|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
For grinding corn, mentioned as used in the time of Abraham (Genesis 18:6). That used by the Hebrews consisted of two circular stones, each 2 feet in diameter and half a foot thick, the lower of which was called the "nether millstone" (Job 41:24) and the upper the "rider." The upper stone was turned round by a stick fixed in it as a handle. There were then no public mills, and thus each family required to be provided with a hand-mill. The corn was ground daily, generally by the women of the house (Isaiah 47:1, 2; Matthew 24:41). It was with the upper stone of a hand-mill that "a certain woman" at Thebez broke Abimelech's skull (Judges 9:53, "a piece of a millstone;" literally, "a millstone rider", i.e., the "runner, " the stone which revolves. Comp. 2 Samuel 11:21). Millstones could not be pledged (Deuteronomy 24:6), as they were necessary in every family.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) A money of account of the United States, having the value of the tenth of a cent, or the thousandth of a dollar.
2. (n.) A machine for grinding or comminuting any substance, as grain, by rubbing and crushing it between two hard, rough, or indented surfaces; as, a gristmill, a coffee mill; a bone mill.
3. (n.) A machine used for expelling the juice, sap, etc., from vegetable tissues by pressure, or by pressure in combination with a grinding, or cutting process; as, a cider mill; a cane mill.
4. (n.) A machine for grinding and polishing; as, a lapidary mill.
5. (n.) A common name for various machines which produce a manufactured product, or change the form of a raw material by the continuous repetition of some simple action; as, a sawmill; a stamping mill, etc.
6. (n.) A building or collection of buildings with machinery by which the processes of manufacturing are carried on; as, a cotton mill; a powder mill; a rolling mill.
7. (n.) A hardened steel roller having a design in relief, used for imprinting a reversed copy of the design in a softer metal, as copper.
8. (n.) An excavation in rock, transverse to the workings, from which material for filling is obtained.
9. (n.) A passage underground through which ore is shot.
10. (n.) A milling cutter.
11. (n.) A pugilistic.
12. (n.) To reduce to fine particles, or to small pieces, in a mill; to grind; to comminute.
13. (n.) To shape, finish, or transform by passing through a machine; specifically, to shape or dress, as metal, by means of a rotary cutter.
14. (n.) To make a raised border around the edges of, or to cut fine grooves or indentations across the edges of, as of a coin, or a screw head; also, to stamp in a coining press; to coin.
15. (n.) To pass through a fulling mill; to full, as cloth.
16. (n.) To beat with the fists.
17. (n.) To roll into bars, as steel.
18. (v. i.) To swim under water; -- said of air-breathing creatures.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
mil, mil'-ston (recheh; mulos, mulon): The two most primitive methods of grinding grain were
(1) by pounding it in a mortar, and
(2) by rubbing it between two stones.
In Numbers 11:8 both methods are mentioned as used for rendering the manna more fit for cooking. Numerous examples of both mill and mortar have been found in ancient excavations. Bliss and Macalister in their excavations at Gezer and other places have found specimens of what is called the saddle-quern or mill, which consists of two stones. The "nether" stone, always made of hard lava or basalt from the district of the Hauran, was a large heavy slab varying in length from 1 1/2 ft. to 2 3/4 ft., and in width from 10 inches to 1 1/3 ft. Its upper surface was hollowed out slightly, which made it look a little like a saddle and may have suggested the name of "riding millstone" applied by the Hebrews to the upper stone which rested on it (Judges 9:53). The "upper stone" or "rider" was much smaller, 4 inches to 8 in. long and 2 3/4 inches to 6 inches wide, and of varying shapes. This could be seized with the two hands and rubbed back and forth over the nether stone much the same as clothes are scrubbed on a wash-board. Such a stone could be used as a weapon (Judges 9:53 2 Samuel 11:21), or given as a pledge (Deuteronomy 24:6).
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 3rd and 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, 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 mulos onikos, literally, a mill turned by an ass, hence, a great millstone. It is not at all unlikely that the writers have confused the meaning of onos (chamor), a term commonly applied to the upper millstone of a handmill, thinking it referred instead to the animal which turned the mill. This explanation would make Christ's words of condemnation more applicable. The upper millstone of a handmill would be more than sufficient to sink the condemned, and the punishment would be more easily carried out. A few years from now handmills will have disappeared from the Syrian households, for the more modern gristmills turned by water or other motor power are rapidly replacing them.
See CRAFTS, II, 8.
(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).
James A. Patch
Mill (9 Occurrences)
Matthew 24:41 two women grinding at the mill, one will be taken and one will be left. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Luke 17:35 There will be two women turning the mill together: one will be taken away and the other left behind." (WEY)
Revelation 18:22 The voice of harpists, minstrels, flute players, and trumpeters will be heard no more at all in you. No craftsman, of whatever craft, will be found any more at all in you. The sound of a mill will be heard no more at all in you. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 11:5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of livestock. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 24:6 No man shall take the mill or the upper millstone to pledge; for he takes a man's life to pledge. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 16:21 The Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he ground at the mill in the prison. (WEB DBY RSV)
Ecclesiastes 12:4 When the doors are shut in the street, and the sound of the crushing is low, and the voice of the bird is soft, and the daughters of music will be made low; (See NAS)
Lamentations 5:13 The young men bare the mill; The children stumbled under the wood. (WEB JPS ASV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Joel 1:18 How the animals groan! The herds of livestock are perplexed, because they have no pasture. Yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate. (See NIV)