Explaining the Torah

TorahThe word Torah is an ambiguous Hebrew word that when directly translated could mean “instructions”. However it can also refer to the Five Books of Moses.  Also, it has also been used to refer to the entire Jewish Bible or the Tanakh. In a holistic sense, the Torah defines the whole Body of Jewish law and teachings.

The five books that the Tanakh can be referred to are the first five books of both the Jewish and Christian holy writings.  These are:

1.  Bereishit or Genesis

2.  Shemot or Exodus

3.  Vayikra or Leviticus

4.  Bemidbar or Numbers

5.  Devarim or Deuteronomy

When grouped together these books are also referred to as “The Five Books of Moses” or “Pentateuch” which is an original Greek word.

Each of the books within the Torah is separated into parts called “Parshivot” or “Parsha.” This is a Hebrew word meaning “portion.”  During the Shabbat, one parsha and sometime two are read in the Synagogue.  It is the common practice that the parshiyot are finished every year, ending on the holy day of Simchat Torah.

Written Torah

In Jewish culture, there is no “Old Testament” unlike the Christian version. Furthermore, what the Christians refer to as the New Testament is not part of Jewish teachings. The Old Testament is known among the Jews as the Written Torah or Tanakh.

Compiled and in the order in which they appear are books which form the Written Torah. This includes the name of the book in Hebrew, a translation to the English name if it is not similar in Hebrew.  Generally, the writings of each book are similar whether they are in the Jewish translations or as in many Christian bibles, although there are some slight, occasional, differences in the numbering of verses and other noteworthy differences in translations.

TORAH (The Law):

 

Hebrew Name

Hebrew Meaning

English Meaning

Devarim

“The words…”

Deuteronomy

Shemot

“The names”

Exodus

Bereishit

“In the beginning…”

Genesis

Bamidbar

“In the wilderness…”

Numbers

Vayiqra

“And He called”

Leviticus

NEVI’IM (The Prophets):

 

Hebrew Name

English Meaning

Yeshayah

Isaiah

Shoftim

Judges

Yirmyah

Jeremiah

Shmuel

I &II Samuel

Yechezqel

Ezekiel

Melakhim

I & II Kings

 

The Twelve listed below are applied as one book:

 

Hebrew Name

English Meaning

Malakhi

Malakhi

Hoshea

Hosea

Zekharyah

Zechariah

Yonah

Jonah

Mikhah

Micah

Nachum

Nachum

Chavaqquq

Habbakkuk

Amos

Amos

Yoel

Joel

Ovadyah

Obadiah

Tzefanyah

Zephaniah

Chaggai

Chaggai

 

KETHUVIM or also known in the English context “The Writings”

 

Hebrew Name

English Meaning

Esther

Esther

Tehillim

Psalms

Mishlei

Proverbs

Ruth

Ruth

Eikhah

Lamentations

Qoheleth

Ecclesiastes

Daniel

Daniel

Shir Ha-Shirim

Song of Songs

Ezra & Nechemyah are treated as one book

Nehemiah

Iyov

Job

Divrei Ha-Yamim

Chronicles

 

Other versions of the Torah are the Oral Torah or The Talmud.  The Oral Torah was the traditional way of elucidating the scriptures, its meanings and how it should be interpret and applied to Jewish Law.  Orthodox Jews believe God taught Moses the Oral Torah and then on Moses taught it to others and thus it was passed down until present day.  This tradition was maintained in oral form until about 2nd century C.E. After that, the oral law was gathered and written down in a document called the Mishnah.