What it is and how much an ass millstone weighs (Matthew 18: 6)
On several occasions Jesus used the donkey mill stone as a symbol of the punishment that awaits those who abuse the innocent. What was an ass millstone like? How much did it weigh and how was it used? What were their characteristics?
And anyone who makes one of these little ones who believe in me stumble, it would be better for him to hang around his neck an ass millstone and to sink into the depths of the sea. (New Testament | Matthew 18: 6)
What it is and what it is for an ass millstone
Have been found stone mills dating from the Neolithic and the Paleolithic. He rotating mill, which is what we refer to now, is presumed to have been invented in the Mediterranean basin around the 2nd century BC. They were used with animal traction in Rome and in much of the Roman Empire. In fact, if you look out to see the ruins of Pompeii you will find them there, as frozen in time. As today, the stone mills were used to grind the grain and obtain flour, from which it was made bread, considered essential in food.
The mills were made up of a combination of very heavy stones. The base was a circular stone, also called "stone bed", On which revolved another large stone, which was the famous"millstone"Or grind, as it is also called. The grain that was pouring was finely crushed between the two stones.
The "stone bed" was slightly convex, and a channel in it led the flour thus produced to the containers of consumo.El stone mill could be operated by humans or animals. In the first case could be used as slaves, in the second, mules or asses.
The millstone or "millstone" could take a round, disk-like, or conical shape. If the discoidal type is considered, the approximate measures would be the following:
- Diameter: 53 inches
- Thickness: 8 inches
- Central hole: one square of 13 inches
Weight of an ass millstone
Although the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke, whose passages we will see later, would seem to refer to any mill, the reference of the Gospel of Matthew is remarkable because it clarifies that it is an ass mill. The weight of the stone used for this mill is notably greater than that used to be operated by slaves (such as the type of mill involved in Lucas 7: 35). While the weight of a millstone operated by humans would be approximately three quarters of a ton, the weight of an ass millstone could be up to one and a half tons. So if they ask you "How much does an ass millstone weigh?" You can give an answer.
Images of how an ass millstone is
To get an idea about this heavy instrument, I bring next the following image of how an ass millstone is.
This is the basic model. Observe how in the "stone bed" there is a gutter to collect the flour. The image is modern, and you can tell because the mill is already made of metal. But it's only for you to see how it works and the parts that make up the mill.
On what occasions are the donkey mill stones mentioned in the scriptures?
Now that we have seen what an ass millstone looks like, let's look at the occasions when they are mentioned in the scriptures. exist five mentions to millstones in the canonical books and each one is a different instance. That is to say, it can not be said that they correspond to the same occasion. Let's see each one of them.
1 In discourse on the terms of discipleship
One of the five keynotes of the gospel of Matthew is the one called "the terms of discipleship" In this discourse, Jesus talked with his disciples about the cost that discipleship requires, as well as about the organization of the Church and the discipline that should be applied within it. The question that gives rise to the discourse is: "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?". At that moment Jesus takes a small child, surely the son of one of the disciples, and sets him as an example, indicating that whoever wants to become great must begin by procuring the humility and simplicity of a child. Then he pronounces the solemn warning:
6 And anyone who makes one of these little ones who believe in me stumble, it would be better for him that an ass millstone was hung around his neck and to sink into the depths of the sea. (New Testament | Matthew 18: 6)
With this, Jesus indicates that the punishment of being submerged with a millstone around his neck to die drowned is preferable to the punishment he expects on the day of judgment for anyone who abuses small children. Given, however, that the child was being used as an example, these words are extensive towards the abuse of all innocents, including our new converts and investigators, who approach trusting in us because of their initial innocence, and who have started his life in the gospel as little children. In general, we must be careful with all those who put their trust in us. The instruction of Jesus supposes the total elimination of malice.
2 Avoiding obstacles for the development of children
Our example also counts a lot. In a different version of the same lesson, Jesus takes a small child, equally as an example, from his own home or from the house of one of the twelve apostles. Also, talk about the stumbles:
42 And to anyone who causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, It would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and that he was thrown into the sea. (New Testament | Mark 9: 42)
Although the passages of the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Mark are so similar, there are some differences in the context to which one would do well to pay attention.
3 The millstone as an extended instruction
In the Gospel of Luke the lesson is presented not only in relation to discipline, but also in relation to forgiveness. This passage from Luke seems to summarize in a very effective way several of the lessons that are expressed in the discourse of "the terms of discipleship." As will be seen, it is also an instruction addressed to "the disciples", that is, applied in context, to the future leaders of the Church.
