LIA-PHAIL, THE STONE OF DESTINY

“And, behold, the ‘Lord’ stood above it, and said, I am the ‘Lord God’ of Abraham thy Father, and the ‘God’ of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.” - Genesis 28:13-15, 18.

NEXT,(1) With respect to the Stone of Destiny, it is in the Legend itself, attached to it, that we have the highest evidence of a priestly presence in the inaugurator of the Stone; and, herein, of the official and providential inauguration of the Seed of David on the Throne of Israel, to wield the Sceptre under the Standard of Judah, according to the intimation in the last words of the tenth verse of the first chapter of the book of Jeremiah; - for he had “to build and to plant,” a kingdom.

The Stone came from the East; - Wherever it be, a Sceptre is to be with it; - And it is to return to the East, whence it came.

But what is this Stone, to which this important Legend is attached?

It is that Eastern, Hebraish, MATERIAL FACT, already spoken of, and which is the first, there enumerated, of the Signs of Judah in England.

Where is it?

This Stone is in the Coronation Throne - Seat of the Kings of England. [JML: Now returned to Scotland]. It is called by some, THE STONE of DESTINY; in Irish, LIA-FAIL; and by the English, JACOB’S PILLOW

Why is it where it is?

In his Essay on Certain Monuments of Antiquity, Mr. Weaver says, p. 118, “It appears that the Irish kings, from very ancient times until A.D. 513, were crowned upon a particular sacred stone, called ‘Liath Fail,’ ‘the Stone of Destiny;’ that so, also, were the Scottish kings until the year 1296; when Edward I of England brought it here: and it is a curious fact, that this stone has not only remained in England until now, and is existing still under the Coronation-Chair of our British Sovereigns in Westminster Abbey, [This article was written before the Stone was returned by John Major - Ed] but that all our Kings, from James I, have been crowned in that Chair.”

This being a fact so curious, we shall quote its particulars in a note, as taken from Toland, in his History of the Druids (pp. 137-9), and from Mr. Edward O’Reilly, author of the Irish Dictionary in his letter to Sir William Betham, and inserted in his Irish Antiquarian Researches.

Toland’s statement is this: ‘The Fatal Stone (Liag fail), so called, was the stone on which the supreme kings of Ireland used to be inaugurated, in times of heathenism, on the hill of Tarah; it was superstitiously sent to confirm the Irish colony in the North of Great Britain, where it continued as the Coronation-Seat of the Scottish Kings ever since Christianity; till, in the year 1300, Edward I of England brought it from Scone, placing it under the Coronation Chair at Westminster, and there it still continues. I had almost forgot to tell you, that it is now called by the vulgar, Jacob’s Stone, as if this had been Jacob’s Pillow at Bethel.’

So far Toland. Now we extract O’Reilly’s account. Speaking of ‘Leath Fail’ he says:

“All our Irish historical writers, ancient and modern, tell us that it was a large stone of extraordinary virtue brought into Ireland; that the monarchs of Ireland, from A.M. 2764 [see later for correction of this date] to A.D. 513, were all inaugurated on the Lia Fail, which, until that period, was kept at Tara in Meath, the chief seat of the Irish monarchs. At this last-mentioned period, Muisceortagh (Murkertagh) reigned; Fergus, his brother, having established for himself a kingdom in Alba, or, as it has been since called, Scotland, procured from his brother the Lia Fail, that on it he might, with the greater solemnity, be inaugurated king over his new possession. The Stone was never returned to Ireland, but remained in Scotland; and each succeeding king of Scotland was crowned thereon until Edward I of England invaded that country, A.D. 1296, and carried off into his own country the Scottish regalia, among which was the Lia Fail. From that period to the present day it has remained in England; and ever since the reign of James I has continued to serve the purpose for which it was so long used in Ireland and Scotland; the kings of England from his time down to the present sovereign having been crowned on it.”

