No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge,
&c.] The first word being of the dual number takes in both stones, wherefore Vatablus renders the words,
``ye shall not take for a pledge both the millstones, nor indeed the uppermost;''which is the least; so far should they be from taking both, that they were not allowed to take the uppermost, which was the shortest, meanest, and lightest; and indeed if anyone of them was taken, the other became useless, so that neither was to be taken:
for he taketh [a man's] life to pledge;
or with which his life is supported, and the life of his family; for if he has corn to supply them with, yet if his mill or millstones are pawned, he cannot grind his corn, and so he and his family must starve: and in those times and countries they did, as the Arabs do to this day, as Dr. Shaw F4 relates,
``most families grind their wheat and barley at home, having two portable millstones for that purpose; the uppermost whereof is turned round by a small handle of wood or iron, that is placed in the rim;''and these millstones being portable, might be the more easily taken for pledges, which is here forbidden, for the above reason; and this takes in any other thing whatever, on which a man's living depends, or by which he gets his bread F5.
F4 Travels, p. 231. Edit. 2.
F5 Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 9. sect. 13.