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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

In regard to alphabetic writing, all the ancient writers attribute the invention of it to some very early age, and some country of the east; but they do not pretend to designate precisely either the time or the place. They say, farther, that Cadmus introduced letters from Phenicia into Greece, if we may credit the Parisian Chronicle, B.C. 1519, that is, forty- five years after the death of Moses. Anticlides asserts, and attempts to prove, that letters were invented in Egypt fifteen years before Phoroneus, the most ancient king of Greece; that is, four hundred and nine years after the deluge, and in the one hundred and seventeenth year of Abraham. On this it may be remarked, that they might have been introduced into Egypt at this time, but they had been previously invented by the Phenicians.

Epigenes, who, in the estimation of Pliny, is weighty authority, informs us that observations, made upon the heavenly bodies for seven hundred and twenty years at Babylon, were written down upon baked tiles; but Berosus and Critodemus, also referred to by Pliny, make the number of years four hundred and eighty. Pliny from these statements draws the conclusion that the use of letters, as he expresses it, must have been eternal, that is, beyond all records. Simplicius, who lived in the fifth century, states, on the authority of Porphyry, an acute historian, that Callisthenes, the companion of Alexander, found at Babylon a record of observations on the heavenly bodies for one thousand nine hundred and three years. Of course the record must have been begun B.C. 2234, that is, the eighty-ninth year of Abraham. This statement receives some confirmation from the fact that the month of March is called Adar in the Chaldaic dialect; and at the time mentioned, namely, the eighty-ninth year of Abraham, the sun, during the whole month of March, was in the sign of the zodiac called Aries, or the Ram. The word Adar means the same with Aries. But, as letters would be unquestionably first used for the purposes of general intercourse, they must have been known long before they were employed to transmit the motions of the stars. Of this we have an evidence in the bill of sale, which, as we have reason to suppose from the expressions used in  Genesis 23:20 , was given to Abraham by the sons of Heth. Hence it is not at all wonderful that books and writings are spoken of in the time of Moses, as if well known,  Exodus 17:14;  Exodus 24:4;  Exodus 28:9-11;  Exodus 32:32;  Exodus 34:27-28;  Numbers 33:2;  Deuteronomy 27:8 . Nor is it a matter of surprise that long before his time there had been public scribes, who kept written genealogies: they were called by the Hebrews שוטרים ,  Exodus 5:14;  Deuteronomy 20:5-9 . Even in the time of Jacob, seals, upon which names are engraved in the east, were in use,  Genesis 38:18;  Genesis 41:42; which is another probable testimony to the great antiquity of letters.

Letters, which had thus become known at the earliest period, were communicated by means of the Phenician merchants and colonies, and subsequently by Egyptian emigrants, through all the east and the west. A strong evidence of this is to be found in the different alphabets themselves, which betray by their resemblance a common origin. That the posterity of the Hebrew patriarchs preserved a knowledge of alphabetical writing during their abode in Egypt, where essentially the same alphabet was in use, is evident from the fact, that the Hebrews while remaining there always had public genealogists. The law, also, was ordered to be inscribed on stones; a fact which implies a knowledge of alphabetical writing. The writing thus engraven upon stones is designated by its appropriate name, namely, חרות ,  Exodus 32:16;  Exodus 32:32 . Not a few of the Hebrews might be unable to read and write,  Judges 8:14; but those who were capable of writing wrote for others, when necessary. Such persons were commonly priests, who, as they do to this day in the east, bear an inkhorn in their girdle,  Ezekiel 10:2-3;  Ezekiel 10:11 . In the ink-horn were the materials for writing, and a knife for sharpening the pen,  Jeremiah 36:23 . The rich and noble had scribes of their own, and readers also; whence there is more frequent mention made of hearing than of reading,  1 Kings 4:3;  2 Kings 12:10;  Isaiah 29:18;  Jeremiah 36:4;  Romans 2:13;  James 5:11;  Revelation 1:3 . The scribes took youth under their care, who learned from them the art of writing. Some of the scribes seem to have held public schools for instruction; some of which, under the care of Samuel and other prophets, became in time quite illustrious, and were called the schools of the prophets,  1 Samuel 19:16 , &c;  2 Kings 2:3;  2 Kings 2:5;  2 Kings 4:38;  2 Kings 6:1 . The disciples in these schools were not children or boys, but young men, who inhabited separate edifices, as is the case in the Persian academies. They were taught music and singing, and without doubt writing also, the Mosaic law and poetry. They were denominated, in reference to their instructers, the sons of the prophets; teachers and prophets being sometimes called fathers. After the captivity there were schools for instruction either near the synagogues or in them.

The materials and instruments of writing were,

1. The leaves of trees.

2. The bark of trees, from which, in the process of time, a sort of paper was manufactured.

3. A table of wood, πιναξ , לוח ,  Deuteronomy 9:9;  Ezekiel 37:5;  Luke 1:63 . In the east, these tables were not covered with wax as they were in the west; or at any rate very rarely so.

4. Linen was first used for the object in question at Rome. Linen books are mentioned by Livy. Cotton cloth also, which was used for the bandages of Egyptian mummies, and inscribed with hieroglyphics, was one of the materials for writing upon.

5. The paper made from the reed papyrus, which, as Pliny has shown, was used before the Trojan war.

6. The skins of various animals; but they were poorly prepared for the purpose, until some improved methods of manufacture were invented at Pergamus, during the reign of Eumenes, about B.C. 300. Hence the skins of animals, prepared for writing, are called in Latin pergamena, in English parchment, to this day, from the city Pergamus. They are sometimes denominated in Greek, μεμβρανα ,  2 Timothy 4:13 .

7. Tables of lead, עפרת ,  Job 19:24 .

8. Tables of brass, δελτοι χαλκαι . Of all the materials, brass was considered among the most durable, and was employed for those inscriptions which were designed to last the longest, 1Ma_8:22; 1Ma_14:20-27 .

9. Stones or rocks, upon which public laws, &c, were written. Sometimes the letters engraved were filled up with lime,   Exodus 24:12;  Exodus 31:18;  Exodus 32:19;  Exodus 34:1;  Deuteronomy 27:1-9;  Joshua 8:32;  Job 19:24 .

10. Tiles. The inscriptions were made upon the tiles first, and afterward they were baked in the fire. They are yet to be found in the ruins of Babylon; others of later origin are to be found in many countries in the east. 11. The sand of the earth, in which the children in India to this day learn the art of writing, and in which Archimedes himself delineated his mathematical figures,   John 8:1-8 . If in  Ezekiel 3:1 , and in  Revelation 10:9 , we are informed that books were eaten, we must remember that the descriptions are figurative, and that they were eaten in vision; and consequently we are not at liberty to draw the conclusion from these passages, that any substance was used as materials for writing upon, which was at the same time used for food. The representations alluded to are symbolic, introduced to denote a communication or revelation from God.

As to the instruments used in writing, when it was necessary to write upon hard materials, as tables of stone and brass, the style was made of iron, and sometimes tipped with diamond, Jeremiah 17.

1. The letters were formed upon tablets of wood, (when they were covered with wax,) with a style sharpened at one end, broad and smooth at the other; by means of which the letters, when badly written, might be rubbed out and the wax smoothed down.

2. Wax, however, was but rarely used for the purpose of covering writing tables in warm regions. When this was not the case, the letters were painted on the wood with black tincture or ink.

3. On linen, cotton cloth, paper, skins, and parchment, the letters were painted with a very small brush, afterward with a reed, which was split. The orientals use this elegant instrument to the present day instead of a pen. Ink, called ריו , is spoken of in  Numbers 5:23 , as well known and common,  Jeremiah 36:18 , and was prepared in various ways, which are related by Pliny. The most simple, and consequently the most ancient, method of preparation was a mixture of water with coals broken to pieces, or with soot, with an addition of gum. The ancients used other tinctures also; particularly, if we may credit Cicero and Persius, the ink extracted from the cuttle fish, although their assertion is in opposition to Pliny. The Hebrews went so far as to write their sacred books in gold, as we may learn from Josephus compared with Pliny.

Hieroglyphics, that is, sacred sculptures or engravings, received that appellation, because it was once, and indeed till very lately, thought, that they were used only to express, in a manner hidden from the vulgar, what was exclusively religious; and which it was thought proper to conceal from all but the learned. The fact, however, is, that the hieroglyphic was a kind of picture writing, which passed through various modifications, and was applied alike to sacred and to civil purposes; to the emblazonment of the attributes of idols, the exploits of warriors, and the events of illustrious history. Rudiments of the same art have been found among almost all savages. Among the semi-civilized Mexicans history was pictorial: and in Ceylon and Continental India the same vehicle of instruction is made use of on the walls of their temples, to convey moral lessons, or to indicate the character and exploits of their deities. In Egypt, however, the art was carried into a more perfect system, and was more ostensibly set before the public eye on the massive and almost eternal monuments which cover the country. There, too, it ascends to ages of the world, with which the Scriptures have made us familiar, and stands associated with royal dynasties, and vicissitudes of conquest, more intimately blended with that stream of civil history, along the margin of which European education conducts us. These mystic characters have acquired an adventitious interest also, from the circumstance that the key to them was for so many ages lost. This knowledge perished among that people themselves, the records of whose kings and conquests lay hid under the inexplicable symbol, or the fanciful representation of letters and sounds which were still familiar to the lips of those to whom the signs had become wholly unmeaning. Age after age they were gazed at by the curious; conjectures respecting their nature and use were offered by the learned, some absurd and some approaching the truth, but all failing to throw light upon a mystery, which at length was surrendered, by common consent, to the receptacle of lost and irrecoverable knowledge. Whether the hieroglyphics were symbols only, or words, or picturesque alphabetical characters, or expressed the popular tongue, or one known only to the priests, were questions answered at random by the prompt and dogmatic; and even the more modest and probable solutions of the cautious had so little collateral evidence to support them, that they led to no result. As to their intent, one thought that they involved the mysteries of magic; another, that they were a form of the Chinese language; a third, that they veiled the doctrines of the true patriarchal religion; a fourth, that they enveloped the dogmatic arcana of the Egyptian priesthood. The great point, however, to be determined was, whether the hieroglyphics were the signs of a language; that is, of the sounds of any language; and, if so, whether the language was now known, or knowable, from books still extant. Each of these points was of equal importance; for in vain would it have been ascertained that these signs represented the sounds of a tongue once spoken, if that tongue had perished from the earth. Clement of Alexandria, who lived about the end of the second century, asserted that the Egyptians had three modes of writing,—the epistolo-graphic, or common characters; the hieratic, or sacerdotal, employed chiefly by the priesthood in writing books; and the hieroglyphic, used on public monuments. The symbolical he again distributes into imitative, which represent the plain figure of an object, as a circle to express the sun, and a half-circle the moon; tropical,—which have recourse to analogy for the representation of the object; and enigmatical,— as "a serpent, to signify the oblique course of the stars." This writer could not so accurately have expressed the truth of the case, unless he had known much more than he has written; and we may presume, that if he had been more liberal in his communications, the present age would not have had the honour of throwing open the gate to this branch of ancient learning. The notion which has generally prevailed, that by whatever rule the hieroglyphics were composed, they were invented by the Egyptian priests to conceal their wisdom from the vulgar, was combated by Bishop Warburton, with his usual acuteness. According to him, the first kind of hieroglyphics were mere pictures; because the most natural way of communicating our conceptions by marks or figures was, to trace out the images of things. But the hieroglyphics invented by the Egyptians were an improvement on this rude and inconvenient essay toward writing; for they contrived to make them both pictures and characters. He proceeds to other observations, which have lost their interest in consequence of the recent discoveries; but he argues conclusively, that hieroglyphics could not, in a vast number of cases, have been resorted to for purposes of secresy, since they were employed to record openly and plainly their laws, history, and all kinds of civil matters. This, as a general view, has been proved to be correct; but still no key to the reading of these characters was found. The figures of deities might, in many instances, be deciphered by their attributes; other symbols were not difficult to explain, as they spoke a universal language. Thus two hands, one holding a bow, and another a shield, suggested a battle; an eye and a sceptre, a monarch of intelligence and vigilance; a ship and a pilot, the governor of a state if associated with a man, the ruler of the universe if associated with a deity. A lion was a natural emblem of strength and courage; a bullock, of agriculture; a horse, of liberty; a sphynx, of subtlety. But still those hieroglyphics were in the greatest number which appeared to represent letters; and many might prove, at the same time, both emblematic and alphabetical. Approaches to the truth of the case had been, indeed, made. Warburton, from an attentive perusal of what Clemens Alexandrinus had said on the subject, had, in fact, concluded, in a way highly creditable to his acuteness, that hieroglyphics were a real written language, applicable to the purposes of history and common life, as well as to those of religion; and that, among the different sorts of hieroglyphics, the Egyptians possessed those which were used phonetically, or alphabetically, as letters; but, till recently, the means of following out this ingenious and correct conjecture were wanting to the learned. The first effectual step was taken by M. Quattermere, who proved, in his work Sur la Langue et Litterature de l'Egypte, [Concerning the Language and Literature of Egypt,] that the Coptic, a language of easy attainment, at least to a considerable extent, was the language of the ancient Egyptians. The second favouring circumstance of modern times was, the publication of the researches made as to the monuments of Egypt by the literary men and artists who accompanied the French expedition to that country. Previous to this, the specimens which had been brought to Europe were few, and the impressions and the fac similes of them incorrect. Some, too, were imitations, and others spurious. In the works published in France after this expedition, the representations of Egyptian monuments were numerous; and the inscriptions were given with perfect exactness and fidelity. Still, however, those would have remained as unintelligible as the originals but for the discovery of the Rosetta stone, now among the Egyptian antiquities in the gallery of the British museum. This stone was dug up by the French, near Rosetta, and contained an inscription in three sets of characters: one in hieroglyphics; a second in a sort of running hand, called enchorial, that is, in the common characters of the country; and a third in Greek. The latter appearing, from the disposition of the whole, to be a translation of the enchorial inscription, as that was of the hieroglyphic, the importance of this stone was at once seen by the French savans; but by the fortune of war, it was taken, with other valuables, by the British troops, and was sent to this country. The Antiquarian Society had it immediately engraved; and the fac similes, which were circulated through Europe, attracted great attention. Dr. Young has, however, the honour of being the discoverer of the nature and use of the hieroglyphical inscription. M. de Sacy, and more especially Mr. Ackerblad, a Danish gentleman, made some progress in identifying the sense of several parts of the second inscription, or that in demotic or enchorial characters, but made no progress in the hieroglyphics; and it was left for British industry to convert to permanent profit a monument which had been a useless, though a glorious, monument of British valour. The inscription upon this celebrated stone proved to be a decree of the Egyptian priests, solemnly assembled in the temple, to record upon a monument, as a public expression of their gratitude, all the events of the reign of Ptolemy Epiphanes; his liberality to the temples and to the gods; his success against his rebellious subjects; his clemency toward some of the traitors; his measures against the fatal consequences of excessive inundations of the Nile; and his munificence toward the college of the priests, by remitting the arrears of several years' payment of taxes. It was an important circumstance, that the whole concludes by ordering that this decree "shall be engraved on a hard stone in sacred characters, in common characters, and in Greek." By this it was ascertained that the second and third inscriptions were translations of the first; and that the second inscription was in the common character of the country. It was this that led Ackerblad to the investigation of the enchorial text, in order to discover its alphabet; in which he partially succeeded. His labours were, however, for some time unnoticed; but in 1814, Dr. Young published, in the Archaeologia, an improvement on the alphabet of Ackerblad, and a translation of the Egyptian inscription. Difficulties of no ordinary kind, beside those arising from the mutilated state of the stone, presented themselves to all who had applied to make out even the second, or enchorial inscription.