With respect to the Stone, we have seen that the date assigned for the presence of Lia Fail in Ireland, viz. advent of the Ollam Fola is B.C. 600. Jerusalem was destroyed and the great fact of the Captivity took place, B.C. 602. “If then the Stone which we have, be Jacob’s Pillow, it must have been conveyed to Ireland, certainly not before the time of Jeremiah; but most probably by him, and for some purpose. We set about now:

FIRST, to prove; that he might have taken it;

SECOND, we ask what his object would have been in taking it out of the East at all?

THIRDLY we have to show, that, whoever took it, it was set up under such attendant circumstances at Tara, as fit none but a man whose pretensions and authority were such as were those pertaining to Jeremiah;

FOURTHLY, accompanied, as he might have been, by some member of the Family of David. A series of evidence which seems only to want the confirmation, the direct assertion furnished by tradition, that he was, personally, in Ireland, to establish firmly the fact that, Jeremiah having been himself in Ireland, he did, therefore, take with him the Stone, and set it up as a Pillar of Witness, as had been done by it aforetime, and pronounce a blessing upon it. The substance of this has been handed down to posterity, in the very terms of the legend.

If Jeremiah took the Stone, all the marvels about Tara, its Eastern Princess, its Judge, and Mysterious Priest, and the Law, are not only solved, but are necessary events. If it be Jacob’s Pillow, and set up by Jeremiah, there is sense in the legend; otherwise, it is an absurdity, and something worse.

1) The prophet might have taken the stone

In the year 602 B.C. Jerusalem was taken by king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; and, so considerable a portion of the people was carried away, that, after the raid, made upon the remnant left behind, by Ishmael the son of Nethaniah (Jeremiah 41), and the subsequent migration of the remains of the remnant, the place was (Jeremiah 43:7) almost entirely deserted. (Jeremiah 41:10, 43:4-7)

On the departure of the main body for Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah was allowed the option, by the monarch, to go to Babylon (Jeremiah 40:4), or to remain behind (Jeremiah 39:12,40:4). For reasons best known to himself (Jeremiah 40:6), he decided to remain at Jerusalem, i.e., at Mizpah; and he made use of this licence to secure those invaluable endowments of the first temple, which, if lost, could never be replaced. Accordingly, we read in 2 Maccabees, 2:4-7,

“It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the Tabernacle and the Ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God. And when Jeremiah came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door. And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it. Which, when Jeremiah perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that ‘God’ gather His people again together, and receive them unto mercy.”

One of the less known sources about the Temple Vessels is the Sefer HaHashMonaim. There it is written explicitly that the prophet Yirmiyahu hid the First Temple Vessels, the Ark, and the Altar “on the mountain that Moshe Rabeinu saw.” This definition has been the subject of investigation for hundreds of years, since Moshe Rabeinu, who saw the mountain, did not write or hint it in the Torah from Prof. James Tabor.

At this time Jacob’s Pillow was an object of hardly less veneration, in Jerusalem, than the miraculous furniture in the Temple: and, as we find that in the subsequent capture of Jerusalem by the Caliph Omar, in his veneration for the stone shown to him by the patriarch as Jacob’s Pillow, he immediately ordered a mosque to be built over it, in honour of it (and which we know to have been a fictitious “pillow,” - for we have the true one) we have herein pointed out to us, with sufficient certainty, the place where the ante-captivity Jews had set up this National Stone; the sacred memento of the promises of national greatness, made to their father Jacob, when he dreamed his dream at Bethel.

We learn from Hosea that the temple of Bethel had come to be changed, in the language of prophetical denunciation, from Beth-el to the contemptuous name of Beth-aven, “The house of nought;” which would hardly have been the case, had “the Pillar of Witness” been the foundation of its altar.

Was, then, Jeremiah the man, - it having been shown that he did care for one set of Holy Things, - to disregard the existence, or be careless, of this other Holy Thing? For it was a consecrated thing; and it lay deep, so to speak, in the fundamental traditions of the Empire.

