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Mortar,

Mortar, [N] [E]

"a wide-mouthed vessel in form of an inverted bell, in which substances are pounded or bruised with a pestle." --Webster. The simplest and probably most ancient method of preparing corn for food was by pounding it between two stones. The Israelites in the desert appear to have possessed mortars and handmills among their necessary domestic utensils. When the manna fell they gathered it, and either ground it in the mill or pounded it in the mortar till it was fit for use. ( Numbers 11:8 ) So in the present day stone mortars are used by the Arabs to pound wheat for their national dish kibby . Another word occurring in ( Proverbs 27:22 ) probably denotes a mortar of a larger kind in which corn was pounded: "Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him." Corn may be separated from its husk and all its good properties preserved by such an operation, but the fools folly is so essential a part of himself that no analogous process can remove it from him. Such seems the natural interpretation of this remarkable proverb. The language is intentionally exaggerated, and there is no necessity for supposing an allusion to a mode of punishment by which criminals were put to death by being pounded in a mortar. A custom of this king existed among the Turks, but there is no distinct trace of it among the Hebrews. Such, however, is supposed to be the reference in the proverb by Mr. Roberts, who illustrates it from his Indian experience.


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Mortar,'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.