The Torah is the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The word "torah" literally means "instruction" and is often translated into English as "law". Torah is often referred to as "the Law of Moses", "the Law of God", "God's Law", or simply "The Law". The Torah makes up the first section of what is commonly known as the "Old Testament". Torah is the written word of God and is inerrant in everything it says. All things must be tested against Torah first in accordance with Deuteronomy 13. Anyone who teaches what is contrary to Torah is a false teacher. The Torah (and only Torah) defines what is right and wrong and gives the true account of the origins of the Earth and everything on it, in it, and around it.
The commands contained within Torah may be divided into two categories: How to love God [Deuteronomy 6:5], and how to love others [Leviticus 19:18]. The Ten Commandments contains 4 commandments (or basic principals) in the first category, and 6 commandments (or basic principals) in the second category. The rest of the commandments in Torah go into detail on how to love God and on how to love others.
- 1 Individual Books
- 2 Historical Accounts
- 3 Alternate Names
Torah was originally made of 5 individual scrolls. Today, Torah is a single scroll with 5 major divisions representing these 5 scrolls.
Genesis covers all of the major events in Earth's history from it's creation to Israel going into Egypt. Genesis gives the factually correct historical account of the origins of the Earth.
Leviticus starts with the rules concerning the various types of mandatory and voluntary offerings that can be offered to God, then goes into various other rules about physical cleanliness, what is and is not food, sexual immorality, the appointed times, rules specifically for priests, punishments for breaking the commandments, etc. This is arguably the most important book concerning how to love God and how to love your neighbor.
Numbers is mostly a historical document covering the 40 years that Israel spent in the wilderness as a result of their disbelief in God's promises.
Deuteronomy reiterates many of the commandments given in the previous books as well as establishing some additional rules before Israel entered into the promised land. In fact, the book starts off in first person from Moses' perspective, reiterating history to a new generation of Israelites and reiterating God's commandments to this generation. This is the book where the Deuteronomy 13 Test comes from. Some important rules established in this book are the rules are the rules to not add to or take away from God's commandments .
Torah is more than just a list of dos and don'ts. It's also a historical document that records every major event from the creation of the world to Israel entering the promised land. The following is a short list of events covered by Torah.
The correct historical account of the creation of the world and everything around it and in it. God created everything in six days and rested on the seventh, ordaining it as the Sabbath. Everything God created was very good.
The Tower of Babel
Going Into Egypt
The Giving of the Commandments
The Forty Years
The Torah is referred to by many different names. Here are some of the most common.
The word "Pentateuch" literally means "the five scrolls". This name, while technically accurate, undermines the authority and relevancy of Torah as the word of God.
The Law of Moses
Also referred to simply as "Moses" in several places in Scripture (eg: Acts 15:21), this name is mistaken to mean that the commandments contained in Torah are merely the opinions of Moses. But the name exists because Moses was the one through whom God gave his Law to the Israelites. In other words, Torah was written by God, through Moses, and not by the whim of Moses.
The Law of God
This name makes it very clear who gave us the Torah: God himself.
This is a shortened form of "the Law of God" and sometimes does not refer to God's Law. This leads to a lot of confusion in Paul's letters when he talks about the various "laws" as "the Law" without specifying which law he is referring to. It is best practice to either always specify which law you are referring to when using the phrase "the Law" or to have "the Law" always refer to Torah unless specifying otherwise.
The Commandments of God
The "commands of God" or "commandments of God" is an alternate way of saying "the Law of God" or "Torah". Other, shorter variation is "God's commands" or "God's commandments" or "the Commandments". This wording may be mistaken as referring specifically to the Ten Commandments. A person may also be referring to the Ten Commandments but be mistaken as referring to the entirety of Torah.