This word has a comprehensive meaning in Scripture. In the Old
Testament it is the rendering of the Hebrew word "sepher", which
properly means a "writing," and then a "volume" (Ex. 17:14;
Deut. 28:58; 29:20; Job 19:23) or "roll of a book" (Jer. 36:2,
Books were originally written on skins, on linen or cotton
cloth, and on Egyptian papyrus, whence our word "paper." The
leaves of the book were generally written in columns, designated
by a Hebrew word properly meaning "doors" and "valves" (Jer.
36:23, R.V., marg. "columns").
Among the Hebrews books were generally rolled up like our
maps, or if very long they were rolled from both ends, forming
two rolls (Luke 4:17-20). Thus they were arranged when the
writing was on flexible materials; but if the writing was on
tablets of wood or brass or lead, then the several tablets were
bound together by rings through which a rod was passed.
A sealed book is one whose contents are secret (Isa. 29:11;
Rev. 5:1-3). To "eat" a book (Jer. 15:16; Ezek. 2:8-10; 3:1-3;
Rev. 10:9) is to study its contents carefully.
The book of judgment (Dan. 7:10) refers to the method of human
courts of justice as illustrating the proceedings which will
take place at the day of God's final judgment.
The book of the wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14), the book of
Jasher (Josh. 10:13), and the book of the chronicles of the
kings of Judah and Israel (2 Chr. 25:26), were probably ancient
documents known to the Hebrews, but not forming a part of the
The book of life (Ps. 69:28) suggests the idea that as the
redeemed form a community or citizenship (Phil. 3:20; 4:3), a
catalogue of the citizens' names is preserved (Luke 10:20; Rev.
20:15). Their names are registered in heaven (Luke 10:20; Rev.
The book of the covenant (Ex. 24:7), containing Ex.
20:22-23:33, is the first book actually mentioned as a part of
the written word. It contains a series of laws, civil, social,
and religious, given to Moses at Sinai immediately after the
delivery of the decalogue. These were written in this "book."