How were hand mills used in ancient times?
Hand mills were used to grind grain into flour to make bread. Use of such mills was a daily chore for the women or the servants of virtually every household. The sound of grinding was associated with everyday life in ancient times.
Artifacts from ancient Egypt illustrate the process. Grain was placed on a slightly concave, horizontal stone surface, sometimes called a saddle-quern. The grinder knelt in front of the fixed quern while grasping with both hands a smaller grinding stone, or rider, which was moved back and forth over the horizontal surface to grind the grain. According to one source, such riders typically weighed between four and nine pounds (2 and 4 kg). If used as a weapon, such a stone could be deadly.
Grinding cereals was so essential to a family’s well-being that a Biblical law forbade seizure of a millstone as a pledge. “No one should seize a hand mill or its upper millstone as security for a loan, for that would be taking someone’s livelihood as security,” states Deuteronomy 24:6.
To what does the expression “bosom position” refer?
The Bible says that Jesus is “in the bosom position with the Father.” (John 1:18, footnote) This expression refers to the particular closeness and favor that Jesus has with God. These words allude to the custom that the Jews followed when dining.
In Jesus’ day, the Jews reclined on couches arranged around the dinner table. Each diner’s head was positioned toward the table and his feet away from it, while he supported himself on a cushion with his left elbow. This posture allowed his right arm to remain free. Since the diners all lay on their left side, one beside the other, “the head of one man was near the breast of the man who lay behind him,” explains one source, “and he was, therefore, said ‘to lie in the bosom’ of the other.”
To lie in the bosom of the head of a family or of the host of a feast was considered to be a special honor or privilege. Hence, at Jesus’ last Passover, it was “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” the apostle John, who lay in Jesus’ bosom. John could thus ‘lean back on Jesus’ chest’ to ask him a question.