What is a scribe?

What is a scribe?

  1. The first time we read about a scribe in the Bible, it is as a muster officer = a secretary of the army.

2 Chronicles 26:11

Uzziah had an army of well-trained warriors, ready to march into battle, unit by unit. This army had been mustered and organized by Jeiel, the secretary of the army, and his assistant, Maaseiah. They were under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s officials. (NLT)

Moreover Uzziah had an army of fighting men who went out to war by companies, according to the number on their roll as prepared by Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the officer, under the hand of Hananiah, one of the king’s captains. (NKJV)

  1. The Word “scribe” according to the Strong’s concordance

Saphar (5613a) = to count, recount, relate, a secretary, scribe

Sopher (5613b) = enumerator, secretary, scribe

Grammateus (1122) = from 1121 a writer, scribe = scribe, town clerk

  1. During the Old Testament times, we see that scribes were woven like a beautiful tapestry into all levels of society. The following are examples of the duties of scribes:
  • Writing letters, legal contracts, letters and accounts.
  • King’s scribes / secretaries. Advising the king. Scribes held many important offices in the government and politics of the nation.
  • Royal officials who were occupied in recording in the archives the proceedings of each day.
  • Officers in charge of the conscription of the army.
  • Collection of temple revenues.
  1. Later after the exile, in the time of Ezra, the designation was applied to the body of teachers.

Ezra 7:6

this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses… (NIV)

This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses…(KJV)

In the same way in which he could write/copy the law, he was an able interpreter of it.

  1. Scribes turned their attention to the law. They were distinguished by their intimate knowledge of the law. They assumed the role of copyists, preservers and interpreters of the law.
  1. In the New Testament the scribes had political power and sat on the Sanhedrin. They were also referred to as “teachers of the law” and “lawyers”.



Manser, M.H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.


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