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EXEGESIS > Old Testament > Pentateuch          


The word is formed from two Greek words: pente, “five” and teuchos, “book”; so the word speaks of five books. The Pentateuch refers to the first five books of the Old Testament, the five books of Moses. The Hebrews referred to this section as the Torah, or the Law. The books are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Both divisions of our Bible make reference to the Pentateuch. The Old Testament mentions “the Book of Moses” (Neh. 13:1), “the Book of the Law of Moses” (Neh. 8:1), “the Law in the Book of Moses” (II Chron. 25:4), “the Law of the Lord” (I Chron. 1:40; Ezra 7:10), and “the Book of the Law of God” (Neh. 8:18). David referred to “the law of Moses” (I Ki. 2:3), and during the time of Josiah the “book of the law of the Lord given through Moses” was found in the temple (II Chron. 34:14). In the New Testament Jesus states that “Moses . . . wrote about Me” (Jo. 5:46) and to the disciples on the road to Emmaus to whom Jesus expounded the Old Testament the account claims that Jesus began “at Moses” (Lu. 24:27). Jesus also refers to “the book of the Law of Moses” (Mk. 12:26; Lu. 20:37).

Mosaic authorship was accepted without question throughout Jewish and Christian history, accepted until the modern era. The Old Testament affirms that Moses wrote in response to the command of God (Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:1-2; Deut. 31:9, 22). In 1753 Jean Astruc question Mosaic authorship and postulated three literary sources: one designated P and attributed to Priestly sources, and two based upon words used for God, E, Elohim, and Y, Yahweh. In the 1860’s Graf and Wellhausen changed the order of the sources from PEJ to JEP, with P placed near the end of Israel’s history. In 1965 Eissfeldt listed seven sources: LJEBDHP.

Since the time of Astruc modern scholarship has increasingly questioned Mosaic authorship and has totally abandoned it in many circles. But not one of these supposed sources has even been found; they are simple the figment of liberal mentality. Slowly much of the historical material in the Pentateuch also has come to be rejected. But many scholarly and conservative writings have refuted and discredited these fanciful liberal allegations; Jesus accepted Mosaic authorship and so should the believer.

The Pentateuch begins with Creation and ends with the death of Moses. If Creation is dated around 4000 BC and the death of Moses around 1400 BC, then the time period for the Pentateuch is approximately 2600 years. The history of this period is foundational to the rest of history and is vital to a proper interpretation of the meaning of all history.

It is acceptable today to question the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis, claiming that much of what was written is either myth or saga. But for the believer who accepts the completely the authority of the Scriptures he totally rejects such humanistic musings and embraces the normative nature of God’s Word. This means that God’s Word is not to be doubted and judged by human standards but is to be believed with unshakable conviction.






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