Rock (properly סֶלִע, or צוּר, πέτρα). Palestine is a mountainous and stony country, abounding in caves and fastnesses where the inhabitants sought shelter from sudden invasions of enemies, and where bands of robbers frequently formed their dens. Thus when the Benjamites were overcome, they secured themselves in the rock Rimmon, and David hid himself from Saul in the caves of Adullam, Engedi, and Maon. These ravines furnish a great number of defensible positions, which have been the scene of many deadly struggles, from the days of the Canaanites down to the present hour. The prevailing rock is a dark-gray limestone, which, though it has a most saddening aspect of barrenness and desolation, is very susceptible of cultivation, being easily worked into terraces, which give support to the soil, and facilitate the fertilizing process of irrigation. Travelers who now visit the land are disposed, at the first view, to doubt the ancient accounts of its fertility; they can scarcely bring themselves to believe that these barren wastes were the promised land "flowing with milk and honey;" but a more attentive examination of the country affords abundant evidence that its present sterility is owing to the nature of its government, which, affording no security either for life or property, prevents the husbandman from tilling the soil when he is uncertain whether he shall reap its fruits. Indeed, it may be generally said that a country of limestone rock will be found one of the best in rewarding the labor of cultivation, and one of the worst in spontaneous produce. SEE CAVE; SEE HILL.
Rock is frequently used in Scripture in a figurative sense of the ancestor of a nation, the quarry whence it was derived (Isa 51:1). It is also used in a metaphorical sense of God, as the "Rock," i.e. the strength and refuge of his people (De 32:4; 2Sa 23:3; Ps 18:2). The rock from which the Hebrews were supplied with water in the desert was a figure or type of Christ (1Co 10:4). So the term rock is used of the grand doctrine of Christ's eternal supremacy, which is the foundation of the Christian system (Mt 16:18). SEE STONE.