Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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What is a Book?
        BOOK
     What we call books were unknown to the ancient Jews, at least in their present convenient form. Letters were engraved on stone, brick, metal (as lead and copper), or wood, and written on cloth and skins, and at a later period on parchment. Ex 17:14; 2 Tim 4:13. Tablets of lead and brass or copper of great antiquity have been discovered in modern times. The earliest mode of preserving inscriptions was by engraving on a rock. Comp. Job 19:24. The Sinaitic peninsula, especially the Wady Mukattab (the "Sculptured Valley"), and the neighborhood of Mount Serbal and Mount Sinai, are full of rock-inscriptions (called the Sinaitic Inscriptions). The writing-table mentioned Luke 1:63 was probably a tablet covered with wax or otherwise prepared to be written upon. Deut 27:2-3. Such tablets were used in England as late as the year 1300. Leaves and the bark of trees were also used, and were often prepared with much skill. The people of Ceylon write with a bodkin on broad and thick leaves cut into narrow slips; and these leaves, being fastened together, make books which they call alias. The missionaries often prepared tracts in this form before paper and printing were introduced upon the island. In Sumatra and among the Indians of North America bark is still used for making letters and pictures. Leather and linen or cotton cloth were also used. These were prepared in the form of long rolls, 12 or 14 inches wide, and fastened at each end to sticks (like the rollers to which maps are attached), and which were rolled together till they met midway. Sometimes these leaves were connected in the form of modern books, and opened in the same way. In this case the sheets were fastened to rods, and these rods passed through rings, and thus formed the back of the book. The writing was generally in capital letters and without punctuation or division of words; and when used, the reader unrolled the manuscript as far as the place which he wished to find, and kept before him just so much as he would read. The pages resembled the following in their general appearance, though they were of course wider and longer than these, and were read from right to left: INTHEBEGI WORDWASG EMADEBYHI INHIMWASLI NNINGWAST OGTHESAME MANDWITHO FEANDTHELI HEWORDAN WASINTHEB UTHIMWASN FEWASTHELI DTHEWORD EGINNINGW OTANYTHIN GHTOFMENA WASWITHG ITHGODALL GMADETHA NDTHELIGHT ODANDTHE THINGSWER TWASMADE SHINETHIND John 1:1-5. BOO BOO These columns could be divided from one another and used separately, as we may cut the columns of a newspaper which is printed on one side only, and arrange the extracts as we like. Sometimes the reading was what is called furrow-wise. The first line was from right to left, and the second from left to right, and so on alternately, like ploughing a field. The roll or book of curses which Ezekiel saw was 30 feet long and 20 wide. The writing was usually on one side, but not always. Eze 2:10. When the roll was done with, it was carefully deposited in a case. The cut on the next page shows the book of the Law rolled upon two cylinders, with the seal at one side. There were other forms of the scroll, and also collections of sheets in the shape of a modern book, secured with rings and rods. A very good idea may be formed of an ancient roll by supposing a common newspaper to have rods or rollers at the right and left sides. The reader takes hold of the rods and unrolls the sheet until he comes to the desired column. Thus, in Luke 4:17 the phrase "opened the book" would properly read "unrolled the scroll," and in v.Ruth 4:20 for "closed the book" read "rolled up the volume" or "scroll." This shows the force of the figure, Isa 34:4, where the heavens are represented as rolled together as suddenly as the opposite ends of an unrolled scroll fly to meet each other when the hand of the reader is withdrawn from it. A kind of paper was made from the stalk of an Egyptian vegetable called papyrus, or paper-reed, which is still found in various parts of India. See Bulrush. The stalk was slit with a needle into plates or layers as broad and thin as possible. Some of them were 10 or 15 inches broad. These strips were laid side by side upon a flat horizontal surface, and then immersed in the water of the Nile, which not only served as a kind of sizing, but also caused the edges of the strips to adhere together as if glued. The sheets thus formed were dried in the sun and then covered with a fine wash, which made them smooth and flexible. They were finally beaten with hammers and polished. Twenty or more of these sheets were sometimes connected in one roll. The pen or [1] style was made of some hard substance, perhaps not unlike the instruments used by glaziers to cut glass. Jer 17:1. Upon tablets of wax an instrument was used, one end of which was pointed, to mark the letters, and the other broad and flat, to make erasures. Pens or styles of copper are now used by the Ceylonese. On a soft substance like linen or papyrus, the marks were painted with a fine hairpencil, as is practised among the Chinese to this day. Most of the Eastern nations now use the reed-pen, which is split with an instrument used as we use the penknife. Jer 36:23. The pith is removed, and the bark or rind, being split like a quill, retains and properly sheds the ink. It is not hard or stiff enough to be used long without mending. See Pen. Ink was prepared from a variety of substances (see Ink), and those who were skilful in writing wore an inkhorn fastened to the girdle, Eze 9:2, which is the present mode among the Persians and the Moors of Barbary. See Inkhorn. As tables were unknown, the paper or other substance written upon was laid upon the knees or held firmly with the left hand. A sealed book was a roll fastened together by a band or string, and a seal affixed to the knot, Isa 29:11, as seen in the cut. Book of the Generation, Gen 5:1; Matt 1:1, signifies the genealogical history or records of a family or nation. Book of the Living, Ps 69:28, and the kindred phrase. Book of Life, Rev 21:27, are supposed to allude to the genealogical lists or registers kept by the Jews, from which the names of the dead were erased. Isa 4:3. The aptness and force of the figurative use of the terms are sufficiently obvious. Books of Judgment. Dan 7:10. The allusion here is probably either to the practice of opening books of account to settle with servants or laborers, or to the custom of the Persian kings to have a book in which a daily record is made of special services performed by BOO BOT any of their subjects, and of the rewards which were given to the individuals. Esth 6:1-3. Book of the Wars of the Lord, Num 21:14, Book of Jasher, or the Righteous, Book of the Law closed. Josh 10:13 and 2 Sam 1:18, and Book of the Chronicles (or annals) of the kings of Judah and Israel, 1 Kgs 14:19,1 Chr 2:29, are the names of ancient writings known to the Jews, but not preserved in the sacred canon.


Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'book' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary".
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