What Is the Torah?
The English word “Torah” comes from the Hebrew word toh·rahʹ, which can be translated as “instruction,” “teaching,” or “law.” (Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 28:4) The following examples show how this Hebrew word is used in the Bible.
- Toh·rahʹ often refers to the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These are also called the Pentateuch, from a Greek word meaning “fivefold volume.” The Torah was written by Moses, so it is called “the book of the Law of Moses.” (Joshua 8:31; Nehemiah 8:1) Evidently, it was originally written as one book but was later divided for easier handling.
- Toh·rahʹ is also used for the laws given to Israel on a particular subject, such as “the law [toh·rahʹ] of the sin offering,” “the law about leprosy,” and “the law about the Nazirite.”—Leviticus 6:25; 14:57; Numbers 6:13.
- Toh·rahʹ sometimes refers to instruction and teaching, whether from parents, wise ones, or God himself.—Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 13:14; Isaiah 2:3, footnote.
What is in the Torah, or Pentateuch?
- The history of God’s dealings with humankind from creation to the death of Moses.—Genesis 1:27, 28; Deuteronomy 34:5.
- The regulations of the Mosaic Law. (Exodus 24:3) That Law is made up of more than 600 statutes. Prominent among them is the Shema, or Jewish confession of faith. One portion of the Shema says: “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) Jesus described this as “the greatest and first commandment.”—Matthew 22:36-38.
- Some 1,800 occurrences of the divine name, Jehovah. Rather than prohibit the use of God’s name, the Torah contains commands that required God’s people to pronounce it.—Numbers 6:22-27; Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:8; 21:5.