What Is The Torah?
This page was on Sandra Hawkins original website. The site is no longer there.
There is a lot of talk these days about getting
back to the “New Testament Church.” But the real truth is, there
are two things the “New Testament Church” did not have: A “New Testament” and a “Church”. The believers
of the “New Testament Church” met in synagogues (Acts 15:21; James 1:1; 2:2) and had no book known as
the “New Testament” because it had not been written and compiled yet. Thus when a believer from the “New
Testament Church” referred to “The Scriptures” he was speaking of the Tanak (“Old Testament”) for they were
the only Scriptures he had. Thus when Paul wrote to Timothy:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.” 2
Paul was referring to the Tanak, the only Scriptures
they had. Moreover when Paul spoke to the Bereans in
Acts 17:11 we are told of them:
These were more noble than those at Thessalonica, in that they received the
word with all readiness of
mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Paul was saying that the Bereans were noble because
they did not believe what Paul said simply on the
authority of Paul. They were looking to see if what Paul was teaching could be found in the Scriptures.
Remember, they were looking in the Tanak, the only Scriptures they had at the time. Paul said that it was
noble of them to only accept his teaching if it lined up with the Tanak. That means that whenever we study the
New Testament, we should ask ourselves this question: “Can you get here from there?” (There being the
Tanak). If you think you understand something in the New Testament in such a way that it contradicts the
Tanak, then you need to realize that you are misunderstanding it.
The same is true of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon constantly tells us to search the Scriptures:
. . . and they searched the scriptures . . . Jacob 7:23 (RLDS 5:38)
. . . many of them did believe on his words, and
began to repent, and to search the scriptures. Alma 14:1
. . . they had waxed strong in the knowledge of
the truth; for they were men of sound understanding and they
had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. Alma 17:2 (RLDS 12:3-4)
. . . ye ought to search the scriptures . . . Alma 33:2 (RLDS 16:176)
. . . he that has the scriptures, let him search them, . . . 3 Nephi 10:14 (RLDS 4:69)
(see also Mosiah 1:3 (RLDS 1:4); Jacob 4:6 (RLDS
3:7); 3 Nephi 20:11 (RLDS 9:47); 3 Nephi 23:1, 5
(RLDS 10:26-27, 31-32); Mormon 8:23 (RLDS 4:27-28)
Now when the Book of Mormon refers to the “Scriptures”
it cannot be referring to itself and it cannot be
referring to the New Testament. When the Book of Mormon says to “search the scriptures” it refers to the
Tanak (“Old Testament”).
I am going to ask you to be a noble Berean.
I am going to ask you to understand what the other writings say
in light of what the Tanak says.
The word “TORAH” is commonly translated in our Bibles
as “Torah”, but is that really a good translation of the
word Torah? The Hebrew word “TORAH” (Strong’s Heb. #8451) means guidance or instruction. TORAH
comes from the Hebrew root verb YARAH (Strong’s #3384) meaning “to instruct”. YARAH was also an
archery term referring to shooting an arrow and as a term meaning “to lay a foundation.” Torah therefore is
guidance, like the straight path of an arrow to its target. Torah is our foundation. It is important to understand
the real meaning of the Hebrew word Torah. Because while some might say “God’s Torah is not for today” no
one would say that “God’s instruction and guidance are not for today.”
This book is about Torah, it is about God’s guidance
for us. This article is about laying foundation and about
setting ourselves on target like an arrow. This article will give you aim, direction, foundation and a target.
The Greek word for TORAH used in the Septuagint
(Greek “Old Testament”) and the Greek New Testament is
NOMOS. This parallels the Aramaic Bible (the Peshitta) which has NAMOSA from the Semitic root NIMMES
meaning “to civilize” and from which we also get the modern Hebrew word NIMOS or NIMUS meaning
“politeness.” At the core of TORAH are the precepts of civilization. From God’s perspective, without Torah,
we are uncivilized.
The mitzvoth (commandments) of the Torah are categorized under three categories:
MISHPATIM (judgments) Strong’s 4941
EDYOT (testimonies) Strong’s 5715
KHOKIM (statutes; decrees) Strong’s 2706
The MISHPATIM are the moral and ethical commandments.
These deal with what is fundamentally right and
The EDYOT are commandments that give testimony to
YHWH. These include the Shabbat, the festivals, the
teffilin, mezuzah, etc.
The KHOKIM are commandments with no apparent rational.
For example, the commandment not to mix wool
Now we have already shown that in studying the New
Testament we must ask ourselves “can you get here
from there?” (“there” being the Tanak (Old Testament)). If we understand something in the New Testament in
such a way that it contradicts the Tanak, then we must be misunderstanding it. Now there are many who
understand many New Testament passages in such a way as to believe and teach that the Torah has been
abolished. Let us be like noble Bereans and let us look in the Tanak to see if this is so (Acts 17:11). After all,
Paul tells us that the Tanak is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, [and] for instruction” (2 Tim.
3:16). So what does the Tanak say? Was the Torah to be for all generations, forever? Or would it one day
be abolished? If the Torah would one day be abolished, then we should be able to find this taught in the
Tanak. As Noble Bereans we should be checking to see if the things we hve ben taught can be found in the
Tanak. By contrast, if the Torah would not be abolished, but would be for all generations forever, then we
should be able to find that information in the Torah as well. Since the Tanak is profitable for doctrine and
correction, perhaps we can seek the truth on this issue from the Tanak:
. . . it shall be a statute forever to their generations . . . Ex. 27:21
. . . it shall be a statute forever to him and his seed after him. Ex. 28:43
. . . a statute forever . . . Ex. 29:28
. . . it shall be a statute forever to them, to him and to his seed throughout their generations. Ex. 30:21
It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever. Ex. 31:17
There is no shortage of passages in the Torah which
specify that the Torah will not be abolished but will be for
all generations forever. (For more see: Lev. 6:18, 22; 7:34, 36; 10:9, 15; 17:7; 23:14, 21, 41; 24:3; Num.
