Torah

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The term Torah (Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, "Instruction"), also known as the Pentateuch (Greek: Πεντάτευχος from πεντα- penta- [five] and τεῦχος teuchos [tool, vessel, book]),[1] refers to the Five Books of Moses—the entirety of Judaism's founding legal and ethical religious texts.[2][3] A "Sefer Torah" (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, "book of Torah") or Torah scroll is a copy of the Torah written on parchment in a formal, traditional manner by a specially trained scribe under strict requirements.

The Torah is the first of three parts of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), the founding religious document of Judaism,[4] and is divided into five books, whose names in English are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, in reference to their themes (their Hebrew names, Bereshit, בראשית, Shmot שמות, Vayikra ויקרא, Bamidbar במדבר, and Dvarim דברים, are derived from the wording of their initial verses). The Torah contains a variety of literary genres, including allegory, historical narrative, poetry, genealogy, and the exposition of various types of law. According to rabbinic tradition, the Torah contains the 613 mitzvot (מצוות, "commandments"), which are divided into 365 restrictions and 248 positive commands.[5] In rabbinic literature, the word "Torah" denotes both the written text, "Torah Shebichtav" (תורה שבכתב, "Torah that is written"), as well as an oral tradition, "Torah Shebe'al Peh" (תורה שבעל פה, "Torah that is oral"). The oral portion consists of the "traditional interpretations and amplifications handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation," now embodied in the Talmud and Midrash.[6]

According to Jewish tradition the Torah was revealed to Moses in 1312 BCE at Mount Sinai;[7] (another date given for this event is 1280 BCE).[8] The Zohar, the most significant text in Jewish mysticism, states that the Torah was created prior to the creation of the world, and that it was used as the blueprint for Creation.[9] Modern biblical scholars see no signs of Mosaic authorship, but indications of much later writing:[10]"Here and there in the Pentateuch Moses is said to have written certain things ... but nowhere is it affirmed that the Pentateuch was authored by Moses ... One would therefore think that what calls for an explanation is not why most people stopped believing in the dogma of Mosaic authorship, but rather why anyone believed it in the first place."[11]

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