display | more...

A metaphor that originated in Jewish poetry, but that has been widely used in many cultures. The full statement is the "Stone that the builder refused has become the head corner stone"

The phrase occurs twice in the tanach and once in the gospel. The exact meaning of the metaphor is unexplained, and means different things to Jews and Christians.

The usual explanation of it amongst Christians is that when Jesus says this to the Sadducees questioning his authority, he is saying that his teachings come from outside of the mainstream tradition of Judaism, but are still neccesary to complete it. Some believe that he is speaking of himself when he says that, and the Jews refusal to believe he is the Messiah, but I personally don't believe this interpretation.

Strangely enough, the metaphor shows up again in the greatest novel produced in China, the 16th century Red Chamber Dream. This novel is largely a romantic tale of two lovers, but it begins with a story of how a Goddess creates a heavenly Mansion made of 10,000 stones. She has one stone left over in the building process , and throws it down to earth where it is reborn as the male protagonist of the story. I don't know whether this usage of the metaphor is due to coincidence, synchronicity, or transmission of the metaphor to China at some point.

Definitely coming from direct reading of the Bible is the mention of this phrase by Bob Marley in several songs. In Ride Natty Ride, Bob sings: "So they build their world in great confusion, to force on us the devil's illusion, but the stone that the builder refused, shall always be the head corner stone." My personal interpretation of this is that Bob Marley is saying that even though Europeans may think of Africans as an accidental or unneccesary part of North American society, that Africans are the nation that is responsible for the building of North America

Sublime, early to mid 90's punk-reggae-hip-hop-rock'n'roll-/etc band, have a song based on Ride Natty Ride called DJ's in which they sing "A little competition comes my way, and it always ends up the same, but the stone that the builder refused, shall always be the head corner stone".

And lastly, Gang Starr, New York City based rap crew, have a lyric: "the rejected stone has become the corner stone, kind of like the master builder, as I work my way home". This lyric combines the metaphor with another story, that of the builder of Solomon's temple, who according to Masonic lore, was killed by three criminals on the way home from building the temple, because he would not teach them the Masonic Word.

So those are the references to this metaphor I know or have imagined. If anyone else knows any, add them on.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.