So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. He said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed. (Genesis 31:45-47)
Before they parted company for the final time, Jacob and Laban decided to enter into an agreement with one another and their respective families. Having concluded that Jacob had done no wrong where Laban was concerned and that, in fact, Laban had been rebuked by God (Gen. 31:42), the men took stones and piled them up into a heap. The Hebrew word גל gal (which means “heap”) is combined with the Hebrew word עד ed (which means “witness”) to form the name of this place — Galeed or Gilead.
Thus the region known as Gilead got its name from a pile of stones that were set up as a marker commemorating a covenant between two peoples. As long as those stones lasted, they were to serve as a reminder of that covenant and the agreement reached by Jacob. and Laban not to cross that boundary with the intention of harming the other.
“This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me.” (Genesis 31:52)
The fact that stones served as witnesses of a covenant is very interesting considering that as followers of Messiah we are regarded as “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5). Couple that with the fact that we are also called to be witnesses of the resurrected Messiah, charged with taking the Good News of the Kingdom into all the world. Consequently, all those we encounter should be reminded of the agreement God has made with mankind: “That whoever believes in him (Messiah) shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
This message is amplified when we, as living stones, gather together as one people following Him with once heart and one accord. Gathering together and being “one” is, in fact, how the world will know that the Father has sent the Son into the world (John 17:21). The heap of stones that Jacob and Laban piled up in Gilead so long ago may not have meant much to many passersby but, to those who understood, it meant everything. Likewise, when God’s people assemble to worship our Creator, it may be of no consequence to some. But to those who are searching for answers in this bizarre time in which we live, the gathering together of faithful “living stones” might just be the difference between life and death. As the writer of Hebrews said:
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Blessings and Shalom,