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Ancient Torah Scroll, Book, or Roll

Ancient Torah Scroll
Illustration of a Torah Scroll from Ancient Times

This sketch contains a colored illustration of a Torah scroll, also known as a roll or a book. In ancient times a scroll was a long strip of papyrus, parchment, or even leather to be used for writing. Some of the most impressive scrolls ever discovered in archaeology were known as the Dead Sea scrolls, which were uncovered at the site of Qumran near the Dead Sea in Israel. The scroll of Isaiah was 24 feet long and contains 17 sheets of sheepskin which was joined together by threads of linen. In ancient Egypt their papyrus scrolls were made from 2 strips thickness from the stalk of the papyrus plant which were placed side-by-side and glued together.

The Gospel of Luke chapter 4 reveals Jesus reading from the Scroll of Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21). In ancient Israel it was customary in the Synagogue for a common Israelite to read from the Torah on the Sabbath Day. On this particular day in Nazareth Jesus stood up to read and chose Isaiah 61 as His reading portion. He made an amazing statement: "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."

BOOKS TABLETS MONUMENTS. XIX, 23, 24. O that my words were now written ! O that they were printed in a book ! that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever ! See also Jer. xvii, 1. Three different substances for the preservation of records are nsualty sup posed to be referred to here: 1. Books. These were anciently made of linen or cotton cloth, skins, or the leaves of the papyrus. From the last word comes our English word, paper. The inner bark of trees was also sometimes used. The Latin word for bark being liber, this word at length came to signify a book ; it is still found in the English word library. When made of cloth or skins t^e book was made up in the form of a roll. See note on Isa. xxxiv, 4. [Manners and Customs of the Bible]

Luke 4:16-21
16 - And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17 - And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18 - The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 - To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 - And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 - And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.


Quote from Edgar J. Goodspeed

The Bible Originally a Scroll and not a Book

"We must remember that an ancient book was in the form of a roll--as the Jews made them, scrolls of skin, finished smooth on one side to be written on. These might be of most inconvenient length; Jesus in the synagogue was handed "the roll of the prophet Isaiah," and He "found the place where it was written" --a difficult thing to do in the long series of columns of that book, which amounts to 125 large pages and must have made at least that many columns of Hebrew, with no chapter-numbers, capitals, or column numbers (there were no pages) to aid the reader in his search.

The Hebrew Bible -- The Old Testament -- as Jesus knew it, consisted of from twelve to twenty such scrolls of different sizes. They were never united into what we would call one "book" until the invention of printing made that possible, in the fifteenth century...so a "Bible" as we know it, even a Hebrew Bible, containing the Old Testament by itself, was unknown among the Jews of ancient times.

The books that belonged to it were not physically united as they are with us; they existed in separate rolls or scrolls, one containing the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament; another, Isaiah (Luke 4:17); another, the Minor Prophets (mentioned in Acts 7:42); another Ezekiel; another, the Psalms and so on."

Edgar J. Goodspeed, "How Came The Bible" Second Printing (Nashville: Abingdon, 1979) pp. 12-13.


Scroll in Easton's Bible Dictionary Roll. The common form of ancient books. The Hebrew word rendered "roll" or "volume" is "meghillah", found in Ezra 6:2; Ps. 40:7; Jer. 36:2, 6, 23, 28, 29; Ezek. 2:9; 3:1-3; Zech. 5:1, 2. "Rolls" (Chald. pl. of sephar, corresponding to Heb. sepher) in Ezra 6:1 is rendered in the Revised Version "archives." In the New Testament the word "volume" (Heb. 10:7; R.V., "roll") occurs as the rendering of the Greek kephalis, meaning the head or top of the stick or cylinder on which the manuscript was rolled, and hence the manuscript itself.
http://www.bible-history.com/eastons/R/Roll/

Scroll in Fausset's Bible Dictionary - Roll. Ancient writings were rolled round a cylinder or stick. Volume means so (Jeremiah 36:2; Psalm 40:7; compare Deuteronomy 31:26; Ezekiel 2:9-10, where the writing "within and without" was contrary to the usage of writing only on one side, implying the fullness of the prophecy of woe. The writing was in columns (delathot), literally, doors, on parchment or prepared skins.
http://www.bible-history.com/faussets/R/Roll/

Scroll in Smiths Bible Dictionary - Roll. A book in ancient times consisted of a single long strip of paper or parchment, which was usually kept rolled upon a stick, and was unrolled when a person wished to read it. The roll was usually written on one side only, and hence the particular notice of one that was "written within and without." Eze 2:10 The writing was arranged in columns.
http://www.bible-history.com/smiths/R/Roll/

