Mill, Millstone

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

Concise Bible Dictionary:

“676. Millstone Drowning” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

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.

“706. The Mill” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

The ordinary hand-mill of the East consists of two circular stones from eighteen inches to two feet in diameter and about six inches deep. The lower, or “nether,” is sometimes, though not always, of heavier and harder stone than the upper. See Job 41:2424His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone. (Job 41:24). The upper, or “rider,” is slightly concave, and covers like the lid of a vessel the lower, which is convex. From the center of the lower stone there rises a pivot, on which the upper stone revolves. Near the edge of the upper stone is the perpendicular stick or handle by which it is turned, and at the center is a hole for the pivot, and also for the grain to fall through upon the stone below. The lower stone has a projection on a part of the edge two or three inches long, slanting downward, and hollowed so as to carry off the meal.
The work of grinding meal is usually performed by the women, and is very laborious. Sometimes one works alone, but usually two work together, sitting on the ground with the millstones between them, and both taking hold of the handle and moving it entirely around, to and from them. The usual time for grinding is at early dawn, or else at the evening in preparation for the following day. The stones, as they crush the grain, send forth a grating sound, which, though not very musical in itself; is melodious enough to a hungry traveler. Reference is made to this noise in Ecclesiastes 12:44And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low; (Ecclesiastes 12:4); Jeremiah 25:1010Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. (Jeremiah 25:10); Revelation 18:2222And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; (Revelation 18:22). In addition to this, the women often sing while grinding.
The millstones were considered so important and necessary a part of household furniture that the Mosaic law would not allow them to be pawned. “No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge; for he taketh a man’s life to pledge” (Deut. 24:66No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man's life to pledge. (Deuteronomy 24:6)).