The Worship of Stones
Isaiah 57:6
Among the smooth stones of the stream is your portion; they, they are your lot: even to them have you poured a drink offering…

In the smooth stones of the valley is thy portion... even to them hast thou poured out drink offerings. A good deal of information is at command on this subject, Illustrative matter will be found in Kitto's 'Daily Bible Illustrations,' vol. 'Isaiah,' p. 209. Matthew Arnold sums up the matter in the following note: "The worship of stones is a very early form of idolatry, and originated, probably, in the veneration paid to meteoric stones - stones which, as the people said, 'fell down from heaven.' But the worship extended to other stones also. Traces of this worship occur in Genesis, in Jacob's consecration of the stones in his passage by Bethel (Genesis 28:18). The Greeks, too, had this stone-worship. 'In the earlier times,' says the Greek traveller Pausanias, 'all the Greeks worshipped, in place of images of the gods, undressed stones.' We find the name Baetylia given to these stones, and it has even been conjectured that this name comes from Bethel." Smooth stones (named salagrams), chiefly from the river Gandaki, are treated as sacred objects by the Vaishnavas all over North India. Dr. Turner writes, "I have several' smooth stones of the stream' from the New Hebrides, which were used as idols, and have heard of precisely similar stones being used in other parts of the Pacific." At Inniskea, off the coast of Mayo, a stone, carefully kept wrapped up in flannel, used to be brought out at certain periods to be adored; and when a storm arises, this god is supplicated to send a wreck on their coast! It is narrated that there is a stone set up to the south of St. Columba's Church, in the island of Eriska, about eight feet high and two feet broad. It is called by the natives the bowing-stone; for when the inhabitants had the first sight of the church, they set up this stone, and then bowed, and said the Lord's Prayer. Three points may be illustrated.

I. GOD IS OFFENDED WHEN THINGS ARE PUT IN PLACE OF HIM. This is the coarser form of idolatry. Material things are superstitiously invested with powers, and become actual idols.

II. GOD IS OFFENDED WHEN THINGS ARE USED TO REPRESENT HIM. This is the refined form of idolatry which some thinking and educated persons approve. The thing - stone or figure - becomes for them a material representation of the invisible God. This is offensive because of the limitations it puts on men's conceptions of the Divine Being.

III. GOD IS OFFENDED WHEN THINGS ARE MADE THE MEDIUM FOR GETTING TO HIM. This is one phase of modern idolatry. It is an offence because the essence of the last, the Christian, revelation is that each individual soul can have direct and immediate access to God. There is no place for idol-mediators. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these?

WEB: Among the smooth [stones] of the valley is your portion; they, they are your lot; you have even poured a drink offering to them. You have offered an offering. Shall I be appeased for these things?

Smooth Stones
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