Scroll in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE - ROLL (SCROLL) rol: The usual form of book in Biblical times. It had been in use in Egypt for perhaps 2,000 years at the time when, according to the Pentateuch, the earliest Biblical books were written in this form. The Babylonian tablet seems to have been the prevailing form in Israel up to about 1350 BC, but by 1100 BC, at least, the roll had been in established use for some time as far North as Byblos. Two Hebrew words, gillayon, meghillah, one Aramaic, cephar, and one Greek word, biblion, are so translated in the King James Version. Cephar (Ezr 6:1, the Revised Version (British and American) "archives, margin "books"), with the corresponding Hebrew form cepher, is the generic word for any whole work large or small, but as a book form (Isa 34:4) it may mean "roll," and, according to Blau (pp. 37, 45, etc.), it never does mean anything else. Both the other words seem to be connected with galal, "roll," which is the technical term for opening or closing a book. The meghillath cepher (Jer 36:2) means the unwritten roll, or the roll considered in its material form as contrasted with the work. Meghillah, which is found in Ezr 6:2 (English Versions of the Bible, "roll"), Jeremiah (often), Ezekiel (often) and Zechariah, is a somewhat late word, and came to mean a small roll (but with a complete work) as distinguished from a book, corresponding thus to the modern distinction of pamphlet and book or document and book. The word gillayon is translated in the Revised Version (British and American) as "tablet," and is universally regarded as meaning (Isa 8:1) some smooth surface, corresponding to the same word in Isa 3:23 which is rendered "hand-mirror." But "cylinder-seal" would possibly fit the sense in both cases; this being hung round the neck as an ornament in one case and inscribed with a personal name in the other. Biblion is regarded by the Bible translators as equivalent to meghillah in the sense of small roll. It is in fact 4 times in the Septuagint of Jer 36 used as the translation for meghillah, but very much oftener it is the translation for cepher, for which in fact it is the correct technical equivalent (Birt, Buchrolle, 21). Indeed the "small book" (Thayer, Lexicon, 101) is hardly consistent with the ideas of the heavens as a scroll, of the Lamb's Book of Life, or of the vast quantity of books of Jn 21:25, although in Lk 4:17 it may perhaps correspond closely with meghillah in the sense of a complete roll and work, which is at the same time a whole part of a larger work. Its use in Rev 6:14 is reminiscent of Isa 34:4 ("scroll"), and is conclusive for the roll form. It is indeed always technically a roll and never codex or tablet. It is not likely that Isaiah and John (here and in his Gospel, 21:25) refer directly to the Babylonian idea that the heavens are a series of written tablets or to the rabbinic saying that "if all the oceans were ink, all reeds pens, the heavens and earth sheets to write upon, and all men writers, still it would not suffice for writing out the teachings of my Masters" (Blau, op. cit., 34). Nevertheless, the "whole Cosmos" does suggest "the heavens and earth" as sheets to write on, and under all there does perhaps lurk a conception of the broad expanse of heaven as a roll for writing upon.

http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/R/ROLL+(SCROLL)/

The Bible Mentions a lot concerning the "Roll"

Jeremiah 36:21 - So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.

Jeremiah 36:6 - Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the LORD in the ears of the people in the LORD'S house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities.

Jeremiah 36:29 - And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?

Jeremiah 51:25 - Behold, I [am] against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.

Jeremiah 36:32 - Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.

Jeremiah 36:23 - And it came to pass, [that] when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast [it] into the fire that [was] on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that [was] on the hearth.

Zechariah 5:2 - And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof [is] twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.

Jeremiah 36:4 - Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.

Jeremiah 36:2 - Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.

Jeremiah 36:20 - And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.

Jeremiah 36:27 - Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying,

1 Samuel 14:33 - Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day.

Genesis 29:8 - And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and [till] they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep.

Jeremiah 36:25 - Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.

Ezekiel 3:3 - And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat [it]; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

Ezra 6:2 - And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that [is] in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein [was] a record thus written:

Micah 1:10 - Declare ye [it] not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.

Zechariah 5:1 - Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.

Isaiah 8:1 - Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.

Joshua 10:18 - And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:

Ezekiel 3:1 - Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.

Ezekiel 2:9 - And when I looked, behold, an hand [was] sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book [was] therein;

Ezekiel 3:2 - So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.

Mark 16:3 - And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

Jeremiah 36:14 - Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them.

Jeremiah 36:28 - Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.
 

The Bible Also Mentions a lot concerning the "Book"

2 Kings 14:6 - But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

Nehemiah 8:5 - And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:

2 Kings 23:3 - And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all [their] heart and all [their] soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

Joshua 1:8 - This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Nehemiah 9:3 - And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God [one] fourth part of the day; and [another] fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.

Joshua 8:31 - As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up [any] iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

2 Chronicles 25:4 - But he slew not their children, but [did] as [it is] written in the law in the book of Moses, where the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin.

Daniel 12:1 - And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Malachi 3:16 - Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

1 Kings 11:41 - And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, [are] they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?

2 Chronicles 17:9 - And they taught in Judah, and [had] the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.

2 Kings 23:2 - And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.

2 Chronicles 34:30 - And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD.

2 Chronicles 34:31 - And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.

Jeremiah 36:32 - Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.

2 Chronicles 34:14 - And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD [given] by Moses.

2 Chronicles 34:18 - Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.

Deuteronomy 30:10 - If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, [and] if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.

1 Samuel 10:25 - Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote [it] in a book, and laid [it] up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.

2 Kings 22:10 - And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.

Jeremiah 36:4 - Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.

Jeremiah 36:10 - Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the LORD'S house, in the ears of all the people.

Jeremiah 32:12 - And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle's [son], and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.

Revelation 5:9 - And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

Jeremiah 36:2 - Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.

2 Kings 23:24 - Moreover the [workers with] familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

Deuteronomy 29:20 - The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.

Jeremiah 45:1 - The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,

Revelation 17:8 - The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

2 Kings 14:28 - Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, [which belonged] to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
 

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