It appears this is an evidentiary registry, but who or what qualifies a person to be added and consequently remain registered?

“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭69:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s seems unlikely to be an empty threat, “let them be blotted out” rather it seems like an ultimate requital because the psalmist is using this prayer request to God, as means of retaliation or punishment for what his enemies have done to him, possibly also highlighting the gravity of the pain/loss he experienced at the hands of his enemies.

If this were of no value, having one’s name removed from the book of the living, it seems rather bizzare to use it as a threat. For it to be a threat, I’d imagine it has to be equal or greater in damage to the counter threat.

What is this book of the living? Is it a real book?


4 Answers 4


God is described as keeping a book of remembrance of righteous peoples' deeds.

Then those who revered the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord took note and listened, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who revered the Lord and thought on his name. (Malachi 3:16, NRSV)

This seems to be a metaphorical description of God's memory, similar to the way God is described as keeping a cup with dregs for the wicked (Psalms 75:9 / v. 8 English) or a bottle of the Psalmist's tears (56:9/8). In prose it would be referred to as God remembering (as in Genesis 8:1).

The metaphor seems to me to be referring to the practice of kings to keep books of records and to write in them when someone does them a favor. When Mordecai saved Ahasuerus' life, he wrote it in his book of chronicles (Esther 2:23). It was after reading this record and discovering that Mordecai hadn't been rewarded that he decided to honor him (Esther 6:1-3).

Since the Psalmist is asking that God not do any favors for his enemies (69:28/27), he may have been asking God to remove them from his book of remembrance so that he wouldn't do them any honors. However, judging by the fact that it is here called a "book of life" (as opposed to Malachi's "book of remembrance"), it could be a separate book being referred to. If there was also a separate book of life, Isaiah 4:3 may be referring to it in mentioning "all who are written for life." Since this is the last of a long series of harsh curses against his enemies in the psalm, it might be reasonable to see being erased from the book of life as a request to have them erased from life itself, meaning a request that they die.

  • Thank you for the response. I wanted to follow up and ask if you think this book has any NT counterpart or continuity in the NT? >>Also on the book of the living; it’s a very precise and elaborate way of saying “kill them”. It seems a little too detailed and intentional to simply be poetic, especially since the surrounding verse while invoking poetic prose, touch upon tangible, historical and material subjects. If it has any significance as ongoing records then it would stand to reason that “kill them” would remove their existence in the records but the righteous will have been forgotten too. Jan 30, 2019 at 20:30
  • @Autodidact I don't know of a NT counterpart, but in Jewish tradition there are three books opened (Rosh Hashana 16b). And I don't quite understand what you meant in your last sentence, could you explain?
    – b a
    Jan 30, 2019 at 20:34
  • If exploring from the position that this is just a figure of speech, “kill my enemies” then the second part of the verse seems odd. Why enroll(keep record of) the righteous? Would that be saying, keep the righteous alive? The righteous are not immortal. The enemies die now but the righteous will die later, both die, both ultimately are forgotten, both have the same fate. The enrolling and the book analogy seem to undo that blotting them out of the book of life, was intended to say let them die. (Though it still stands as a possibility no doubt for the time being). Jan 30, 2019 at 20:52
  • @Autodidact I tried to explain what I think is meant by a book of righteous people by reference to Malachi and by analogy to Ahasuerus' book: a book for recording good deeds that should be repayed, not a book of immortal people
    – b a
    Jan 30, 2019 at 21:06
  • I agree. You did make that your primary point. It is interesting that you equate the two despite their names(titles) and despite what their names are defined as. Enrolling (writing in the righteous) is quite different to keeping account of multiple events. Basically I’m having trouble marrying the two books. I see the similarities that you drew upon and I agree there isn’t too much to work with in terms of book. Certainly the book of the living is the only reference I’ve found in the Tanakh and likewise for the book of Rememberance. Thank you once again. Jan 30, 2019 at 21:53

My "go to" reference for ancient Jewish traditions is of course the scriptures and I believe the Psalmist is alluding to this:

Exo 32:31-33 (KJV)
31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

My second "go to" reference for such matters is the Jewish Encyclopedia which usually has both a "pious?" view and "critical" view, with the latter providing a view relating to "the evolution" of the Jewish "religion". I think they are both important to consider. In this case the history is rather interesting and specific tracing the theme back to ancient Babylonia:

...The origin of the heavenly Book of Life must be sought in Babylonia, whereas the idea of the annual Judgment Day seems to have been adopted by the Jews under Babylonian influence in post-exilic times. The Babylonian legends (see "Creation Tab." iv. 121, and the "Zu" legend, ii. 7, quoted in Harper's "Babylonische Legenden," in "Beitr. z. Assyriologie" by Delitzsch and Haupt, 1892, ii. 2, p. 412) speak of the Tablets of Destiny; also of the tablets of the transgressions, sins, and wrong-doings, of the curses and execrations, of a person which should be "cast into the water"; that is, to be blotted out (compare Micah vii. 19 and the art. Tashlik). As to the resemblance of the Babylonian Zagmuku or New-Year to the Jewish New-Year see the art. Rosh ha-Shanah...

