414. Books Tablets Monuments

Job 19:23‑24; Exodus 31:18; Exodus 34:4; Exodus 34:28; Joshua 8:32; Jeremiah 17:1  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Job 19: 23-24. O 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 forever!I See also Jeremiah 17: 1.
Three different substances for the preservation of record’s are usually supposed 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 the book was made up in the form of a roll. See note on Isaiah 34:44And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. (Isaiah 34:4) (#511).
2. Leaden tablets. These are of high antiquity. In 1699 Montfaucon bought at Rome a very old book entirely made of lead. It was about four inches long and three wide, and had a cover and six leaves or sheets. The hinges and nails were also made of lead. The volume contained Egyptian gnostic figures and inscriptions in Greek and Etruscan characters.
In a temple in the Carian city of Cnidus, erected in honor of Hades and Persephone, about the fourth century before Christ, the women were in the habit of depositing thin sheets of lead on which were written the names of persons they hated, together With their misdeeds. They also inscribed on the lead tablets imprecations against those who had thus injured them. Many of these tablets were discovered in 1858 when excavations were made in the ruins of the temple. They are now in the British Museum.
It is not, however, certain that Job in the text refers to leaden tablets or leaves on which inscriptions were made. He may have alluded to the custom of first cutting letters in stone and then filling them up with molten lead. There are indications that some of the incised letters in Assyrian monuments were filled with metal. M. Botta states that the letters on the pavement slabs of Khorsabad give evidence of having been filled with copper. See Layard's Nineveh and Its Remains, vol. 2, p. 188.
The some records of ancient Oriental nations, which modern discoveries have brought to light, are all illustrations of the custom which Job evidently had in mind. Many of these bear on Scripture facts and history, confirming and supplementing the sacred record. The most remarkable, in some respects, of any of these ancient monuments is the famous Moabite stone, the discovery of which in the year 1868 created such intense excitement among biblical scholars and antiquarians. This is the very oldest Semitic inscription of importance as yet discovered, and is the only one thus far found which reaches back to the age of the Jewish monarchy. It gives the Moabitish account of the conflict described in the 2 Kings 3.