As a part of Israel's remembrance of the 9th of Av, the Israel Antiquities Authority made public their findings of a research project that investigated the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD. They report that one of the primary weapons used to destroy the temple was an instrument called a ballista. This is an ancient missile launcher with wooden frames and a central band of twisted ropes made into a sling. On 8/8/22 All Israel News reported the discovery of a stockpile of chiseled stones, what the Romans called "ballista stones." Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote about them being used to penetrate the northwest side of the wall in Jerusalem.
I find it fascinating that it was catapulted stones that destroyed the Temple. It also interesting that the prescribed way to punish many crimes in Israel during Biblical days was through execution by stoning. Here are the crimes that required stoning, as taken from the Old Testament: Idolatry (Leviticus 20:2-5), Sorcery (Leviticus 20:27), Blasphemy (Leviticus 24:14-16), Picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:31-36), Inciting others to apostasy (Deuteronomy 13:6-10), Worship of false gods (Deuteronomy 17:2-7), Rebellion against parents (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), Sexual immorality by an unwed woman (Deuteronomy 22:20-21), Sexual relations with a betrothed woman (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). This method of execution required community participation and became a strong deterrent for the listed crimes.
Stones can be reminders of death and destruction as we see above, but also of the faithfulness of God. He opened a path through the Jordan River so that the Israelites could cross over into the Promised Land. "When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 'Choose 12 men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing; and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight...These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.'" (Joshua 4:1-3, 7) These stones would be called "stones of remembrance." When David was going to battle against the giant Philistine his weapon of choice was a sling shot and five smooth stones. 1 Samuel 17:50 tells us that "David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone..." and the Philistine army ran in fear.
For me, the most encouraging Scripture in the Bible about stones comes from 1 Peter 2:4-10. Jesus Christ is described as a living cornerstone of God's temple. Though He was rejected by many people, He is God's chosen Son. Those who follow Christ are called "living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple." Here is the assurance that we receive from God. "I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced." We are reminded that "The stone that the builder's rejected has now become the cornerstone." (V. 7 - NLT)
We, being living stones, have spirits that cannot be destroyed by stones. The promise of God is that we will spend eternity with Him when we embrace the Cornerstone of His Temple, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Joan E. Mathias