The Torah: Its Contents, History, Treatment and Customs

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an open Torah

The Torah is the first part of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and equivalent to the first five books of the Christian Bible. The central and most important document of Judaism and used by Jews through the ages, it refers to the five books of Moses which are known in Hebrew as Chameesha Choomshey Torah. The Torah is the holiest book in Judaism, the foundation of Christianity and Islam, and the key to all religious thought in Judaism. The term Torah means “to teach,” “guidance and instruction” or "law". It usually refers to the Five Books of Moses (also known as the Pentateuch). Sometimes the term refers to Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) or Old Testament, or even the Old Testament and the Talmud. [Source: BBC, August 13, 2009 |::|]

If the Torah is bound into book form it is called the ‘Chumash’ (which also means ‘five’, just like Pentateuch means ‘five’). The five book are comprised of 1) Bresheit (Genesis), meaning “At the beginning”; 2) Shemot (Exodus), meaning "Names"; 3) Vayicra ("He Called”, Leviticus), 4) Bamidbar ("In the Wilderness.", Numbers), and 5) Devarim ("Words", Deuteronomy). Leviticus is Latin for ‘of the Levites’).

According to traditional Jewish and Christian teachings, the Torah contains the revelation of God, written down by Moses. Jews believe that God dictated the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai 50 days after their exodus from Egyptian slavery. They believe that the Torah shows how God wants Jews to live. It contains 613 commandments and Jews refer to the ten best known of these as the ten statements. Modern scholars say The Torah was put together from a collection of writings from different authors and sources over hundreds of years. The Torah begins with the creation of the world and ends with Moses’ death. The names of the five books of the Torah are derived from the first unique word that appears in the book.

Websites and Resources: Virtual Jewish Library ; Judaism101 ; ; Chabad,org ; BBC - Religion: Judaism ; Encyclopædia Britannica,; Yivo Institute of Jewish Research ; Bible and Biblical History: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible ; King James Version of the Bible ; Bible History Online ; Biblical Archaeology Society

Many Meanings of Torah

The term Torah usually refers to the Five Books of Moses (the first five books of the Bible, or the Pentateuch). Sometimes the term refers to the Old Testament, or even the Old Testament and the Talmud. The word Tanakh is used to connote the Old Testament, Hebrew Bible, or Jewish Bible. It is derived from the letters “T,” “N” and “K” which stand for “Torah” , “Nehi’im” (“Prophets”) and “Ketubim” (“Sacred Writing”). The word "Testament" is an archaic synonym to the word "covenant,” which means promise. The Bible is essentially the story of a people and their relationship with God, written for and addressed to the same people. It is not all that different in its concept than the folklore and oral history of tribal peoples.

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Torah Holding in Warsaw Ghetto
A Jewish scholar going by the name Gold Hunter posted on We use the word 'Torah' to refer to more than one thing, which can be confusing. However, THE Torah: the most basic 'thing', is the five books of Moses, also known as the Pentateuch (by Christians). THE Torah is a handwritten scroll, on parchment, copied from another such scroll by a trained scribe, which contains those five books, in Hebrew (which, by the way, contains no vowels, nor any punctuation marks in the Torah scroll). Such a scroll is rolled onto wooden bars and is kept in every synagogue, taken out three times a week, and read from, portion by portion, by all Jews, all around the world, the same portion weekly, until the entire Torah is read, start to end, and back around again, in the course of a year. [Source: Gold Hunter,, 2023]

THAT is 'The Torah'. It is our most 'holy book' and is considered to be straight 'word of God'. When those same books are printed and bound in a book, it is still 'Torah' but we call that, more usually, a Chumash (means 'five'). If those same books are bound into a single volume containing ALL the Jewish Scriptures, we call THAT book a 'Tanakh' or 'the Hebrew Bible'.The Tanakh consists of three sets of books: Torah, Nevi'im (prophets and histories) and Ketuvim (writings). The word 'Tanakh' is an acronym: TaNaKh for those three parts.

