What Is the Torah?

Question?   -   Newsletter   -   New!
What is the Torah? What does the word mean? Who wrote it and when did they do so? What period does it cover? How critically important is it to the creation of the Bible?

Biblical Meaning

´╗┐Torah is the Hebrew (Strong's Concordance #H8451) from which we get the King James word "law" in reference to a command from God. The word can also mean direction, instruction, precept or a statute. It is found 219 times in the Old Testament's Hebrew text, with the book of Psalms using it the most. The first occurrence of torah is in Genesis where God, while talking to Isaac, promises to bless him because of the character of his father Abraham.

And I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and will give to your seed all these lands . . . because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws (torah, Genesis 26:4 - 5, HBFV).


The Torah is the general name applied to the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The word Pentateuch, derived from Greek words that mean five (penta) books or scrolls, is another name for this collection. It is the first of three originally inspired divisions of the Old Testament, the other two being the prophets and the writings (Luke 24:44 - 46).

Who Wrote It and When?

The Torah covers the period from the creation of the universe to the death of Moses in 1405 B.C. Moses wrote it during the period when ancient Israel, after leaving Egyptian slavery, wandered the wilderness for forty years. This punishment for rebelling against God, which delayed their entrance into the Promised Land, took place from 1445 to 1405 B.C.

Moses, after making minor updates, canonized his writings and made them a part of Scripture. His canonization of the Torah was the first of several before the Old Testament was finalized under Ezra the prophet (The Canonization of the Old Testament, Holy Bible a Faithful Version). In one of his last acts, Moses commanded the Levitical priests to place his writings in special sleeves that were attached to (but not inside) the Ark of the Covenant (Deuteronomy 31:9, 24 - 26).

Held In High Regard

The Pentateuch was held in high regard by both Jesus and the disciples as they frequently referenced it. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John quote or reference the Torah in 45 of their verses. The book of Acts, also penned by Luke, references it in an additional 18 verses. The Lord himself vouched for the divine inspiration of its words as they contained prophecies concerning him (Luke 24:44).

Did You Know . . .

The Torah contains 187 chapters and 5,852 verses in the King James Bible. The largest book in this set is Genesis with 50 chapters while the smallest is Leviticus with 27. Genesis, with 1,533, is second only to Psalms (2,461) for the most verses of any book in God's word. Numbers 7, also a part of the Torah, is the second largest chapter in Scripture in terms of verses (89), bested only by Psalm 119's 176 verses.

List of All Terms in
Dictionary of Biblical Words

Recommended Articles
What Did Paul Teach about God's Law?
Who Preserved the Old Testament?
Rules for Studying the Bible
Which Old Testament Laws Should We Keep?
Why Are There So Many Bibles?
Commandments versus Judgments
How Did We Get the Bible?
List of Greatest Old Testament Events!