mill Summary and Overview
mill in Easton's Bible Dictionary
for grinding corn, mentioned as used in the time of Abraham (Gen. 18:6). That used by the Hebrews consisted of two circular stones, each 2 feet in diameter and half a foot thick, the lower of which was called the "nether millstone" (Job 41:24) and the upper the "rider." The upper stone was turned round by a stick fixed in it as a handle. There were then no public mills, and thus each family required to be provided with a hand-mill. The corn was ground daily, generally by the women of the house (Isa. 47:1, 2; Matt. 24:41). It was with the upper stone of a hand-mill that "a certain woman" at Thebez broke Abimelech's skull (Judg. 9:53, "a piece of a millstone;" literally, "a millstone rider", i.e., the "runner," the stone which revolves. Compare 2 Sam. 11:21). Millstones could not be pledged (Deut. 24:6), as they were necessary in every family.
mill in Smith's Bible Dictionary
The mills of the ancient Hebrews probably differed but little from those at present in use in the East. These consist of two circular stones, each about eighteen inches or two feet in diameter, the lower of which is fixed, and has its upper surface slightly convex, fitting into a corresponding concavity in the upper stone. In the latter is a hole thorough which the grain passes, immediately above a pivot or shaft which rises from the centre of the lower stone, and about which the upper stone is turned by means of an upright handle fixed near the edge. It is worked by women, sometimes singly and sometimes two together, who are usually seated on the bare ground. #Isa 47:1,2| "facing each other; both have hold of the handle by which the upper is turned round on the 'nether' millstone. The one whose right hand is disengaged throws in the grain as occasion requires through the hole in the upper stone. It is not correct to say that one pushes it half round and then the other seizes the handle. This would be slow work, and would give a spasmodic motion to the stone. Both retain their hold, and pull to or push from, as men do with the whip or cross-cut saw. The proverb of our Saviour, #Mt 24:41| is true to life, for women only grind. I cannot recall an instance in which men were at the mill." --Thomson, "The Land and the Book," c.34. So essential were millstones for daily domestic use that they were forbidden to be taken in pledge. #De 24:6| There were also larger mills that could only be turned by cattle or asses. Allusion to one of these is made in #Mt 18:6| With the movable upper millstone of the hand-mill the woman of Thebez broke Abimelech's skull. #Jud 9:53|
mill in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
MILL . The simplest mill for bruising grains was nothing more than two stones, between which they were broken. If one of the stones be hollowed out, so as to contain the corn to be pounded by another stone or by a piece of wood or metal, it is not a mill, but a mortar. When manna was given in the desert, "the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a Women grinding at the Mill in the East. mortar." Num 11:8. From these mills and mortars there must have been obtained at first only a kind of peeled grain which may be compared to our hominy. Yet we read that Sarah set before the three angels who visited Mamre cakes of fine meal, Gen 18:6, which presupposes a more elaborate implement. This consisted of two round stones, each about 2 feet in diameter and 6 inches high. The under one, or "nether millstone," Job 41:24, was immovable and somewhat lower around the edge than in the centre - that is, it was slightly convex on the top. The upper one was just the reverse, being concave on the bottom, or thicker at the circumference, so as to fit pretty closely to the other. In the centre there was a hole, and above this a funnel or hopper, into which the grain was poured, and thus it ran in between the stones and was broken by them into meal, which fell over the edge upon a board. On the top of the other stone there was an upright peg, by means of which it was turned around. Frequent allusions are made in Scripture to these utensils. Of leviathan it is said that his heart is "as hard as a piece of the nether millstone." Job 41:24. At the siege of Thebes "a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull." Jud 9:53. In the Law it was ordained: "No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge; for he taketh a man's life to pledge." Deut 24:6. Each family had its own mill; and as fresh bread was made every day, no more corn was ground at a time than was necessary for one baking. Hence the noise of the grinding-mills and the voices of the women working them were the first sounds heard in the streets on a morning. The sound was pleasing, because it was naturally associated with industry and the supports and enjoyments of life. The noise of the millstones in the morning, and the lighting up of candles in the evening, are circumstances belonging to inhabited places where men live together in social order; hence the striking power of the prediction, Jer 25:10, Gloomy shall be the silence of the morning, melancholy the shadows of the evening - no cheerful noise to animate the one, no enlivening ray to soften the gloom of the other. Desolation shall everywhere reign.
mill in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
In the East two "circular stones" (reechahim), 2 ft. diameter, the lower fixed, and with the upper surface slightly convex, fitting into the upper stone's concavity. This stone has a hole through which the grain passes, above a pivot rising from the lower stone. About the pivot the "upper stone" (recheb, "the rider") is turned by a handle. Being moveable it could be thrown as a missile (Judges 9:53 Gesenius translated "a cut piece of millstone," not a fragment, but the whole with its carefully cut surface; Revelation 18:21). Two women (Matthew 24:41) facing one another, seated on the ground, both turned it round by the handle, the one supplying the grain through the hole. It was hard servile labor (Exodus 11:5; Judges 16:21; Isaiah 47:1-2; Lamentations 5:18). The mill stones were so essential for preparing food that they were forbidden to be taken in pledge (Deuteronomy 24:6). The cessation of the sound of grinding was a sign of desolation (Jeremiah 25:10; Revelation 18:22; Ecclesiastes 12:3-4, "the grinders cease because they are few ... the sound of the grinding is low".) Larger millstones were turned by asses; Matthew 18:6 "a donkey millstone" (Greek).