Writing

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

The art among Hebrews was limited to persons of learning and position and to the class of scribes (Isa. 29:1111And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: (Isaiah 29:11)-12). [SCRIBE.] The oldest Semitic writings are the bricks and tablets of Nineveh and Babylon. The Hebrew alphabet was a development of the Phoenician, and it underwent many changes in the course of time. The record of Sinai was written on stone with the finger of God (Ex. 31:18; 32:15-19; 34:1-2918And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18)
15And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 17And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. 19And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. (Exodus 32:15‑19)
1And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. 2And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. 3And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount. 4And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. 5And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. 8And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. 9And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance. 10And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee. 11Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 12Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: 13But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: 14For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 15Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. 17Thou shalt make thee no molten gods. 18The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt. 19All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male. 20But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty. 21Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest. 22And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end. 23Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. 24For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the Lord thy God thrice in the year. 25Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning. 26The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. 27And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. 28And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. 29And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. (Exodus 34:1‑29)
). Later materials were wax, wood, metal, or plaster (Deut. 27:22And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: (Deuteronomy 27:2); Josh. 8:3232And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. (Joshua 8:32); Luke 1:6363And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. (Luke 1:63)); and perhaps vellum, or fine parchment from skins, and linen were in early use for other than monumental writings, as they surely were at a later day (2 Tim. 4:1313The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. (2 Timothy 4:13)). Pliable substances, when written upon, were rolled on sticks, sealed and preserved as books (Psa. 40:77Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, (Psalm 40:7); Isa. 29:1111And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: (Isaiah 29:11); Dan. 12:44But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Daniel 12:4); Rev. 5:11And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5:1)). Hebrews doubtless knew the use of papyrus (2 John 1212Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. (2 John 12)). Rolls were generally written upon one side only, except (Ezek. 2:9-109And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; 10And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. (Ezekiel 2:9‑10); Rev. 5:11And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5:1)). Hebrew instruments of writing were the stylus and graver for hard materials (Ex. 32:44And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 32:4); Job 19:2424That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! (Job 19:24); Psa. 45.1; Isa. 8:11Moreover the Lord said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz. (Isaiah 8:1); Jer. 8:8; 17:18How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. (Jeremiah 8:8)
1The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; (Jeremiah 17:1)
); and for pliable materials, a reed pen (2 Cor. 3:33Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3); 2 John 1212Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. (2 John 12); 3 John 1313I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: (3 John 13)). Paul used an amanuensis, but authenticated his letters in a few lines with his own pen (1 Cor. 16:2121The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. (1 Corinthians 16:21); Col. 4:1818The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen. <<Written from Rome to Colossians by Tychicus and Onesimus.>> (Colossians 4:18); 2 Thess. 3:1717The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. (2 Thessalonians 3:17)). Ancient ink was made of pulverized charcoal or burnt ivory in water to which gum had been added. It was carried in an ink-horn suspended to the girdle (Ezek. 9:3-43And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; 4And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. (Ezekiel 9:3‑4)
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Concise Bible Dictionary:

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 judgment upon Amalek, an enemy of God’s people: his remembrance was to be utterly put out from under heaven (Ex. 17:1414And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek 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 א, ר aleph, an ox; ב, beth, a house; ג, 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. 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 forever!” (Job 19:23-2423Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! 24That 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 practiced 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 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 travelers; 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 in the 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:—
Phoenician
Ancient Greek Ancient Persian Ancient Hebrew Ancient Aramæan
Roman Later Greek Samaritan Hebrew Square Characters
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” (Deut. 24:11When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. (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 20:9-109Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. 10And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. (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 occult 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.
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From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Writing tablets were in use among various ancient nations. They are referred to in Isaiah 30:88Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: (Isaiah 30:8) and in Habakkuk 2:22And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. (Habakkuk 2:2), and metaphorically in Proverbs 3:33Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: (Proverbs 3:3), Jeremiah 17:11The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; (Jeremiah 17:1) and 2 Corinthians 3:33Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3). They are yet to be seen in modern Greece. Among the Romans they were occasionally made of ivory or of Citron-wood, but generally of beach, fir, or some other common wood. They were covered with a thin coating of wax, in which the letters were formed by a stylus, an instrument corresponding to the modern pen. It was made of gold, silver, brass, iron, copper, ivory, or bone. One end was pointed for writing, while the other was smooth, fiat, and circular, for erasing, and for smoothing the waxed surface so that it might be used again for writing. The outside part of the tablet, which was held in the hand, was not coated with wax, and around the edge of the inside there was a thin, narrow ledge, so that when two tablets came together the waxed surfaces would not touch each other and become marred.
A book was often made of several of these tablets combined, sometimes as many as five or six being fastened together at the backs by means of wires, which also served as hinges. Tablets were used for almost every species of writing, where the document was not of great length. Letters, or even wills, were written upon them. For the purpose of sealing these, and other documents which might require it, holes were made in the outer edge, through which a triple thread was passed and fastened with a seal.