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The art of writing must have been known in the time of the early Pharaohs. Moses is commanded “to write for a memorial in a book” (Exodus 17:14) a record of the attack of Amalek. Frequent mention is afterwards made of writing (28:11, 21, 29, 36; 31:18; 32:15, 16; 34:1, 28; 39:6, 14, 30). The origin of this art is unknown, but there is reason to conclude that in the age of Moses it was well known. The inspired books of Moses are the most ancient extant writings, although there are written monuments as old as about B.C. 2000.
The words expressive of “writing,” “book,” and “ink,” are common to all the branches or dialects of the Semitic language, and hence it has been concluded that this art must have been known to the earliest Semites before they separated into their various tribes, and nations, and families.
When the Hebrews entered Canaan, it is evident that the art of writing was known to the original inhabitants, as appears, e.g., from the name of the city Debir having been at first Kirjath-sepher, i.e., the “city of the book,” or the “book town” (Joshua 10:38; 15:15; Judges 1:11).
LETTERS—The first Biblical mention of letter-writing is in the time of David (2 Samuel 11:14-15). Letters are afterwards frequently spoken of (1 Kings 21:8-9, 11; 2 Kings 10:1, 3, 6-7; 19:14; 2 Chronicles 21:12-15; 30:1, 6-9, etc.).