The Tanakh - the Hebrew Bible - contains all the same books as a Christian Protestant version of 'the Old Testament' with some trifling variations in verse numbering, except (and this is a big 'except') the books are not entirely in the same order. A Christian OT arranges the books such that the 'end' of the OT consists of prophecies of a return to Jerusalem and re-establishment of God's worship there. OUR Bible ends with the story of the return from Babylon and the re-establishment of God's worship in Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple.

Different Forms of The Torah

According to Encyclopedia Britannica: Torah, in Judaism, in the broadest sense, the substance of divine revelation to Israel, the Jewish people: God’s revealed teaching or guidance for humankind. The written Torah, in the restricted sense of the first five books of the Bible, is preserved in all Jewish synagogues on handwritten parchment scrolls that reside inside the ark of the Law. They are removed and returned to their place with special reverence. Readings from the Torah form an important part of Jewish liturgical services.

Since for some Jews the laws and customs passed down through oral traditions are part and parcel of God’s revelation to Moses and constitute the “oral Torah,” Torah is also understood to include both the Oral Law and the Written Law. Rabbinic commentaries on and interpretations of both Oral and Written Law have been viewed by some as extensions of sacred oral tradition, thus broadening still further the meaning of Torah to designate the entire body of Jewish laws, customs, and ceremonies. [Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

According to the BBC: “The Torah is written in Hebrew, the oldest of Jewish languages. It is also known as Torat Moshe, the Law of Moses. The term Torah is sometimes used in a more general sense to incorporate Judaism’s written and oral law. This definition encompasses Jewish scripture in its entirety including all authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history. The word Torah has various meanings in English. These include: teaching, instruction and law. For Jews the Torah means all of these. |::|

“The Torah scrolls are entirely handwritten in Hebrew by a sofer (scribe) on parchment from a kosher animal. This is usually a cow. It can take up to 18 months to complete the whole process from the complex preparation of the animal skins to the writing of the final words. Great accuracy is needed when the sofer writes the scroll. If he makes any mistakes it can make the whole scroll pasul (invalid). The completed scroll is known as a Sefer Torah from sefer which is the Hebrew for book. |::|

The spoken or oral law is known as the Torah she b’al pei or literally Torah from the mouth. The letter Pei as well as being the Hebrew word for mouth is the 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Pei has a numerical value of 80 which Jews believe is the age that Moses was when he led them out from slavery in Egypt. Although given at the same time this law was to be passed down orally from generation to generation. It is the information Jews need to practise fully the commandments in the written law. It was codified in the 2nd Century C.E.” |::|

Books of the Jewish, Protestant and Catholic Old Testaments

Jewish — — Protestant — — Roman Catholic

The Law (Torah) Genesis — — — Genesis
— — — — — — Exodus — — — Exodus
Genesis — — — Leviticus — — — Leviticus
Exodus — — — Numbers — — — Numbers
Leviticus — — — Deuteronomy — — Deuteronomy
Numbers — — — Joshua — — — Josue (Joshua)
Deuteronomy — Judges — — — Judges
— — — — — — Ruth — — — — Ruth [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968,]

The Prophets (Nebhiim) — I Samuel — I Kings (=I Samuel)
The Former (Earlier) — II Samuel — II Kings (=II Samuel)
Prophets: — — — I Kings — — — III Kings (=I Kings)
Joshua — — — II Kings — — — IV Kings (=II Kings)
Judges — — — I Chronicles — — I Paralipomenon
I Samuel — — — II Chronicles — (= I Chronicles)
II Samuel — — Ezra — — — — II Paralipomenon
I Kings — — — Nehemiah — — (= II Chronicles)
II Kings — — — Esther — — — I Esdras (Ezra)
The Latter Prophets: Job — — — II Esdras (Nehemiah)
Isaiah — — — Psalms — — — ^^ Tobias (Tobit)
Jeremiah — — Proverbs — — — ^^ Judith
Ezekiel — — — Ecclesiastes — — Esther (with additions)
The Twelve: — Song of Solomon Job
Hosea — — — Isaiah — — — — Psalms
Joel — — — — Jeremiah — — — Proverbs
Amos — — — — Lamentations — Ecclesiastes
Obadiah — — — Ezekiel — — — Song of Songs
Jonah — — — — Daniel — — — ^^ Book of Wisdom
Micah — — — Hosea — — — — ^^ Ecclesiasticus
Nahum — — — Joel — — — — Isaias
Habakkuk — — Amos — — — — Jeremias
Zephaniah — — Obadiah — — — Lamentations
Haggai — — — Jonah — — — — ^^ Baruch (including the
Zechariah — — Micah — — — — Letter of Jeremiah)
Malachi — — — Nahum — — — Ezechiel
— — — — — — Habakkuk — — Daniel

