Near the end of Joshua’s life, he called his people together and challenged them to commit to follow God. They made a covenant to obey and serve God. In order to remind them of their covenant, Joshua “took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.” He told the people that this stone would be a witness, a reminder of the covenant they had made.” (See Joshua 24:24-27).
Several hundred years later, the prophet Samuel also used a large stone as a reminder. After the Israelites won a battle against the Philistines with divine assistance, “Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen [near the place of the battle], and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12).
Eben (אֶבֶן) means “a stone” in Hebrew, and ezer (עֵזֶר) means “a help” or “a helper.” So eben-ezer means “stone of help.” Samuel wanted this monument to remind the children of Israel of the divine help they had received.
After King Benjamin’s people received a remission of their sins by exercising faith in Jesus Christ, Benjamin admonished them to “remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God…and his goodness and long-suffering towards you” (Mosiah 4:11). He had all their names recorded in a book as a record of their covenant to follow God. He also appointed priests “to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made” (Mosiah 6:3).
In the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” we sing the following words:
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Today, I will remember. Just as Joshua and Samuel placed large stones in conspicuous places, and just as Benjamin recorded the names of his people, I will remind myself of the goodness of God to me and of the commitments I have made to Him.
Ebenezer — Ebenezer Scrooge. He was one way, then he had a spiritual experience and was changed. When People take a spiritual pilgrimage, it is customary to build an Ebenezer, a pile of stones that indicates on this side of the stones, I am one way, but I am leaving that person behind and going forward with God as the fountain I return to.
It took me 4 years to learn to play Come thou Font. then I looked up the word Ebenezer and realized the true meaning of the song, we must leave the old behind and return and return again to the fountain of the only true source. Thank you Paul
Thanks for the comment, Cydne! What a great connection with Ebenezer Scrooge. I like that idea that an “Ebenezer” is a marker dividing our former life from our new life.
Have a great day!
Thank you for these beautiful examples and for placing them together for our reference. I wonder if the stone Joshua placed under the oak was one of the the 12 stones carried across the dry River Jordan as mentioned in Joshua 4:
20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.
21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?
22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.
23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:
24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.
Thank you for sharing that example. I’m not sure whether the stone under the oak was one of the 12 stones, but in both cases, Joshua was trying to do the same thing: use something relatively permanent (a large stone) as a symbol for the enduring gratitude and commitment we strive for.
Finally an answer to my curiosity on how Ebenezer got in a hymn!
Thank you so much.
I’m glad the post was helpful. Thanks for the comment!
This also reminds me of the stone tablets Moses received from the Lord of the Ten Commandments. We may not have stone tablets, but we have words of apostles and prophets in the Liahona each month.