An open-pit excavation from which various types of stone are cut. Limestone and marble, lying near the surface, are thus quarried. A large area near the present Damascus Gate of Jerusalem is believed to have been an ancient quarry. The first reference to such a place is at Joshua 7:4, 5, where it is reported that about 3,000 Israelites fled from Ai as far as Shebarim, meaning “Quarries.” When Solomon prepared to build the temple, he commanded that great foundation stones be quarried from the mountains of Lebanon, and tens of thousands of men were conscripted for the work. (1Ki 5:13-18; 6:7) When it was necessary to repair the temple in the days of Jehoash, hewers of stone were hired for the work. (2Ki 12:11, 12) The tomb where Jesus was buried was one quarried out of rock.—Mt 27:59, 60; Mr 15:46.
Using an eloquent metaphor, Jehovah, by the mouth of Isaiah, calls to mind the quarry and its operation. (Isa 51:1) As indicated in the succeeding verse, “the rock” was apparently Abraham, as the human source of the nation, and “the hollow of the pit” was Sarah, whose pitlike womb bore Israel’s ancestor Isaac. (Isa 51:2) However, since the birth of Isaac was by divine power and a miraculous act, the metaphoric quarrying may also have a higher spiritual application. Thus, Deuteronomy 32:18 refers to Jehovah as “The Rock who fathered” Israel, the “One bringing you forth [the same verb used of Sarah at Isa 51:2] with childbirth pains.”
Sometimes the product of the quarry was called by the same name. Hence the Hebrew word pesi·limʹ, rendered “quarries” at Judges 3:19, 26, is elsewhere translated “graven images.” (De 7:5; Ps 78:58; Isa 10:10) For this reason some have suggested that it may have been at a grove of such pagan gods, the product of the quarry, that Ehud turned back to pay Eglon a personal visit. Most translators, however, prefer the rendering “quarries.”
Old quarries where partially finished work was abandoned have shed some light on the ancient methods of quarrying. Narrow channels were cut deep in the rock. Into these, dry wood was driven, where it was then made to swell with water until the rock split along its cleavage lines. In Roman times, stones weighing as much as five or ten tons were quarried some distance from the building sites. These were then moved on rollers or on sledges, the power being supplied by great armies of slave labor.