Indeed, the Bible given by God on Mount Sinai to Moses codified for all times the terms of the covenant entrusted to the Jewish people. Its laws and commandments describe a special relationship wherein God reveals Himself as a living, eternal and covenant keeping God. God clearly outlines the blessings of following his instructions and the punishments for ignoring laws. (Deuteronomy 11:13-17)
The word Torah means teaching. Its broadest meaning is the study of all spiritual and religious teaching.
The first five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are known as the Torah. In Hebrew the word is Chumash from the word five. These books begin with the creation story and end with the death of Moses. It represents the teaching and will of God transferred to mankind through divine inspiration.
For over 3500 years each word of Torah has been painstakingly copied letter for letter. Not a word has changed in all this time.
Each word given to Moses at Sinai appears today exactly as it did then. So sacred are thought to be each jot and little that Jesus refers to its holiness in Mathew 5: 17-18
The expanded study of Torah includes also the writings and prophets. Together these three sections are called the Tenach forming the Bible. Prophets contains the 21 books of the prophets while the Writings are final books of the Bible, including Ezra and Nehemiah, Psalms, Job and the five scrolls.
If we look at the Ten Commandments rather like the American Bill of Rights, then the expansion of these commandments, the Torah is the constitution of the Jewish people. These laws are meant to separate and sanctify the people as written in Leviticus 19:2, "You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy".
"See, I have imparted to you laws and ordinances…Observe them faithfully for that will be proof of your wisdom and understanding in the sight of other people, who on learning of these laws, will say, "Surely this is a great nation of wise and understanding people… For what great nation is there, that has laws and ordinances as perfect as all this teaching that I set before you this day? (Deuteronomy 4: 5-8)
But so many laws! There are 613 commandments in the Torah covering every single aspect of daily life… religious, civil, business and criminal.
God assures us in Deuteronomy 30:11-14 "For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off……… But the word is very near to thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou may do it." Paul quotes this passage in Romans 10:4-8
The great sage, Hillel was once asked by a young man, "If your Torah is so wonderful tell it to me while I am standing on one foot."
In response, Hillel replied "Do not unto others as you would not want them to do unto you. This is Torah. All the rest is commentary. Now go and study."
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