Deuteronomy 24:6

6 Don't seize a handmill or an upper millstone as collateral for a loan. You'd be seizing someone's very life.

Deuteronomy 24:6 Meaning and Commentary

Deuteronomy 24:6

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.

Deuteronomy 24:6 In-Context

4 then the first husband who divorced her can't marry her again. She has made herself ritually unclean, and her remarriage would be an abomination in the Presence of God and defile the land with sin, this land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance.
5 When a man takes a new wife, he is not to go out with the army or be given any business or work duties. He gets one year off simply to be at home making his wife happy.
6 Don't seize a handmill or an upper millstone as collateral for a loan. You'd be seizing someone's very life.
7 If a man is caught kidnapping one of his kinsmen, someone of the People of Israel, to enslave or sell him, the kidnapper must die. Purge that evil from among you.
8 Warning! If a serious skin disease breaks out, follow exactly the rules set down by the Levitical priests. Follow them precisely as I commanded them.