"The method," says the Marquis Spineto, "pursued by our learned men in this Herculean task of deciphering the Rosetta stone, deserves to be noticed; it may serve to give you a proper idea of the infinite labour to which they have been obliged to submit; a labour which at first seemed calculated to deter the most indefatigable scholar. Figure to yourself, for a moment, the fashion introduced of writing the English language with the omission of most of its vowels, and then suppose our alphabet to be entirely lost or forgotten, a new mode of writing introduced, letters totally different from those we use, and then conceive what our labour would be, if, after the lapse of fifteen hundred years, when the English language, by the operation of ages, and the intercourse with foreigners, was much altered from what it now is, we should be required, by the help of a Greek translation, to decipher a bill of parliament written in this old, forgotten, and persecuted alphabet, in every word of which we should find, and even this not always, the regular number of consonants, but most of the vowels left out. And yet this is precisely what our learned antiquarians have been obliged to do. The Egyptians, like most of the orientals, left out many of the vowels in writing. The enchorial, or demotic alphabet, which they used, has been laid aside since the second or third century of our era. From that time to this, that is, for nearly sixteen hundred years, the Coptic alphabet has been used; and yet in this Coptic language, and in these very enchorial or demotic characters, was engraved on the Rosetta stone the inscription which they have deciphered."

The steps of this interesting process are given by Dr. Young, in the Supplement to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The substance is as follows: "As the demotic characters showed something like the shape of letters, it was shrewdly suspected that they might have been used as an alphabet. By comparing, therefore, its different parts with each other, and with the Greek, it was observed that the two groups in the fourth and seventeenth lines of the Greek inscription, in which Alexander and Alexandria occur, corresponded with two other groups in the second and the tenth line of the demotic inscription. These two groups, therefore, were considered as representing these two names, and thus not less than seven characters, or letters, were ascertained. Again: it was observed that a small group of characters occurs very often in almost every line. At first it was supposed that this group was either a termination, or some very common particle; and after some words had been identified, it was found to mean the conjunction and. It was then observed, that the next remarkable collection of characters was repeated twenty-nine or thirty times in the enchorial inscription; and nothing found to occur so often in the Greek, except the word king, which with its compounds, is repeated about thirty-seven times. A fourth assemblage of characters was found fourteen times in the enchorial inscription, agreeing sufficiently well in frequency with the name of Ptolemy, which occurs eleven times in the Greek, and generally in passages corresponding to those of the enchorial text, in their relative situation; and, by a similar comparison, the name of Egypt was identified. Having thus obtained a sufficient number of common points of subdivision, the next step was to write the Greek text over the enchorial, in such a manner that the passages ascertained should coincide as nearly as possible; taking, however, a proper care to observe that the lines of the demotic or enchorial inscription are written from right to left, while those of the Greek run in a contrary direction from left to right. At first sight this difficulty seemed very great; but it was conquered by proper attention and practice; because, after some trouble, the division of the several words and phrases plainly indicated the direction in which they were to be read. Thus it was obvious that the intermediate parts of each inscription stood then very near to the corresponding passages of the other."

By means of the process above mentioned, Ackerblad, De Sacy, and Dr. Young, among whom a correspondence had been carried on, obtained a sort of alphabet from the enchorial characters, which might aid them in future researches. This result was published by Dr. Young in 1814. The examination of another stone at Menoup, containing an inscription in enchorial and in Greek characters, enabled Dr. Young to confirm the accuracy of former discoveries, and to add several new characters to the enchorial or demotic alphabet. Dr. Young next turned his attention to the hieroglyphics; and, though not with equal success, yet so as to demonstrate that they were phonetic or alphabetical, and to spell several proper names. The difficulty here, indeed, was how to begin; but his success opened a certain way to future progress; and it was upon Dr. Young's discovery that Champollion afterward engrafted his system, and was enabled to carry his researches into Egyptian antiquities and Egyptian hieroglyphics, to an extent which is now deeply engaging the attention of the literary world.

Two practical ends appear to have been answered already by the deciphering of the mystic monuments of Egypt. The first is, that the inscriptions which have been read by Champollion, afford assistance in settling some questions of ancient chronology; the other is, that important collateral proof has been afforded of the historical accuracy of the Old Testament, and the antiquity of its books. It is presumptive in favour of the genuineness and antiquity of the writings of Moses, that such proper Egyptian names as are found in no other ancient writings beside his own, such as On, and Rameses, and Potipherah and Asenath, should now be read in hieroglyphic characters on monuments still standing in the same country. But the confirmatory evidence goes still farther. In one inscription the names of two of the Pharaohs, Osorgon and Scheschonk, are exhibited. Of the characters which compose this legend some are phonetic, some figurative, and some symbolic. The whole reading in Coptic, is, " Ouab an Amon-re soten annenoute Osorchon pri (or pre ) ce or ci an ouab an Amon-re Souten Scheschonk-re Soten Nebto, ( Amonmai Osorchon, )" &c. The meaning of which is, "The pure by Amon-re, king of the gods, Osorchon deceased, son of the pure, by Amon-re, king of the gods, Scheschonk deceased, son of king of the world, (beloved by Amon-re, Osorchon,) imparting life, like the sun, for ever." This Osorchon seems to have been the Zarah, or Zarach, the king of Ethiopia, recorded in the Second Book of Chronicles, who, with a host of a thousand thousand and three hundred chariots, came to make war against Asa, the grandson of Jeroboam, and was defeated at Mareshah. Although the Greek historians have never mentioned either the name or exploits of Osorchon, this fact is attested by an hieroglyphical manuscript, published by Denon. It is a funeral legend, loaded with figures, on and round which there are several hieroglyphical inscriptions. With respect to the other Pharaoh, Champollion, speaking of the temple of Karnac, says, "In this marvellous place I saw the portraits of most of the ancient Pharaohs, known by their great actions. They are real portraits, represented a hundred times on the basso-relievos of the outer and inner walls. Each of them has his peculiar physiognomy, different from that of his predecessors and successors. Thus, in colossal representations, the sculpture of which is lively, grand, and heroic, more perfect than can be believed in Europe, we see the Pharaoh Mandouei combating the nations hostile to Egypt, and returning triumphant to his country. Farther on, the campaigns of Rhamses Sesostris; elsewhere Sesonchis, or Shishak, dragging to the feet of the Theban Trinity, Ammon, Mouth, and Khous, the chiefs of thirty conquered nations, among which is found, written in letters at full length, the word Joudahamalek, that is, the kingdom of the Jews, or the kingdom of Judah.

This is a commentary on the fourteenth chapter of the First Book of Kings, which relates the arrival of Shishak at Jerusalem, and his success there. Thus the identity between the Egyptian Sheschonk, the Sesonchis of Manetho, and the Sesac, or Schischak of the Bible, is confirmed in the most satisfactory manner."

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [2]

As ancient nations and communities developed, people became increasingly aware of the benefits that writing brought. Over the centuries they used a variety of materials and methods in their efforts to develop the art and improve their skills.

An early practices was to engrave letters on a smooth surface of bare stone, clay, or stone covered with plaster. The writing was done with a sharp-pointed instrument, usually on rectangular tablets of a size that people could easily handle ( Exodus 32:15-16;  Deuteronomy 27:2-3;  Job 19:24;  Isaiah 8:1). A more common practice for writings and records of lesser importance was to write in ink on pieces of pottery (technically known as ostraca).

Engraved tablets of stone or clay effectively preserved the writing, but their size and weight limited their usefulness. A more convenient material was developed from a reed known as papyrus (from which we get the English word ‘paper’) or byblos. Dried flat strips of papyrus were stuck together to form a flat sheet, which a person wrote upon using a pen and ink. The pen also was made from a papyrus reed ( 2 John 1:12;  3 John 1:13).

Papyrus writing sheets were often joined to form a long strip, which was then rolled into a scroll ( Jeremiah 36:2;  Revelation 5:1). The Greeks called a scroll a biblion (after the byblos, or papyrus, plant). From this word we get the word ‘Bible’ as a name for that collection of scrolls, or books, that Christians acknowledge as the Scriptures. Since papyrus did not last well, writers sometimes used specially dried animal skin (parchment) instead. Parchment was much more expensive than papyrus, and usually people used it only for those writings that were more important or in more constant use ( Luke 4:17;  Luke 4:20;  2 Timothy 4:13).

Although the word ‘book’ sometimes appears in English translations of the Old and New Testaments, the article referred to was not a book in the sense that we understand today (i.e. a collection of sheets bound together). It was most likely a scroll. The book form developed early in the second century AD. Christians found this form particularly useful, not simply because books were easier to read than scrolls, but because the sacred writings could be kept together more conveniently. A few books could contain the writings of many scrolls. This kind of book has become known as a codex. (See also Manuscripts .)

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]


1. Pre-historic The origin of writing is not recorded in Genesis, where we should expect to find some account of it, but this omission may be intentional. Since God is represented as writing on two Tables of stone ( This classic reference book has been a standard for the past 100 years among scholars and laity alike. James Hastings, one of the most influential Bible scholars and editors of the early 19th century, assembled this massive dictionary of all Biblical terms in 1909. Written by over 75 Biblical experts and pastors, each entry has an in-depth explanation, summary, cross-references, and contributor. This edition also has a list of abbreviations, maps, and a pronunciation guide. Hasting's one volume Dictionary of the Bible is not simply an abridged or condensed version of his 5-volume work. It is an entirely separate work.

