Stones do not have ears to hear. Yet we learn in [Joshua 24:27] that The-Stone (הָאֶבֶן Ha-Even) was a Witness which שָׁמְעָה "heard" >> כָּל־אִמְרֵי יְהֹוָ֔ה "all [the] Words of YHVH.

And Yehoshua said to all the people, "Behold, The-Stone shall be a Witness against us, for it has heard all the words of YHVH which He spoke to us; it shall be a witness against you, lest you deny your-God." (וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ אֶל־כָּל־הָעָ֗ם הִנֵּ֨ה הָאֶ֚בֶן הַזֹּאת֙ תִּֽהְיֶה־בָּ֣נוּ לְעֵדָ֔ה כִּי־הִ֣יא שָֽׁמְעָ֗ה אֵ֚ת כָּל־אִמְרֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֖ר עִמָּ֑נוּ וְהָֽיְתָ֚ה בָכֶם֙ לְעֵדָ֔ה פֶּֽן־תְּכַֽחֲשׁ֖וּן בֵּאלֹֽהֵיכֶֽם)

How does a Stone hear words?

  • Unless His Words were inscribed on the Stone, anyone could falsify the rock as a Witness. (Correct?)

3 Answers 3


How does the Stone hear words in Joshua 24:27?

As the commentaries below will show, this is a writing technique know as prosopopaie or more commonly known as personification. Matthew Poole's Commentary points out that this is not the only time in the scriptures that this happens.

In this particular verse, Joshua is pointing out that the stone would be a reminder of what the Israelites had attested to that day. We could think of this as we would for a written statement.

A similar situation happened with Laban and Jacob at Genesis 31:48. In this case, it was a "heap of stones" that was acting as a witness to the covenant between the two men. While this event doesn't mention that the stones were hearing anything, this does show a pattern of people using stones as a sort of documentation of agreements.

  • Benson Commentary

    Joshua 24:27. It hath heard — It shall be as sure a witness against you as if it had heard. This is a common figure, whereby the sense of hearing is often ascribed to the heavens and the earth, and other senseless creatures.

  • Matthew Poole's Commentary

    It hath heard; it shall be as sure a witness against you as if it had heard. This is a common figure, called prosopopaie, whereby the sense of hearing is oft ascribed to the heavens and the earth, and other senseless creatures, as Deu 32:1 Isaiah 1:2 Jeremiah 2:12.

  • Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

    for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us; this is said by a figure called "prosopopaeia", frequent in Scripture, by which inanimate creatures are represented as hearing, seeing, and speaking, and may signify, that should the Israelites break this covenant, and disobey the commands of the Lord they had promised to keep, they would be as stupid and senseless as this stone, or more so, which would rise in judgment against them. Nachmanides (d) a Jewish commentator, interprets this stone of the Messiah, the same as in Genesis 49:24,

  • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

    for it hath heard] By a poetical prosopopœia Joshua describes the stone as hearing the words of God, since it had been set up for the purpose of reminding the people of the promise which they had made unto the Lord, and, in case they should be unfaithful, of bearing witness against them.

  • Unless His Words were inscribed on the Stone, anyone could falsify the rock as a Witness. (Correct?) Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 21:17
  • 1
    It is possible that something was inscribed to record the event but the scripture is silent on that matter. Of course, the stone was more of a reminder of what was said in the sight of God. So if someone was to refute the covenant, they would be going against the commandment of 'not giving false testimony'.
    – agarza
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 21:25

A pile or rocks is an inanimate object that neither sees nor hears (Rev 9:20, Deut 4:28, Dan 5:23, etc).

However, a pile or rocks served as a mute reminder of an important event just as a winner's trophy serves as a reminder of an important event. There are other examples of this sort of thing:

  • Josh 4:19-24 - On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And there at Gilgal Joshua set up the twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan. 21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ 22 you are to tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as He did to the Red Sea,c which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, and so that you may always fear the LORD your God.”
  • Ex 12:24-27 - And you are to keep this command as a permanent statute for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as He promised, you are to keep this service. 26 When your children ask you, ‘What does this service mean to you?’ 27 you are to reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck down the Egyptians and spared our homes.’ ”
  • Gen 21:27-31 - So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant. 28 Abraham separated seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelech asked him, “Why have you set apart these seven ewe lambs?” 30 He replied, “You are to accept the seven ewe lambs from my hand as my witness that I dug this well.” 31 So that place was called Beersheba, because it was there that the two of them swore an oath.

This is only a sample - there are many more.

  • Unless His Words were inscribed on the Stone, anyone could falsify the rock as a Witness. (Correct?) Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 21:16
  • 2
    @חִידָה - perhaps, but that is not the point - the object was significant to the parties that set it up as reminder of their shared history/event.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 21:19

Yes, I see that stones DO have ears! Many words in Scripture are used as metaphors, and the word 'stone' is one of them. 'Stone' refers to man, mankind, people, and Jesus Christ.

First, an explanation of the stones of Scripture:

God said to Moses:

If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. (Exodus 20:25)

Interesting! God both created and shapes stones. For us, dressing a stone uses man-made tools and utilizes man’s understanding to alter something that God created. According to Exodus 20:24-25, undefiled stones (stones not changed by man’s reasoning) or earth itself were only acceptable by God to build His alter.

I wondered “What is a stone?” Is it a rock from something like a mountain, or is it a description of something else, or is it both?

This is what I know about stones:

  • A stone is an object created by God.

  • A stone is a chip off of one rock.

  • Apart from God, a stone has no life, and,

  • A stone can only be moved by other forces.

Matthew records some of the verbalized usage of stones by or used in conversation with Jesus:

And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” (3:9)

The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." (4:3)

Jesus said to them, "*Have you never read in the Scriptures: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes' (21:42)

(Of course, there are many other references to ‘stone’ but these should suffice.)

God first created the earth from which all of His stones come. Some stones are pure and others are a mixture of the elements. God then created Adam from the stones (the elements) of the earth and, after a time, brought forth woman from His child. They (man) were His most beautiful creations as He had created them in His likeness, first as a child and then as a man and a woman together, and all three were acceptable to Him as alters of worship. The stones God created them from were not defiled. When they sinned they became ‘dressed’ stones and they blended in with the livestock. They used their drive for pleasure and their self-serving tools of reasoning to change the way they were created to live. God offered them the opportunity to confess and repent but they chose not to. By making choices apart from God’s instructions they lost their understanding of God and became lifeless spiritual objects that could only be moved by other forces.

I could not find that Adam fellowshipped with God after his fall as he never gave thanks to God for anything but Eve, the mother of the living, did.

Now, about stone as a metaphor: From Matthew Chapter 4:

3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." (Reference John 6:35 about the bread.) 4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

‘Stones’ then, in context with and defined in its usage by Jesus Christ, refers to people.

Peter describes Jesus Christ and his followers as living stones. Reference 1 Peter 2:4-8:

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

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