The question about the NT use of this material is actually rather abundant. It touches on themes of judgment, election, the 144,000, etc. I'll just call attention to the more explicit references in the NT (All KJV):

Phl 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Rev 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Rev 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Rev 20:12,15 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. ... 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Rev 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Rev 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.


Deu 9:14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.
Deu 25:19 Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.
Deu 29:20 The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.
2Ki 14:27 And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

So it appears that to blot out one's name from the book of the living/life is to be disenrolled from those who are identified as heirs of the eternal inheritance, similar to the phrase "cut off":

Jer 17:4 (NIV) Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever."

  • by mentioning the "critical view" of the "development of the Jewish religion" it should not be assumed that the Torah simply absorbed the customs of their captors. Rather, we usually see that the Torah has a "new take" on an old custom which accords to God's holiness and agenda.
  • I don’t mean to ask a leading question but in what sense are you saying destined for life? Earthly life in the flesh or the after-life in the glorified body? Or were you not making that distinction? Jan 31, 2019 at 3:51
  • I wasn't making that distinction. However, I've been pondering Romans 8:28 and am about to raise a question on that passage that I think may throw some light on the matter. It has to do with what the word "called" means in that passage (and in other NT writings). I think the concepts are related, as in "the hope of his calling". It seems to me that what Paul is referring to those "named as heirs" of the "eternal inheritance". Those "cut off" are not heirs.
    – Ruminator
    Jan 31, 2019 at 9:25
  • Jer 17:4 NIV - 4 Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever."
    – Ruminator
    Jan 31, 2019 at 9:25
  • A good answer except that I would correct one passing comment about the use of the word "book" (Greek "biblion"). The word means primarily "scroll" (BDAG) but was later also used for "codex". Thus, a book could be either scroll or codex. I agree that the codex was invented toward the end of the 1st century. "Biblos" could mean a book of accounts (BDAG).
    – user25930
    Feb 1, 2019 at 0:11

Psalm 69:28 What is the “book of the living”?

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭69:28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

"Book of Life" or "Scroll of life "or "Book of the Living" as the psalmist wrote, contains the names of the righteous, which served God willingly and faithfully , they will receive either everlasting life on "earth" or in "heaven."

Life on Earth under God's Kingdom:

Daniel 7:13-14 (NASB)

13 “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming,And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him."

14 “And to Him was given dominion,Glory and [a]a kingdom,That all the peoples, nations and men of every [b]language Might serve Him.His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed."

Jesus said: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth." Mat.5:5 NASB

Isaiah wrote: "For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited),"Isaiah 45:18 NASB.

Compare also Isaiah 55:10-11 ,And for the delightful conditions on earth, read Isaiah 11:1-11.

For Heavenly Life:

Jesus, whilst speaking to his disciples , referred to the them as the little flock, and comforted with the following reassuring words:

Luke 12:32 NABRE

32 Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.

Revelation 5:9-10 (NASB)

9 "And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation."

10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Revelation 14:1-5 (NASB)

The Lamb and the 144,000 companions (Little flock) purchased as first fruits to God from among men/women on Mount Zion.

1" Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads."

2 "And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps."

3 "And they *[a]sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth."

4 "These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they [b]have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless."


"Book of remembrance" (Malachi 3:16) "book of the living" (Psalm 69:28) "Book of life (Philippians 4:3 and Rev. 20:15) is used in a Figurative Sense , that is God writes their names in his "Book of Remembrance" all those that served him willingly and faithfully.

The Psalmist said : "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living," this indicates that it is conditional for a person to remain faithful, otherwise his name will be blotted out.

The psalmist also said : "Let them not be enrolled among the righteous." Jesus said that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.( John 5:28-29.) This indicates that the righteous like Noah, Moses e.t.c. already have their names in the book of life. The unrighteous persons resurrected, could have their names enrolled in the book of life, provided they exercise faith in God. They will not be judged on their past deeds, but on their deeds after being resurrected.


The Book of The Living refers to someone who has transcended the mind, i.e. one who no longer identifies with the time and space based individuality that the mind presents to the Soul, and is thus free of desires for physical existence.

This is what happens when you become a Christ. This is what Jesus experienced after he opened the 6th Seal in The Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation and its 7 Seals is a metaphor for the spine and its 7 Chakras.

The 6 Seal is the Third Eye, as Jesus taught:

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.
-- Matthew 6:22 (NKJV)

When Jesus opened his Third Eye his body was filled with the Light of GOD which purified the 12 Tribes of Israel (12 Cranial Nerves) and 144,000 Servants (Nerves taking Electricity to every cell of his body).

When you purify your Nervous System of all the impressions that make up the illusion of individuality, you become a Christ. Jesus the man who died at the cross, became a Christ long before he allowed his body to Crucified.

  • Hermeneutics is about discovering what a verse or passage meant to the original hearers and readers, i.e. what did the "book of the living" mean to them? If you have some support for how the ideas you have presented here are connected in any way to the original hearers/readers, then you must include it with your answer.
    – enegue
    Feb 5, 2019 at 0:18
  • The downvote is not mine, but indicates that others have assessed your answer similarly.
    – enegue
    Feb 5, 2019 at 0:25

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