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Holman Bible Dictionary


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That on which a building is built; the first layer of a structure that provides a stable base for the superstructure. Bedrock was the preferred foundation (Matthew 7:24 ). The best alternative was a solid platform of close-fitting cut stone (1 Kings 5:17 ). Modest homes had foundations of rough stone. Generally, building sites were leveled by filling in the foundation trenches with gravel or small stones. Often, the foundation is all that remains of ancient structures. The prohibition of laying a foundation for Jericho (Joshua 6:26 ) was a prohibition of rebuilding the city as a fortified site rather than of inhabiting the place. The splendor of the new Jerusalem is pictured in its foundation of precious stones (Isaiah 54:11 ; Revelation 21:19 ).

The Old Testament pictured the earth (dry land) as resting on foundations (2 Samuel 22:16 ; Psalm 18:15 ; Psalm 82:5 ). God is pictured as a builder who marked out the foundations (Proverbs 8:29 ) and set the stone (Psalm 104:5 ). The mountains (Deuteronomy 32:22 ; Psalm 18:7 ) and the vault of the heavens (2 Samuel 22:8 ; Job 26:11 ) are also pictured as resting on foundations. God's great power is expressed in the images of the earth's foundations trembling (Isaiah 24:18 ) or being exposed (2 Samuel 22:16 ) before the Almighty. “From the foundations of the earth” means from the time of creation (Isaiah 40:21 ; Matthew 13:35 ; John 17:24 ).

Christ's teaching is compared to a rock solid foundation (Matthew 7:24 ; Luke 6:48 ). Foundation serves as a metaphor for the initial preaching of the Gospel (Romans 15:20 ; Hebrews 6:1-2 which outlines the foundational topics), for the apostles and prophets as the first generation of preachers ( Ephesians 2:20 ; compare Revelation 21:14 ,Revelation 21:14,21:19 ); and for Christ as the content of preaching (1 Corinthians 3:10-11 ).

The foundations of Psalm 11:3 are the foundations of life, security, community, justice, and religion. To lay a good foundation for the future ( 1 Timothy 6:19 ) is to be generous and ready to share. The foundation of 2 Timothy 2:19 is an enigma. The context suggests that God's foundation is the core of true believers known only to God. Other suggestions include Christ, God's work, the church, Christ's teaching, and God's eternal law.

Chris Church

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Foundation'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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