The Writings — Zephaniah — — Osee (Hosea)
(Kethubhim) — — Haggai — — — Joel
— — — — — — Zechariah — — Amos
Psalms — — — Malachi — — — Abdias (Obadiah)
Proverbs — — — — — — — — — Jonas (Jonah)
Job — — — — — The Apocrypha — Micheas (Micah)
Song of Songs — ^ I Esdras (or III Esdras) Nahum
Ruth — — — — II Esdras (or IV Esdras)Habacuc
Lamentations — ^ Tobit — — — Sophonias (Zephaniah)
Ecclesiastes — — ^ Judith — — — Aggeus (Haggai)
Esther — — — — — — — — — Zacharias (Zechariah)
Daniel — — — — ^ Additions to Esther Malachias (Malachi)
Ezra — — — — ^ Wisdom of Solomon — ^^I Machabees
Nehemiah — — ^ Ecclesiasticus — ^^ II Machabees
I Chronicles — — ^ Baruch
II Chronicles — Letter of Jeremiah
^ The Song of the Three Young Men
^ Bel and the Dragon
Prayer of Manasseh
^ I Maccabees
^ II Maccabees

^ Books accepted by The Eastern Orthodox Church but not included in the Jewish Canon. ^^ Books accepted by Roman Catholics but not included in the Jewish Canon.

Parts of the Torah

The Old Testament and the Torah consist of 929 chapters in 39 "books," each of which is thought to have originally corresponded with individual scrolls. With the exception of the books of Daniel and Ezra and one verse of Jeremiah, which were written in Aramaic, all the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. Much of it follows the history of the Jewish people and the development of their faith in one God.

The Torah has traditionally been divided into three sections: Laws, Prophets and Sacred Writings. The Laws, told to Moses by God, consists of five books: “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers “ and “Deuteronomy” . These are all said to have been delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai and are regarded as a direct and fundamental revelation. As is true with Muslims and the Koran, every word of The Laws is regarded as sacred and the word of God, and for this reason it has precedence over other texts. The final chapter is Chronicles.

The Prophets (“Nebiim” ) consists of 21 Books, including “Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah” and “Ezekiel” . And the Sacred Writings (“Kethubium” ) is made up of the last 13 books including the “Psalms, Proverbs, Daniel, Job” and the “Song of Solomon” . Torah contains 613 commands: 248 positive ones and 365 negative ones. The last events end in 150 B.C.

Importance of the Torah

According to The Torah is central to Jewish belief because it outlines at least four important themes in Jewish history. The first is the concept of "election," or the belief that God chooses special people to carry out His work on Earth. A key event in the book of Genesis is God's election of the Israelites as His chosen people, with Abraham as their father. The second major theme is the concept of "covenant," which refers to agreements between God and man. This sense of covenant governed all human relationships and made both moral and ritual demands on the Jewish people. The third theme is "law," including the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai, but the Torah contains numerous other laws, including the 613 mitzvoth. The final theme is "exodus," the most prominent example of which is contained in the second book of the Torah, Exodus. The escape of Jews from bondage in Egypt and their return to the Promised Land is a key event in Jewish history, an event still commemorated in the yearly Feast of Passover. [Source:]

J.M Oesterreicher wrote in the New Catholic Encyclopedia: Though not revealed till Sinai, the Law (Torah) was considered a living being, identical with the wisdom that existed before time (Prv 8.22–31). Like wisdom, the Torah was the craftsman at God's side; it served Him as the plan according to which He created the world (Ab. 3.14; Gen. Rabbah 1. 1). The Law was perfect and immutable; yet it had to be interpreted, supplemented, and adapted to the exigencies of time. There evolved, then, alongside the written law, sometimes overshadowing it, the unwritten law, "the tradition of the ancients" (Mt 15.2). [Source: J.M Oesterreicher, New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1960s,]

