In Hebrew, the first five books of the Bible are refered to as the Torah, literally, "teachings" but more commonly "the Law". They are also refered to as the "Books of Moses", and the "Pentatuech" (Greek, meaning "five cases"). These books form the core of Judaic religion and culture.
The names of the five books in the original Hebrew were taken from the first few words of each one. Since the early Christian Church used a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, Christians today refer to the books by Anglicizations of the Greek titles:
- Genesis (Hebrew: Bereshit, "In the Beginning")
- Exodus (Shemot, "Names")
- Leviticus (Vayikra, "He called")
- Numbers (Bamidbar, "In the wilderness")
- Deuteronomy (Devarim, "Things")
According to tradition, the five books of the Torah were written by Moses, but since the 19th Century, the general consensus among Biblical scholars is that the books were compiled from four different sources originating at different times in the history of the Jewish people.
Most of the Torah is devoted to the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt and their travels to the Promised Land; and most importantly, to the Law which God gave to Moses. In popular culture this is generally refered to as The Ten Commandments, but it also includes a large body of civil laws, dietary laws and laws regarding proper ritual and cleanliness.
The Torah is considered the most holy of the books of Scripture. It is commonly held that if Israel had been faithful to God's commands in the Torah, that the rest of Scriptures would have been unnecessary.
A large body of oral law and commentary, known as the Talmud, has grown up around the Torah, to explain areas where the original Law is vague, or to interpret it in the light of changes in culture and society.
Some Jewish mystics believe that the Torah contains hidden meanings deeper than the obvious commands, that every word and grammatical symbol is a potential revelation based on its position in the text. One kabbalistic interpretation states that the whole of the Torah constitutes one very long name of God, broken up into words so as to be more comprehensible to man.
Game and Story Use
- The books of the Torah can be used as a model for fictitous holy writings in an original gameworld.
- The most precious possession of a remote Jewsih community is it's Torah scroll, the only copy they have. The community has been forced to relocate and they've asked the party to guard their precious scroll.
- A scholar claims to have used a numerological analysis to unlock incredible revelations hidden in the Torah. Can the party get his discovery before their enemies do?