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What is Tanach?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

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A. Tanach is a Hebrew acronym for Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim.1

B. In "TaNaCh," "Torah" is the Five Books of Moses, a.k.a. the Chumash; "Neviim," Hebrew for prophets, is the collected books of the Prophets; and "Ketuvim," Hebrew for writings, are Scriptures, the remaining books.

C. The purpose of Tanach is as manifold as its parts: the Torah is G-d’s ideas on how to live life in book form. The Torah is the Jew’s Life Manual. Neviim represents the blood and sweat and tears of the Prophets’ leadership over a period of 920 years, beginning with Joshua and ending with Ezra. Though the last of these recorded Prophets died long ago, their prophecies still apply today. While many of their prophecies were immediately applicable, many are about Moshiach, the most fundamental Jewish belief. And Ketuvim are the collected writings of Moses (the Book of Job), Kings David (Psalms) and Solomon (Proverbs, the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes), the prophets Samuel (the Scroll of Ruth) Jeremiah (the Scroll of Lamentations) and Daniel (the Book of Daniel), and the Men of the Great Assembly (the Scroll of Esther).

While many of their prophecies were immediately applicable, many are about Moshiach
What are the books of Tanach?

1. The Torah

a) Bereishit (Genesis)

b) Sh’mot (Exodus)

c) Vayikra (Leviticus)

d) Bamidbar (Numbers)

e) Devarim (Deuteronomy)

2. The Neviim

a) Yehoshua (Joshua)

b) Shoftim (Judges)

c) Shmuel (Samuel I &II)

d) Melachim (Kings I & II)

e) Yeshayah (Isaiah)

f) Yirmiyah (Jeremiah)

g) Yechezkel (Ezekiel)

h) Trey Asar (“The Twelve,” treated as one book)

(1) Hoshea (Hosea)

(2) Yoel (Joel)

(3) Amus (Amos)

(4) Ovadyah (Obadiah)

(5) Yonah (Jonah)

(6) Michah (Micah)

(7) Nachum

(8) Chavakuk (Habbakkuk)

(9) Tzefanyah (Zephaniah)

(10) Chagai

(11) Zecharyah (Zechariah)

(12) Malachi

3. The Ketuvim

a) Tehillim (Psalms)

b) Mishlei (Proverbs)

c) Iyov (Job)

d) Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs)

e) Rut (Ruth)

f) Eichah (Lamentations)

g) Kohelet (Ecclesiastes)

h) Esther

i) Daniel

j) Ezra & Nechemyah (Nehemiah, treated as one book)

k) Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles)

Footnotes

  • 1. The Hebrew alphabet is a diacritic alphabet. Diacritics are little, emoticon-like symbols above, below and inside individual letters. In Hebrew, there are no vowel letters—Hebrew uses diacritics as vowels. Thus, if English used diacritics, Tanach would be Tnch—there would be diacritic vowel symbols under the T and the n, telling the reader to say “Ta” and “Na.”
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RELATED CATEGORIES

Torah » The Bible » About

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Moshiach
The Messiah. Moshiach is the person who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for all of humanity when there will be no jealousy or hate, wars or famine. This is a fundamental Jewish belief.
Joshua
1. Assumed the leadership of the Jewish people after Moses died in 1267 BCE. He split the Jordan River and led the Jewish people in their conquest of the Promised Land. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which chronicles Joshua's leadership.
Esther
1. Jewish wife of Persian King Ahasuerus in the 4th century BCE. Foiled the plot of Haman, the prime minister, to exterminate all the Jews. The holiday of Purim commemorates this miraculous salvation. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which chronicles the abovementioned story.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Men of the Great Assembly
An institution of 120 rabbis who led the Jewish people at the onset of the Second Temple Era. They canonized the 24 books of the Bible and composed most of the prayers we have today. This institution lasted approximately 200 years.
Genesis
The first book of the Five Books of Moses. It records the story of Creation and its aftermath, and chronicles the lives of the Patriarchs.
Tanach
Acronym for Torah, Nevi'm (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Holy Writings). Tanach refers to the 24 books of the Bible: the 5 books of Moses, the 8 books of the Prophets, and the 11 books of Holy Writings.
Samuel
1. A prophet and judge who appointed Saul as the first king of Israel in the 9th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, named after the abovementioned Samuel, one of the main characters of the book.
David
King of Israel who succeeded Saul, becoming king of Israel in 876 BCE. Originally a shepherd, he became popular after he killed the Philistine strongman, Goliath. He is the progenitor of the Davidic royal dynasty -- which will return to the throne with the arrival of King Messiah.
Solomon
Son of King David, and succeeded him on the throne of Israel in the year 836 BCE. he was the wisest man to ever live. He built the first Holy Temple and authored several books of the Bible.
Isaiah
1. One of the greatest prophets, lived in the 7th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies of Isaiah. The book is filled with prophecies concerning the Messianic redemption.
Jeremiah
1. Jewish prophet who lived in the 5th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies of Jeremiah. The book is replete with prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.
Ezekiel
1. Major Jewish prophet who lived in the 5th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies which Ezekiel transmitted.
Jonah
1. A prophet who lived in the 8th century BCE. He is famous for being swallowed by a large fish after refusing to carry out a mission which G-d gave him. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which recounts the abovementioned story.
Psalms
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
Proverbs
One of the 24 books of the Bible. A collection of moral writings authored by King Solomon.
Song of Songs
One of the 24 books of the Bible, authored by King Solomon. This book, which ostensibly is a love poem, is an analogy meant to depict the love between G-d and His bride, the Jewish Nation.
Ruth
1. A Moabite woman who accompanied Naomi, the Jewish mother of her deceased husband, back to Israel. She converted, married, and was the ancestor of King David. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which chronicles the events of Naomi's life.
Lamentations
One of the 24 books of the Bible, this poetic scripture, authored by Jeremiah, prophetically details the destruction of Jerusalem.
Ecclesiastes
One of the 24 books of the Bible. This book of wise sayings was authored by King Solomon.
Daniel
1. A Jerusalemite exiled in Babylon after the destruction of the 1st Temple. He interprets dreams, gives accounts of apocalyptic visions, and is divinely delivered from a den of lions. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which describes the events of Daniel's life.
Ezra
1. A Hebrew priest and scribe, who, together with Nehemiah, revived Judaism in the 4th century BCE. He was instrumental in the building of the 2nd Temple. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which describes the events of Ezra's lifetime.
Nehemiah
1. A Jewish leader who lived in the 4th century BCE. He, together with Ezra, supervised the rebuilding of the Jerusalem city walls and the 2nd Temple, and instituted religious reforms in the city. 2. Commonly accepted to be one of the books of the Bible. In Jewish tradition, however, the "Book of Nehemiah" is actually considered part of the Book of Ezra.
Chronicles
The final book of the Bible. This book summarizes the events described in the first 23 books of the Bible, from Creation until the destruction of the 1st Temple.
Tehillim
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
Leviticus
The third of the Five Books of Moses. This book deals with the service (of the Levite Tribe) in the Tabernacle, and contains many of the 613 commandments.
Deuteronomy
The fifth of the Five Books of Moses. This book is a record of the monologue which Moses spoke to the Israelites in the five weeks prior to his passing.
Chumash
The Five Books of Moses.
Neviim
1. Prophets. 2. A collective name for eight of the books of the Bible: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of Twelve Prophets.
Ketuvim
The eleven books of Holy Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra (and Nehemiah), and Chronicles.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.