“And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull.”
In the book of Judges we read of how “a certain woman” gave the Philistine leader Abimelech a skull fracture when she threw a millstone on him from a tower. Some biblical scholars concluded that no woman could lift a millstone to throw it. Besides, what would a millstone be doing at the top of a tower?
However, archaeologists easily answered these questions. First, the large round stones, often powered by a donkey, weren’t invented until a thousand years later. The type of millstone in use at the time of this incident was a round, loaf-shaped stone that weighed between four and seven pounds. Archaeologists have found many of them in the Holy Land. It was used to grind flour in a stone base at a time when every household ground their own flour every day. This job was often done on a roof, in the cool breeze, under an awning.
To test the story, archaeologists in Israel assembled the type of stones that would have been used and a watermelon. They used a magic marker to give the melon a face and named it Abimelech. Then, with the help of several women volunteers, they tossed their stones from an ancient two-story tower. Abimelech did not survive.
Whether the Bible is talking about salvation or history, we know we can trust it as God’s Word.
Lord, I thank You for Your love to me in Jesus Christ and Your love in giving us Your Word, faithfully preserved. Amen.
Biblical Archaeology Review, 1-2/02, pp. 34-37, 62, Denise Dick Herr and Mary Petrina Boyd, “A Watermelon Named Abimelech.” Illustration: Gustave Doré, The Death of Abimelech.