times, consisted of nothing but a single stone or pile of stones.  Genesis 28:18;  Genesis 31:40; etc.

The stone Ezel,  1 Samuel 20:19, was probably a terminal stone or a way-mark. The "place" set up by Saul,  1 Samuel 15:12, is explained by St, Jerome to be a trophy. So also, Jacob set up a pillar over Rachel's grave.  Genesis 36:20.

The monolithic tombs and obelisks of Petra are instances of similar usage. Lastly, the figurative use of the term "pillar," in reference to the cloud and fire, accompanying the Israelites on their march, or as in  Song of Solomon 3:6, and  Revelation 10:1, is plainly derived from the notion, of an isolated column, not supporting a roof.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [10]

'Ayil ( אַיִל , Strong'S #352), “pillar.” This word appears 22 times and only once outside Ezek. 40-41: “And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree: the lintel [pillar] and side posts were a fifth part of the wall” (1 Kings 6:31).

Matstsêbâh ( מַצֵּבָה , Strong'S #4676), “pillar; monument; sacred stone.” This word is derived from the verb nashab , and it is found about 35 times. This word refers to a “pillar” as a personal memorial in 2 Sam. 18:18: “Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar … and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom’s place.” In Gen. 28:18 the “monument” is a memorial of the Lord’s appearance. Matstsêbâh is used in connection with the altar built by Moses in Exod. 24:4, and it refers to “sacred stones or pillars.”

Webster's Dictionary [11]

(1): ( a.) Having a support in the form of a pillar, instead of legs; as, a pillar drill.

(2): ( n.) The general and popular term for a firm, upright, insulated support for a superstructure; a pier, column, or post; also, a column or shaft not supporting a superstructure, as one erected for a monument or an ornament.

(3): ( n.) Figuratively, that which resembles such a pillar in appearance, character, or office; a supporter or mainstay; as, the Pillars of Hercules; a pillar of the state.

(4): ( n.) A portable ornamental column, formerly carried before a cardinal, as emblematic of his support to the church.

(5): ( n.) The center of the volta, ring, or manege ground, around which a horse turns.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [12]

properly means a column raised to support a building; but in Scripture the term mostly occurs in a metaphorical or figurative sense. Thus we have a pillar of cloud, a pillar of fire, a pillar of smoke, &c; signifying a cloud, a fire, a smoke raised up toward heaven in the form or shape of a pillar,  Exodus 13:21;  Judges 20:40 . Job speaks of the pillars of heaven and the pillars of the earth,  Job 9:6;  Job 26:11; which are strong metaphorical expressions, that suppose the heavens and the earth to be an edifice raised by the hand of the almighty Creator, and founded upon its basis. St. Paul speaks of the Christian church under the similitude of a pillar or column on which the truth, or doctrine of the glorious Gospel is inscribed,  1 Timothy 3:15 .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [13]

Sometimes means a monumental column,  Genesis 35:20   2 Samuel 18:18; or a column of cloud or smoke,  Exodus 13:21   Judges 20:40 . The stately column which adorns and supports the front of a temple,  Judges 16:25-30   Job 9:6   26:11 , illustrates the position of prophets,  Jeremiah 1:18 , apostles,  Galatians 2:9 , believers,  Revelation 3:12 , and the church itself, respecting the truth,  1 Timothy 3:15 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [14]

 Judges 16:26,29 Genesis 28:18 35:20 Exodus 24:4 1 Samuel 15:12 2 Samuel 18:18 Exodus 13:2 Judges 9:6  Joshua 24:26

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

Copyright StatementThese files are public domain. Bibliography InformationMcClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Pillar'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/pillar.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [16]

pil´ar ( מצּבה , maccēbhāh , עמּוּד , ‛ammūdh  ; στῦλος , stúlos ): In a good many cases the Revised Version (British and American) substitutes "pillars" for the King James Version "images" ( maccēbhōh ,   Exodus 34:13;  Deuteronomy 7:5;  1 Kings 14:23 , etc.). In  Genesis 19:26 , where "pillar of salt" is given, the word is necı̄bh  ; in  1 Samuel 2:8 it is mācūḳ  ; while in most other single uses the Revised Version margin gives variant renderings, as in  Judges 9:6 ( muccābh ), the Revised Version margin "garrison"; in  1 Kings 10:12 ( miṣ‛ādh ), the Revised Version margin "'a railing,' Hebrew 'a prop'"; in  2 Kings 18:16 ( 'ōmenōth ), the Revised Version margin "doorposts." The maccēbhōh were (1) memorial pillars, as in the "pillars" of Jacob at Bethel ( Genesis 28:18 ,  Genesis 28:22; compare  Genesis 31:13;  Genesis 35:14 ), in covenant with Laban ( Genesis 31:45 ff), at Rachel's grave (  Genesis 35:20 ); Absalom's pillar ( 2 Samuel 18:18 ). Such pillars were legitimate (theory of a fetishistic character is not grounded); it is predicted in  Isaiah 19:19 that such a pillar would be set up to Yahweh at the border of Egypt. (2) Idolatrous pillars, in Canaanitish and other heathen worships. These were to be ruthlessly broken down (the King James Version "images," see above;   Exodus 23:24;  Exodus 34:13;  Deuteronomy 7:5 , etc.; compare  Leviticus 26:1 ). See Images . The other word, ‛ammūdh , is used of the pillar of cloud and fire (see below); of the pillars of the tabernacle and temple (see under the word); of the two pillars Jachin And Boaz (which see); poetically of the "pillars" of heaven, of earth ( Job 9:6;  Job 26:11;  Psalm 75:3;  Psalm 99:7 ), etc. In the few instances of the word in the New Testament, the use is figurative . James, Cephas and John were reputed to be pillars" of the church at Jerusalem ( Galatians 2:9 ); the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" ( 1 Timothy 3:15 ); he that overcomes is made "a pillar" in the temple of God ( Revelation 3:12 ); a strong angel had feet "as pillars of fire" ( Revelation 10:1 ).

Pillar of Cloud and Fire:

The visible manifestation of the divine presence in the journeyings of Israel at the time of the Exodus. Yahweh, it is narrated, went before the people "by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light .... The pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people" ( Exodus 13:21 ,  Exodus 13:22; compare  Exodus 14:19 ,  Exodus 14:24;  Numbers 14:14 ). When the congregation was at rest, the cloud abode over the tabernacle ( Exodus 40:36;  Numbers 9:17;  Numbers 14:14 ). When Yahweh wished to communicate His will to Moses, the pillar descended to the door of the Tent of Meeting ( Exodus 33:9-11;  Numbers 12:5;  Deuteronomy 31:15 ). These descriptions are not to be rationalistically explained; what is depicted is a true theophany. Criticism has sought to establish discrepancies between the allusions to the cloud in the Je and the P parts of the narrative, but these are not made out without straining; e.g. it is not the case that Je alone represents Yahweh as speaking with Moses in the cloud at the door of the tabernacle. The same representation is found in  Exodus 29:42 ,  Exodus 29:43 , ascribed to Pillar. An acute discussion of the alleged discrepancies may be seen in H.M. Wiener, Essays in Pentateuchal Criticism , 82 ff.