This resource is essential for any student of the Bible, whether you×re a pastor, seminary student, or general reader. With the Logos edition, all Scripture references are linked to the other resources in your library, making study, devotions, and comparison easy. f.), it might seem improper that He should employ a human invention, while, on the other hand, there may have been no tradition that the art was first used on that occasion; the inference is therefore left to be drawn by the reader. Perhaps we may infer from the phrase in  Isaiah 8:1 that there was a style known as ‘Divine writing,’ being the character used in these Tables. The Tables themselves scarcely figure in the historical parts of the OT, neither can we from the Pentateuch learn their contents with precision; yet the tradition that such Tables at one time existed is likely to be trustworthy, and the narratives given in Ex. and Deut. imply that there were whole Tables and fragments of Tables which had to be accounted for. From the statement that they were written on both sides afterwards grotesquely misunderstood we may infer that they resembled stelÅ“ in form, and perhaps the original should be rendered by that word.

2. Origin of writing among the Israelites . It is improbable that the OT contains any documents which in their written form are earlier than the time of David, when we first hear of an official scribe (  2 Samuel 8:17 ). The question of the date at which writing was first in use in Palestine is absolutely distinct from that of its earliest employment by Israelites , though the two are often confused. There is no evidence of Israel ever having employed the cuneiform script or any form of hieroglyphic writing, though both may have been familiar in Palestine before the rise of the Israelitish State. Probably, then, their earliest writing was alphabetic, but whence the Israelites got the art is a question of great difficulty, never likely to be cleared up. It is certain that Hebrew orthography is etymological, i.e. fixed in many cases by the history of the word as well as by its pronunciation, and this being so, it must have come down by tradition from an earlier stage of the language; yet of this earlier language we have no monuments. The possibilities are: (1) that the Israelitish tribes contained men with whom knowledge of writing was hereditary; (2) that when they settled in Canaan however we interpret this phrase they took over the language, and with it the writing and orthography, of the earlier inhabitants; (3) that when the immigrants were settled, teachers of this art, among others, were sent for to PhÅ“nicia. The second of these hypotheses has most in its favour, as it accounts best for the differences between Hebrew and PhÅ“nician spelling.

3. Character of writing . The alphabet employed by the Israelites consists of 22 letters, written from right to left, serving for 28 or more sounds, not including vowels, which some of the consonants assist in representing. The OT, which bas no grammatical terms, never alludes to these signs by name; yet we learn a few letter-names, not from their being employed to denote letters, but from their use as names of objects resembling those letters: these are Wâw and Tâw , meaning ‘hook’ and ‘cross’ (like our T-square, etc.), and it seems possible that two more such names may lurk in   Isaiah 28:10 . From the story in   Judges 12:6 it might be inferred that the letter-names were not yet known at the time; still those which figure in the Hebrew grammars must be of great antiquity, as is evinced by the Greeks having borrowed them. The Greek names are evidently taken from an Aramaic dialect, and of this language some of the names used by the Jews ( Nûn, Rçsh ) show traces. These names have often been thought to be taken from the appearance of the letters or perhaps it should be said that the letters were originally pictures of the objects which their names denote but it is difficult to draw up a consistent scheme based on this theory. The familiar order is found in the alphabetic Psalms and in Lamentations, and in the cypher of Jeremiah (  Jeremiah 25:26 etc., if the traditional explanation of those passages be trustworthy). Of the existence of any graphic signs other than the letters there is no evidence, though it is likely that the signs used by the neighbouring peoples to express units, decades, scores, and centuries were known to the Israelites, and they may also have had the dividing line between words, though the mistakes in the text of the OT due to wrong division show that it was not regularly used; a dividing point is used in the Siloam inscription. Isaiah, as has been seen, distinguishes ‘human writing’ or ‘the writing of ‘Ä•nôsh ’ from some other; and it would be in accordance with analogy that the spread of the art should lead to the formation of a variety of scripts. The style current, as exhibited in the inscription mentioned, and in a weight and a few gems, differs very slightly from that in use in the PhÅ“nician settlements, of which the history is traceable from the 8th or 9th cent. b.c. down to Roman times. The papyri recently discovered at Elephantine show that in the 5th cent. b.c. a different and more cursive hand was used for Aramaic by the Jewish exiles; we should probably be correct in assuming that a similar hand was employed for Hebrew papyri also, in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

The square character, according to the Jewish tradition, was substituted for the older writing (of which a variety is preserved in the Samaritan script) in copies of the Law by Ezra, but this can be regarded only as a conjecture. The modern character first appears in Hebrew inscriptions of the 1st cent. a.d., and a somewhat similar type in Palmyrene texts of nearly the same date; yet for certain purposes the older style was retained by the Jews, e.g. for coins, which show the ancient character even in Bar Cochba’s time. Still the numerous errors in the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] version which owe their explanation to the confusion of similar letters, show that an alphabet similar to that now in use must have been employed for writing the Law as early as the 2nd or perhaps the 3rd cent. b.c.; and the allusion in   Matthew 5:18 to Yod as the smallest letter of the alphabet, shows that the employment of this alphabet was familiar at that time. The change by which it had superseded the older scripts is likely to have been gradually rather than suddenly accomplished. The square character differs from the older, among other things, in the possession of five final forms, four of which are in fact nearer the older script than the initial forms; this innovation seems to be connected with the practice, adopted from the Greeks, of employing the letters for numeration, when five extra letters were required to provide signs for 500 900. That this practice was borrowed from the Greeks is confirmed by the Rabbinical use of the Gr. word gematria , ‘geometry,’ to denote it. The exact sense of the word rendered ‘tittle’ In   Matthew 5:18 is unknown; attempts have at times been made to interpret the word from the strokes called in the later Jewish calligraphy tâgîn .

4. Later history of Hebrew writing . Of other signs added to the letters the only kind which can claim any considerable antiquity are the puncta extraordinaria , dots placed over certain letters or words ( e.g. ‘and he kissed him’ in   Genesis 33:4 ) to indicate that they should be ‘expunged,’ a term which literally means ‘to point out.’ This practice was common to both Western and Eastern scribes in the early centuries of our era, and even before; and it has rightly been inferred from the occurrence of these dots that all our copies of the Hebrew OT go back to one, of no great accuracy. In Bible times the process of erasure is indicated by a word signifying ‘to wipe out’ (  Exodus 32:32 ), apparently with water (  Numbers 5:23 ), whereas in Rabbinical times a word which probably signifies ‘to scratch out’ is ordinarily employed. The NT equivalent is ‘to smear out,’ e.g.   Colossians 2:14 etc. During the period that elapsed between the fall of Jerusalem and the completion of the Tradition, various rules were invented for the writing of the Law. which are collected in the Tract called Sôpherîm  ; these involved the perpetuation of what were often accidental peculiarities of the archetype, and the insertion in the text of signs, the meaning of which had in certain cases been forgotten. A much more important addition to the text is later than the completion of the Talmuds, viz. the introduction of a system of signs indicating the vocalization and musical pitch or chant. Of the former, two systems are preserved, an Eastern and a Western, but the familiar Western system won general acceptance. The invention and elaboration of these systems stand in some relation to the efforts made by Syrian Christians and Moslems to perpetuate the correct vocalization and intonation of their sacred books and facilitate their acquisition; and indeed the Jewish inventions seem based on those already employed by Syrians and Arabs, and both in form and in nomenclature bear evidence of this origin. It would seem, however, that the first employment of vowel-signs for a Semitic language is to he found in the monuments of pagan Abyssinia. We should expect the introduction of extraneous signs into the sacred page to meet with violent opposition, yet of this we have no record; there is, however, evidence that the employment of the same signs for the punctuation of non-Biblical texts was disapproved by a party. The Karaite Jews appear to have saved the text from these additions by the expedient of transliterating it into Arabic characters, but this practice was soon abandoned, and the MSS which illustrate it belong to a limited period.

Some record of the process by which the text was vocalized would be welcome, for without this it has to he re-constructed by analogies drawn from the history of the Koran, which itself is imperfectly known. There are clearly many cases in which the vocalization has been affected by dogmatic considerations; it is not, however, certain that the punctuators were responsible for this, as there is evidence that before the invention of vowel-signs there were cases where fault was found with the traditional vocalization. The familiar series of variants known as Qerç , opposed to Kethîbh , appears to embody suggestions for the improvement of the text, dating from various ages. So elaborate a task as the vocalization must have been accomplished by a large and authoritative committee, labouring for at least some years; but whether there was any reason for secrecy or not, there is ground for thinking that even in the 9th cent. the memory of the event was exceedingly hazy.

5. Character of writers . The OT gives little information on such subjects as schools and methods of instruction. In Isaiah’s time (  Isaiah 29:11-12 ) an ordinary Israelite might or might not be able to read; apparently, however, such knowledge was usual in the higher classes (  Isaiah 8:2 ), and the same seems to he implied by a scene in Jeremiah (ch. 36), whereas the precepts of Deuteronomy from their wording (  Isaiah 6:9 ) rather suggest that the process of writing would be familiar to every Israelite, and in one case (  Isaiah 24:1 ) distinctly imply it. Of association of the art of writing with the priestly caste there is perhaps no trace except in   Numbers 5:23 , where a priest has to write a magical formula; and the fact that in later times the order of scribes was quite distinct from that of priests shows that there was no such association. Unless we are to infer from   Judges 5:14 that the art of writing was cultivated at an early time in the tribe of Zebulun, it would appear that the foreign policy of David first led to the employment of a scribe (  2 Samuel 8:17 ), such a person doubtless corresponding with the kâtib or munshi ’ of Mohammedan States, whose business it is to write letters for the sovereign, himself often unacquainted with the art; these persons set the fashion and invent the technicalities which other writers adopt. Less distinguished scribes attach themselves to particular individuals, at whose dictation they write (as Baruch for Jeremiah), or earn their living by writing and reading letters for those who require the service. Closely connected with this profession ls that of copyist, but the development of the latter in Israel seems to have been peculiar. In Deuteronomy Moses writes the Law himself (  Deuteronomy 31:24 ), and the kings are to make their own copies (  Deuteronomy 17:18 ); of a professional copyist of the Law we do not hear till the time of Ezra, who is clearly regarded as editor as well as copyist; and though the word ‘scribe’ technically means one who copies the Law, its sense in Sirach ( Sir 10:5 etc.) approaches that of savant , while in the NT it might be rendered by ‘theologian.’

Publication in ancient times was usually effected by recitation, whence one copy would serve for a large community; but the employment of writing altogether for the composition and perpetuation of books appears to have commenced late in Israelitish history. Thus Solomon’s ‘wisdom’ was spoken, not written (  1 Kings 4:32-34 ), and those who wished to profit by it had to come and hear the king, who may be thought of as holding séances for the recitation of his works. In Isaiah’s time the amount of a prophecy written appears to have been confined to just sufficient to remind the hearer of its content (  1 Kings 8:1 ); and this might he attested by witnesses. When the prophecies of Jeremiah were written at length, the process appears to have been regarded as an innovation of which some account was required (  Jeremiah 36:17 ); but after this time it seems to have become familiar, and in   Habakkuk 2:1 the prophet is commanded to write his prophecy clearly, to enable it to be read easily. Of a written Law, apart from the tradition of the Two Tables, there seems to be little or no trace prior to the discovery of Deuteronomy; how the older code embodied in Exodus was preserved is not known. Official chronicles perhaps engraved on stone, but this is uncertain seem to have commenced in the time of David, when we first hear of an official called ‘the recorder’ (  2 Samuel 8:16 ); and to his age or that of his successor it is possible that certain collections of tribal lays go back, which afterwards furnished the basis of prose histories whose substance is preserved in the Pentateuch and following books; but the older theory of the documents contained in the Pentateuch ( e.g.   Exodus 13:8 ) is that the memory of events would be preserved by ceremonies, accompanied with explanatory formulæ, rather than by written monuments. The founding of libraries (cf. 2M  Malachi 2:13 ) and circulation of literature in masses probably belong to post-exilic times, when Ecclesiastes can complain that too many books are written (  Ecclesiastes 12:12 ), and Daniel thinks of the OT as a library (  Daniel 9:2 ). But for legal and commercial purposes (as well as epistolography) the use of writing was common in pre-exilic times. So Jezebel sends a circular note in many copies (  1 Kings 21:8 ), which bear the king’s seal, probably in clay (  Job 38:14 ); Job (  Job 13:26;   Job 31:35 ) thinks of his indictment as written, and Isaiah (  Isaiah 10:1 ) appears to condemn the practice of drawing up documents fraudulently. Contracts of divorce and purchase of land are mentioned by Jeremiah (  Jeremiah 3:8;   Jeremiah 32:14 etc.), the latter requiring attestation by witnesses. The images of   Isaiah 34:16 ,   Psalms 139:16 etc. appear to be taken from the practice of bookkeeping, which ben-Sira in the 2nd cent. b.c. so strongly recommends (42:7). Of genealogical rolls we hear first in post-exilic times, but the comparison of   1 Chronicles 9:1-44 with   Nehemiah 11:1-36 shows that such documents were sometimes old enough to make it difficult for the archæologists to locate them with certainty. In the Persian period a few new terms for writings and copies were introduced into Hebrew, and we hear of translations (  Ezra 4:7 ‘written in Aramaic and translated into Aramaic,’ where the first ‘Aramaic’ is surely corrupt), and of foreign scripts being learned by Jews (  Daniel 1:4 ). In Esther we read of an elaborate system in use in the Persian empire for the postage of royal communications.

