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The Five Books of Moses make up the Pentateuch. The word Pentateuch comes from two Greek words that mean “five books” or “five scrolls. The books tell of history from the beginning of time, with the creation of the world, to the death of Moses. The Hebrew names for each book (in parenthesis below) were derived from the first unique word that appears in the book.

Genesis (Bereisheet) Bereisheet means in the beginning. Genesis records the six days of creation, the fall of man, the Great Flood, the call of Abraham, the birth of the Nation of Israel, the Tribes of Israel, and more. The book ends with Joseph in Egypt.

Exodus (Shemot) Shemot means names in Hebrew. Exodus tells of the Israelites bondage in Egypt, their journey to Mt. Sinai, God’s giving of the Law, and their wanderings in the wilderness.

Leviticus (Vayikra) Vayikra means And He Called in Hebrew. Leviticus records God’s prescription for holiness, including all priestly matters such as rituals, sacrifice, atonement and ritual purity. The title Leviticus comes from the Latin Vulgate use of the word Leuitikon, meaning matters of the Levites (25:32, 33).

Numbers (BaMidbar) BaMidbar means In the wilderness in Hebrew. Numbers chronicles the Israelites wandering in the desert before entering the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy (D’varim) D’varim means words in Hebrew. Deuteronomy is the final book of the Torah. It recounts the Israelites’ journey according to Moses and ends with his death just before they enter the Promised Land.

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