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House of the Archives

ARCHIVES, HOUSE OF THE (בֵ֣ית סִפְרַיָּ֗א, house of books [Ezra 6:1] the place where the Persians stored records). Archives were common among the nations of the Middle E from the second millennium onward. The Babylonian and Assyrian kingdoms kept chronicles of their royal deeds as did the Persians (Esth 2:23; 6:1). Temples and palaces had rooms for storage of such records. The location of Pers. achives included Ecbatana (Achmetha, Ezra 6:2 KJV), and Babylon, for the Cyrus Cylinder was found there (Anchor Bible: Ezra-Nehemiah, p. 46). Ezra asked that the treasuries in Babylon be searched, and as a consequence the royal memorandum was found (Ezra 5:17; cf. Temple). The Israelites stored their sacred Scriptures in the Temple, where the law of Moses was found (2 Kings 22:8). At a later time the chamber of the scribe Elishama served as archival room (Jer 36:20). In Egypt in even later times storehouses were built in connection with the synagogues, called geniza, and these have provided Biblical MSS of great importance for Biblical textual criticism.