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The Significance of Reading from a Hebraic Perspective

Scribes of the King, Jewish culture was built on oral traditions. Though we would probably love to think that books existed during the times of Adam, Moses or Christ the truth of the matter is this – they didn’t. There were no books in ancient Israel. The concept of “books” in light of the scriptures and Israeli culture is purely based on a “present day” school of thought.

What you did have were a handful of texts (all of which were individual documents) and only about two percent of the population could read them. (Other documents were scribed, but they were rare and not wide spread. This is, in part, why the profession of the scribe was so coveted - respected and honored - during that time. If you knew how to write, then you were a privileged, chosen individual.)

Literacy and books as we know them today didn’t even exist or weren’t conceptualized during biblical times. The people of God depended solely on oral tradition – the passing down of stories, scripture and verse from one generation to the next with great detail and accuracy. The impact of “announcing, story telling” or “dramatizing the story” was far more realistic than distributing bound books.


There were no libraries, writing groups, copy centers, book binding centers or any of the things we’ve become accustomed to in this day and age. The schools of the scribe that existed generally fell in two categories -- a company of professionals walking out their assignments or students being trained to be scribes. All you had was a very small group of well-educated scribes on a “very elite literacy” scale who were looked upon by the people to guide them in their traditions and beliefs.

Our scribal ancestry was an oral history – not a written one. The expanding of a written history came much, much later.. and often followed the tails of advancements in technology and education.

What you had in those times were small – very small – populations of men who were raised specifically as scribes to record the most sacred and important of documents; but more importantly they were charged with publicly reading them to the people.

As you travel through the Old Covenant, you will see scribes being called upon not only to write but TO RELEASE THOSE WRITTEN WORDS over and over again to the people. The repetition was necessary. Why? Because many of the things read were EXPECTED to be remembered.

For the present day prophetic scribe the implications here are GREAT! There is absolutely NO WAY we can go into the depths of this significance here, but I look forward to sharing more from my studies in the future.

One thing we can learn from the history here is that: God represents the SPOKEN WORD. The moving and living Word.

While we are thankful for the preservation of His Word through written texts, the impact of those words expand when RELEASED ALOUD. God started oral tradition. His goal -- even during the foundation of this world – was to SPEAK all things into existence. What’s even more fascinating is that the word “reading” – and the concept of what it means to us – didn’t even exist in ancient biblical times. Think about this for a moment. In fact, the word “reading” is accurately translated in Hebrew as qara and it means TO CRY, TO SPEAK OUT LOUD. For those prophetic scribes who often experience the unction or the quickening to release a Word out loud, please know that this urgency was placed in you BY GOD himself.

We should all DESIRE to release the logos/rhema word of God OUT LOUD.


In a Hebraic understanding, this makes a whole lot more sense than our present day definition of reading when placed in context of scribal culture during biblical times! You see, rather than describe what a text was, this terminology described the function of the text or the way the texts were used. Instead of saying "read" this text, we are saying "speak out the text."

Biblical scholars reveal that there was no such thing as wide-spread silent reading because in truth 98-percent of the population couldn’t read. The two-percent who could SHOUTED THAT WORD.


This lack of literacy didn’t speak to any form of ignorance or poverty. It simply spoke to the climate and organization of the culture -- and the value of things during that time. The scriptures reveal that the primary reason for learning to interpret the alphabet was this: To speak the Word to the people. In truth, there was no real need for people to read because their was no "wide-spread" publishing or access to "reading material." In addition, those texts that were valued were far and few in between given the population of people and the societal systems of that time.


Isaiah 29:18 conveys the Hebraic interpretation/understanding of this discussion very well. It says, “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.”


What is this scripture saying? It is declaring that the Word of God must be heard -- not just interpreted from a page. Father is showing us that there is something SPIRITUALLY ELITE & POWERFUL about the spoken word, this oral tradition.


Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.”


What is this scripture saying? It is following a constant theme from Genesis to Revelation that speaks to the changing in the atmosphere when a word is SPOKEN. Father wants us to tap into the power of RELEASING HIS WORD into the earth... and releasing HIS WILL into the earth. It's the creative power of the CRY IN OUR VOICES that shifts and changes the atmosphere. When a person finishes reading your book -- those deposits should release a WORD FROM WITHIN THEM that reflects the very heart of God!


There is so much more to this! But I tell you, I pray that the nugget shared today blesses your soul... and causes you to see your PROPHETIC WRITINGS in a different light. I pray that it causes your soul to DESIRE TO HEAR what the Lord is speaking in this hour to you, your family, this present generation... and the generation to come.

Embracing the Ministry of Immersion!

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Theresa Harvard Johnson


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