Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:


“235. Grinding, a Punishment” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Grinding a hand mill was the lowest kind of slave labor. Among the Greeks and Romans slaves were sometimes compelled to do this as a punishment. It was doubtless considered equally degrading in the days of Samson, and for this reason the Philistines condemned him to it after they destroyed his sight. Some have endeavored to illustrate this scene by a pictorial representation of the Hebrew giant harnessed in leather bands to a huge wooden lever which is connected with a mill! Nothing of the sort is referred to in the text. The “ass’s mill” was probably the invention of a later age, and even if it existed in Samson’s day, how could he use it when he was “bound with fetters?” He was simply compelled to do the degrading work of a woman or a slave at the ordinary hand-mill, which is described in the note on Matthew 24:4141Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Matthew 24:41) (#706). Jeremiah laments the same fate which befell the young men of his people (Lam. 5:1313They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood. (Lamentations 5:13)).

“271. Storing and Grinding Grain” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Harmer (Observations, vol.1, p. 435) suggests that the pretense of these men that they went into the house for wheat, was rendered plausible by the fact that it was necessary to obtain the grain in the afternoon in order to have it ready for grinding early the next morning, according to daily custom. All suspicion of their murderous intention was thus avoided. Ishbosheth was taking his usual daily nap after the noon meal (vs. 5). They went toward the place where the grain was stored, and thus gained access to the apartment of the sleeping king and murdered him.

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