Proverb for the Day 27:22 — Grind ‘Em Up!

Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.
This wise saying is about one of the most common characters in Proverbs — “a fool.” It discusses him or her in contrast to “grinding…grain” in a “mortar” with a “pestle.”

We’re probably familiar with the image of the small bowl (“mortar”) and slender crushing tool (“pestle”). But in the Old Testament world “grinding them like grain” would not have been done this way.

They used upper (“pestle”) and lower (“mortar”) grinding (mill) stones. The “mortar” was generally large and stationary on the ground while the “pestle” was smaller, mobile and used by hand. Kernels of grain were ground into flour between them.

Everyone in the ancient world knew about transforming grains of wheat into flour by grinding it between the family’s upper and lower mill stones. Once ground, the flour would be mixed with water and baked into their daily bread.

This wise saying suggests a fool could be put through a very similar process and it wouldn’t transform him or her at all!

Yet, I’d like to offer an additional insight from this proverb.

In truth, such external circumstantial influences might help change a fool a little bit — but for real transformation, something else will have to happen. In the end, if a fool’s going to change, it will have to come from their heart and mind.

External pressure has value in teaching us certain truths, but real transformation will always come from the inside out!