- The Jewish holy book is the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), containing the Torah and the prophetic books. "Tanakh" is a Hebrew acronym of T, N, K which stands for the three parts of the Tanakh: Torah, Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). In total, the Tanakh has 24 books.
- A) The Torah, also called the Pentateuch, is the primary Jewish holy book. It contains the Five Books of Moses (also called the Books of the Law). It was given by God to Moses (Exodus 24:12), who transmitted it to the people and wrote it (Deuteronomy 31:24). Its chief purpose is to teach the laws of Judaism; and it also teaches us historical highlights, attitudes, guidance, beliefs and more.
Books 1-5 of the Hebrew Bible: The Torah (the Five Books of Moses):
- Bereisheet (Genesis)
- Shemot (Exodus)
- Vayikra (Leviticus)
- Bamidbar (Numbers)
- Devarim (Deuteronomy)
- B) Nevi'im, the Prophets. The books of the Hebrew Prophets are the Divinely-inspired narrative of Israelite history and the relationship between God and Israel. The prophets were called upon by God to guide the people and to guide the king. While the king had authority in national matters of state, and the Sanhedrin (Sages) had say in Torah-rulings and halakha (law), the prophets spoke in matters of ethics, of belief, of loyalty to God, and behavior. They rebuked the people at God's command, they predicted events which God revealed to them, they taught through Divine inspiration, and they provided optimism and hope with the prophecies of eventual Redemption.
Jewish tradition (Talmud, Bava Batra 14b) states that the prophetic books were written by the authors whose names they bear: Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, etc. Judges was written by Samuel, and Kings was written by Jeremiah. The prophetic books were written in the time of the prophets, from the 1200s BCE (Joshua) to the mid-300s BCE (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi).
Books 6-9 of the Hebrew Bible: The Nevi'im Rishonim (the Early Prophets):
6) Yehoshua (Joshua)
7) Shoftim (Judges)
8) Shemuel (Samuel I and II)
9) Melachim (Kings I and II)
Books 10-13 of the Hebrew Bible: The Nevi'im Acharonim (the Later Prophets):
10) Yeshayahu (Isaiah)
11) Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah)
12) Yechezkel (Ezekiel)
13) Trei Asar ("The Twelve" or "The Minor Prophets")
- C) Ketuvim, the Writings. The Ketuvim (also called Hagiographa) contains the remaining History Books: Daniel, Chronicles, Ezra, and others. Some of these narrate Israelite history and past events, some predict events, some serve to comfort the nation, some speak of prayer and love of God, and some speak of life, experience and wisdom.
Jewish tradition (Talmud, Bava Batra 14b) states that the Writings were written by the authors whose names they bear: Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah. Ruth was written by Samuel; Lamentations was written by Jeremiah; Psalms was set in writing byKing David; Chronicles was written by Ezra; Proverbs, Song of Songs and Kohellet (Ecclesiastes) were written by King Solomon
; and Esther was written by Mordecai and Esther. The Writings were written between 900 BCE (Ruth) to the mid-300s BCE (Esther, Daniel, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah).
14) Tehillim (Psalms)
15) Mishlei (Proverbs)
16) Iyov (Job)
17) Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs)
19) Eichah (Lamentations)
20) Kohelet (Ecclesiastes)
24) Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles I and II)
The term "Torah" can refer loosely to the entire Jewish Bible.
Tradition places the sealing of the Tanakh's canon around 340 BCE.