CORNER-STONE [ISBE]CORNER-STONE - kor'-ner ston (pinnah, zawith; akrogoniaios): Part of the public or imposing buildings, to which importance has been attached in all ages and in many nations, both on account of its actual service and its figurative meaning. Ordinarily its use in the Bible is figurative, or symbolical. No doubt the original meaning was some important stone, which was laid at the foundation of a building.
(1) With the Canaanites, who preceded Israel in the possession of Palestine, corner-stone laying seems to have been a most sacred and impressive ceremonial. Under this important stone of temples, or other great structures, bodies of children or older persons would be laid, consecrating the building by such human sacrifice (see FORTIFICATION, II, 1). This was one of many hideous rites and practices which Israel was to extirpate. It may throw light on the curse pronounced upon the rebuilding of Jericho (Josh 6:26; see PEFS, January, 1904, July, 1908).
(2) Old Testament references.--The Hebrew word pinnah, "corner," is found or implied in every occurrence of this idea. Derived from a root signifying "to turn," it means "turning," and therefore "edge" or "corner." Ordinarily it is used with 'ebhen, "stone" (Ps 118:22); or it may occur alone, having acquired for itself through frequent use the whole technical phrase-idea (Zec 10:4 the King James Version).
While all the passages indicate the stone at the corner, there appear to be two conceptions: (a) the foundation-stone upon which the structure rested (Job 38:6; Isa 28:16; Jer 51:26); or (b) the topmost or cap-stone, which linked the last tier together (Ps 118:22; Zec 4:7); in both cases it is an important or key-stone, and figurative of the Messiah, who is "the First and the Last." In Job 38:6 it beautifully expresses in figures the stability of the earth, which Yahweh created. In Zec 10:4 the leader or ruler in the Messianic age is represented by the corner-stone. The ancient tradition of the one missing stone, when the temple was in building, is reflected in or has been suggested by Ps 118:22 (Midrash quoted by Pusey under Zec 4:7). It is probable that we should read in Ps 144:12 not "corner-stones," but "corner-pillars," or supports (compare Greek Caryatides) from a different Hebrew word, zawith, Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, under the word
(3) New Testament passages.--Ps 118:22 is quoted and interpreted as fulfilled in Jesus Christ in a number of passages: Mt 21:42; Mk 12:10; Lk 20:17; Acts 4:11 and 1 Pet 2:7; it is also the evident basis for Eph 2:20. Isa 28:16 is quoted twice in the New Testament: Rom 9:33, from Septuagint combined with the words of Isa 8:14, and in 1 Pet 2:6, which is quoted with some variation from Septuagint. The Old Testament passages were understood by the rabbis to be Messianic, and were properly so applied by the New Testament writers.
See also HOUSE.