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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Macalister goes so far as to say that "the rotary handquern in the form used in modern Palestine and in remote European regions, such as the Hebrides, is quite unknown throughout the whole history, even down to the time of Christ" (Excavations at Gezer). The same writer, however, describes some mills belonging to the 3and 4th Sere periods which are much like the present rotary quern, except smaller (4 inches to 6 inches in diameter), and with no provision for a turning handle. Schumacher describes these as paint grinders. The only perforated upper millstones found in the excavations at Gezer belong to the early Arabic period.
If the above assertions are substantiated then we must alter somewhat the familiar picture of the two women at the mill (Matthew 24:41 ), commonly illustrated by photographs of the mills still used in modern Palestine These latter consist of two stone discs each 18 inches to 20 inches in diameter, usually made of Hauran basalt. The upper one is perforated in the center to allow it to rotate on a wooden peg fixed in the nether stone, and near the circumference of the upper stone is fixed a wooden handle for turning it. The grain to be ground is fed into the central hole on the upper stone and gradually works down between the stones. As the grain is reduced to flour, it flies out from between the stones on to a cloth or skin placed underneath the mill. To make the flour fine it is reground and sifted. Larger stones 4 ft. to 5 ft. in diameter, working on the principle of the handmill, are still used for grinding sesame seed. These are turned by asses or mules. Another form of mill, which is possibly referred to in Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; Revelation 18:21 , Revelation 18:22 , consisted of a conical nether stone on which "rode" a second stone like a hollowed-out capstan. The upper stone was probably turned with handspikes in much the same way as an old-fashioned ship's capstan was turned. The material to be ground was fed into the upper cone which formed the hopper and from which it was delivered to the grinding surfaces between the "rider" and the nether stone. This form of mill must have been known in late Biblical times, because many examples of the upper stone dating from the Greek-Roman period have been found. One may be seen in the museum of the Syrian Protestant College at Beirut. Another large one lies among the ruins at Petra, etc. In Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42 , the mill is described as a μύλος ὀνικός ,
Figuratively: (1) Of firmness and undaunted courage (Job 41:24 ). "The heart of hot-blooded animals is liable to sudden contractions and expansions, producing rapid alternations of sensations; not so the heart of the great saurians" (Canon Cook, at the place). (2) To "grind the face of the poor" (Isaiah 3:15 ) is cruelly to oppress and afflict them. (3) The ceasing of the sound of the millstone was a sign of desolation (Jeremiah 25:10; Revelation 18:22 ).
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Mill; Millstone'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/m/mill-millstone.html. 1915.
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