International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
rol: The usual form of book in Biblical times. It had been in use in Egypt for perhaps 2,000 years at the time when, according to the Pentateuch, the earliest Biblical books were written in this form. The Babylonian tablet seems to have been the prevailing form in Palestine up to about 1350 B.C., but by 1100 B.C., at least, the roll had been in established use for some time as far North as Byblos. Two Hebrew words, gillayon, meghillah, one Aramaic, cephar, and one Greek word, biblion, are so translated in the King James Version. Cephar (Ezra 6:1, the Revised Version (British and American) "archives, margin "books"), with the corresponding Hebrew form cepher, is the generic word for any whole work large or small, but as a book form (Isaiah 34:4) it may mean "roll," and, according to Blau (pp. 37, 45, etc.), it never does mean anything else. Both the other words seem to be connected with galal, "roll," which is the technical term for opening or closing a book. The meghillath cepher (Jeremiah 36:2) means the unwritten roll, or the roll considered in its material form as contrasted with the work. Meghillah, which is found in Ezra 6:2 (English Versions of the Bible, "roll"), Jeremiah (often), Ezekiel (often) and Zechariah, is a somewhat late word, and came to mean a small roll (but with a complete work) as distinguished from a book, corresponding thus to the modern distinction of pamphlet and book or document and book. The word gillayon is translated in the Revised Version (British and American) as "tablet," and is universally regarded as meaning (Isaiah 8:1) some smooth surface, corresponding to the same word in Isaiah 3:23 which is rendered "hand-mirror." But "cylinder-seal" would possibly fit the sense in both cases; this being hung round the neck as an ornament in one case and inscribed with a personal name in the other.