Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sefer Torat Moshe

There has long been a discussion between people who believe that the Mosaic authorship of the Torah is proven by the Torah itself when it refers to "Torat Moshe", the Torah of Moses. Their opponents argue that this is a generic term which implies some "teaching" or "instruction" and does not mean the notion of the Pentateuch as we know it.

It seems to me that the latter argument is strengthened by the contents of the Book of Joshua. Chapter 8, verse 30 states:
אָז יִבְנֶה יְהוֹשֻׁעַ מִזְבֵּחַ, לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּהַר, עֵיבָל.
30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD, the God of Israel, in mount Ebal,
לא כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד-יְהוָה אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, כַּכָּתוּב בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה--מִזְבַּח אֲבָנִים שְׁלֵמוֹת, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הֵנִיף עֲלֵיהֶן בַּרְזֶל; וַיַּעֲלוּ עָלָיו עֹלוֹת לַיהוָה, וַיִּזְבְּחוּ שְׁלָמִים. 31 as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of unhewn stones, upon which no man had lifted up any iron; and they offered thereon burnt-offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace-offerings.
לב וַיִּכְתָּב-שָׁם, עַל-הָאֲבָנִים--אֵת, מִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה, אֲשֶׁר כָּתַב, לִפְנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. 32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote before the children of Israel.
לג וְכָל-יִשְׂרָאֵל וּזְקֵנָיו וְשֹׁטְרִים וְשֹׁפְטָיו עֹמְדִים מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה לָאָרוֹן נֶגֶד הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם נֹשְׂאֵי אֲרוֹן בְּרִית-יְהוָה, כַּגֵּר כָּאֶזְרָח--חֶצְיוֹ אֶל-מוּל הַר-גְּרִזִים, וְהַחֶצְיוֹ אֶל-מוּל הַר-עֵיבָל: כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד-יְהוָה, לְבָרֵךְ אֶת-הָעָם יִשְׂרָאֵל--בָּרִאשֹׁנָה. 33 And all Israel, and their elders and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, that bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger as the home-born; half of them in front of mount Gerizim and half of them in front of mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded at the first, that they should bless the people of Israel.
לד וְאַחֲרֵי-כֵן, קָרָא אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה, הַבְּרָכָה, וְהַקְּלָלָה--כְּכָל-הַכָּתוּב, בְּסֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
לה לֹא-הָיָה דָבָר, מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר-צִוָּה מֹשֶׁה--אֲשֶׁר לֹא-קָרָא יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, נֶגֶד כָּל-קְהַל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף, וְהַגֵּר, הַהֹלֵךְ בְּקִרְבָּם. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that walked among them.


It takes a scribe about a year to write a Torah using ink and scroll. It is not clear from the text whether the writing was engraved into the stones or written on it, but it is clear from the text that this effort did not take very long. Furthermore, the reading of the entire "Torah of Moses" implies that this is not the same Torah that we know today.

Comments, questions, concerns?

3 Comments:

Blogger The Candy Man said...

You are right.

January 20, 2009 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since this story didn't happen, it doesn't actually prove very much.

January 20, 2009 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

It's more than just the time it would take to write. As is known, the word Torah is only found in the book of Deuteronomy in the Pentateuch. There this term refers to some/all of this book. This is the traditional understanding of the term and is supported within the context of its use. As for the term here in Joshua, we see that all the laws mentioned here are those of Deuteronomy, it's reasonable to suppose that the termis used in the same vain here.

January 21, 2009 6:15 AM  

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