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Sopherim History

The term "scribe" is defined as  someone who writes books or documents by hand as a profession. Before printing was invented, scribes would copy books,  sacred texts, or take on secretarial and administrative duties such as dictation and keep business, judicial and historical records for kings, nobility, temples and cities. Most of  the scribe's importance and status went away with the invention of printing.

In biblical text, perhaps the best-known scribe is Ezra. According to Ezra 7:6 (NASB): "This Ezra went up from Babylon, and he was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given; and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the LORD his God was upon him."

Verse 11 states: "Now this is the copy of the decree which King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, learned in the words of the commandments of the LORD and His statutes to Israel."

These verses show that Ezra was a scribe or a sopher. Sopher is derived from the word saphar, which means to count, or to number. Ezra, who was also a priest, was the first in a long line of Sopherim, (scribes) whose job was to refine and maintain scriptural accuracy as well as provide their correct interpretation.

 



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