The Stone, then, being a conspicuous object among the holy things belonging to the holy city, we may be sure that the prophet no more neglected to take care of and for it, than he did for the things which he set in the cave. In some such cave, therefore, or in some other safe place, he doubtless secreted it; possibly in the same in which Baruch had secreted by burying in an earthen vessel, “The Evidences” of his purchase (Jeremiah 32:14). In such case, therefore, he would be able to lay his hands upon it readily, when he returned to the Land of Judah, with the small number that escaped the sword in Egypt (Jeremiah 44:28). And when subsequently, on his arrival, be considered the duty that lay upon him, according to the injunctions of his first commission over the nations, “to plant and to build,” (Jeremiah 1:10) coupled with the impossibility of his doing so within the land of Judea, which was to be in bondage for seventy years, (Jeremiah 25:12) - and he himself was now fifty-six years old, [by computation] - and therefore felt the necessity of going thence, and that he had authority to do so; the absence of all the Jews of influence, and the fact of the authority he had with the Babylonish Lieutenant (Jeremiah 39:12), would make the removal of the cherished Stone to him a matter of no difficulty: whereas the Jews with him, and also the Babylonish officer, would have absolutely forbid its being removed by any other person but Jeremiah.

2) But what reason could the prophet Jeremiah have for desiring to remove this stone?

In proportion as was the veneration of the nation for this Stone, as a National Emblem, - one representing the destiny of the nation, - so might a man who had the intention, and felt the duty weighing upon him, to re-establish the Sceptre of Judah, towards the reunion of “the Two Families” of Israel, very well feel the necessity of being accompanied by such a National Monument; and, as his determination was to make flight by sea, for the hypothesis is that he came to an island, - to some distant land, there would be no hindrance to his carrying with him that, which would be an almost unbearable burden by land. The present form of the Stone indicates its having been reduced from its original shape (The stone is 26 inches long, 16.75 broad, and 10.5 thick; and a little broader at one end than at the other); possibly to make it manageable for its journey from Jerusalem to the sea-shore, under circumstances of difficulty.

3) The stone being found at Tara, in Ireland, and at the time that it was bound, as it were, to disappear from Judea, and the Legend attaching to it being what we know it to be, none but Jeremiah could have been the declarer of such a Legend.

Not alone because of the foregoing; but because no other person could have pronounced the legend concerning perpetuity and promise of return. For who could have been authorized to say such things, of any Stone? If any body but he had said any thing like this, at that time, it would have been nonsense if he did not believe what he said, or, blasphemy if he did: i.e., to prophesy without authority. But if Jeremiah said such words, they were not only the evidence of his perfect faith in his mission and pregnant with meaning, but strictly what he was well authorized to do. For his commission was, “to plant and to build.” What? Trees and Houses? No, but an Empire, on a foundation which should last, “until Shiloh, to whom the gathering of the people should be, should appear.” To the Jews the prophet had been sent as the minister of “God’s” judgment “to root out, to pluck up, and to destroy” their Polity for their multiplied iniquities; but he was, in the same decree, named as the messenger “to the nations” to proclaim the Power of ‘God’, and to make it manifest among, them by the re-establishing of the Sceptre of Judah (Jeremiah 1:10), and to confirm it with a blessing and a promise.

Furthermore, it must be asserted, that if the prophet Jeremiah pronounced the Legend, feeling authority to do so, we may be sure that the terms of it will be fulfilled. And hitherto are they not? “Frustration is for the Tokens of Liars,” but the ‘Lord’ “confirmeth the word of His servants, and performeth the counsel of His messengers.” - (Isaiah 44:25, 26)

If then the Legend be sound, which may be assumed, as having been spoken by one who had authority, which could be no other but Jeremiah; and the facts of the case; hitherto, are not inconsistent with its being so; - and if the fulfilment of the Legend be intended - and who will venture to say that it be not? - then the Stone must be the throne of the blood royal of Judah. That is to say:

4) The Prophet must have been accompanied by some member of the Family of David, in order to have made the prediction of possible realization.

For to a sceptre of what Stock could a Hebrew prophet promise continuance, until a return to the East, but to the sceptre of Judah? ... to a sceptre, of which Stock, to appear in the East in the promised SHILOH, as the Hebrew would very well know, uninterrupted dominion was promised. And how could a throne of David be re-established, but in the presence of those by whom a perpetuation of the race would be possible? Therefore, a man of the seed royal, or woman, must have been present, to make the promise, possible and reasonable.