And Jesus said to his disciples: It is impossible for stumbling blocks not to come; but, woe to the one for whom they come!
2 It would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and thrown into the sea, what to trip one of these little ones.
3 Look for yourselves; if your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4 And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times a day, saying: I repent, forgive him (New Testament | Luke 17: 1-4)
4 An ass millstone in the Apocalypse
In addition to the synoptic gospels, Bible makes one more mention of the millstones in the Apocalypse. As in the other passages, what is appreciated here is the weight of an ass millstone, but the description is even more graphic and violent. It is a representation of the fall of Babylon the Great, the symbolic city of all the sin and world corruption that will be brought down at the beginning of the Millennium. As part of the representation of this fall, the following happens in the Apocalypse:
21 And a powerful angel took a stone, like a large millstoneand threw it into the sea, saying: With equal impetus Babylon, the great city, will be overthrown, and will never be found again. (New Testament | Apocalypse 18: 21)
The weight of an ass millstone surely takes you to the bottom of the sea, where it can not be found again.
5 Applied to the enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ
In our dispensation the Lord once again used the meaning of an ass millstone to express the punishment for those who criticize the Church and its leaders and oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ. The following passage is the least comfortable to read of all that I am quoting in this biblicomentario. However, I will quote it completely, in order to facilitate its correct interpretation. If we find ourselves reading this type of criticism, we will do well to adopt this passage as a counterweight and take distance from them, in order not to find ourselves involved, even spiritually, with such a transgression:
16 Cursed be all those who lift the heel against my anointed, says the Lord, claiming that they have sinned when they did not sin before me, before they did what was proper in my eyes and what I commanded them, says the Lord.
17 But those who claim transgression do so because they are servants of sin, and they themselves are children of disobedience.
18 And those who swear falsely against my servants to cause them servitude and death,
19 woe to them !; for having offended my little ones will be forbidden from the ordinances of my house.
20 Your basket will not be filled, your houses and granaries will disappear, and they will be hated by those who flattered them.
21 They will not have the right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation.
22 It would have been better for them if a millstone had been hung around their necks, and they had drowned in the depths of the sea.
23 Woe to all those who annoy those of my people, and harass them, and murder, and testify against them, says the Lord of Hosts! The generation of vipers will not escape the condemnation of hell.
24 Behold, my eyes see and know all their works, and I have reserved in their season a sudden judgment for all of them;
25 because for each man there is a designated hour, according to his works. (| Doctrine and Covenants 121: 16-25)
When we ask ourselves why the Church does not respond hastily to all the criticisms that are made, or can be made, against it ... well, here is a reason. The Lord will dispose, in his own season, the corresponding judgment. It must be said that the true disciples, whom the Lord has designated as "the pure in heart," are not recreated or entertained in following their pamphlets and materials, but follow, with humble prudence, the correct advice of the Apostle Paul of Tarsus in that regard:
And I urge you, brothers, to pay attention to those who cause dissensions and stumbles against the doctrine that you have learned; and separate yourselves from them. (New Testament | Romans 16: 17)
It is preferable not to touch the bad gift or the impure thing that contaminate the heart with it (see Moroni 10: 29-31).
We have seen what a millstone was and how it was used. The extraordinary weight of the donkey mill stones and their daily use by the people of biblical Palestine led Jesus to use them as an example of the expected punishment in his explanations on subjects of the discipline of the Church and of the judgment of God. In general, this example is used in five different instances:
- In discourse on the terms of discipleship, he specifically instructed the abuse of young children and, in general, about the abuse of whoever puts their trust in us in a position of innocence;
- Marcos' version is very similar to Mateo's, but the context in which it is quoted has differences that must be observed;
- In Luke's version the theme is closely related to the discipline of the Church and leads to a dissertation on forgiveness;
- In the Apocalypse, the mention of the donkey stone takes a different, much wider application, taking the throwing of a millstone to the sea as an illustration of the fall of great Babylon.
- Finally, in the Doctrine and Covenants it is used as an illustration of the expected punishment for those who abuse the innocent in a different aspect to the previous one, by rebelling against God and spreading criticism against the leaders of the Church.
In all five cases, the act of throwing an ass millstone into the sea is an illustration of the punishment that awaits those who abuse the innocent, whether because of direct abuse, as in the case of children, or because of the perversion of the doctrine of God, as in the case of the apostates and of great Babylon. In this last instance it applies as well to general apostasy as to personal apostasy.
Bibliography and final notes
Originally posted 2015-04-03 08: 24: 06.