As the Israelites met and engaged the people who occupied the Promise Land before them, they might have been tempted to adopt the sacred-stone concept. To be sure, the Lord did allow a certain amount of parity between pagan worship and Israelite worship, such as the use of sacrifice, temple, and priesthood; but the line was drawn at employing sacred stone. “Do not make idols or set us an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God” (Lev 26:1; see Deut 16:22). But what about the sacred stones that had already been built by the previous occupants of the Promised Land?
The law was equally clear in respect to the future of these worship installations. The Israelites were to “demolish,” break,” and “smash” the sacred stones erected by pagan worshipers (Exod 23:24; 34:13; Deut 7:5; 12:3). Please note that this was a far cry from ignoring those stones or even from just tripping them over. They were directed to make them unrecognizable from the rubble around them by breaking them apart. Apparently the act of smashing them destoryed their capacity to represent or hold the essence of the deity any longer, thus preventing any Israelite who was so inclined from assimilating these sacred stones into their worship life.
With the law cod establishing these clear directives regarding sacred stones, the biblical authors who came later returned to this topic repeatedly as they evaluated the Israelites’ faithfulness to the Lord and their commitment to keep their end of the covenant they had made with him. END OF PART 3