This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Joshua 1:8 ASV

The Pentateuch refers to the first five books of the Bible:

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy

The word pentateuch is formed by two Greek words:

  • PENTE (Five)
  • TEUCHOS (Book)

It means “five vessels,” “five containers,” or “five-volume book.” In Hebrew, the Pentateuch is Torah, meaning “the law” or “instruction.”

These five books, written almost entirely in Hebrew, are the Bible’s books of the law, given to us by God through Moses. Another name for the Pentateuch is “the five books of Moses.”

According to this testimony, even in the days of Joshua, there was a “Law of Moses,” containing all that the Israelites were expected to do!

Efforts to make the Pentateuch itself a late book by dating from the times of the judges, or the monarchy, or the post-exilic priesthood are among the most stupid and impossible tasks the so-called “higher critics” ever assigned themselves!

This is as good a place as any to take a little closer look at what the Word of God says concerning this.


JOSHUA: We do not even get out of the first chapter until we find this clear and undeniable reference to the “Law which Moses my servant commanded.” If that is not the Law of Moses – ALL of it – the entire Pentateuch, then it is nothing at all! We reject the arbitrary arrogance with which so-called “scholars” would try to limit this to some little fraction of the Mosaic Law.

There is no objective grounds whatever for such an obviously false maneuver.

JUDGES: Like every other book in the Bible, the shadow and teaching of the Pentateuch lie over every word of it. Look at Judges 1:27-34, where it is recounted how various tribes of Israel did not “drive out the inhabitants of the land.”

But, indeed why were they expected to drive them out? It is in the teachings of the Pentateuch that they were commanded to drive them out.

RUTH: Where is the implication that the Pentateuch was in existence and well known in Ruth?

The whole book is founded on the practical application of the law of Levirate marriage, and down to the very ceremony of “drawing off the shoe,” we are looking at the Pentateuchal background in every line of it!

1,2 SAMUEL, 1,2 KINGS, 1,2 CHRONICLES: In all these books, there are recorded frequent departures from the Pentateuchal Law of God by the kings of the people.

But Solomon’s marriage with foreign women, contrary to the Law of Moses does not prove that the Law did not exist, but that Solomon wantonly violated it.

So with all the other violations. Note the references to the tabernacle.

Where could the tabernacle have come from, if not from the Pentateuch?

The people complained and kicked against the sacrifices and offerings God had commanded, but why did they think they should make such offerings?

It was all taught in the Pentateuch, of course. The Philistines took the ark, but why did Israel consider the ark sacred?

The answer is in the Pentateuch.

Saul visited the witch of Endor, but he disguised himself because it was illegal to do so.

What made it illegal?

The Pentateuchal teaching. The tragic death of Abner (2 Samuel 3ff) turned upon his failure to stay strictly within “the city of refuge,” called Hebron. Well, how did that tradition about “fleeing for refuge” to certain cities get started? It is all outlined in the Pentateuch.

David rescued the ark of the covenant, but he ordered that it be carried on a new cart, instead of by hand, with fatal results to Uzziah. Why was it wrong to haul the ark in a cart? The Pentateuch records specific directions for carrying it “by hand.”

Read all those glorying passages about building the Temple. Where did the design of it come from?

The whole thing was a larger and more elaborate replica of the ancient tabernacle, all of the instructions for which are in the Pentateuch.

Solomon offered thousands of sacrifices. Why?

Such sacrifices were authorized for Israel only in the Pentateuch. Solomon’s apostasy is recorded (1 Kings 11). Apostasy from what? The Law of Moses as revealed in the Pentateuch.

During the long years of the divided kingdom, some kings were reprimanded for appointing priests “from all the people.” Why was it wrong?

The Pentateuch has the answer.

Elijah engaged in the contests with the prophets of Baal as opposed to the God Jehovah.

Where was the superiority of Jehovah taught?

In the Pentateuch. A king murdered Naboth for his refusal to sell his inheritance.

Where did the laws originate that Naboth endeavored to keep? In the Pentateuch.

Ahaz made a new Altar, and the description and use of it entailed a discussion of the peace-offerings and many other things that could never have been known in those days except for the teachings of the Pentateuch.

Josiah’s reforms led to a popular observance of the sabbath, and of the Passover, (2 Kings 23:22).

How did they know how to keep such laws?

Where else but in the Pentateuch could the instructions be found?

THE CHRONICLES: Exhibit the same universal (in Israel) consciousness of the whole Law of Moses.

EZRA: Upon what was the cruel edict regarding foreign wives founded? The Pentateuch, of course, and upon nothing else.

NEHEMIAH: In Nehemiah 9, the people remembered the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night in their plea for forgiveness.

Where did that memory come from?

The Pentateuch. Furthermore, upon what law was the abolition of usury based? It was based on the teaching of the Pentateuch.

ESTHER: What emboldened the queen to plead for Israel? Her knowledge of the God revealed in the Law of Moses.

JOB: It is the God of the Pentateuch – the Creator, the Helper, the Sustainer, the Personal Intervening God, who shines in every line of Job. The source of such conceptions of God is Biblical, the Pentateuch in particular.