But the kings and princes of the royal house had been all cut off., consequently none of them were there. “The king’s daughters” had not been cut off. They were manifestly in the Prophet’s company on his two forced journeys from Jerusalem; first (Jeremiah 41:10), with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, towards Ammon; and last (Jeremiah 43:6), with Johanan the son of Kareah, to Taphnis in Egypt. When there against his will, the Prophet was commanded to escape from it, and promised safety in flight (Jeremiah 44:12-14), to return to Judea; and safety, consequently, to those with him, who should, in so escaping, obey the voice of the ‘Lord’ (Jeremiah 44:28; 1:19,15:20; 20:13).

“The king’s daughters,” therefore, would, for their own sakes, take care to be with him on his return to Judea. When there (Jeremiah 5:14), he had the opportunity of transporting thence, whithersoever he would, the Stone of Israel, the grand national relic, the ancient Pillar of Witness (Genesis 28:13-15, 18,22), even to whatever place he would be moved to proceed “to plant and to build” (Jeremiah 1:10) that kingdom, - i.e., to re-establish that kingdom of Israel (Jeremiah 33:24), whose restoration he had been commanded to foretell.

In Judea, it was not possible for Jeremiah to setup this resuscitated kingdom. It was to lie waste for seventy years; and the prophet was now, as we have seen, fifty-six years old. In Babylon it could not be. Neither in, nor under the protection of, Egypt could it be. Whither then was he to set about “to plant and to build” that which he had been ordained to help “to pluck up and destroy?” and set up again that Pillar of Witness, by which the Patriarch of old had handed down to the generations to come, the assurance of his Faith in the promises of ‘God?’ Did “the Isles of the Sea” suggest themselves as a likely place for sanctuary to that “righteous man in the East?” or were they suggested to him?

However that may be, the fact is very remarkable, that this Stone, this Pillar of Witness to the Truth of “God’s” Promise, and for the safety of which, it was the duty of the earnest prophet to provide, is found, later, in great repute and preservation, “in the utmost ends of the earth,” away in “the Islands of the Sea,” - the name by which our Islands are, to this day, known by “the dispersed of Judah;” and is, even yet, after 2400 years, still used for the same purpose for which it was then first set up in Ireland, just about the time that it disappeared in the East: and it is, to this day, guarded as the Nation’s greatest Treasure, by the nation which has charge of it, by the Constable of the National Fortress in the Heart of the Empire. And the Legend pertaining to it is as fresh as it was the day on which it was declared; namely, that it came from the East; that the blessing of ‘God’ is with it, even to the guaranteeing to its possessor, a Sceptre, and to his Dynasty an abiding continuance, until the time shall arrive when it is to go back to the East from whence it came. And the Token of the Utterer has not been yet frustrated!

Is then this Stone a Talisman? or are men to be taught to consider it such?

There is no doubt, but that, as well in Scotland as in Ireland, and even later, in England, this Stone has been held, superstitiously, to be the Palladium of the Empire. But when Jacob took the Stone on which he slept, did the Patriarch consider there was any particular virtue in the Stone which he set up as a Pillar of Witness? So neither do we believe that there is any particular virtue in the Coronation Stone. The Stone may or may not be Jacob’s Stone. I believe it is. It is more likely to be than not. But there is no necessity that it should be the identical Stone. What ‘God’ wants is not a Stone, but faith. Faith in the Homage of the Seed Royal to the Shiloh in the East, is more than the Identity of a Stone; and he who entertains that faith will bear all the brazen blasts of the infidel deniers of Providence, unscathed. Judah will be restored to Jerusalem [JML: written 1861 A.D.]; and to that fact future, the Legend of the English Stone is a perpetual witness. That belief is the palladium, not only of our Empire of this world, but the guarantee of every Christian’s, in that which is to come!(1)

Overview

Jacob used a stone for a pillow the night he wrestled with God. After God changed his name to Israel, he then used it as a pillar to mark the covenant he made with God. Tradition has it that the Stone was taken to Egypt, and later to the Promised Land when the Israelites came out of Egypt. Jacob’s Pillar Stone was to play a vital roll in the three overtumings of the throne of David.

