We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Torah?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The Torah is the key text in Judaism. Specifically, it refers to the five books which make up the beginning of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. In a more general sense it may sometimes be used simply to indicate the entire body of Jewish law, including the Tanakh, the midrash and the Talmud.

The five books of the Torah are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books are all ascribed to Moses, as told to him directly by God. The Torah gives the history of the world and the Jewish people, as well as the 613 laws passed down to them. Some of the laws of the text are not given directly, but are hinted at sufficiently that later teachers derived the laws and recorded them ultimately in the Talmud.

When the Torah was revealed to Moses is a matter of some debate. Some hold that all five books were given to Moses during his communion with God on Mount Sinai in 1280 BCE. Others believe the books were given to Moses by God throughout his life. Still others believe that the majority of the five books were told to Moses throughout his life, but that some passages — such as those describing Moses' death — were later written by Joshua or some other prophet.

In Orthodox Judaism, it is believed that not only the overall message of the Torah is important, but the actual words and even seemingly minor markings all contain lessons given by God to man. This belief is part of the reason that the text has been so well preserved throughout the millennia.

To ensure a picture-perfect reproduction of the Torah, exacting methods are used to copy the holy text. Copies done this way are known as a sefer Torah. It is written on a special type of parchment known as gevil, treated with flour, wasp enzyme and salt. The complete Torah contains precisely 304,805 letters, with exactly 42 lines per column. The placement of each character is crucial, as is the stylization of the letters. As might be expected, the ability to make a sefer Torah is a highly specialized skill, and throughout history a community's copy has been valued as one of its most precious possessions.

Given the difficulty in creating ritually suitable Torah, printed versions abound, both for personal use and for the use of communities that can't afford a sefer Torah. These printed texts are known as Chumashism, meaning "Book of Five." A Chumash will often contain not only the Torah but also other texts.

The Torah is known by a number of other names as well, the most common being either "The Five Books of Moses" and "The Pentateuch". It and two other large sections make up the Tanakh. Directly following the Torah are the books of the prophets, consisting of eight books and covering the seven major prophets and the 12 minor prophets. After the books of the prophets are the writings, consisting of 11 books, from Psalms to Chronicles. Though the Torah and the accompanying books are in a set order, it is understood that they are not ordered chronologically, and instead are often ordered based on the concepts they address.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.