On the whole, we are probably justified in asserting that the notion connected with writing in the classical period of Hebrew literature was rather that of rendering matter permanent than that of enabling it to reach a wide circle. Hence the objection that some have found to the Two Tables of stone being hidden away in the ark (unlike the Greek and Roman decrees engraved on public stelÅ“ ) is not really a valid one; the contents are supposed to be graven on the memory (  Jeremiah 31:33 ), the written copy serving merely as an authentic text for possible reference in case of doubt like the standard measures of our time. This theory is very clearly expressed in   Deuteronomy 31:26 and   1 Samuel 10:25 , and renders it quite intelligible that the Law should have been forgotten, and recovered after centuries of oblivion. Such instruction as was given to the young was in all probability without the use of any written manuals, and in the form of traditions to be committed to memory. ‘We have heard with our ears and our fathers have told us’ (  Psalms 44:1 ) is the formula by which the process of acquiring knowledge of ancient history is described. The conception of the Law as a book to be read, whereas other literary matter was to be learned and recited without note, is due to the growth of synagogal services, such as commenced long after the first Exile. Even in the time of Josephus it would appear that a community rather than an individual was ordinarily the possessor of a copy of the Law, whence the term ‘to read,’ as in   Luke 10:26 , is the formula employed in quoting texts of Scripture only, whereas ‘to repeat’ would be used when the Tradition was cited. Both were doubtless habitually committed to memory and so cited, whence it comes that quotations are so often inaccurate.

6. Writing materials . The ordinary verb used in Hebrew for ‘writing’ has in Arabic as its primary sense that of sewing or stitching , whence it might be inferred that the earliest form of writing known to the peoples who employ that word consisted in embroidery or the perforation of stuffs and leaves. More probably the sense of ‘writing’ comes through an intermediate signification to put together, make a list, compose , of which we have examples in   Judges 8:14 ,   Isaiah 10:19 , and perhaps   Hosea 8:12 and   Proverbs 22:20; this sense is preserved in Arabic in the word katîbah , ‘regiment or list of men enrolled.’ From the Heb. word kâthabh , then, we learn nothing as to the nature of the material; more is indicated by a rarer word châqaq , lit. ‘to scratch,’ which implies a hard surface, such as that of stone or wood; and of ‘ books ’ of this sort, calculated to last for ever, we read in   Isaiah 30:8 and   Job 19:23-24 . Wooden staves are specified as material for writing in   Numbers 17:2 and   Ezekiel 37:16; and a ‘polished surface,’ probably of metal, in   Isaiah 8:1 . The instrument (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] pen ) employed in this fast case has a peculiar name: that which was employed on stone was called ‘çt , and was of iron, with a point at times of some harder substance, such as diamond (  Jeremiah 17:1 ). There appears to be a reference in Job ( l.c .) to the practice of filling up the scratches with lead for the sake of greater permanence, but some suppose the reference to be rather to leaden tablets. At some time near the end of the Jewish kingdom, the employment of less cumbrous materials came into fashion, and the word for ‘book’ ( sçpher ) came to suggest something which could be rolled or unrolled, as in   Isaiah 34:4 , where a simile is drawn from the latter process, and   Isaiah 37:14 , where a letter from the king of Assyria which we should expect to be on clay is ‘spread out’; in the parallel narrative of 2Kings this detail is omitted. Allusions to rolls become common in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and though their material is not specified, it was probably papyrus  ; but skins may also have been employed. For writing on these lighter substances, reeds and pigments were required; references to the latter are to be found in   Jeremiah 36:18 ,   Ezekiel 23:14 , but of the former (  3 John 1:13 (‘ pen ’)) there is no mention in the OT, though it has been conjectured that the name of the graving tool was used for the lighter Instrument (  Psalms 45:1 ); the later Jews adopted the Greek name, still in use in the East, and various Greek inventions connected with the preparation of skins. To an instrument containing ink and probably pens, worn at the waist, there is a reference in   Ezekiel 9:2 (EV [Note: English Version.] inkhorn ), and to a penknife in   Jeremiah 36:23 .

In Roman times parchment appears to have been largely used for rough copies and notes, and to this there is a reference in   2 Timothy 4:13 . The Apostolic letters were written with ink on papyrus (  2 Corinthians 3:3 ,   2 John 1:5;   2 John 1:12 etc.). Zacharias (  Luke 1:63 ) uses a tablet, probably of wood filled in with wax .

Literary works, when rolls were employed, were divided into portions which would fill a roll of convenient size for holding in the hand: on this principle the division of continuous works into ‘ books ’ is based, while in other cases a collection of small pieces by a variety of authors was crowded into a single roll. The roll form for copies of the Hebrew Scriptures was maintained long after that form had been abandoned (perhaps as early as the 2nd cent.) for the quire by Christians in the case of Greek and Syriac copies. The quire was employed, it would appear, only when the material was parchment, the roll form being still retained for papyrus. Paper was brought from the far East by Moslems in the 7th cent. a.d., when factories were founded at Ispahan and elsewhere, and owing to its great cheapness it soon superseded both papyrus and parchment for ordinary purposes. The Jews, however, who were in possession of a system of rules for writing the Law on the latter material, did not readily adopt the new invention for multiplying copies of the Sacred Books.

7. Writing as affecting the text . It has often been shown that accuracy in the modern sense was scarcely known in ancient times, and the cases in which we have parallel texts of the same narrative in the Bible show that the copyists took very great liberties. Besides arbitrary alterations, there were others produced accidentally by the nature of the rolls. The writing in these was in columns of breadth suited to the convenience of the eye; in some cases lines were repeated through the eye of the scribe wandering from one column to another. Such a case probably occurs in   Genesis 4:7 , repeated from   Genesis 3:16 . Omissions were ordinarily supplied on the margin, whence sometimes they were afterwards inserted in a wrong place. There is a notable case of this in   Isaiah 38:21-22 , whose true place is learned from   2 Kings 20:7-8 . Probably some various readings were written on the margin also, and such a marginal note has got into the text of   Psalms 40:7 b. Ancient readers, like modern ones, at times inserted their judgment of the propositions of the text in marginal comments. Such an observation has got into the text in 2Ma 12:45 ‘it is a holy and godly thought,’ and there are probably many more in which the criticism of an unknown reader has accidentally got embodied with the original:   Ecclesiastes 10:14 appears to contain a case of this sort. A less troublesome form of insertion was the colophon , or statement that a book was finished, e.g.   Psalms 72:20 . Similar editorial matter is found in   Proverbs 25:1 , and frequently elsewhere. An end was finally put to these alterations and additions by the registration of words, letters, and grammatical forms called Massorah , of which the origin, like all Hebrew literary history, is obscure, but which probably was perfected during the course of many generations. Yet, even so, Jewish writers of the Law were thought to be less accurate than copyists of the Koran.

D. S. Margoliouth.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [4]

Egyptian Hieroglyphics are as old as the earliest monuments centuries before Moses. (See Hieroglyphics ; PENTATEUCH.) The Rosetta stone, containing a decree on Ptolemy Epiphanes in hieroglyphics, with a Greek translation alongside, furnished the key to their decipherment. Champollion further advanced the interpretation of hieroglyphics by means of the small obelisk found in the island of Philae by Belzoni, and brought to England by Bankes. The inscription in Greek on the base is a supplication of the priests of Isis to king Ptolemy, to Cleopatra his sister, and Cleopatra his wife. The name Ptolemy in the hieroglyphic cartouche on the obelisk itself corresponds to the Greek Ptolemy on the base and also to the similar cartouche on the Rosetta stone. Comparison of this with the cartouche which was guessed from the corresponding Greek on the base to be that for Cleopatra resulted in the discovery of several letters.

The first letter in Ptolemeus and the fifth in Cleopatra are P. So the first character in the cartouche I and the fifth in II are a square. This then represents P. The third letter in Ptolemeus and the fourth in Cleopatra are O. The respective characters in the cartouches are the same; a knotted cord therefore represents O. The fourth in Ptolemy and the second in Cleopatra are both L; so the characters in the cartouches, the lion therefore represents L. The sixth and ninth letters in Cleopatra are both A, so the sixth and ninth characters in the cartouches are both a sparrowhawk; this then represents A. The first letter in Cleopatra, C or K, is not in Ptolemy, so neither is the first character of the Cleopatra cartouche in the Ptolemy cartouche; the triangular block therefore is C or K. The third character in the Cleopatra cartouche is a Nile reed blade, but the sixth in the Ptolemy cartouche is two such blades, therefore the single blade represents the short "e", third in Cleopatra; the two reeds represent the long "e", sixth in Ptolemeus, omitting "e" after "L."

Champollion therefore put down the fifth character in Ptolemeus a boat stand, and the seventh, a yoke, for S. Other names verified these two letters. Thus the whole name in hieroglyphics is Ptolmes. The eighth letter in Cleopatra is R, which does not occur in Ptolemy, so the character is not found in the Ptolemy cartouche; a human mouth therefore represents R. The second letter in Ptolemy and the seventh in Cleopatra are both T, but the characters in the cartouches differ; a half sphere in Ptolemy, a hand in Cleopatra. Hence it results that the same sound has more than one representative; these are called homophones, and cause some confusion in reading. (See "Israel in Egypt": Seeley, 1854.) The following shows the Phonetic Letters of the Hieroglyphical Alphabet of Egypt, with their equivalents, according to M. de Ronge, Lepsius, and Brugsch. (See Canon Cook's Essay on Egyptian words in the Pentateuch, vol. 1, Speaker's Commentary)

Champollion was able to read upon the Zodiac of Dendera the titles of Augustus Caesar, confuting Dupuis' "demonstration" that its date was 4000 B.C.! The traditions of Greece point to Phoenicia as its teacher of writing. The names and order of the Greek alphabetical letters are Semitic, and have a meaning in Semitic but none in Greek. Thus, 'Αleph ( א ), representing a means an ox. Βet[H] ( ב ), a house. Gimel ( ג ), a camel, etc. All indicate that a pastoral people were the originators of the alphabet. In an Egyptian monument a Hittite is named as a writer. Pentaour, a scribe of the reign of Rameses the Great soon after the Exodus, composed a poem, engraved on the walls of the temple of Karnak. This mentions Chirapsar among the Kheta (i.e. the Hittites) as a writer of books. So Joshua took a Hittite city, Kirjath Sepher, "city of the book" ( Joshua 15:15); he changed the name to Debir, of similar meaning.

The words for "write" ( Kathab ), "book" ( Ceepher ), "ink" ( Deyo ), belong to all Semitic dialects (except the Ethiopic and southern Arabic Tsachaq "write"); therefore writing in a book with ink must have been known to the earliest Shemites before their separation into distinct clans and nations. Israel evidently knew it long before Moses. Writing is definitely mentioned first in  Exodus 17:14; but in such a way as to imply it had been long in use for historic records, "write this for a memorial in the (Hebrew) book." The account of the battle and of the command to destroy Amalek was recorded in the book of the history of God's dealings with Israel (compare  Numbers 21:14, "the book of the wars of the Lord,"  Numbers 33:2. Also God's memorial book,  Exodus 32:32-33). Writing was however for many centuries more used for preserving than circulating knowledge.

