What is a 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.