What is the “Pentateuch”?

The Pentateuch is the technical term for the first five books of the Bible (“penta” = five, teuchos = book): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It is also sometimes called the Torah or referred to as the Five Books of Moses, since traditionally their authorship has been attributed to Moses, although scholars know now that is a false assumption.

The Pentateuch begins with the creation of the world, traces the story of the great patriarchs and matriarchs (Abraham/Sarah, Isaac/Rebeccah, Jacob/Rachel, Leah) down to the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt, narrates the Exodus from Egypt under Moses’ leadership, follows them for 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and ends with the people on the brink of the Promised Land. Many of the great narratives of our faith are included in these well-known first five books.

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.