The Stone remained in Jerusalem until after 586 B.C. when Jerusalem was destroyed, and it was taken by Jeremiah to Ireland with the daughter of Zedekiah. After this time, the Kings of Ireland would be crowned while seated upon the Pillar Stone of Jacob.

When the throne of David was overturned a second time to Scotland, the Stone was taken to Scotland by the first Scottish king, Fergus, in the ninth century, and placed at the ancient capital of Scone (pronounced Skoon). The Scottish kings were also crowned while seated upon it.

The Stone of Jacob was seized by King Edward I in 1296, and has been used in the coronation of every English monarch since. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned while sitting on the Coronation Chair containing the Stone.

Until recently, the Stone of Jacob (Israel) has sat under the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey, in silent testimony to the dual promises made by Almighty God to the descendants of Abraham. After 700 years at Westminster Abbey, the stone was recently returned to Scotland and is on display at Edinburgh Castle. It has remained with the descendants of Israel since the time of Jacob, and the Royal Seed of David have always been crowned upon it.

Symbol of sovereignty back in Scotland after 700 years

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP)(2) With prayers, pipers and some political nuance, the legendary Stone of Scone was placed in its new home in Scotland on Saturday, seven centuries after it was stolen by an English king. “It’s back where it belongs in Scotland,” said Jean Livingstone, who stood with her seven year-old granddaughter in the crowd along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile as the stone rolled past on an army Land Rover.

Prince Andrew represented his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the ceremonies on the feast day of St Andrew, Scotland’s patron saint.

The rough-hewn block of gray sandstone, weighing 458 pounds, was the coronation seat of Scottish kings until it was carried away as war booty by King Edward I in 1296. The Stone of Scone (pronounced “skoon”) was placed under the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey, where it has been involved in all coronations since.

The stone will be placed on public view in Edinburgh Castle. Legend says that the stone originated in the Holy Land, and that the Biblical patriarch Jacob rested his head on it when he had his dream of a ladder reaching to heaven. “Today is like recovering a valued item that has been missing for a long time, like getting back a lost wedding ring,” said the Right. Rev John McIndoe, moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, who preached at a service in St. Giles Cathedral.

The government has said little about why it decided to return the stone, though Prime Minister John Major noted in his announcement in July that this was the 700th anniversary of the stone’s removal. Many Scots suspect the gesture was intended to shore up the governing Conservative Party’s dwindling support in Scotland.

“Basically people are glad to see the Stone returning,” said Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, which wants independence for Scotland. The main opposition Labour party says that if it wins the next election, it will create a regional parliament for Scotland, but not grant it full independence.

FOOTNOTES

(1) From: England, the Remnant of Judah, and the Israel of Ephraim, written by F.R.A. Glover, M.A., Chaplain to the Consulate at Cologne. Published by Rivingtons, London, 1861. Based on research commenced in 1844.

(2) Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 1996

THE SLEEPING STONE

I stopped to call a taxi in the heart of Babylon.

At the pavement’s edge I stood - the traffic writhing on

Leftward to the Whitehall turning like a lustrous snake

Or rightward to Westminster Bridge, the southbound road to take,

 

There to pass proud Boadicea set towards the tower

Where Big Ben in his solemn grandeur booms the passing hour

As if to warn the seething crowds that Time brooks no de!ay

As he sifts the minutes of the unforgiving day.

 

While I across the street looked out towards the Abbey wall -

Afloat behind a spray of limpid light that seemed to fall

Veiling the secret features of the Abbey’s ancient face

That houses Jacob’s Bethel stone in its appointed place...

Where Israel’s holy treasure lies for every eye to see:

Safe in our keeping. This, the very Stone of Destiny.

 

The taxi came. Again we plunged into the turgid stream -

And glancing back, the Abbey seemed remote as in a dream.

Sculptured in its frozen calm it stood apart, alone,

Sharing with God the hidden knowledge of the sleeping stone.

 

Patience Strong

 

 


Back To Archive Contents