In the OT both memorials and also the focus for religious devotion. Made of stone or wood, their capitals would often be elaborately decorated. Jacob erected a pillar at Rachel's grave (Gen. 35: 20). Moses set up twelve pillars (one for each tribe) round an altar in the wilderness (Exod. 24: 4). Joshua caused twelve ‘stones’ (obelisks?) to be erected in the Jordan, and later removed to Gilgal (Josh. 4: 9, 20). Because of the association of pillars with the agricultural fertility religion of the Baals, the prophets condemned cultic pillars (Hos. 10: 2; Mic. 5: 13), but the two free‐standing pillars outside the Temple, called Jachin and Boaz, certainly had a religious significance, unlike the pillars of a Greek temple, which were integrated with the structure and had a strong aesthetic appeal.

Symbolically, Hebrews in Egypt are a pillar (Isa. 19: 19), as are James, Peter, and John in Paul's snide description (Gal. 2: 9). The Church is a pillar of truth (1 Tim. 3: 15).