Jacob’s Pillow is also known as the Stone of Destiny, the Stone of Scone, (Scots: Stane o Scuin, Scottish Gaelic: An Lia Fàil). For years it sat under the throne at Westminster Abbey upon which kings and queens were crowned.
The Bible has many mentions of rocks and stones. Indeed, Jesus Christ is referred to as “the stone the builders rejected” (e.g., Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42; 1 Peter 2:7). The Apostle Peter quotes the Prophet Isaiah where he says, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” 2 Peter 2:8. It is clear that that Isaiah verse refers to the LORD (i.e., Jehovah), yet Peter applies it to Jesus. Thus Jesus Christ is Jehovah!
The Welsh hymnist, William Williams, wrote the hymn with the opening lines: “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, Pilgrim through this barren land.” From Adam, through Noah, through Abraham, Isaac and then Jacob and on to Moses and Israel in the wilderness, Jehovah has been guiding His people down through the ages. Of the time of the Exodus from Egypt, the Apostle Paul writes, “All passed through the sea, all were baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, all drank the same spiritual drink. For they all drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:1b-4. Thus, it was the preincarnate Jesus Christ, i.e., Jehovah, who was guiding His people.
“Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” Genesis 28:10-12.
It’s a strange thing to use something as uncomfortable as a stone for a pillow! One can only assume that he put some sort of padding on top of it or perhaps it’s just as the text says, notice the word “at” in the following: “Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it” Genesis 28:18. The bottom line is that to Jacob, this stone was very important!
Is Scotland’s Stone of Destiny really Jacob’s Pillow? Or is it just another “relic” story? Of relics, referring to the true cross of Christ, John Calvin says e.g., “if we were to collect all these pieces of the True Cross exhibited in various parts, they would form a whole ship’s cargo” and that there were more relics of the cross “than three hundred men could carry!”
Legends are legion regarding the search for the “Holy Grail”, i.e., cup Christ used at His Last Supper. Speculation abounds as to its supposed whereabouts and even as to whether the “Holy Grail” refers to a cup! However, we can clearly see that Jacob’s Pillow was a real stone. Jacob set it up as a marker stone, a pillar, anointed it with oil. “And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house…” Genesis 28:22. Therefore, this stone wasn’t just one rock among many. According to Jacob it was “Bethel”, i.e., God’s house.
Setting up commemoration or memorial stones are important in the Bible. When Israel crossed the dried-up Jordan river and entered the Promised Land they set up stones. “Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”
And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the Lord had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day” Joshua 4:7-9.
The Celtic peoples carried on this tradition. After Stonehenge, the Standing Stones of Callanish being the most famous. I recently viewed the Clava Stones, near Inverness. Theories abound as to purpose and meaning of these and the other standing stones. However, just like those memorial stones mentioned in the Bible, the general consensus is that they hold some sort of religious function. Why not? But what religion? That of the Bible sort or some aberration? Who are the Celtic peoples anyway?
The Stone of Destiny was removed from Scotland by Edward Longshanks after he had invaded Celtic Scotland from his own England in 1296. The Stone had been used by the Scots (and their Irish forefathers before them) at the coronation of their kings. But where did the Stone come from? Could the Celts not have brought it with them as they travelled to their present destination?
The Preamble of the 1320 Scottish “Declaration of Arbroath” says,
“Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner.
“The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles -- by calling, though second or third in rank -- the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter’s brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron forever.” Thus The Declaration of Arbroath.
“They journey from Greater Scythia.” The Scythians were a nomadic people who dwelt roughly around the area of the Black Sea. How did they end up with Jacob’s Pillow and how did they end up dwelling in Scotland? Well, the Scots have to come from somewhere as does the Coronation Stone. So what’s wrong with the Scythians bringing the Stone with them in their travels? Keep in mind that The Declaration of Arbroath was a plea to the pope of the day for protection against the invading King Edward I. Why blatantly lie to the pope about your origins if you are desiring his favour? To be sure, there is no mention of the Stone in the Declaration. However, it is referred to as Jacob’s Pillow.
Would an analysis of the type of rock found in Bethel against that found in Scotland confirm or deny that the Stone of Destiny is Jacob’s Pillow? Perhaps, but we need to keep in mind that there is still confusion as to whether the Stone we have today is the original, and that it is not hidden away somewhere as may have happened when Edward invaded! Is that block of red sandstone really Jacob’s Pillow?
Guesses as to the whereabouts of the real Stone are many. There’s even a pub in Glasgow, The Arlington, that claims to have the original Stone built into its own brickwork!
Regardless whether the Stone on view is the original Jacob’s Pillow or not, let it and every other stone and rock be a reminder that points us to the THE Rock, THE stone the builders rejected, Jesus Christ! For He has been anointed, for He is THE Anointed, i.e., the Messiah, the Christ! He has been crowned as King of Kings! He sits on His throne and rules all creation. Therefore, let us bow the knee before Him and swear fealty to Him!
(Photo on left from Internet)
(Photo on left from Internet)