[b-hebrew] Author of the torah

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Jul 29 15:01:08 EDT 2005

On 29/07/2005 19:28, Read, James C wrote:

>There are three places where Moses is said to have written something- Ex 
>24:4, Dt 31:9, 31:22.  An even not so careful reading will show that the 
>reference to Moses writing refers only to the present pericope.
>end quote.
>Have you read Deouteronomy 31:9 closely?
>What did he write?
>The law???
>How do you say 'law' in hebrew?
>Isn't it something like 'torah'?
>And the name of the book attributed to Moshe?
>The torah???
>My! What an amazing coincidence!!!

Surely not, James. See also 31:24, which Jim just happens to have 
forgotten, which states that Moses wrote down this law, hattora hazzo't, 
`ad tummam which means something like "completely". In other words, this 
verse seems to be an explicit claim that Moses wrote down the whole of 
the Torah.

But then what was meant by the Torah? Not necessarily all of the five 
books now known as such. But 31:9,24 must be a claim at least that Moses 
wrote down the complete contents of what he had just spoken, also 
referred to as "this law", hattora hazzo't, in 1:5. And this happens to 
be the major part of the book of Deuteronomy, from 1:6 to 30:20 - except 
for 27:1a,9a,11 and 29:1,2, which are the only parts of this which are 
not presented as the words of Moses. Additionally, large parts of 
chapters 31-33 are presented as Moses' words, and in 31:22 it is stated 
that he wrote down his song which is 32:1-43. So, we have about 95% of 
the book presented as Moses' words and 85% explicitly stated as written 
down by him. And I think even the most conservative interpreters accept 
that at least part of the remaining 5%, especially chapter 34, was not 
in fact written by Moses.

Of course some might want to dispute whether the internal claims of the 
book are reliable. But it is necessary to recognise first that these 
claims are being made.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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