Imágenes de páginas
PDF

§ 85. ANTIQUITY or THE ART of writing. 91

the month of March is called nois, Adar, in the Chaldaic dialect; and at the time mentioned, viz. 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, -7s, Adar, means the same with Aries. But, as letters were unquestionably invented for the purposes of commercial 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 Gen. 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, Exod. 17: 14. 24; 4. 28:9–11. 32:32. 34:27, 28. Num. 33:2. Deut. 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, brotho, Exod. 6: 14. Deut. 20:5—9. Even in the time of Jacob, seals, upon which names are engraved in the East, were in use, see Gen. 38: 18. 41: 42 ; which is another probable testimony to the great antiquity of letters.

Note I. Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus mention the existence in antiquity of two kinds of writing, the one sacred, the other profane. Clemens Alexandrinus and Porphyry mention three kinds, viz. the sacred, the profane, and the hieroglyphical. Some interpreters suppose, that the phrase wi:N tyr, a man's pen, Is. 8: 1. means the mode of writing which is denominated profane. Hieroglyphics were inscribed by the Egyptians, among whom they were used, upon stones. The phrase n*** 1: N, a pictured or engraven stone, Lev. 26: 1. Num. 33:52, means a stone, engraven with hieroglyphical figures, which, in that age of idolatry, was liable to be worshipped. Those persons, who understood how to read hieroglyphics, proto-ri magicians, were held in high estimation and much honoured among the Egyptians, Exod. 8; 3. Gen. 41: 8.

NotE II. Gesenius renders the word potis overseers, rulers, or officers. In support of his rendering, he collates the Arabic

[ocr errors]

92 $ 86. THE Extension of Alphabetical writing.

[ocr errors]

p
Ma a writing, are nearer as regards form to the Hebrew, than
those which are collated by Gesenius.

§ 86. The ExtENsion of Alphabetical writing.

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. The Hebrew patriarchs received their alphabet from the Phenicians or, what is the same thing, from the Canaanites; and that their posterity 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, Deut. 24:1–3. 17: 18, 19. 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, viz. no-ri, comp. Exod. 32: 16,32. Not a few of the Hebrews were able to read and write, Judg. 8: 14; yet very many were very illiterate. Hence 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, Ezek. 9: 2, 3, 11. In the inkhorn were the materials for writing, and a knife for sharpening the pen, Jer. 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 K. 4:3. 2 K. 12:11. Is. 29:18. Jer. 36: 4. Rom. 2:13. James 5:11. Rev. 1:3. The scribes took youth under their care, who learnt 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 Sam. 19:16, et seq. 2 K. 2: 3, 5. 4; 38.6:1. 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 mu

[merged small][ocr errors]
[graphic]

§ 87. MATERIALs AND INSTRUMENTs of writing. 93

sic and singing, without doubt writing also, the Mosaic law, and poetry. They were denominated in reference to their instructors 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, of which we shall speak hereafter.

§ 87. MATERIALs AND INSTRUMENTs of WRITING.

I. MATERIAls FROM THE vegetABLE KINGDoM.

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, rab, tha§, Is. 8:1. Ezek. 37: 16. 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. Linen was 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 in his Natural History, XIII. 21–27, was used before the Trojan war.

II. MATERIALs FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDoM.

The skins of animals. They were but poorly prepared for the purpose, until some improved methods of preparation were invented at Pergamus, during the reign of Eumenes, about 200 years before Christ. 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, usu69&va, 2 Tim. 4: 13.

III. MATERIALs from the MiNERAL kingdom.

1. Tables of lead, n-ty, Job 19, 24. 2. Tables of brass, 68%row zakzai. Of all the materials, brass was 94 § 87. MATERIALS AND INSTRUMENTs of writing.

considered among the most durable, and was employed for those inscriptions, which were designed to last the longest, 1 Mac. 8:22. 14:20–27. 8. Stones or rocks, upon which public laws, &c. were written. Sometimes the letters engraved were filled up with lime, Exod. 24; 12. 31: 18. 32: 19. 34: 1. et seq. Deut. 27: 1–9. comp. Josh. 8: 32. et seq. Job 19: 24. 4. Tiles. The inscriptions were made upon the tiles first, and afterwards 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. 5. 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, comp. 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 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.

INSTRUMENT's Used IN writing.

The instrument, commonly used for this purpose, was the style, Heb. bor, tz. 1. 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, Jer. 17: 1.

2. The letters were formed upon tablets of wood, (when they were covered with war,) 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. Wax, however, was but rarely used for the purpose of covering writing tables in such warm regions. When this was not the case, the letters were painted on the wood with a black tincture or ink.

3. On linen, cotton cloth, paper, skins, and parchment, the letters Were painted with a very small brush, Heb. perhaps bori, afterwards with a reed, which was split. The orientals use this elegant instrument to the present day instead of a pen. The knife, with which the reed was split, was called help: -yn, Jer. 36: 28.

§ 88. Respecting books. 95

Ink, called "", is spoken of in Num. 5:23. as well known and common, comp. Jer. 36: 18. and was prepared in various ways, which are related by Pliny, XVI. 6. XXX.25. 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 de Nat. Deor. II. 20. and Persius III. 11. the ink extracted from the cuttle fish, no-ri, 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, Antiq. XII. 2, 11. compared with Pliny XXXIII. 40.

[ocr errors]

Books, (which are mentioned as very well known as early as Job 19:23. Num. 21: 14. Foxod. 17: 14,) were written most anciently on skins, on linen, on cotton cloth, and the reed papyrus; and subsequently on parchment. The leaves were written over in small columns, called ninet, Jer. 36: 23. If the book were large, it was of course formed of a number of skins, of a number of pieces of linen and cotton cloth, or of papyrus, or parchment, connected together. The leaves were rarely written over on both sides, Ezek. 2: 9. Zech. 5: 1. Whether the lines were written Bovorooq móðv, as in the Sigean inscription, and in the Etruscan inscriptions, might yet be determined, if the stones mentioned Josh. 8: 32 could be found. The question, whether there was any space between the words, has been discussed in my Introduction to the Old Testament, T. V. p. 1. § 98.

Books being written upon very flexible materials, were rolled round a stick; and, if they were very long, round two, from the two extremities. The reader unrolled the book to the place which he wanted, availrúšas to Buffalov, and rolled it up again when he had read it, troşa; to Buffalov, Luke 4: 17–20; whence the name H.3% a volume, or thing rolled up, Ps. 40. 7. Is. 34: 4. Ezek. 2: 9. 2 K. 19: 14. Ezra 6: 2. The leaves thus rolled round the stick, which has been mentioned, and bound with a string, could be easily sealed, Is. 29: 11. Dan. 12:4. Rev. 5: 1. 6: 7. Those books, which were inscribed on tablets of wood, lead,

« AnteriorContinuar »