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 Isaiah 47:2 ; 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. Compare 2 Samuel 11:21 ). Millstones could not be pledged ( Deuteronomy 24:6 ), as they were necessary in every family.
The mills of the ancient Hebrews probably differed but little from those at present in use in the East. These consist of two circular stones, each about eighteen inches or two feet in diameter, the lower of which is fixed, and has its upper surface slightly convex, fitting into a corresponding concavity in the upper stone. In the latter is a hole thorough which the grain passes, immediately above a pivot or shaft which rises from the centre of the lower stone, and about which the upper stone is turned by means of an upright handle fixed near the edge. It is worked by women, sometimes singly and sometimes two together, who are usually seated on the bare ground. ( Isaiah 47:1 Isaiah 47:2 ) "facing each other; both have hold of the handle by which the upper is turned round on the nether millstone. The one whose right hand is disengaged throws in the grain as occasion requires through the hole in the upper stone. It is not correct to say that one pushes it half round and then the other seizes the handle. This would be slow work, and would give a spasmodic motion to the stone. Both retain their hold, and pull to or push from , as men do with the whip or cross-cut saw. The proverb of our Saviour, ( Matthew 24:41 ) is true to life, for women only grind. I cannot recall an instance in which men were at the mill." --Thomson, "The Land and the Book," c.34. So essential were millstones for daily domestic use that they were forbidden to be taken in pledge. ( 24:6 ) There were also larger mills that could only be turned by cattle or asses. Allusion to one of these is made in ( Matthew 18:6 ) With the movable upper millstone of the hand-mill the woman of Thebez broke Abimelechs skull. ( Judges 9:53 )