On the one hand, rules were mitigated so as to make the Law workable; on the other, an ever-higher "fence" was built around it (Ab. 1.1) — a protective wall, with stop signs and danger signals, definitions and directives — that, to forestall transgression, left little room for personal decision. Although for the devout the Law was life and joy, the many — those, e.g., whose livelihood depended on the land — found its demands impossible to carry out. As the number of precepts increased, it had to be studied, too, before it could be kept. Hence the unlettered were thought of as the ungodly (see Jn 7.49).

Judaism, Torah and Oral Torah

Torah (without the The) can refer to Law of Judaism itself and not just to the scroll or book that houses it. Oral Torah refers to Interpretations of the Torah and ways to apply laws based on these interpretations. The Mishnah is collection of the Oral Torah, or commentary on the Torah, first compiled in the A.D. second and third centuries

Louis Jacobs wrote in the Encyclopaedia Judaica:: In modern usage the terms "Judaism" and "Torah" are virtually interchangeable, but the former has on the whole a more humanistic nuance while "Torah" calls attention to the divine, revelatory aspects. The term "secular Judaism" — used to describe the philosophy of Jews who accept specific Jewish values but who reject the Jewish religion — is not, therefore, self-contradictory as the term "secular Torah" would be. (In modern Hebrew, however, the word torah is also used for "doctrine" or "theory" (e.g., "the Marxist theory"), and in this sense it would also be logically possible to speak of a secular torah. In English transliteration the two meanings might be distinguished by using a capital T for the one and a small t for the other, but this is not possible in Hebrew which knows of no distinction between small and capital letters.) [Source: Louis Jacobs, Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1990s,]

A further difference in nuance, stemming from the first, is that "Torah" refers to the eternal, static elements in Jewish life and thought while "Judaism" refers to the more creative, dynamic elements as manifested in the varied civilizations and cultures of the Jews at the different stages of their history, such as Hellenistic Judaism, rabbinic Judaism, medieval Judaism, and, from the 19th century, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism. (The term Yidishkeyt is the Yiddish equivalent of "Judaism" but has a less universalistic connotation and refers more specifically to the folk elements of the faith.)

History of the Torah

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The Torah was written over a period of about 1000 years, beginning around the 12th century B.C. It is a compilation of laws, histories and biographies recorded at different times passed down orally or written on perishable scrolls (not clay tablet like those of the Mesopotamians, which can be read today). The Torah was probably canonized into scripture during the Babylonian exile in the 6th century but was not established in it full canonical form until the end of the first century A.D.

Hebrew texts in their oldest forms were written entirely in consonants and without punctuation. The Hebrew used in original versions of the Bible was very limited. The Spanish Hebrew scholar Angel Saenz-Badillos said it was ?so restricted that it is hard to believe it could have served all the purposes quotidian existence in a highly developed society.?

The oldest passage of the Bible appears to be the war song of Deborah in Judges 5 of the Old Testament. It is believed to have been written in the 12th Century B.C. A book of laws, perhaps Deuteronomy, which provided kernel from which the full cannon grew, was discovered in a scroll during the restoration of the Temple in 622 B.C. It was written by unknown prophet and reportedly grew out of a older books of law — the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:22-23:33), dating back to 900 B.C.

Some scholars believe that most of the Torah was written during the reign of the Judean King Josiah (ruled 639 to 609 B.C.). The writing of the Prophets was added around 250 to 175 B.C. although the origin of the texts was much earlier. Hebrew scriptures were destroyed by the Babylonians and reconstructed around 600 B.C.

In 1979, archaeologists found the earliest known text of the Bible on two tiny silver scrolls inside a Jerusalem tomb. Dated to around 600 B.C., they contained a benediction from the Book of Numbers. It suggests that at least some parts of the Bible were written not long after the events they described.