The tables of stone written by the finger of God were laid up in the ark. The tables, as well as the writing, were God's work. The writing was engraved ( Charut ) upon them on both sides. The miracle was intended to indicate the imperishable duration of these words of God. Moses' song (Deuteronomy 32) was not circulated in writing, but "spoken in the ears of the people" ( Deuteronomy 31:19;  Deuteronomy 31:22-30); and by word of mouth they too were to transmit it to others. The high priest's breast-plate was engraven, and his mitre too, "holiness to the Lord" ( Exodus 39:14;  Exodus 39:30). Under Joshua ( Exodus 18:9) only one new document is mentioned, a geographical division of the land. In  Judges 5:14 Zebulun is described as having "marchers with the staff of the writer" ( Copeer ) or musterer of the troops; such as are frequently pourtrayed on the Assyrian monuments ( 2 Kings 25:19;  2 Chronicles 26:11, "the scribe of the host".)

The scribe and the recorder ( Mazkir ) were regular officers of the king ( 2 Samuel 8:17;  2 Samuel 20:25). In  Isaiah 29:11-12, the multitude have to go to one "knowing writing" (Hebrew for "learned") in order to ascertain its contents; so by that time there were some at least learned in writing. By the time of Jeremiah letters are mentioned more frequently, and copies of Scripture had multiplied ( Jeremiah 8:8;  Jeremiah 29:25;  Jeremiah 29:29). The commercial and other tablets now discovered prove this. Under the ancient empire of Egypt the governor of the palace and of the "house of manuscripts" was a very high official. The tutelary god of writing was Saph or Sapheh (related to Hebrew Ceper ); a Pharaoh of the fifth dynasty is styled "beloved of Saph." (See Alphabet on the Moabite stone, 896 B.C., bearing Hebrew words and idiom in Phoenician letters).

Rawlinson fixes the invention 15 centuries B.C. The earliest monuments of Babylon reach back to 2300 B.C.; the language inscribed on them is Cushite or Ethiopian, (See Babylon .) The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters; this was their number as early at least as David, who has acrostic psalms with all the 22; moreover, the letters expressed numbers, as the Greek letters did. Besides alphabetic there is syllabic writing, as the Assyrian cuneiform, which has from 300 to 4,000 letters. The process of growth and change is shown by recent studies of the Assyrian language. "The words by which these (Assyrian hieroglyphics) were denoted in the Turanian language of the Accadian inventors of the cuneiform system of writing became phonetic sounds when it was borrowed by the Semitic Assyrians, though the characters could still be used ideographically, as well as phonetically.

When used ideographically, the pronunciation was of course that of the Assyrians." (Sayce's Assyrian Grammar.) Then to these original ideographs were added the formal parts expressive of case, pronominal, and other relations. The latest examples of cuneiform writing belong to the Arsacidae, in the century before Christ ("Academy," August, 1878). The square Hebrew characters now used came from Babylon probably after the Babylonian captivity, under Ezra. The Semitic alphabets have only consonants and three consonant-like vowels, 'Αleph ( א ), 'Αyin ( ע ), Υod[H] ( י ), and are written from right to left. There are two chief classes.

(1) The Phoenician, as it occurs in inscriptions in Malta, the sarcophagus of Eshmunazar king of Sidon (600 B.C.), Cyprus, and coins of Phoenicia (from whence came the Samaritan and Greek characters); on Jewish coins; in Phoenician-Egyptian writing, with three vowels, on mummy bandages.

(2) The Hebrew Chaldee, to which belong the present Hebrew square character (resembling those in Palmyrene inscriptions, probably brought from Chaldaea and the ancient Arabic. The Himyeritic (oldest Arabic) was possibly the same as the ancient Phoenician. The Moabite stone contains an alphabet almost identical with Phoenician, 22 letters, read from right to left; the names and order are identical with the Hebrew as may be inferred from the names of the Greek letters which came direct from Phoenicia, not prior to 1000 B.C. The various forms of the alphabetic letters and the evidence of their derivation from each other will be seen from the following comparison, copied from an illustration in "The Moabite Stone," by Pakenham Walsh, Bishop of Ossory. (Dublin: Herbert.)

The early Greek, as distinguished from the later, is much the same. 'Αleph ( א ), an ox, a rude representation of an ox's head. Βet[H] ( ב ), a house, representing a tent. Gimel ( ג ), a camel, representing its head and neck. Daleth ( ד ), a door; a tent entrance; the sidestroke of Βet[H] ( ב ) was to distinguish it from this. Ηe[H] ( ה ), a lattice. Vav ( ו ) or Waw , a peg of a tent. [C]Ηet ( ח ), a field enclosed. Κaf ( כ ) or Κaph , a wing, or hollow of the hand. Lamed[H] ( ל ), an ox goad, curved into a handle at one end, pointed at the other end. Μem ( מ ), water, a wavy line for the surface when disturbed. Samek[H] ( ס ), a prop, an ancient vine trellis. 'Αyin ( ע ), an eye. Τsade ( צ ), a fish spear. Qoph ( ק ), the hole of an axe, or eye of a needle. Shin ( ש ), a tooth with its fangs. Τav ( ת ) or Τau , a brand marking flocks.

In Egyptian the letters were similarly copies of objects to which the initials of the names respectively correspond. Thus, A is the first letter of ahom, an eagle; so an eagle is the Egyptian representative of A. So L, the first letter of lab, a lion; M the first letter of mowlad, an owl. The Israelites never required an interpreter in contact with Moab, which shows the identity of language in the main. The Moabite stone also shows 'Αleph ( א ), Ηe[H] ( ה ), and Vav ( ו ) or Waw supplied the place of vowels before the invention of vowel points; the 'Αleph ( א ) and Ηe[H] ( ה ) express "a" at the end of a word. The Ηe[H] ( ה ) expresses the final "o"; Vav ( ו ) or Waw expresses "o" and "u"; Υod[H] ( י ) expresses "i".

The Moabite alphabet in the use of these vowel representatives harmonizes with the Hebrew, and differs from the Phoenician. Rawlinson (Contemporary Review, August 20, 1870) believes the Moabite stone letters to be the same as were used in the Pentateuch 500 years before. The Hebrew 'Αleph ( א ) and Greek Αlpha ( '''''Α''''' '''''Α''''' ) are one; so, Hebrew Βet[H] ( ב ) / Βeta ( '''''Β''''' '''''Β''''' ); Hebrew Daleth ( ד ) / Delta ( '''''Δ''''' '''''Δ''''' ); Hebrew Ηe[H] ( ה ) / Greek Εpsilon ( '''''Ε''''' '''''Δ''''' ); Hebrew Vav ( ו ) or Waw / Greek F bau or digamma; Hebrew Ζayin ( ז ) / the ancient Greek san; Hebrew Τet[H] ( ט ) / Greek Τheta ( '''''Θ''''' '''''Θ''''' ); Hebrew Υod[H] ( י ) / Greek Ιota ( '''''Ι''''' '''''Ι''''' );

Hebrew Κaf ( כ ) or Κaph / Greek Κappa ( '''''Κ''''' '''''Κ''''' ); Hebrew Lamed[H] ( ל ) / Greek Lamda ( '''''Λ''''' '''''Λ''''' ); Hebrew Μem ( מ ) / Greek Μu ( '''''Μ''''' '''''Μ''''' ); Hebrew Νun ( נ ) / Greek Νu ( '''''Ν''''' '''''Ν''''' ); Hebrew Samek[H] ( ס ) / Greek Sigma ( '''''Σ''''' '''''Σ''''' ); Hebrew 'Αyin ( ע ) / Greek Οmicron ( '''''Ο''''' '''''Ο''''' ); Hebrew Ρe ( פ ) / Greek Ρi ( '''''Π''''' '''''Π''''' ); Hebrew Τsade ( צ ) / Greek Ζeta ( '''''Ζ''''' '''''Ζ''''' ); Hebrew Qoph ( ק ) / Greek Κappa ( '''''Κ''''' '''''Κ''''' ) ... on coins of Crotona; Hebrew Resh ( ר ) / Greek Rho ( '''''Ρ''''' '''''Ρ''''' ); Hebrew Shin ( ש ) / Greek Χi ( '''''Ξ''''' '''''Ξ''''' ); Hebrew Τav ( ת ) ( Ezekiel 9:4) a "mark"; so Greek Τau ( '''''Τ''''' '''''Τ''''' ).

MATERIALS . Stone, as the tables of the law. Plaster (lime or gypsum) with stone ( Joshua 8:32;  Deuteronomy 27:2). Lead was either engraven upon or poured into the hollow of the letters, or used as the hammer, lead being adapted to make the most delicate incisions ( Job 19:23-24). The "tablet" ( Luwach ), inscribed with the stylus or pen of iron ( Job 19:24;  Jeremiah 17:1), and the roll ( Megillah ), were the common materials latterly. The roll of skins joined together was rolled on a stick and fastened with a thread, the ends of which were sealed ( Isaiah 29:11;  Daniel 12:4;  Revelation 5:1;  Revelation 6:14). Small clay cylinders inscribed were the repository of much of Assyrian history. After being inscribed and baked, they were covered with moist clay, and the inscription repeated and baked again.

Papyrus was the common material in Egypt; the thin pellicles are glued together in strips, other strips being placed at right angles. Leather was substituted sometimes as cheaper. Probably the roll which Jehoiakim burned was of papyrus (Jeremiah 36); the writing there was with ink ( Deyo ), and arranged in columns (literally, doors; Delathot ). The only passage in which papyrus (as chartes means) is expressly mentioned is  2 John 1:12. Both sides were often written on ( Ezekiel 2:20). Parchment of prepared skins is mentioned ( 2 Timothy 4:13); the paper and ink ( 2 Corinthians 3:3;  2 John 1:12;  3 John 1:13); the pens made of split reed; ink of soot water; and gum, latterly lampblack, dissolved in gall.

In  Isaiah 8:1, "write with a man's pen," i.e. in ordinary characters such as common "men" ( Nowsh ) can read ( Habakkuk 2:2), not in hieroglyphics; Cheret (an engraver,  Isaiah 8:1) is connected with Chartumim , the Egyptian sacred scribes. Scribes in the East, anciently as now, carried their inkhorn suspended by a girdle to their side. The reed pen, inkhorn, and scribes are sculptured on the tombs of Ghizeh, contemporaneous with the pyramids. The Hebrew knew how to prepare skins for other purposes ( Exodus 25:5;  Leviticus 13:48), therefore probably for writing. Josephus (Ant. 3:11, Section 6; 12:2, Section 10) says the trial of adultery was made by writing the name of God on a skin, and the 70 sent from Jerusalem by the high priest Eleazar to Ptolemy, to translate the law into Greek, that with them the skins on which the sin was written in golden characters.

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]

Mesopotamia About 3500 B.C. the earliest documents appeared in Mesopotamia. These were business documents used for accounting purposes. Prior to this, accounts were kept by enclosing counters or tokens of various shapes in clay or mud balls over which a cylinder seal would be rolled identifying the owner or sender. The early tablets typically were inscribed with a picture or pictures identifying the commodity, numbers, and personal names. The language used by the writers of these early tablets is not known. The Sumerians were the first to write different words having the same sound with the same picture. Soon after, the Sumerians began to use stylized pictures composed of wedges impressed in the clay tablet with a stylus. So there began to be developed the hundreds of wedge-shaped signs which comprise the cuneiform script.

The early pictographic writing, which depicted an object, developed into logographic writing in which a picture could stand for a word associated with the idea of the object. Several pictures could be combined to present a concept or a phrase. Rebus writing occurred when a picture or sign was associated with another word of the same sound. In logo-syllabic writing, a sign came to represent a sound rather than a word; this is commonly regarded as the emergence of true writing. The correct reading of signs could be indicated by the addition of phonetic complements or by prefixing determinatives which could indicate “wood,” “city,” “male,” “mountain,” and so forth. The rapid development of the cuneiform script made it suitable not only for the mundane task of keeping business accounts but also for legal documents, letters, and literary and religious documents.

The Sumerians established the scribal school in which the student spent several years learning how to write documents of all kinds. The teacher would write a text on one side of the tablet, and the student would copy the text on the other side for the teacher's evaluation. Grammars and verb charts were compiled. Trained scribes were in heavy demand for service at the temple, the court, and at trading firms.

