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  • Writer's pictureDeb Miller Robinson

Stones Are Gifts From Creator.

What is the biblical significance of the 12 stones in the Old Testament?

The 12 stones in the Old Testament are mentioned in Joshua 4:20-24. The 12 stones were picked from the River Jordan just after the Israelites had crossed it by the power of God. Joshua commanded 12 men to pick the 12 stones since they represented the 12 tribes of Israel that are denoted by the names of the sons of Jacob.

These twelve stones were set up as a monument of remembrance of the miraculous river crossing for the generations that were to follow. By seeing the monument, they would honor the God of Israel for His marvelous deeds to His children of Israel.

There is a biblical precedent for laying stones as a memorial to the Lord in order to remember the good things He has done for us.

There are at least three cases of biblical characters laying memorial stones, and these become significant locations throughout biblical history.

Bethel is where Jacob honored his vision.

Gilgal is where Joshua commemorated the Israelites’ miraculous entrance into the Promised Land.

Samuel erects an Ebenezer stone after God thwarts the Philistine’s attack.

What are we doing when we erect stones? • Reignite faith in God • Remind us of what He has done before • Create an atmosphere of worship • Increase our confidence in Jesus


The first Biblical reference to memorial stones comes in Genesis 28: 10-22, when Jacob set a pillar in Bethel to commemorate a powerful vision of God that he experienced while sleeping there. The experience was so striking that Jacob felt that it must be commemorated, so he erected the stone upon which he slept.

Jacob did not want to forget what God had given him. Bethel, meaning ‘House of God’, then became an important centre for worship. By physically remembering what God had done, Jacob increased his faith and the faith of those who later worshipped there.


In Joshua 4:1-8 God commands the Israelites to cross the Jordan River which He has stopped miraculously. Joshua leads the 12 tribes to remove boulders from the riverbed, which they erect in the Promised Land in a place called Gilgal. These 12 stones of Jordan were a memorial to God’s love and miraculous assistance.

However, these stones are appreciating not just by those who witnessed the miracle. Joshua 4:21-22 explains that ‘In the future your children will ask, “What do these stones mean?” Then you can tell them, “This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.”’ God longs for us to proclaim His goodness to future generations. To tell of His miracles.

The remembrance stones in Gilgal reminded future generations of the God of miracles so that their faith would be renewed.


1 Samuel 7:7-12 depicts the Israelites under imminent attack from the Philistines. God leads them to victory, so Samuel erects a large stone and names it Ebenezer, meaning ‘the stone of help’. Samuel recognized the source of their victory and publicly declared it. By commemorating God’s goodness in a permanent way, it ensured that the Israelites would not forget God’s grace. The memorial stones made sure that all glory went to God, the illustrator of Israel’s success. Stones of Gilgal represents 'circle of stones.'

Stones as a memorial monument

The stones in Joshua 4:20-24 were used to set up a memorial monument for the children of Israel. Having experienced the miracle of God drying up the river Jordan, Joshua commanded 12 people from each tribe of Israel to pick 12 stones from the riverbed, which they used to set up the monument in honor of God’s great doing.

Stones as material for writing

In Exodus 34:1, Moses is told God tells Moses to stones and make a tablet upon which the commandments were written. This reveals that stones were also used as writing materials in ancient Israel, where vital information would be written for remembrance.

Stones as coverings for the tomb

In Mark 16:3, three women are recorded to be outside the tomb of Jesus helpless because it was covered with a huge stone. Stones were, therefore, also used to cover tombs in ancient Israel.

Stones as gifts

In 2 Chronicles 9:9, precious stones have been used as gifts. The Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon and brought him gifts of spices, gold, and precious stones. In 1 Chronicles 29, King David offers gifts of precious stones like Onyx to God as an offering for his son Solomon who was about to take over as the king of Israel.

Stones as pillars

In Genesis 31:45-52, Jacob decided to honor his kinship with Laban, so he used stones to set up a pillar of remembrance at Gilgal, where they shared a meal. In Exodus 24:4, Moses sets up a pillar of 12 stones in honor of the 12 tribes of Israel after writing down the commandments of God.

Stones as idols

In 2 Kings 19:18, the stones have been used to make idols for the pagan gods they worship while infuriating God.

Stones as altars for worshipping God

In Joshua 8:31, stones are used to make altars to offer God sacrifices. In this specific verse, the altar is made up of uncut stones. In 1 Kings 18:32-39, Elijah sets up an altar of stone to offer a sacrifice to God after challenging the prophets of Baal to a duel.

Stones as building materials for the house of God

In 1 Chronicle 22:2, stones are used in making the house of God. In this verse, King David orders stone cutters to carve out unique stones to make the temple of God.

Stones as weapons of delivering justice

In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, stones are used to mete out punishment on children who were rebellious to their parents. The parents would report them to the council of elders and surrender them there, where if found guilty, they would be stoned to death. In John 8, the Pharisees visit Jesus with an adulterous woman; they are ready to stone to death as the Law of Moses dictated. In Acts 7:54-60, Stephen is also stoned to death by people who considered His gospel untrue.

In 1 Samuel 17:40, stones are used as weapons. King David picks five stones and heads out to meet Goliath, a giant Philistine who used to torment the Israelites with the stones being his armory.

Stones as decorations to denote royalty

In 1 Chronicles 20:2, a precious stone is used on a king’s crown that David kills. The precious stone has been used as a decoration of royalty and shows the status of a King. In Revelations 21:19, precious stones have been used to decorate the walls of the New Jerusalem, where God is expected to take His people in the end.

It is time that we as believers, look into the original meaning of stones from what Creator - God had purpose for them. We need not fear what new agers stole from the original intent. Mankind has made the meanings into something Creator - God did not intend. If we look deeply we will find the true meaning. Creator made all creation with a purpose and beauty.

I do believe all stones, rocks, precious gems do have a purpose from Creator. I will continue to study this from a biblical view, to dig deeper into Creator's Word. There is much deeper meaning in the original language. Next week I will dive deeper into the gemstones of the breastplate of the High Priest in God's Temple. Jesus is the High Priest now, my belief is there is still mysteries that need to come forth, for us to understand in a deeper way.

Deb Miller Robinson - Eagle Warrior


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Aug 13, 2023

Good word, Deb!

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