The Bible: Why? How? Part 5

VIII. The importance of copies.

A. The first mention of copying concerned the Ten Commandments.

1. The original autograph was smashed. EXO 32:19.

2. God simply replaced it and commanded it to be placed in the ark. DEU 10:1-5.

a. What He wrote was “...according to the first writing...” (v. 4). It was a duplicate or copy that was not to vary from the original.

b. Thus, the rule was laid down for future perpetuation of God’s words. c/w JOS 8:32-35; JER 36:27-28.

B. A copy of the Law was to be in the hands of Israel’s king. DEU 17:18 c/w 2CH 23:11. 1. From the copy, he was to “...keep ALL the words of this law and these statutes...” (DEU 17:19). c/w 1KI 2:3.

2. Moses’ original was entrusted to the priests (v. 18; DEU 31:9) who were to “...put it in the side of the ark of the covenant...” (DEU 31:26).

3. Mind that Moses’ original writing would have included the words of the Ten Commandments which were ensconced within the ark. His inspired original autograph would have consisted (in part) of an inspired copy of what was written in the stone tablets by God.

4. The king, therefore, when writing his copy (which was equivalent to the original), would have been perpetuating an inspired copy of an inspired copy.

C. Judges in diverse parts of the realm would have needed access to the various laws of Moses in order to perform their offices (2CH 19:5, 10) and the bonafide copies of the Law would have made this possible and effective.

D. Likewise, the priests which taught throughout Judah “...had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah...” (2CH 17:9).

E. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul...” (PSA 19:7). Are we to believe that only the originals had conversion power when the priests taught throughout the land, or that the originals were shared by the apostles as they evangelized the world? F. Believers in general had access to bonafide scriptures.  PSA 1:2; ACT 8:32; 17:11; 2TI 3:15.

IX. Enter: the scribes.

A. scribe: A writer; one whose business is writing. In various specific or limited applications.  Jewish Hist. A member of the class of professional interpreters of the Law after the return from the Captivity; in the Gospels often coupled with the Pharisees as upholders of ceremonial tradition.

B. Note JER 8:8-9.

C. The scribes had attained a notoriety by the time of Christ. MAT 23:13; MAR 12:38.

D. However, there had been some faithful scribes. JER 36:26-27; EZR 7:6.

1. The autograph was to be under the care and supervision of the priests/Levites.  DEU 31:9, 26.

2. Originally, the king himself was to make an apograph (exact copy) of the law “...in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life...” (DEU 17:18-19).

a.  This copy was what “...is written in the law of Moses” (1KI 2:3), showing the transmission of original authority to the copy.

b.  The king would have been therefore enjoined to regularly read the law of Moses as rendered in the copy without having to return to the priests.

c.  This official copy (bearing original authority) would have of itself served as “the word of God” if the original writings stored in the side of the ark of the covenant were to disappear.

d.  Even though each new king may well have had an authentic copy (or copies) handed down to him as part of his royal inheritance, he would have also been expected to fulfil DEU 17:18. Thus, over time, numerous royal authentic copies of the word of God could have accumulated.

3. We later read of a scribe’s chamber in the king’s house (JER 36:12), indicating that the work of writing and perpetuating the scriptures was entrusted to a royal “steno pool.”

4. Legitimate copies of original autographs must have made it to Babylon since Daniel “...understood by books...” (DAN 9:2) what was to come and where Israel had gone wrong and incurred “...the oath that is written in the law of Moses...” (DAN 9:11- 13). c/w JER 30:2; 36:2.

5. Whereas the Davidic throne and the temple did not survive the Babylonian conquest, the law of the Lord did, and a “ready scribe” of “the words of the commandments of the LORD” proclaimed it from a written book.  EZR 7:6, 10-11; NEH 8:1, 5, 8.

6. Ezra seems to have assumed presidency of a body of learned and wise men.  NEH 8:4, 7, 13 c/w EZR 7:21.

a. A scribe took a place of great prominence in the subsequent history of Israel and the scriptures.

b. Revival was directly related to the preservation and promotion of what was deemed “...the words of the commandments of the LORD...” (EZR 7:11).

E. Even though the professional class of scribes had corrupted themselves and imposed their glosses on the teachings of the scriptures, yet there were still valid scriptures available by the time of Christ. LUK 10:26; JOH 5:39; MAT 5:17-18; 12:3-5.

1. Christ obviously deemed the extant copies as the very word of God.

2. Even though He corrected Pharisaical interpretations and glosses, He never once called into question the integrity of the Hebrew text.

3. The apostles likewise deemed the writings to be inspired scriptures.  ACT 1:16; 2:16-17; 18:28; ROM 4:3; 11:2; 1PE 2:6.

4. Godly scribes played a valuable role in the perpetuation of the scriptures.

F. Jesus even promised to send scribes. MAT 23:34.

1. These promised “scribes” may be the apostles and those whom they ordained to minister the apostolic doctrine. c/w LUK 11:49; 2TI 1:13; 2:2.

2. However, writing scribes were also put to good use.

a. The apostles themselves wrote inspired scriptures.  2PE 3:15-16; GAL 6:11; 1JO 1:4.

b. Sometimes the writing was by secretaries. ROM 16:22; 1PE 5:12.

c. Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should do in the N.T. times as He had done in the O.T., and engage faithful scribes to pen or copy the apostolic autographs?

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