The words thus translated in our version of the Bible are the following:
1. פַּנָּה, pinnah', signifies properly a pinnacle, as shooting tap (2Ch 26:15; Zep 1:16; Zep 3:6); hence an angle, properly exterior, as of a house (Job 1:19), of a street (Pr 7:8); also interior, as of a roof (Pr 21:9; Pr 25:24), of a court (Eze 42:20), of a city (2Ch 28:24). It is put metaphorically for a prince or chief of the people (1Sa 14:38; Jg 20:2; Isa 19:13). The abbreviated form, פֵּן, pen, occurs Pr 7:8; Zec 14:10.
2. פֵּאָה, peah, properly the mouth, then the face; hence, generally, a "side" of anything (especially a point of the compass, as on the east side, i.e. eastward, "the four corners" standing for the whole extent), or region, as of the face ("part," Le 13:41); of country ("corners," Ne 9:22, i.e. various districts of the promised land allotted to the Israelites; so "corner of Moab," Jer 48:15, i.e. that country: and in the plural, "corners [literally, the two sides] of Moab," Nu 24:17, the whole land). Secondarily it denotes the extreme part of anything, as of a field (Le 19:9; Le 23:22), of the sacred table (Ex 25:26; Ex 37:13), of a couch or divan, the place of honor (Am 3:12). The "corners of the head and beard" (Le 19:27; Le 21:5) were doubtless the extremities of the hair and whiskers running around the ears, which the Jews were forbidden to cut or shave off round, like the clipped ear-locks (mistranslated "utmost corners," Jer 9:26; Jer 25:23; Jer 49:32) of the heathen and the ancient Arabs of the desert (Herod. 3, 8). Illustrations of this fashion are still extant; indeed, Mr. Osburn (in his Ancient Egypt, p. 125) seems to have identified some figures on the Egyptian monuments with the ancient Hittites, one of the very tribes here alluded to, and who are exhibited as wearing helmets or skull-caps of a peculiar form, so as to leave exposed this peculiar national badge. They appear to have had a hideous custom of shaving a square place just above the ear, leaving the hair on the side of the face and the whiskers, which hung down in a plaited lock.
3. כָּנָŠ, kanaph', a wing (as elsewhere often), is used in Isa 11:12; Eze 7:7, to express "the four corners of the earth," or the whole land.
4. כָּתֵŠ, katheph', a shoulder or side (as often elsewhere), occurs in 2Ki 11:11, in speaking of the opposite parts of the Temple.
5. מַקַצוֹעִ, miktso' ä (literally cut off or bent), an angle, spoken of the external extremities of the tabernacle (Ex 26:24; Ex 36:29), and the internal ones of a court (Eze 41:22; Eze 46:21-22); also of a bend or "turning" of a wall, conventionally applied apparently to the intersection of the internal wall of Jerusalem skirting Mount Zion on the east, with the continuation of that on the northern brow towards the Temple (2Ch 26:9; Ne 3:19-20,24-25). A kindred form occurs in the last clause of Eze 41:22, where some render four-square.
6. פִּעִם, PA'AM (literally a step, usually a "time" or instance), spoken of the four corners of the sacred ark (Ex 25:12), and of the brazen laver (1Ki 7:30).
7. צֵלָע, tsela' (literally a rib or side, as often elsewhere), spoken of either extremity of each side of the altar of incense (Ex 30:4; Ex 37:27).
8. קָצָה, katsah', an end (as elsewhere usually), spoken of the four corners of the same (Ex 27:4).
9. זָוַית, zavith', spoken of the "corners" of the altar (Zec 9:15); fig. of the corner colunmns of a palace (Ps 144:12, "that our daughters may be as cornerstones"), finely sculptured, in allusion probably to the caryatides, or columns, representing female figures, so common in Egyptian architecture (the point of comparison lying in the slenderness and tallness combined with elegance, comp. Song 5:15; Song 7:8).
10. The Greek word γωνία signifies properly an angle, either exterior, as when streets meet, forming a square or place of public resort (Mt 6:5), or interior, a dark recess, put for secrecy (Ac 26:26). "The four corners of the earth" denote the whole land or world, as in No. 1 above (Re 7:1; "quarters," 20:8). On "the head of the corner," SEE CORNERSTONE below.
