THE WORDS OF GOD ARE PRECIOUS. After the time of Ezra, the Jews adopted very strict regulations concerning the copying of the Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets. Only approved animal skins and a specific formulation of ink could be used. Scribes had to speak the words aloud as they copied them. Scrolls containing the Scriptures were securely stored and could not be destroyed. The ancient words were reproduced with astounding accuracy, and the scrolls containing them lasted for generations.
STUDYING GOD’S WORD IS A GOOD REASON TO MEET WITH OTHERS. As regional rulers allowed, meeting places called synagogues (meaning “a gathering,” or “assembly”) were constructed. Sometimes local residents who were not descendants of Abraham attended. These “devout men,” as some writers called them, were drawn to hear the written Word of God taught.
ANCIENT WORDS HAVE MODERN APPLICATION. The words of respected teachers of the Scriptures were gathered. This commentary, once only handed down from generation to generation orally, was recorded in written form and called the Mishnah (meaning “repetition,” or “review”). Books of moral teaching, commentary, and history were also written and studied. These books, called the Apocrypha (“hidden books”) by Protestant churches and Deutero-canonicals (“second regulations”) by Orthodox churches, are recognized as Scripture by Orthodox churches but are considered helpful, though not authoritative, by Jews and Protestants today.
Discovering God’s Story: Fully Illustrated Bible Handbook in Chronological Order (Cincinnati, OH: Standard, 2010), 113.