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Common Characters

CHARACTERS, COMMON. “Common characters” is the RSV (and ASVmg) rendering of ḥereṭ enōsh (“stylus of a man”), which KJV gives literally as “pen of a man.” It prob. indicated the usual mode of writing an inscr., such as would be familiar and easily legible to the ordinary man. This expression occurs only once (Isa 8:1), where Isaiah is bidden by God to write on a large tablet the name of his future son, Ma-her-shalal-hash-baz, so that all observers might know that his birth was predicted by God as a sign to Israel of the coming Assyrian invasions. There were more formal or archaic styles of writing also in use in official circles, but Isaiah was to write this name “in common characters” as a public testimony.