A 1000-year-old Hebrew Bible knows as the Crown of Aleppo, or the Aleppo Codex, is considered the definitive Bible of Jewry world wide. For centuries it was kept in an iron chest in a synagogue in Aleppo, Syria. Crusaders held it for ransom, fire nearly destroyed it and it was smuggle across borders hidden in a washing machine, When it finally arrived in Israel in 1958 it was discovered that about 40 percent of its pages were missing. Since then a global search, which has involved the Mossad, has been launched to find the missing pages. Most of the pages are believed to be in the possession of Aleppo Jews that fled Syria after rescuing the manuscript from the synagogue which was burned down after Israeli statehood was declare in 1947.

Meaning of Torah and the Old Testament

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Torah at Isfahan synagogue in Iran
A Jewish scholar once said of the Bible: "Turn it, and turn it, for everything is in it; contemplate it, and grow old and grey over it, and do not stir from it. You can follow no better course than this.” Arnold Eisen of the Jewish Theological Seminary told Newsweek, “There’s humor in the Bible, It’s part of life. That’s why there’s sex. There wouldn’t be life without it. There’s bad parenting and dirty politics — and faith.”

Some scholars see the Torah as basically a record of the Hebrews' aspiration to understand God and his ways in relation to the natural world and humanity. Others see at as a resolution of conflict and a process of healing between God and humans.

Those that take this point of view point out that “all was very good” at the beginning of Genesis. The creation of man caused the harmony to be disrupted and conflicts to arise between humans and God, and humans with other humans. God became so disgusted with man that he regretted his creation and he decided to destroy mankind. Only Noah was spared.

Noah and God made a promise, or covenant, with each other than began the process of healing between God and humans. Additional convents were made between God and Abraham, Moses and David that strengthened the bond between God and humans. Finally God made a covenant with an entire people: the Jews.

Torah Scribes and Scrolls

The Torah has traditionally been handwritten on scrolls by rabbi scribes who spend up to a year copying the Torah by hand according to hundreds of laws. Ideally, each page is made from the parchment made from the skin of an individual calf. A scroll must be perfect before it can be used for reading the scriptures in a synagogue. Torahs made in the past couple of centuries have often been made on sheepskin rolled up on wooden handles that have an inscription with the date in which the Torah was made.

Scribes have played an important role in Judaism for a long time. Before there were rabbis, they were regarded as scholars and experts on Jewish law. Each scribe has to intimately know the many laws applying to the art of scribe writing.

Each scroll is rolled up on handles called staves. Known as trees of life, the staves resemble paint rollers and are about the size of baseball bats. Their name is derived from the traditional liturgy that describes the Law of God as “the tree of life to which we cling.”When the Torah is read the handles are held upright with both hands so that text of the Torah faces the reader.

Torah Care and Customs

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Torah funeral after Kishinyov pogrom
In a synagogue, the Torah is handwritten in beautiful calligraphy on parchment scrolls rather than in book form. The scroll itself is not to be touched; instead a pointer in the shape of a hand with a pointing index finger is used. This pointer is called a yad. The scrolls are covered in ornamental cloth and stored in a cabinet called an ark. [Source:]

Torah scrolls are treated with great care and reverence. They have traditionally been kept out of sight in the synagogue behind a curtain called a mantle, in a cupboard, called the ark, which faces towards Jerusalem. A crown is often pictured on the mantle. It symbolizes the prominence of the Torah in Jewish life. Lions are often also pictured. They represent Judah or Jerusalem.

When the Torah scrolls are not in use they are wrapped up and kept in a cover, usually with crowns placed over the finials. These crowns are called the Crowns of the Law and they symbolize the importance of law in Jewish life. They are often cast in silver and have an elegant finish. Sephardic Jews have traditionally kept the Torah in a wooden case called a “tik” while Eastern Europeans kept theirs in embroidered cloth bindings. A mezuzah is a small case containing Torah passages that observant Jews attach to the doorposts of their houses.

During a synagogue service, everyone stands when the Torah is taken out of the ark. When the Torah scrolls are ceremoniously lifted the congregation declares: “This is the Law which Moses set before children of Israel.” Sephardic Jews have traditionally raised the Torah before it is read while Eastern European Jews raised it after a reading. Every fall the entire Torah is read at synagogues around the world. It takes about 12 weeks to read.

