The first five books of the Old Testament from the Bible are known as Pentateuch. This word of Greek origin (πέντε) meaning 'five', and τεύχος, 'roll', 'case', was used to describe the fact that the texts were formerly written on papyrus or leather rolls and kept in cases or jars. According to Hebrew tradition, the books that make up the Pentateuch are known as "Torah" or Law (Hebrew word), since their writing tells the initial history of the Hebrews, their origins and the laws that made it possible to establish the religious roots of the people chosen by God, Israel.
They reflect history from the origin of the worldfrom the time of the Patriarchs until the death of the Moses. The Pentateuch established the norms, laws and dispositions that the Israelite people must comply with in order to follow God and the alliances and covenants. promises from Father for his people, as well as what God expects of them.
The books that make up the Pentateuch are a unit in themselves that had to be divided for practical reasons for their reading and study: this division dates back to the third century BC, in the Greek biblical version called the Sixty or Septuagint. The texts that compose it are:
- Genesis (Bereshit [בְּרֵאשִׁית]) Hebrew word meaning origin or beginning. It is the first book of the Bible and it narrates the creation of the world, the creation of man, disobedience, and the sin original, as well as the history of the patriarchs who built the people of Israel.
- Exodus (Shemot [שְׁמוֹת]), which means departure; it describes the departure of the Hebrew people from Egypt, where they were enslaved, the establishment of the Covenant of God with the chosen people and the Ten Commandments.
- Leviticus (Vayikra [וַיִּקְרָא]). is the name given to the third book of the Pentateuch, which contains the rules to be followed by the Jewish priests or Levites (who belong to the tribe of Levi) to celebrate the sacred offices of the chosen people.
- Numbers (Bemidbar [בְּמִדְבַּר]) Hebrew word that means "in the desert", is a book that refers to two censuses that the people of Israel carried out while they were in the desert. This book continues the events of Exodus, describing the march of the Jews through the desert after leaving Egypt until the last months at Sinai, before entering the Promised Land.
- Deuteronomy (Devarim [דְּבָרִים]) a word that means "second law". This book describes the moment in which the Hebrew people's march through the desert ends, after forty years, and they reach the plains of Moab, before entering the Promised Land. There, Moses instructs the people of Israel for the last time about the way of life they must follow, the fidelity to the commandments to be truly the people of God and designates Joshua as Moses' successor and finally Moses' death is narrated.
Characteristics of the Pentateuch
Traditionally attributed to the authorship of the Pentateuch to Moseswho was the father and liberator of the Jewish people, but it is now accepted that the books of the Pentateuch were not written by a single person or at a single time, but that their writing was completed in a single period of time. length period of time, where different authors compiled, ordered and wrote down the traditional oral narrations and the laws and norms transmitted from person to person through centuries, being its definitive composition made after the exile in the 5th century BC.
The history contained in these books is told in many different ways and with very different literary styles and genres, according to the time and culture of their authors, which allows us to understand that they contain parallel and complementary stories, incongruities and a great doctrinal complexity.
The oldest texts are written by laymen, who possessed an idea of Elemental and anthropomorphic GodThe origin of these texts is located in the X-IX centuries BC. Other texts were written in the times of the Monarchy of the Hebrew people, IX century BC, and correspond to the Yahwists who use the name of Yahweh in their stories; these writings reflect an already established nation and show the political and economic stability achieved by Israel, showing a more theological character.
Other later texts use the name Elohim to refer to God, VIII century BC, being these accounts more dogmatic and elaborated than the previous texts, moving away from the political and nationalistic context.
Subsequently, in the 6th-5th centuries BC, during the Babylonian exile, The priestly tradition emerges, which follows a more precise chronology for the definitive writing of the Pentateuch and presents a profound theological knowledge and greater ethical refinement, where the religious and moral norms or precepts of the people of Israel are delineated.
The books of the Pentateuch contain the history of the people of Israel when they were nomads led by Abraham, their settlement in Canaan, their liberation from the slavery of Egypt and their journey in the desert led by Moses; they describe their encounter with God and the beginning of the history of man's salvation through faith and the establishment of the Covenant by divine initiative of God with man and the signs of fidelity that Israel must show in order to fulfill that covenant.
The Pentateuch is considered canonical by all the Christian denominations and is part of all Bibles.