The cuneiform script of the Sumerians was adopted by the Semitic speaking Akkadians, the Elamites, and Hurrians. Cuneiform continued to be expanded and adapted to meet the demands of the various languages. Excavations have yielded thousands of documents in Sumerian and Akkadian showing the progress of civilization, the arts, and sciences. So successful did Akkadian become that it was used as the international language of trade and diplomacy for several centuries. The modern historian is indebted most of all to king Assurbanipal of Assyria (668-626 B.C.) who founded a library at Nineveh. Assurbanipal sent his scribes all over Mesopotamia to make copies of thousands of important documents, especially literary and religious texts. The discovery of this library provided a corpus of texts coming from all periods of Mesopotamian history.

Egypt By about 3000 B.C. the Egyptians had developed a hieroglyphic system of writing, the so-called “sacred picture writing.” used chiefly for inscriptions on public monuments. In a manner similar to Sumerian, hieroglyphic signs could be read as signs for words or ideas, as phonetic signs, and as determinatives. Vowels were not indicated in the script, but the debate about whether the logographic script became a syllabic script apparently continues. The decipherment of hieroglyphics was accomplished by Champollion in 1822 after several years of rigorous study.

The Egyptians developed a cursive script, called hieratic, to meet the needs of everyday life, such as record keeping, inventories of goods, and so forth. Hieratic, simplified hieroglyphics, was written with brush and ink on the smooth surfaces of stone and papyrus. About 700 B.C. hieratic was further simplified into another cursive script, demotic. By A.D. 200 Greek letters were used for the writing of the Egyptian language, then in use, called Coptic.

Asia Minor The Hittites of Anatolia, who spoke an Indo-European language, adopted the Mesopotamian cuneiform system of writing. The Hittite cuneiform texts are known mainly from the archives of Bogazkoy discovered in 1906. The pioneering work in the interpretation of the texts was done by F. Hrozny who recognized that the texts were characteristically written with a mixture of Sumerian logograms, Akkadian words and phrases, and phonetically written Hittite words and phrases. Variant copies of the same or similar texts often contain the phonetically written equivalents of the Sumerian and Akkadian elements. The Hittites, like the Elamites and Hurrians, also used Akkadian for documents dealing with international relations.

About 1500 B.C. a hieroglyphic system known as Hittite hieroglyphics began to appear. This system of writing was not influenced by the older Egyptian hieroglyphics. Students of the texts have determined that the language is related to but not identical with the Hittite known from the cuneiform texts. The Karatepe bilingual inscription, composed of a text in hieroglyphics and Phoenician, came to light in 1947 and confirmed not only the meanings of some words but also that the previous research, done without the aid of bilingual texts, had been on the correct course.

Syria-Palestine The first-known attempts to produce an alphabet were made in Syria-Palestine. The texts from Ugarit (Ras Shamra) date from 1500-1200 B.C. and were written in an alphabetic cuneiform. The alphabet consists of thirty-one characters, twenty-eight of which are consonants and three of which indicate the vowel accompanying the letter aleph .

In work carried out in 1904-1905 at Serabit el-Khadem in the Sinai, Flinders Petrie discovered inscriptions written in a script reminiscent of Egyptian hieroglyphics but consisting of only about thirty signs. Although not all the signs have been deciphered conclusively, it is possible to see the relationship of some of the characters to letters in the Phoenician alphabet from about 1000 B.C. The script of the Sinaitic inscriptions is the earliest stage in the development of the Canannite linear script.

The sources available for the study of the development of the Hebrew script are of several kinds: monumental inscriptions (incised in stone), ostraca (inscribed potshreds), inscriptions incised on seals, weights, jar handles, ossuaries, and documents written in ink on papyrus and leather. The monumental inscriptions include the Gezer Calendar (950 B.C.), the Moabite Stone (850 B.C.), the Siloam tunnel inscription and the Siloam tomb inscription (700 B.C.). The ostraca include those from Samaria (800 B.C.), Hazor (800 B.C.), Yavneh-yam (550 B.C.), and Lachish (500 B.C.). After the Exile the “square” script of Aramaic origin began to replace the cursive script, as the Elephantine papyri show. The documents from the Qumran and Wadi Murabba'at areas (200 B.C. to A.D. 150) complete the data. These source materials make it possible to trace the development of the Hebrew-Aramaic scripts for more than a thousand years and, therefore, to date with greater precision the documents which continue to come to light in the course of excavations.

Biblical References to Writing Several writing systems were in use in Syria-Palestine by the time of Moses and Joshua. Many Bible texts refer to Moses being directed to write down accounts of historical events ( Exodus 17:14 ), laws and statutes ( Exodus 34:1-9 ), and the words of the Lord ( Exodus 24:4 ). Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses ( Joshua 8:32 ) and later wrote down statutes and ordinances in the book of the law of God ( Joshua 24:26 ). Gideon had a young man of Succoth to write down the names of the 77 officials and elders of that town ( Judges 8:14 ). Samuel wrote down the rights and duties of kinship ( 1 Samuel 10:25 ). David could write his own letter to his general ( 2 Samuel 11:14 ). Kings engaged in international correspondence ( 2 Chronicles 2:11 ). Many references to the “chronicles of the kings of Israel” and Judah perhaps indicate court diaries or annals ( 1 Kings 14:19 ). The prophets wrote, or dictated, their oracles ( Isaiah 8:1 ,Isaiah 8:1, 8:16;  Isaiah 30:8;  Jeremiah 30:1-2;  Jeremiah 36:27-28 ). By at least 800 B.C., court scribes were tallying the payment of taxes (compare the Samaria Ostraca). Commemorative and memorial inscriptions were in use (compare the Siloam inscription and the Siloam tomb inscription). Nehemiah as an official under Persian appointment wrote down the covenant to keep the law of God ( Nehemiah 9:38 ), to which several men set their seals as witnesses ( Nehemiah 10:1-27 ).

Similarly, in the New Testament period literacy was widespread. Jesus could both read ( Luke 4:16-21 ) and write ( John 8:6 ). The writers of the Gospels and Paul wrote in excellent Greek, with Paul regularly using an amenuensis or scribe.

The various kinds of documents and writings mentioned in the Bible were letters (personal and official), decrees (religious and civil), legal documents, deeds of sale, certificates of divorce, family registers, topographical descriptions, and books of scrolls containing laws, court records, and poetic works (see Jashar, The Book of).

It is difficult to determine how widespread literacy may have been in Old Testament times. Most of the persons listed as writers are those in professional capacities or in positions of leadership which required writing, such as kings, religious leaders, prophets, and governors. Even then, scribes or secretaries were most often used. One of the cabinet officials was the secretary ( sopher ) who handled official correspondence, including international communications ( 2 Samuel 8:17;  2 Samuel 20:25 ). Jeremiah dictated his oracles to his scribe, Baruch ( Jeremiah 30:2;  Jeremiah 36:27 ). In addition the Hebrew inscriptions provide no firm evidence that the general populace could read or write, or even that they had much need to do so.

Writing Materials and Implements Stone was used in all periods in the Ancient Near East as a writing surface, especially for monumental and memorial inscriptions. In Egypt the wall of temples were covered with historical inscriptions chiseled into the stone. In Mesopotamia and Anatolia inscriptions were cut into the faces of mountains (compare the Behistun Rock) or into stones of various sizes for monuments on public display (compare the Code of Hammurabi and boundary markers) or for small inscriptions to be included in foundation deposits. In Syria-Palestine several monumental inscriptions were cut into stone, including the Moabite Stone, the Siloam inscription, and the inscriptions of Aramaean and Phoenician rulers from 1000 B.C. onward. In the Old Testament the law was written on stone ( Exodus 24:12 ) and written on stones covered with plaster ( Deuteronomy 27:1-10 ).

Clay was the main writing medium for those cultures which used cuneiform scripts. Impressions were made on the soft clay by the use of a stylus. Often legal documents and letters would be encased in a clay envelope on which a summary of the text was written and over which cylinder seals would be rolled to identify witnesses. Although clay documents written in cuneiform scripts have been found in Palestine, there is no clear Old Testament reference to clay tablets used by Israelites.

Wooden tablets, covered by clay or wax, were used as writing surfaces in both Egypt and Mesopotamia. In the Bible there is the mention of writing on wooden staffs ( Numbers 17:2-3 ) and on wooden staves ( Ezekiel 37:16 ). The references in  Isaiah 30:8 and   Habakkuk 2:2 may be to writing on wooden tablets. In   Luke 1:63 , Zechariah wrote on a tablet of wood with a wax surface.

In several periods metal was used as a writing medium, especially bronze or copper. Inscriptions in a poorly understood syllabic script from Byblos were written on bronze sheets. Especially well known are the two copper scrolls from Qumran which contained a list of the treasures of the community.

The potsherd provided a cheap and highly useful surface for letters, economic records, and school copy texts. Inscribed potsherds (ostraca) were commonly used in Egypt in all periods and in Palestine. They were inscribed with pen (or brush) and ink. Ostraca form a major part of the corpus of Hebrew inscriptions, such as the Samaria and Lachish ostraca.

Papyrus was used very early in Egypt and continued in use through the early centuries of our era. The papyrus reed was split into thin strips which were arranged in two layers at right angles and then pressed together and polished to form a smooth surface. Sheets of papyrus could be glued together to form long scrolls. As Aramaic began to be accepted as the international language, papyrus became more widely used in Mesopotamia and Syria-Palestine. It is likely that the first edition of Jeremiah's book was written on papyrus ( Jeremiah 36:1 ). The documents of the Jewish community at Elephantine were written on papyrus. Several works on papyrus were among the literary remains from Qumran. Large collections of papyri from Egypt written in Koine Greek helped to elucidate the New Testament writings.

Carefully prepared leather was used for most of the biblical scrolls at Qumran. Torah scrolls are still written on leather. Sections of leather would be sewn together to form scrolls of lengths appropriate for the book or work. Horizontal lines were often pressed into the leather to act as guides for the scribe. The codex, or book, was made only from parchment.

Two words are used in the Old Testament for writing implements et and heret . The first term is usually rendered “pen.”  Psalm 45:1 (NRSV) speaks of the “pen of a ready scribe,” and thus it is probably a reference to a reed pen whose end fibers were separated to form a brush.   Jeremiah 17:1 and   Job 19:24 refer to an iron pen designed to make inscriptions on rock. The second term, heret , is mentioned as both a graving tool ( Exodus 32:4 ) and as a stylus ( Isaiah 8:1; “pen,” KJV). Since  Isaiah 8:1 mentions a tablet (NRSV) as the writing surface, it is possible that the stylus was used to carve or scratch the inscription into the wood or its covering of wax.

Ink was made from carbon black and gum resin and could be washed from a writing surface such as papyrus. Papyrus could thus be used more than once. A sheet of papyrus which was used more than once, with the original writing having been rinsed away, is called a palimpsest. Paleographers have often found palimpsests to be valuable because the original writing, incompletely expunged, may be more significant than the later writing.

 Ezekiel 9:2-3 ,Ezekiel 9:2-3, 9:11 mention the equipment of the scribe, the qeset ha-sopher . The man clothed in linen who appeared to Ezekiel had a “writing case” or “inkhorn” upon his loins (at his side). Writing cases are known in both Egyptian and Mesopotamian literature and art work. They provided containers for pens, brushes, styluses, and ink.

The last implement to be mentioned is the scribe's knife in  Jeremiah 36:23 . As Jeremiah's scroll was being read, the king took a scribe's knife and cut off the columns of the scroll and burned them. The knife was probably used by the scribe to size and trim papyrus, leather, or parchment. That Jeremiah's scroll was made of papyrus and not leather is indicated by the fact that the king was in his winter quarters seeking warmth from a charcoal brazier. The odor of burning leather in an enclosed space would have been obnoxious. See Akkadian; Aramaic; Archaeology; Cuneiform; Hebrew; Pottery.

Thomas Smothers

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Writing. There is no account in the Bible of the origin of writing. That the Egyptians in the time of Joseph were acquainted with writing, of a certain kind, there is evidence to prove, but there is nothing to show that, up to this period, the knowledge extended to the Hebrew family. At the same time, there is no evidence against it.

Writing is first distinctly mentioned in  Exodus 17:14 and the connection clearly implies that it was not then employed for the first time, but was so familiar as to be used for historic records. It is not absolutely necessary to infer from this, that the art of writing was an accomplishment possessed by every Hebrew citizen.

If we examine the instances in which writing is mentioned in connection with individuals, we shall find that, in all cases, the writers were men of superior position. In  Isaiah 29:11-12, there is clearly a distinction drawn between the man who was able to read, and the man who was not, and it seems a natural inference that the accomplishments of reading and writing were not widely spread among the people, when we find that they are universally attributed to those of high rank or education - kings, priests, prophets and professional scribes.

