Monday, March 28, 2022

The Hebrew verb כתב (kâtaḇ, with the final letter "bet" pronounced as a "v") is the general word for "to write." The process of writing described by כתב (kâtaḇ) can refer to inscription in stone, as in Exodus 31:18: "When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant, tablets of stone, written (כתבים) with the finger of God." It can also refer to the writing of books, as in 1 Kings 11:41: "Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, all that he did as well as his wisdom, are they not written (כתבים) in the Book of the Acts of Solomon?" One of the most common situations in which we see כתב (kâtaḇ) is in descriptions of the writing of the law for the people of Israel, as seen in Joshua 8:32: "And there, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote (ויכתב) on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written (כתב)." The prophets are often instructed to write down the words of the Lord to share them. For example, in Jeremiah 36:6, the prophet is instructed to "go yourself, and on a fast day in the hearing of the people in the LORD’S house you shall read the words of the LORD from the scroll that you have written (כתבת) at my dictation."

The act of writing has a related noun, כתב (kǝtāḇ), that is used in exilic and postexilic books to describe the thing that has been written. Translations of כתב (kǝtāḇ) as a noun will vary, with Daniel 6:8 using the same Aramaic word to mean a "document": "Therefore King Darius signed the document (כתבא) and interdict." While in Ezekiel 13:9, translators use the word to mean "register": "They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register יכתבו (lit.: "they will not be registered") of the house of Israel."