This word has a comprehensive meaning in Scripture. In the Old Testament it is the rendering of the Hebrew word sepher , which properly means a "writing," and then a "volume" ( Exodus 17:14 ; Deuteronomy 28:58 ; 29:20 ; Job 19:23 ) or "roll of a book" ( Jeremiah 36:2 Jeremiah 36:4 ).
Books were originally written on skins, on linen or cotton cloth, and on Egyptian papyrus, whence our word "paper." The leaves of the book were generally written in columns, designated by a Hebrew word properly meaning "doors" and "valves" ( Jeremiah 36:23 , RSV, marg. "columns").
Among the Hebrews books were generally rolled up like our maps, or if very long they were rolled from both ends, forming two rolls ( Luke 4:17-20 ). Thus they were arranged when the writing was on flexible materials; but if the writing was on tablets of wood or brass or lead, then the several tablets were bound together by rings through which a rod was passed.
The book of judgment ( Daniel 7:10 ) refers to the method of human courts of justice as illustrating the proceedings which will take place at the day of God's final judgment.
The book of the wars of the Lord ( Numbers 21:14 ), the book of Jasher ( Joshua 10:13 ), and the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel ( 2 Chronicles 25:26 ), were probably ancient documents known to the Hebrews, but not forming a part of the canon.
The book of life ( Psalms 69:28 ) suggests the idea that as the redeemed form a community or citizenship (Phil 3:20 ; 4:3 ), a catalogue of the citizens' names is preserved ( Luke 10:20 ; Revelation 20:15 ). Their names are registered in heaven ( Luke 10:20 ; Revelation 3:5 ).
The book of the covenant ( Exodus 24:7 ), containing Exodus 20:22-23:33, , is the first book actually mentioned as a part of the written word. It contains a series of laws, civil, social, and religious, given to Moses at Sinai immediately after the delivery of the decalogue. These were written in this "book."