The Hebrew Bible

What are the divisions of the Hebrew Bible?

The Hebrew Bible is divided into three main sections called the Law (or Torah), the Prophets, and the Writings (or Hagiographa). The Hebrew Bible is accepted by Jews as sacred: The word testament comes from the ancient word testamentum, meaning “covenant with God.” Much of the Hebrew Bible recounts Jewish history, demonstrating faithful observance to their agreement with God.

The Law consists of those five books written by Moses, and these recount creation, early traditions, the lives of the patriarchs of Israel, early events of the Israelites, and entrance into the Promised Land. Torah translates as “teaching,” and Jews (as do christians) look to these first five books of the Bible for guidance. The Prophets consists of the books of the Former Prophets (books of Joshua, Judges, 1st and 2nd Samuel, and 1st and 2nd Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve—the teachings of 12 other prophets). The books of the Prophets chronicle historical events, but according to the Jewish tradition these books also teach that people must obey God’s laws. The Writings consist of 13 books, which are believed to have been written by poets and teachers.


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