Touching the Torah is a big deal. Usually only men with a skullcap and prayer shawls are allowed to read it. Worn out torahs are put to rest with a ceremony that resembles a funeral.

How The Torah is Used in a Synagogue

According to BBC: “The Torah scrolls are taken out from the Ark (Aron ha kodesh) and portions read in the synagogue three times each week. On Mondays and Thursdays small sections are read. The main reading is on the morning of Shabbat (Sabbath). Over the course of the year the whole scroll is read in sequence. This begins from the end of Sukkot which is an autumn festival. The special portions for the readings are called parshioth and are usually three to five chapters in length. The reader has to be very skilled to read from the scroll because the letters are written without corresponding vowels. They have to know the portion very well to avoid making mistakes. The reading is conducted using an ancient tune and is sung rather than spoken. [Source: BBC, August 13, 2009 |::|]

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Torah ark in Kodesh Corfu
“The scrolls are not directly touched when unfurled on the Bimah (raised platform in middle of the synagogue). A pointer or Yad (hand) is used instead. This is in the shape of a hand with an outstretched finger. The reading or chanting is performed by a person who has been trained in this task. However it may be carried out by the rabbi. It is a very great honour for a congregant to be asked to attend at a reading during a synagogue service. This is called having an Aliyah which is Hebrew for going up. The weekly portion or Sedrah is followed by the recitation of part of another of the Jewish holy writings. |::|

“A Sefer Torah is so sacred to Jews it is said that if one is accidentally dropped in the synagogue the whole congregation must fast for 40 days. When Jewish communities have suffered persecution, great efforts would be made to preserve these scrolls. This demonstrates just how symbolically and physically important the Torah is to Jews.” |::|

History and Translations of the Torah and the Bible

In recent years archaeological discoveries and scholastic research have shown how biblical texts may fruitfully be compared with traditions and historical episodes from the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Canaan, Assyria and Persia.

One of the best translations of the Old Testament is “The Five Books of Moses” by Everette Fox, a professor of Jewish Studies at Clark University. Fox spent 17 years working on the translation. In the introduction he wrote, "The purpose of this work is to draw the reader into the Hebrew Bible through the power of its language." He aimed to do this by attempting to capture the sounds, rhythms, poetry, word play, styles, word meanings and verbal patterns of the original Hebrew.

Fox's work is influenced by a translation by the German-Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, who worked from 1925 to 1961 to create a Bible with the goal of being as true to the Hebrew original in structure and style as was possible. It was written in German which is highly flexible and can create new words by adding prefixes and making compound words.

“The Five Books of Moses” (Norton, 2004) is a new translation by Robert Alter that aims to be true to the Hebrew original. It is over 1,000 pages long, with more than half of the total volume being footnotes and commentary.

Muslim View of the Torah

Quran, 5:44 reads: “It was We who revealed the Torah (to Moses); therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the Prophet who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah’s will, by the Rabbis and the Doctors of Law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah’s Book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear Me, and sell not My Signs for a miserable price.”

Saulat Pervez wrote in “According to Jewish tradition, the Torah was revealed to Moses by God. While the original Torah is no longer extant, great care has been taken in preserving the remaining manuscripts of the Torah by the Jewish people. These date back centuries to a time quite close to Moses’ time. Even though the Jewish scholars deem these manuscripts to be essentially the text which was revealed to Moses, Muslims do not believe that this Torah is the one originally given to Moses. Furthermore, Muslims believe that the Quran (also spelled ‘Koran’) supersedes the Torah since the Quran is the final revelation of God; as such, it is the definitive Guide and Law. [Source: Saulat Pervez, Quran,, December , 2014

“The Quran, revealed by God more than 1400 years ago to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and preserved intact ever since, returns to the story of Moses again and again, adding to the details of his experiences and encounters each time. In the process, the Quran confirms many of the aspects present in the Torah, but also corrects others, such as exonerating Aaron and Moses, among other minor points.”

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Crossing of Red Sea passage in the Torah

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Jewish History Sourcebook “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Old Testament Life and Literature” by Gerald A. Larue, New International Version (NIV) of The Bible,; Wikipedia, National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, and various books and other publications.

Last updated March 2024

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