In the name, Kirjathsepher ( Book-Town ),  Joshua 15:15, there is an indication of a knowledge of writing among the Phoenicians. The Hebrews, then, a branch of the great Semitic family, being in possession of the art of writing, according to their own historical records, at a very early period, the further questions arise, what character they made use of, and whence they obtained it.

Recent investigations have shown that the square Hebrew character is of comparatively modern date, and has been formed from a more ancient type by a gradual process of development. What then was this ancient type?

Most probably the Phoenician. Pliny was of opinion that letters were of Assyrian origin. Dioderus Siculus (v. 74) says that the Syrians invented letters, and from them, the Phoenicians, having learned them, transferred them to the Greeks. According to Tacitus (Ann. Xi. 14), Egypt was believed to be the source whence the Phoenicians got their knowledge.

Be this as it may, to the Phoenicians, the daring seamen and adventurous colonizers of the ancient world, the voice of tradition has assigned the honor of the invention of letters. Whether it came to them from an Aramean or an Egyptian source can at best be but the subject of conjecture. It may, however, be reasonably inferred that the ancient Hebrews derived from or shared with the Phoenicians, the knowledge of writing and the use of letters.

The names of the Hebrew letters indicate that they must have been the invention of a Shemitic people, and that they were, moreover, a pastoral people may be inferred from the same evidence. But whether or not the Phoenicians were the inventors of the Shemitic alphabet, there can be no doubt of their just claim to being its chief disseminators; and, with this understanding, we may accept the genealogy of alphabets as given by Gesenius, and exhibited in the accompanying table. The old Semitic alphabets may he divided into two principal classes:

1. The Phoenician as it exists in the inscriptions in Cyprus, Malta, Carpentras, and the coins of Phoenicia and her colonies. From it are derived the Samaritan and the Greek character.

2. The Hebrew-Chaldee character; to which belong the Hebrew square character; the which has some traces of a Cursive hand [that is, written in a Running Hand ]; the Estrangelo, or ancient Syriac; and the ancient Arabic or Cufic. It was probably about the first or second century after Christ , that the square character assumed its present form; though in a question involved in so much uncertainty, it is impossible to pronounce with great positiveness.

The alphabet. - The oldest evidence on the subject of the Hebrew alphabet is derived from the alphabetical Psalms and poems: Psalms 25; Psalms 34; Psalms 37; Psalms 111; Psalms 112; Psalms 119; Psalms 145;  Proverbs 31:10-31;  Lamentations 1:1-4. From these, we ascertain that the number of the letters was twenty-two, as at present.

The Arabic alphabet originally consisted of the same number. It has been argued by many that the alphabet of the Phoenicians, at first, consisted of only sixteen letters. The legend, as told by Pliny (vii. 56), is as follows;

Cadmus brought with him into Greece, sixteen letters; at the time of the Trojan war, Palamedes added four others, Theta, Epsilon, Phi, Chi, and Simonides of Melos, four more, Dzeta, Eta, Psi, Omega.

Divisions of words. - Hebrew was originally written, like most ancient languages, without any divisions between the words. The same is the case with the Phoenician inscriptions, The various readings in the Septuagint (LXX) show that, as the version was made, in the Hebrew manuscripts which the translators used, the words were written in a continuous series.

The modern synagogue rolls and the manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch have no vowel-points, but the words are divided, and the Samaritan, in this respect, differs but little from the Hebrew.

Writing materials, etc. - The oldest documents which contain the writing of a Semitic race are probably the bricks of Nineveh and Babylon, on which are impressed the cuneiform Syrian inscriptions. There is, however, no evidence that they were ever used by the Hebrews.

It is highly probable that the ancient, as well as the most common, material which the Hebrews used for writing was dressed skin in some form or other. We know that the dressing of skins was practiced by the Hebrews,  Exodus 25:5;  Leviticus 13:48, and they may have acquired the knowledge of the art from the Egyptians, among whom if had attained great perfection, the leather-cutters constituting one of the principal subdivisions of the third caste.

Perhaps the Hebrews may have borrowed, among their other acquirements, the use of papyrus from the Egyptians, but of this, we have no positive evidence. In the Bible, the only allusions to the use of papyrus are in  2 John 1:12 where chartes (Authorized Version, "Paper" ) occurs, which refers especially to papyrus paper, and  3 Maccabees 4:20, where charteria is found in the same sense.

Herodotus, after telling us that the Ionians learned the art of writing from the Phoenicians, adds that they called their books, Skins , because they made use of sheep-skins and goat-skins when short of paper. Parchment was used for the manuscripts of the Pentateuch, in the time of Josephus, and the membranae of  2 Timothy 4:13 were Skins Of Parchment.

It was one of the provisions in the Talmud, that the law should be written on the skins of clean animals, tame or wild, or even of clean birds. The skins, when written upon, were formed into Rolls ( megilloth ).  Psalms 40:7. Compare  Isaiah 34:4;  Jeremiah 36:14;  Ezekiel 2:9;  Zechariah 5:1. They were rolled upon one or two sticks and fastened with a thread, the ends of which were sealed.  Isaiah 29:11;  Daniel 12:4;  Revelation 5:1; etc.

The rolls were generally written on one side only, except in  Ezekiel 2:9;  Revelation 5:1. They were divided into columns, (Authorized Version, "leaves"),  Jeremiah 36:23, the upper margin was to be not less than three fingers broad, the lower margin was to be not less than four; and a space of two fingers breadth was to be left between every two columns.

But besides skins, which were used for the more permanent kinds of writing, tablets of wood covered with wax,  Luke 11:63, served for the ordinary purposes of life. Several of these were fastened together and formed volumes. They were written upon with a pointed Style ,  Job 19:24, sometimes of iron.  Psalms 45:1;  Jeremiah 8:8;  Jeremiah 17:1. For harder materials, a Graver ,  Exodus 32:4;  Isaiah 8:1, was employed. For parchment or skins, a Reed was used.  3 John 1:13  3 Maccabees 5:20.

The ink,  Jeremiah 36:18, literally "Black", like the Greek melan ,  2 Corinthians 3:3;  2 John 1:12;  3 John 1:13, was of Lampblack Dissolved In Gall-Juice . It was carried in an inkstand which was suspended at the girdle,  Ezekiel 9:2-3, as is done at the present day in the East. To professional scribes, there are allusions in  Ezra 7:8;  Psalms 45:1  2 Esdras 14:24.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

The earliest intimation of writing in scripture is when Amalek was defeated, and it is significant that the first thing Moses was instructed to write, as far as is revealed, should be respecting judgement upon Amalek, an enemy of God's people: his remembrance was to be utterly put out from under heaven.  Exodus 17:14 . This incident took place some 2500 years after the creation of Adam and we cannot suppose that there had not been writing before this. Moses was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and writing is found in or on all their ancient monuments.

Hales puts the date of Menes, the first king of Egypt, B.C. 2412, but even this is more than 1500 years from the creation. God created an intelligent man, and may have instructed him in the art of writing, as He surely also gave him a language by which He could Himself hold intercourse with him.

God brought the animal creation to Adam that he might name them and in them he had before him forms far more numerous than were needed for an alphabet, such as was adopted by the Egyptians long after. The Hebrew letters were originally symbolical, as some of their names infer: as aleph , an ox beth, a house; gimel, a camel; etc. For the earliest Egyptian letters derived from nature see the table below.

The Aztecs, who preceded the Mexicans, were able to record their laws, their ritual, and a complete system of chronology, etc. A Mexican MS looks like a collection of pictures, each a separate study. The Chinese, who profess to have had the art of writing from time immemorial, with endless genealogies, have kept their records in their 80,000 symbolical characters, to which there are 214 radical keys.

The history and book of Job is judged to have been quite early, and he speaks not only of writing, but of a book: "Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!"  Job 19:23,24 . This refers to his words being engraved on a rock and filled in with lead.

Engraving on stones was practised in ancient Egypt, a specimen of which may be seen on Cleopatra's Needle in London, on the banks of the Thames. Ancient engraving on stone has rendered service in modern times, as in the Rosetta Stone, the writing of which, being in Egyptian and Greek, gave the first key to the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics. See also under MOAB, respecting the Moabite Stone.

In the Sinai peninsula there are many inscriptions cut in the rocks, which have never yet been satisfactorily explained. Some of them have been taken to be of Israelitish origin when Israel 'wandered' in those parts; others judge them to be simply the greetings and names of travellers; and others are of the opinion that Christian pilgrims wrote them, while some believe them to be of an earlier date than this and assign them to Pagan pilgrims to Serbal. Many of the inscriptions are in an Arabic dialect, but interspersed with rude engravings of horses, asses, dogs, and ibexes.

As already intimated, the Israelites may inthe first instance have had a system of hieroglyphics, by means of which they (as did the Egyptians and others) recorded all necessary things. All existing alphabets have been traced by Gesenius to the Phoenician, thus:-

It is generally stated that the Phoenician alphabet was derived from the Egyptian Hieratic. From the Phoenician is traced the ancient Hebrew, thence the Samaritan, and thence the modern square Hebrew, as shown in the accompanying table.

The connection however between the Egyptian and the Phoenician alphabets is doubted by some. Dr. Poole, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, judges that if the latter had been derived from the former, their names would have described the original signs: whereas Aleph signifies an ox, not an eagle; Beth a house, not a bird; Gimel a camel, not a basket; and so on, as far as it is known, to the end.

It may be noticed that God Himself wrote the Ten Commandments on the stones that He gave to Moses, and He may have given the ancient Hebrew characters. It will be found that the whole Hebrew alphabet, except teth, is in those 'ten words.'

Writing was needed on other substances besides stones. When a man put away his wife he had to give her a"bill of divorcement."  Deuteronomy 24:1 . Papyrus was early used as paper, but being very fragile, it gave place to parchment and vellum, being written on with reeds. It is on the two latter that nearly all the ancient MSS of the scriptures have been preserved to this day. But the skins were expensive and could not be always obtained, which resulted in some of the copies of the New Testament being rubbed out, and something of much less importance being written on the same surface, as in the specimen here given. To enable such erased writing to be read, chemical means have to be resorted to. Such copies are called Palimpsests 'rubbed a second time,' or Rescripts.

This is part of the Codex Nitriensis, which contains large portions of Luke's Gospel, and dates from the sixth century. The original leaves have been folded in half, and then written over in Syriac (by Severus of Antioch against Grammaticus) in the ninth or tenth century. The specimen gives a portion of  Luke 20:9,10 .

Writing is such an abstruse thing that no barbarous people has been known to commence any system of writing before seeing specimens of this wonderful art. It is well known that a missionary once wrote on a piece of wood the name of a tool that he needed, and handed it to a chief, asking him to take it to his wife. He asked what he was to say. He was to say nothing; only take the wood. He took it and was amazed when the missionary's wife threw the wood away and gave him the tool. It was entirely beyond his comprehension that the marks on the piece of wood could convey a message. It was altogether a deep mystery: he hung the piece of wood round his neck, and could often be seen telling the wonderful thing it had done.

Yet we are so familiar with writing that we think it no mystery at all; still there are hidden intricacies in it. Our thoughts have to be expressed in words, our words are composed of letters; each of those letters has a distinct sound; and each sound needs some character to represent that sound, which must call forth the same sound, and rapidly form those sounds into words which again convey to the one who reads exactly the same thoughts that were passing through the mind of the writer. Is there no work of God in that?