11. The "corners" of the great sheet in Peter's vision (Ac 10:11; Ac 11:5) represent a different word in the original, ἀρχή, which has elsewhere usually the signification of "beginning." "The פֵּאָה, peah', or 'corner,' i.e. of the field, was not allowed (Le 19:9) to be wholly reaped. The law gave a right to the poor to carry off what was so left, and this was a part of the maintenance from the soil to which that class were entitled. Similarly the gleaning of fields and fruit-trees, and the taking of a sheaf accidentally left on the ground, were secured to the poor and the stranger by law (23:22; De 24:19-21). SEE GLEANING. These seem to us, amid the sharply defined legal rights of which alone civilization is cognizant, loose and inadequate provisions for the relief of the poor. But custom and common law had probably ensured their observance (Job 24:10) previously to the Mosaic enactment, and continued for a long but indefinite time to give practical force to the statute. Nor were the 'poor,' to whom appertained the right, the vague class of sufferers whom we understand by the term. On the principles of the Mosaic polity, every Hebrew family had a hold on a certain fixed estate, and could by no ordinary and casual calamity be wholly beggared. Hence its indigent members had the claims of kindred on the 'corners,' etc., of the field which their landed brethren reaped. Similarly the 'stranger' was a recognized dependent; 'within thy gates' being his expressive description, as sharing, though not by any tie of blood, the domestic claim. There was thus a further security for the maintenance of the right in its definite and ascertainable character. Neither do we discover in the earlier period of the Hebrew polity, closely detailed as its social features are, any general traces of agrarian distress and the unsafe condition of the country which results from it — such, for instance, as is proved by the banditti of the Herodian period. David, a popular leader (1Sa 18:30; 1Sa 21:11), could only muster from four to six hundred men out of all Judah, though every one that was in distress, in debt, and every one that was discontented,' came to him (1Sa 22:2; 1Sa 25:13). Further, the position of the Levites, who had themselves a similar claim on the produce of the land, but no possession in its soil, would secure their influence as expounders, teachers, and, in part, administrators of the law, in favor of such a claim. In the later period of the prophets their constant complaints concerning the defrauding of the poor (Isa 10:2;
Am 5:11; Am 8:6) seem to show that such laws had lost their practical force. (These two passages, speaking of 'taking burdens of wheat from the poor,' and of 'selling the refuse [מִפָּל] of the wheat,' i.e. perhaps the gleanings, seem to point to some special evasion of the harvest laws.) Still later, under the Scribes, minute legislation fixed one sixtieth as the portion of a field which was to be left for the legal 'corner,' but provided also (which seems hardly consistent) that two fields should not be so joined as to leave one corner only where two should fairly be reckoned. The proportion being thus fixed, all the grain might be reaped, and enough to satisfy the regulation subsequently separated from the whole crop. This 'corner' was, like the gleaning, tithe-free. Certain fruit-trees, e.g. nuts, pomegranates, vines, and olives, were deemed liable to the law of the corner. Maimonides, indeed, lays down the principle (Constitutiones de donis pauperam, cap. 2:1) that whatever crop or growth is fit for food, is kept, and gathered all at once, and carried into store, is liable to that law. A Gentile holding land in Palestine was not deemed liable to the obligation. As regards Jews, an evasion seems to have been sanctioned as follows: Whatever field was consecrated to the Temple and its services was held exempt from the claim of the poor; an owner might thus consecrate it while the crop was on it, and then redeem it, when in the sheaf, to his own use. Thus the poor would lose the right to the 'corner.' This reminds us of the 'Corban' (Mr 7:11). For further information, SEE AGRICULTURE. The treatise Peak, in the Mishna, may likewise be consulted, especially chap. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; II, 4:7; also the above-quoted treatise of Maimonides." SEE HARVEST.
The CORNER-GATE (שִׁעִר הִּפַּנָּה) of Jerusalem, spoken of in 2Ki 14:13; 2Ch 26:9; Jer 31:38, was on the N.W. side of the ancient city, in Josephus's "second wall," and between the present sites of Calvary and the Damascus Gate. (See Strong's Harmony and Exposition of the Gospels, Appendix 2, p. 17.) SEE JERUSALEM.
CORNER-STONE (אֶבֶן פַּנָּה, Job 38:6; Isa 28:16; Sept. and N.T. κεφαλὴ γωνίας), a quoin or block of great importance in binding together the sides of a building. (On Ps 144:12, see No. 9 above.) Some of the corner-stones in the ancient work of the temple foundations are 17 or 19 feet long, and 7.5 feet thick (Robinson, Researches, 1:422). Cornerstones are usually laid sideways and endways alternately, so that the end of one appears above or below the side-face of the next. At Nineveh the corners are sometimes formed of one angular stone (Layard, Nineveh, 2:201). The corresponding expression, "head of the corner" (ראשׁ פַּנָּת), in Ps 118:22, is by some understood to mean the coping or ridge, "coign of, vantage," i.e. topstone of a building; but as in any part a corner- stone must of necessity be of great importance, the phrase "corner-stone" is sometimes used to denote any principal person, as the princes of Egypt (Isa 19:13), and is thus applied to our Lord, who, having been once rejected, was afterward set in the highest honor (Mt 21:42; see Grotius on Psalm 118; comp. Harmer, Obs. 2:356). The symbolical title of "chief corner-stone" (λίθος ἀκρογωνιαῖος) is also applied to Christ in Eph 2:20, and 1Pe 2:8,16, which last passage is a quotation from Isa 28:16, where the Sept. has the same words. The "cornerstone," or half-underlying buttress, properly makes no part of the foundation, from which it is distinguished in Jer 2:37; though, as the edifice rests thereon, it may be so called. Sometimes it denotes those massive slabs which, being placed towards the bottom of any wall, serve to bind the work together, as in Isa 28:16. Of these there were often two layers, without cement or mortar (Bloomfield, Recens. Synop. on Ephesians 2:20). Christ is called a "corner-stone,"
(1.) In reference to his being the foundation of the Christian faith (Eph 2:20);
(2.) In reference to the importance and conspicuousness of the place he occupies (1Pe 2:6); and
(3.) Since men often stumble against a projecting corner-stone, Christ is therefore so called, because his gospel will be the cause of aggravated condemnation to those who reject it (Mt 21:44). SEE STUMBLING-STONE.
The prophet (Zec 10:4), speaking of Judah, after the return from the exile, says, "out of him came [i.e. shall come] forth the corner [i.e. prince], out of him the nail;" probably referring ultimately to the "corner- stone," the Messiah.