THE PSALMS: There are so many references to the Pentateuch in the Psalms that it would take a volume to list them all. As one of a hundred examples, read Psalms 135:8-12.

PROVERBS: Many of the Pentateuchal regulations are presented as capsuled wisdom in Proverbs.

ISAIAH: This prophet spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah; and throughout, his conceptions of God, the terminology that he used (as is also true of Jeremiah), and other powerful echoes of the Pentateuch thunder throughout the prophecy.

JEREMIAH: The resemblances between Jeremiah and Deuteronomy are marked. There are words used in both that are found nowhere else.

Passages in one are identical with or closely similar to passages in the other, and in general tone and form of thought, the two remarkably resemble each other.

Could there be any doubt that Jeremiah knew the Pentateuch almost by heart?

EZEKIEL: All of this applies to Ezekiel. Where did he learn about Satan and about Eden, the Paradise of God, if not from the Pentateuch?

There are details of the burnt-offering and many other instructions lifted right squarely out of the Pentateuch.

DANIEL: It was the observance of the Pentateuchal diet of the Jews that led to Daniel’s success in Babylon.

HOSEA: Hosea 8:12 has this, though I wrote for him my Law in ten thousand precepts!

Many parallels of idiom and language are found between Hosea and the Pentateuch, which show that the latter was extant in the northern Israel, and these can only be accounted for by its existence in a prior written form.

JOEL: This prophet mentioned Eden (Joel 2:3), and the meal-offering, and the drink offering (Joel 2:14), none of which he could have known apart from the revelation in the Pentateuch.

AMOS: Amos is absolutely loaded with all kinds of references to the Pentateuch.

The significance of them lies not in the actual number of references, but in the kind of references and the implications involved in the individual references.

The knowledge of the Pentateuchal prohibition against keeping the pledge of a man’s garment after sundown (Amos 2:8), mention of the Exodus from Egypt and the forty years of wandering (Amos 2:10), the reference to the vows of the Nazarites (Amos 2:11), the citation of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the reference to burnt-offerings, peace-offerings, meal-offerings, tithes, the horns of the altar, etc. – these are but a few of the scores of Pentateuchal echoes in Amos.

JONAH: His knowledge of the Pentateuch is seen in his promise to pay his vows and in the declaration that, “Salvation is of Jehovah.”

OBADIAH: There is a reference to Numbers 20:14-21 in Obadiah 1:1:10.

MICAH: In Micah 6 of this prophecy represents the shameful apostasy of Israel as a “breach of their contract with God,” and what could that contract possibly be if it is not the Pentateuchal covenant? In this chapter the whole Pentateuchal history of Israel is rehearsed!

The Exodus, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, even the disaster in Numbers 26 – all these, and many other things revealed only in the Pentateuch, are mentioned.

NAHUM: Here is the application of the Pentateuchal teachings of the justice, the wrath, and the vengeance of God against all wickedness, especially in the forthcoming judgment against Nineveh, “Jehovah is a jealous God” (Nahum 1:2). That is a line right out of the Pentateuch.

HABAKKUK: In Habakkuk 1:4, we have “The Law is slacked,” a plain reference to the Pentateuch.

In Habakkuk 1:12, this prophet used three or four Pentateuchal names for God in a single sentence!

ZEPHANIAH: This prophet sternly prophesied the final destruction of the earth on the occasion of the Final Judgment when God will “wipe this Adam off the face of the earth!” The knowledge of Genesis, the fall of man, the repeated rebellions of Israel against God’s covenant (the Pentateuch), along with mention of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example – all of these show that the Pentateuch was known throughout the whole history of Israel.

Every single book of the Bible after the Five Books of Moses (The Pentateuch) reflect salient teachings of the Pentateuch in all such things, as examples chosen, the laws of God violated, the instances of God’s prior deliverance, etc., etc.

HAGGAI: In this prophecy, we actually have Haggai assembling the priests and asking their opinion of certain things laid down in the Law of Moses (Haggai 2:11-13).

ZECHARIAH: This marvelous prophecy reveals the breaking of Beauty and Bands, the two staves that belonged to Zechariah, and both are squarely related to the Pentateuchal covenant status that belonged to Israel. This whole prophecy would have been impossible without a complete knowledge of the Pentateuch.

MALACHI: Here we have such things as the abrogation of the Levitical covenant, the cursing of the Jewish priesthood, the rebuke of Israel for violating the Pentateuchal laws concerning the “unblemished” sacrifices God required, and a dozen other things that are related intimately to a knowledge of the Pentateuch, a law known to all the people, but wantonly violated by many of them.

Well, there it is!

All of the books of the O.T. which follow the Pentateuch display the most universal acquaintance with the writings of Moses on the part of all Israel.

This proves many things:

  • (1) the antiquity of the Pentateuch.
  • (2) the integrity of the Pentateuch.
  • (3) its acceptance as the writing of the Great Lawgiver.
  • (4) its existence as the charter and constitution of the nation of Israel.

The whole world has accepted these basic truths for more than 3,000 years, and Christians may be absolutely certain that all the critics on earth shall never be able to destroy half a line of it.

All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

Romans 2:12 RSV

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