Again, writing expresses decision and purpose. We may have many thoughts pass through our minds in a day, but none may need or deserve to be written. "It is written" implies a decision one has arrived at as an individual; or what has been recorded as an Act of Parliament; or much higher still, what God has been pleased to cause to be written as His revealed will in the holy writings, for which man can never be too grateful.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Writing is either ideographic or phonetic. In ideographic writing the signs used represent the ideas themselves, either pictorially by direct imitation of the object, or symbolically, as when the picture of an eye is used to convey the idea of sight or knowledge, and the picture of a lion the idea of courage. In phonetic writing the signs simply represent the sounds of which a word is composed. Ideographic writing—that is, writing by pictures or in hieroglyphics—is an art of very ancient date. Through all the Mosaic history books and writing are mentioned as in familiar use.  Exodus 17:14;  2 Samuel 11:14;  1 Kings 21:8;  1 Kings 9:11;  2 Kings 10:1-2;  2 Kings 10:6-7. The alphabet which the Jews used was based upon the Phœnician, and that upon some earlier alphabet, and underwent various changes. The materials used in writing were tablets of stone,  Exodus 31:18;  Exodus 32:15-16;  Exodus 32:19;  Exodus 34:1;  Exodus 34:4;  Exodus 34:28-29, or boxwood and brass, or plaster,  Deuteronomy 27:2-3;  Joshua 8:32, or skin, which was made into the finest parchment or vellum. For hard materials an iron stylus or engraver's tool was used.  Job 19:24;  Psalms 45:1;  Isaiah 8:1;  Jeremiah 8:8;  Jeremiah 17:1, but for parchment a reed pen and ink.  2 Corinthians 3:3;  2 John 1:12;  3 John 1:13. The parchment was not put in leaves, forming a book, but put together in long rolls. The practice of employing an amanuensis was quite common in ancient days as it Is now. Hence Paul gives as an authentication of his letters a few words written with his own hand.  1 Corinthians 16:21;  Colossians 4:18;  2 Thessalonians 3:17. This fact also explains  Romans 16:22. The size of the apostle's writing is indicated.  Galatians 6:11. The ink of the ancients was made of pulverized charcoal or the black of burnt ivory and water, with the addition of some kind of gum. The ink of the East at the present day is a much thicker substance than ours, but is not permanent; a wet sponge will obliterate the finest of their writing. The inkhorn was, and is, a long tube containing the reed pens, with a little case fastened at the side to hold the ink. The whole is thrust into the girdle.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

 Exodus 17:14

"The Old Testament and the discoveries of Oriental archaeology alike tell us that the age of the Exodus was throughout the world of Western Asia an age of literature and books, of readers and writers, and that the cities of Palestine were stored with the contemporaneous records of past events inscribed on imperishable clay. They further tell us that the kinsfolk and neighbours of the Israelites were already acquainted with alphabetic writing, that the wanderers in the desert and the tribes of Edom were in contact with the cultured scribes and traders of Ma'in [Southern Arabia], and that the 'house of bondage' from which Israel had escaped was a land where the art of writing was blazoned not only on the temples of the gods, but also on the dwellings of the rich and powerful.", Sayce. (See Debir; Phoenicia .)

The "Book of the Dead" was a collection of prayers and formulae, by the use of which the souls of the dead were supposed to attain to rest and peace in the next world. It was composed at various periods from the earliest time to the Persian conquest. It affords an interesting glimpse into the religious life and system of belief among the ancient Egyptians. We learn from it that they believed in the existence of one Supreme Being, the immortality of the soul, judgement after death, and the resurrection of the body. It shows, too, a high state of literary activity in Egypt in the time of Moses. It refers to extensive libraries then existing. That of Ramessium, in Thebes, e.g., built by Rameses II., contained 20,000 books.

When the Hebrews entered Canaan it is evident that the art of writing was known to the original inhabitants, as appears, e.g., from the name of the city Debir having been at first Kirjath-sepher, i.e., the "city of the book," or the "book town" ( Joshua 10:38;  15:15;  Judges 1:11 ).

The first mention of letter-writing is in the time of David ( 2 Samuel 11:14,15 ). Letters are afterwards frequently spoken of ( 1 Kings 21:8,9,11;  2 Kings 10:1,3,6,7;  19:14;  2 Chronicles 21:12-15;  30:1,6-9 , etc.).

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [10]

To 2. (a) Paper: G. F. Wekos, Vom Papier, den vor der Erfindung derselben üblichen Schreibmassen u. anderm Schreib-material, Halle, 1789, with Supplementum, Hanover, 1790; Lalande, L’Art de faire le papier, Paris. n.d.; E. Egger, Le Papier dans l’antiquité et dans les temps modernes, do., 1867; W. Wattenbach, Das Schriftwesen im Mittelalter2, Leipzig, 1876, p. 114 ff.; V. Gardthausen, Griechische Paläographie, do., 1879, pp. 48-51; E. Kirchner, Das Papier, 3 vols., Biberach, 1897-99. (b) The writing tablet: A. Socin, in H. Guthe’s Kurzes Bibelwörterbuch, Tübingen, 1903, p. 590; W. Schubart, op. cit. pp. 16-19. (c) The manufacture of papyrus: Fortia d’Urban, Essai sur l’origine de l’écriture, Paris, 1832; T. Birt, Das antike Buchwesen, Die Buchrolle, p. 4 ff.; K. Dziatzko, Untersuchungen über ausgewählte Kapitel des antiken Buchwesens, Leipzig, 1900; A. Deissmann, Licht vom Osten, p. 15 ff., Eng. tr. , p. 23 ff.; V. Gardthausen, op. cit. p. 29 ff.; F. Woenig, Die Pflanzen in alten Agypten, Leipzig, 1886; U. Wilcken, ‘Recto und Verso,’ in Hermes xxii. [1887] 487-492. (d) The papyri in general: C. Haeberlin, Griechische Papyri, Leipzig, 1897; F. G. Kenyon, op. cit. (with 20 facsimiles), art. ‘Papyri’ in HDB v. 352-357; A. Deissmann, art. ‘Papyri’ in EBi iii. 3556-3563 and art. ‘Papyrus und Papyri’ in PRE 3 xiv. 667-675. (e) The use of parchment and papyrus among the Hebrews: H. L. Strack, in PRE 3 xvii. 768; L. Blau, Studien zum althebräischen Buchwesen, Strassburg, 1

Copyright Statement These files are public domain.Text Courtesy of Biblesupport.Com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information Hastings, James. Entry for 'Writing'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/w/writing.html. 1906-1918.

Webster's Dictionary [11]

(1): ( p. pr. & vb. n.) of Write

(2): ( n.) The act or art of forming letters and characters on paper, wood, stone, or other material, for the purpose of recording the ideas which characters and words express, or of communicating them to others by visible signs.

(3): ( n.) Handwriting; chirography.

(4): ( n.) An inscription.

(5): ( n.) Any written composition; a pamphlet; a work; a literary production; a book; as, the writings of Addison.

(6): ( n.) Any legal instrument, as a deed, a receipt, a bond, an agreement, or the like.

(7): ( n.) Anything written or printed; anything expressed in characters or letters

King James Dictionary [12]


1. Forming, as characters, with a pen, style or graver. 2. a. Used or intended for writing as writing paper.


1. The act or art of forming letters and characters, on paper, wood, stone or other material, for the purpose of recording the ideas which characters and the words express, or of communicating them to others by visible signs. We hardly know which to admire most, the ingenuity or the utility of the art of writing. 2. Any thing written or expressed in letters hence, any legal instrument, as a deed, a receipt, a bond, an agreement, &c. 3. A book any written composition a pamphlet as the writings of Addison. 4. An inscription.  John 19 . 5. Writings, plu. conveyances of lands deeds or any official papers.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [13]

1: Γράμμα (Strong'S #1121 — Noun Neuter — gramma — gram'-mah )

from grapho, "to write," is rendered "writings" in  John 5:47 . See Letter , No. 1.

 Matthew 19:7Bill John 19:19

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [14]

See Book .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

Writing is an art by which facts or ideas are communicated from one person to another by means of given signs, such as symbols or letters. It has been a generally received and popular opinion that writing was first used and imparted to mankind when God wrote the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone; but the silence of Scripture upon the subject would rather suggest that so necessary an art had been known long before that time, or otherwise the sacred historian would probably have added this extraordinary and divine revelation to the other parts of his information respecting the transactions on Mount Sinai.

After the gift of language (which was indispensable to rational creatures), it would seem that writing was the most highly beneficial and important boon which could be conferred on men possessed of intellect and understanding, who from their circumstances must divide and spread over the whole earth, and yet be forced from various necessities to maintain intercourse with each other. Even in the first ages of the world writing was requisite to transmit and receive accurately intelligence from the scattered communities, to convey to posterity events which were destined to act upon all time, and especially to preserve unimpared the knowledge of God. Is it then too much to believe that God by revelation immediately imparted to mankind the power of writing? For it does not appear that any person ever invented an alphabet who had not previously heard of or seen one; and every nation which possessed the art always professed to have derived its knowledge from a God.

It was a matter of the utmost consequence that the most exact accounts should have been preserved of the creation, the fall of man, and many prophecies of deepest interest to unborn generations. The ages and genealogies of the patriarchs; the measures of the ark; the first kingly government in Assyria; the history of Abraham and his descendants for 430 years, including minute circumstances, changes, and conversations, in many different countries; could scarcely have been perfectly preserved by oral descent for twenty centuries, unless the antediluvians and their immediate posterity did not partake of the failings of Christians in the defects of forgetfulness and exaggeration; but allowing the art of writing to have been given with language, there is no difficulty, and it becomes obvious that each transaction would be recorded and kept exactly as it was either revealed or happened.

It is evident from the allusions made to the subject in the sacred Scriptures, that the knowledge of writing was possessed by the human family at a very early period. In Genesis 5 it is said, 'This is the book of the generations.' If there had been merely a traditional recollection of 'the generations of Adam,' preserved only by transmission from one memory to another for more than a thousand years, the term book would have been most inapplicable, and could not have been used.

In the book of Job, which is considered to be the most ancient written document extant, it is said (), 'Oh, that my words were now written! Oh, that they were printed in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen!' Also , 'mine adversary had written a book.' Such expressions could not have been used, and would have had no meaning, if the art of writing had been unknown; nor could there have been such terms as book and pen, if the things themselves had not existed.

If, then, it be granted that the book of Job was written, and such expressions were current before the Exode, it becomes evident from sacred history that writing was not only in use before the law was given on Mount Sinai, but that it was also known among other patriarchal tribes than the children of Israel.

Fig. 350—Ancient Writing materials

Before the law was given by God to Moses, he had been commanded to write the important transactions which occurred during the progress of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan; for in it is recorded, 'And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book.' An account of the discomfiture of the Amalekites is the first thing said to have been written by Moses. This battle was fought before the people left Rephidim (), from whence they departed into the wilderness of Sinai (), and therefore that writing was drawn up before the events on the mount took place. The law was 'written by the finger of God' () B.C. 1491, and since that time there is no question as to the existence of the art of writing.

Books and writing must have been familiar to Moses, 'who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians' (), for at the time of his birth that people had arrived at a high pitch of civilization; and now that the mysterious hieroglyphics have been deciphered, it has been found that from the earliest era Egypt possessed a knowledge of writing, and that many of the inscriptions were written before the Exodus of the Hebrews.

Letters are generally allowed to have been introduced into Europe from Phoenicia, and to have been brought from thence by Cadmus into Greece, about fifteen centuries before Christ, which time coincides with the eighteenth Egyptian dynasty; but while none may deny such to have been the origin of European alphabetical characters, it does not prove the Phoenicians to have been the inventors of writing. That people occupied Phoenicia in very early times after the Deluge; and if the patriarch and his sons possessed the knowledge of letters, their posterity would doubtless preserve the remembrance and practice of such an invaluable bequest, which would be conveyed by their colonists into Greece and Africa. In the New World it was found that the Peruvians had no system of writing, while the Mexicans had made great advances in hieroglyphical paintings. The Aztecs, who preceded the Mexicans, had attained much proficiency in the art, such as was adequate to the wants of a people in an imperfect state of civilization.

Various have been the materials and implements used for writing. Paper made from the papyrus is now in existence which was fabricated 2000 years B.C. Moses hewed out of the rock two tables of stone on which the Commandments were written (). After that time the Jews used rolls of skins for their sacred writings. They also engraved writing upon gems or gold plates ().

Before the discovery of paper the Chinese wrote upon thin boards with a sharp tool. Reeds and canes are still used as writing implements among the Tartars; and the Persians and other Orientals write for temporary purposes on leaves, or smooth sand, or the bark of trees. The Arabs in ancient times wrote their poetry upon the shoulder-blades of sheep.

The Greeks occasionally engraved their laws on tables of brass. Even before the days of Homer table-books were used, made of wood, cut in thin slices, which were painted and polished, and the pen

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [16]

It would seem that Moses expected that kings should write with their own hands ( Deuteronomy 17:18;  Deuteronomy 31:24 ), and the various letters of David ( 2 Samuel 11:15 ), Jezebel ( 1 Kings 21:9 ), the king of Aram ( 2 Kings 5:5 ), Jehu ( 2 Kings 10:2 ,   Copyright StatementThese files are public domain and were generously provided by the folks at WordSearch Software. Bibliography InformationOrr, James, M.A., DD General Editor. Entry for 'Writing'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/w/writing.html. 1915.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [17]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Writing'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/w/writing.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.