676. Millstone Drowning

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1. The ordinary upper-stone of the Eastern hand-mill is from eighteen inches to two feet across, and might easily be hung around the neck of a person to be drowned. Some commentators, however, are of the opinion that, by the “ass-millstone,” as the original in both Matthew and Mark may be rendered, is meant a stone larger than that used in the ordinary mills-one so large as to require brute-power to turn it. Such a stone would sink a body in the depths of the sea beyond the possibility of recovery.
2. There is no evidence to show that the mode of punishment named in the text was ever practiced by the Jews. It was in use, however, by the ancient Syrians, the Romans, the Macedonians, and the Greeks. It was inflicted on the worst class of criminals, especially on parricides, and on those guilty of sacrilege.