Pillars, plaques, buildings or other markers are often set up as monumental reminders of some person or some special event. A few of such are mentioned in the Bible, though not usually designated as monuments.—Ps. 49:11; Dan. 4:30.
Jehovah appeared to Jacob in a night vision, confirming the Abrahamic covenant toward him. (c. 1781 B.C.E.) In commemoration, Jacob took the stone he had used as a pillow, set it up to resemble a pillar and anointed it with oil. He then called the place Bethel. (Gen. 28:10-19) Some twenty years later Jacob and Laban, upon concluding a covenant of peace between themselves, set up a pillar, also a heap of stones in the mountainous region of Gilead, there to serve as a reminder of their agreement. (Gen. 31:25, 44-52) When Jehovah brought Israel into the Promised Land (1473 B.C.E.), two monuments were set up at the place where they crossed the Jordan River, one in midstream and the other at Gilgal on the W bank of the river, at Gilgal. These were to be memorial signs commemorating that miraculous crossing, and when their sons thereafter asked what these monuments represented, their fathers were to recount what Jehovah had done in behalf of his people.—Josh. 4:4-9, 20-24.
Following his victory over the Amalekites, King Saul erected “a monument [Heb., yadh] for himself.” (1 Sam. 15:12) The Hebrew word yadh, most often translated “hand,” can also mean “monument,” for like an uplifted hand that catches the eye and directs attention in a specific way, so also a monument calls people’s attention to certain things.
Absalom’s Monument (Heb., yadh) was in the form of a pillar like so many others. Absalom erected it on the Low Plain of the King not far from Jerusalem, because, as he said “I have no son in order to keep my name in remembrance.” (2 Sam. 18:18) However, today nothing is known of that monument or its location beyond what the Bible tells us. It should not be confused with the so-called tomb in the Kidron valley that ecclesiastical tradition attributes to Absalom but that belongs to the Graeco-Roman period of architecture.—See ABSALOM’S MONUMENT.
Like Absalom, eunuchs have no hope of a posterity to carry on their names. However, if they are faithful to Jehovah, and not like treasonous Absalom, Jehovah promises to give them “something better than sons and daughters,” namely, to “give to them in my house and within my walls a monument [Heb., yadh] and a name . . . A name to time indefinite I shall give them, one that will not be cut off.” (Isa. 56:4, 5) By contrast “the very name of the wicked ones will rot.”—Prov. 10:7; compare 22:1.
Gravestones were also set up as memory aids, as for example, the one that marked “the burial place of the man of the true God” who foretold what Josiah would do against the altar at Bethel. (2 Ki. 23:16-18; 1 Ki. 13:1, 2) Road markers and signposts are in a sense temporary monuments erected to indicate direction or to remind passersby of certain things of particular interest.—Jer. 31:21; Ezek. 39:15.