The first hard copies of Scripture

We are familiar with electronic and hard copies of documents, the former being stored as electronic medium and the latter being the physical tangible version.

What and where is the first hard copy of Scripture?

Moses wrote the Pentateuch on manuscript and copies were made from it. In Deu 17:18 we read that the king was to have a copy of his own to read and study, copied from a copy which the Levites had. The copying process was carefully controlled by the Jews, so where could the ordinary Israelite read the Scripture? He was to teach them to his children in the domestic situation Deu 6:2,7-9. They learned the Scripture off by heart but where was the hard copy from which they could revise?

The first hard copy of Scripture was so hard that it was engraved on stone. The honour for the first hard copy goes to the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God on both sides Ex 32:15-16 of two tables of stone Ex 31:18; Deu 9:10. Moses broke these Deu 9:17 and God replaced them with another set Deu 10:4. So the Lord gave us our first hard copy, and it was really hard!

What about the rest of the Mosaic law? Evidently Moses’ manuscript was the first hard copy although he probably drew upon other records. These records were not Scripture until Moses incorporated them in the Pentateuch by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In Deu 27:2-4 the Lord gives instructions through Moses to copy out the Mosaic Law on plastered stones beside the altar in Mount Ebal. Keil and Delitzsch in their Commentary on the Old Testament think that this was probably not the whole Pentateuch, but the legislative statutes. I wonder if this ‘hard copy’ is the source of the 613 commandments the Jews say are in the Pentateuch. This public hard copy was available for the ordinary Israelite to consult when they came to worship God at the altar. I wonder if any archaeologist has ever attempted to find it.

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