How Many Times Is Ebenezer Mentioned In The Bible? (What Does Ebenezer Mean In The Bible?)

In my last Bible Studies class, I asked the attendees to bring items that reminded them of God. Some brought cross necklaces, others brought prayer books, and one even came with her Baptism dress. When I told them these were all Ebenezers, they were shocked since this term refers to a stone in the Bible. This was the best segue into the Bible discussion of the day: Ebenezer. After that, I asked a question that really got them stumped – how many times is Ebenezer mentioned in the Bible?

Ebenezer is only mentioned three times in the Bible. It can be found in 1 Samuel 4:1, 1 Samuel 5:1, and 1 Samuel 7:12. In the first two instances, it is used as the name of a fertile place where the Israelites rested before battle, but in 1 Samuel 7:12, it describes a stone that commemorates God’s help, triumph, and faithfulness.

In this article, I looked deeply at the word ‘Ebenezer.’ From its origins and meaning to its usage in the Holy Book. I also examine the Biblical concept of Ebenezer stones and how modern Christians can find them. I have included helpful Biblical references and resources, which I’m sure you will appreciate. This is a piece you don’t want to miss.

What Does Ebenezer Mean in The Bible?

How Many Times Is Ebenezer Mentioned In The Bible? 
What Does Ebenezer Mean in The Bible? Image source: Pixabay

In the Bible, the word ‘Ebenezer’ means “stone of help” in 1 Samuel 7:12. ‘Ebenezer’ is a Hebrew word, ebēnīzār from the syllables, ‘eben’ meaning “stone,” and ‘ezer’ meaning “help.” It originates from over a thousand years ago during prophet Samuel’s ministry. Samuel was God’s first prophet and is viewed in the Bible as a pivotal figure who united the sinful people of Israel with God.

In the book of 1 Samuel 7:2-4, we are told that just as the nation of Israel began to repent and return to the Lord, they were attacked by the Philistines. As a response, Samuel sacrificed a lamb to God on their behalf. When the Philistines descended on the Israelites, God threw the attackers into a state of confusion which allowed the Israelites to win the war. To symbolize God’s mighty help, Samuel put a stone between Mizpah and Shen, naming it Ebenezer as a remembrance for the Lord’s intervention. The name not only symbolizes God’s rescue and help but also his unending grace to those that repent.

Bible Verses About Ebenezer In Scripture

Three Bible verses reference Ebenezer directly. Have a look at them below:

  • 1 Samuel 4:1 – Here ‘Ebenezer’ describes the spot where the Israelites camped before battling the Philistines. This was a fertile place located between mountains and the Mediterranean Sea which made it the perfect location for camping. Also, according to this verse, the Philistines stayed at Aphek.
  • 1 Samuel 5:1 – ‘Ebenezer’ is again referenced in this verse, which states the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines and taken from the rich land of Ebenezer to Ashdod. This occurred after a war between them and the Israelites, which the Israelites lost.
  • 1 Samuel 7:12 – In this verse, Samuel, the leader of the Israelites, names a commemoration stone ‘Ebenezer’ to symbolize God’s triumph. The Lord had granted His people, the Israelites, victory over the Philistines and helped them. He was faithful to His promise, and the Ebenezer stone was made an altar.

When Was the Word Ebenezer First Used?

The word ‘Ebenezer’ is first used in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 4:1. This verse explains how the Israelites went to meet the Philistines in battle and camped in a location known as Ebenezer, while the Philistines went to Aphek. According to Biblical studies, this place was between the central mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, which made it fertile and ideal for camping. It was so rich that the Canaanites recognized it as a royal city full of springs and urban life. In this verse, ‘Ebenezer’ is not used to represent God’s triumph, faithfulness, and power, but it is only fitting that such a lavish place is later used to describe the Lord and His attributes.

What Does the Bible Say About Ebenezer Stones?

How Many Times Is Ebenezer Mentioned In The Bible?
What the Bible Say About Ebenezer Stones. Image source: Pixabay

In the Bible, the Ebenezer stone is seen as a symbol of God’s power and protection. Each time the Israelites passed or saw the stone, they were reminded of their victory. It was also seen as a mark of the fulfillment of God’s promise, which was that He would bless His repentant people.

Other parts of the Bible indirectly allude to Ebenezer stones. For example, Jacob set up a stone to mark where God had spoken to him (Genesis 28:18), and Joshua put a big rock under an oak tree as a holy sanctuary for the Lord (Joshua 24:26-27). Therefore, the Bible also uses Ebenezer stones to symbolize how God does not forsake His people. He is always present with them. In these two instances, the stones are revered as symbols and reminders of God’s might and faithfulness.

What Are Some Modern Examples of Ebenezers?

Although modern-day Christians might not have Ebenezer stones like those of Biblical times, there are contemporary interpretations and examples, such as heirlooms, keepsakes, and even ornaments. Anything can be an Ebenezer if it reminds you of a significant time in your faith when you experienced God’s glory and power. For example, some believers keep journals to document their trials and tribulations. When they reread their old entries, the journal serves as an Ebenezer since it reminds them of God’s helping hand during hard times. Some Christian authors, such as Alexandra Hoover, propound that Ebenezers do not have to be physical objects. Even emotions and memories can serve as Ebenezers and remind us of God’s power when we need hope and encouragement.

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