A material widely used in building. Its durable nature has been of great aid to archaeologists in gaining some knowledge of the past. Temples, palaces, monuments, and other structures of stone were erected by the Egyptians, Assyrians, and other nations. On many of these structures are pictorial representations and inscriptions relating events, describing victories, and depicting customs, which throw light on their history as well as on their everyday life. The Hebrews used stone widely in buildings (Le 14:40, 41), walls (Ne 4:3; Pr 24:31), altars (Ex 20:25), millstones (Jg 9:53), water vessels (Joh 2:6), weights (Pr 16:11), for covering wells, caves, and tombs (Ge 29:8; Jos 10:18; Joh 11:38), as well as for many other purposes. However, the Hebrews did not erect monuments with pictorial bas-reliefs, as did the pagan nations; consequently little is known about their appearance, the exact styles of their clothing, and so forth. But the Bible provides a richer history of Israel, their manner of life, and their personalities than do the stone remains of any of the other nations.
Stonecutting was a highly developed craft. (2Sa 5:11; 1Ki 5:18) The stones for the temple of Solomon at Jerusalem were cut at the quarry so that they fitted together at the temple site without further shaping.—1Ki 6:7.
Figurative Use. Anointed Christians on earth are likened to a temple, Jesus Christ being its “foundation cornerstone.” (See CORNERSTONE.) Upon this “foundation cornerstone,” the spirit-begotten followers of Christ “as living stones are being built up a spiritual house.” The Jewish religious leaders, as national “builders,” rejected Jesus as “the chief cornerstone,” stumbling over this stone because they were disobedient to God’s Word.—Eph 2:19-22; 1Pe 2:4-8; Mt 21:42; Mr 12:10; Lu 20:17; Ro 9:32, 33.
God’s Kingdom is likened to a stone “cut out not by hands,” a stone that will crush and put an end to the kingdoms pictured by the various parts of the image. This Kingdom will itself stand “to times indefinite.”—Da 2:34, 44, 45.
At Revelation 2:17, the glorified Christ Jesus promises concerning the Christian conqueror: “I will give him a white pebble [“stone,” KJ], and upon the pebble a new name written which no one knows except the one receiving it.” The word “pebble” here translates the Greek word pseʹphon. The apostle Paul uses the word when he recounts his former persecution of Christians, saying: “I cast my vote [pseʹphon; literally, (voting) pebble] against them.” (Ac 26:10) Pebbles were used in courts of justice in rendering judgment or voicing an opinion of either innocence or guilt. White pebbles were used for pronouncing innocence, acquittal; black ones for pronouncing guilt, condemnation. The white pebble given to the conqueror therefore appears to mean Jesus’ judgment of him as innocent, pure, clean, passing Christ’s approval as a disciple.