New Defender's Study Bible Notes
5:1 book. The “book” (Greek biblion) was not a book in the modern sense, but rather a “scroll” or “writing.” The same word is used in Matthew 19:7, “a writing of divorcement.” The word was derived originally from the name for the leaf of the papyrus plant, from which the paper used in antiquity was made. In this case, the writing was the scroll containing the title deed, not just to a parcel of land, but to the entire earth and all its inhabitants. In accordance with ancient legal custom, the deed was inscribed in full on the inside of the scroll, with enough information on its backside to indicate the land involved and the rightful owner who had purchased it. It was then sealed and deposited somewhere for preservation and record, and could only be opened by the owner when he arrived to take possession (see Jeremiah 25:11; 32:10-15 for an illustration of this principle).
Since the ultimate owner of the earth is its Creator (Psalm 24:1), only He has the right to deed it to anyone, and He did give Adam dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28). Satan, however, usurped that dominion when Adam sinned and died, and now, “the whole world lieth in [the wicked one]” (I John 5:19). Nevertheless, the Creator is still the owner, and has retained the record of ownership in His own possession.
The Creator did deed a portion of the earth to each family of the children of Israel, commanding that: “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine” (Leviticus 25:23). If any portion of the land was sold, however, it could always be purchased back—that is, “redeemed”—by any kinsman of the owner (Leviticus 25:25). The same principle of redemption by a kinsman applied also to individuals who had become bondservants (Leviticus 25:47-55). All such arrangements and transactions were actually types of the great transaction by which the Creator of the world would also become its Redeemer, paying the necessary price to purge it not only of sin but also of the evil usurper who has been “the god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4) ever since Adam sinned.