What is the Torah?

Torah is a Hebrew word meaning "instruction," "teaching," or "law." More specifically, it refers to the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Pentateuch. These five books—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—are not only the first five books of the Christian Old Testament, but also the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.

The Hebrew Bible is called the TaNaKh because it refers to the Torah (or law), the Nevi'im (or prophets), and the Ketuvim (or writings). Because the Torah was authored by Moses, it is also called the Book of the Law of Moses (Joshua 8:31; Nehemiah 8:1; Luke 24:44).

The Torah includes the history of God's dealings with His people starting with creation and continuing through the death of Moses. It includes the great flood, God's covenant with Abraham, the history of Joseph, God's rescue of His people from Egypt, and their subsequent journey through the wilderness toward the Promised Land. Besides this history, the Torah also includes laws for how God's people are to interact with Him and others.

The teachings of the Torah are often condensed by citing Deuteronomy 6:4–5: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." Jesus quoted these verses as the first and greatest commandment to be followed (Matthew 22:37–38).

Jesus assured His followers that "I have not come to abolish [the Law or the Prophets] but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17). Seeing how Jesus valued the Torah and knowing that He fulfills the Messianic prophecies and the Law recorded in the Torah, Christians should be excited to study and know these biblical texts better.

Related Truth:

What is the Jewish Talmud?

What is the Mishnah?

What is the Midrash?

What are the differences between the Old and New Testaments?

Why should we read the Old Testament?

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