10:8; 15:15; 18:8, 11, 19, 23; 19:10 and Deut. 5:29).
Moreover the Psalmist writes:
Your word is truth from the beginning; and every
one of your righteous judgements endures forever. Psalm
Furthermore the Tanak tells us that the Torah is not to be changed or taken away from:
You shall not add to the word which I command you,
neither shall you take away a thing from it, that you may
keep the commandments of YHWH your God which I command you. Deut. 4:2
Whatever thing I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, not take away from it. Deut. 12:32
So if we are “Noble Bereans” we will find that the
Tanak teaches that the Torah will not be abolished but will
endure for all generations forever. This teaching from the Tanak is profitable to us for doctrine, for reproval
and for correction.
The Messiah echoes this teaching:
Do not think that I have come to destroy the Torah
or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For assuredly, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, one yud or one mark will by no means pass
from the Torah till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and
teaches men so, he will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever does and teaches them will be
called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matt. 5:17-19 see also Luke 16:17 & 3 Nephi 12:17-19 (RLDS
As does Paul: Do we then abolish the Torah
through trust? Absolutely not! We uphold the Torah! Romans
Despite the fact that David was saved by faith alone
(Rom. 4:5-8) he loved the Torah and delighted in it (Ps.
119:97, 113, 163). Paul also delighted in the Torah (Rom. 7:22) and called it “holy, just and good.” (Rom.
7:12). There is nothing wrong with the Torah that God should want to abolish or destroy it, in fact both the
Tenach and the New Scriptures call the Torah “perfect” (Ps. 19:7; James 1:25).
The Torah is even called in the New Testament “the
Torah of Messiah” (Gal. 6:2). To say that the Torah was
not forever and is not for all generations, is to call God a liar.
Another popular teaching in the church is a teaching
that God only gave the Torah to Israel to prove that they
could not keep it. For example one book states:
. . . Israel, in blindness and pride and self-righteousness,
presumed to ask for the law; and God granted their
request, to show them that they could not keep his law . . . (God’s Plan of the Ages; Louis T. Talbot; 1970; p.
Now let’s think this through for a moment.
God gives Israel the Torah. He says He will place curses upon
Israel if they fail to keep the Torah (Lev. 26 & Deut 28-29). He sends prophets to warn Israel of pending
destruction because of their continual failure to keep Torah. Eventually God allows Babylon to invade
Jerusalem and the Jews to be taken into captivity, because of their failure to keep Torah. Then he comes
along and says “Nah, I was only fooling. I just gave you the Torah to prove you could not do it.” What kind of
God would that be? Of course as noble Bereans we can simply look in the Tanak to see if this popular
teaching is true. Let us see what the Tanak says on this issue:
For this commandment which I command you this day
it is not too hard for you, neither it is far off. It is not in
heaven, that you should say: “Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, and make us to hear it, that
we may do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say: “Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring
it to us, and make us hear it, that we may do it?” But the Word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your
heart, that you may do it. (Deut. 30:11-14).
The fact that the Torah can be kept is confirmed
as well in the New Testament which tells us that Yahshua was
temped in all things just as we are and he did keep the Torah (Heb. 4:15).
Now one of the problems in understanding the Scriptures
is that of definitions of words and terms. If we want
to understand the scriptures we must understand these terms and words. And if we want to understand these
we must do just as the Book of Mormon suggests and “search the scriptures”, that is search the Tanak (“Old
Testament”) in order to “know the Word of God” Alma 17:2 (RLDS 12:3-4). This brings us to an important
term: “truth”. Now Alma 17:2 (RLDS 12:3-4) states that “knowledge of the truth” comes from “searching the
scriptures” (meaning the Tanak).
Now when he was on trial before Pilate, Yahshua
said: For this I have been born, and for this I have come into
the world, to bear witness of the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. (John 18:37-38).
To this Pilate asked the all important question: What is truth? (John 18:38)
Let us look back to the Tanak to find the answer to Pilate’s question:
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your Torah is truth. (Psalm 119:142)
You are near, O YHWH, and all your commandments are truth. (Psalm 119:151)
This definition explains many phrases in the New Testament:
“Obey the truth” (Galations 3:1)
“But he that does truth . . .” (John 3:20)
And I rejoice that I found your children walking
in the truth, as we have received a commandment from the
Father. (2 John 1:4)
The Tanak definition of truth gives whole new meaning to Yahshua’s words:
For this I have been born, and for this I have come
into the world, to bear witness of the truth. Everyone who is
of the truth hears my voice. (John 18:37-38)
Yahshua came to bear witness of the Torah, those
who hear the Torah hear His voice. This leads us to
another important saying from Yahshua:
Then Yahshua said to those Jews who believed on
Him, if you continue in my word, then you are my disciples
indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)
Now if we plug what we learned about “truth” from
“searching the scriptures” into the Book of Mormon, we find
some interesting things:
. . . the book proceeded forth from the mouth of
a Jew and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it
contained the fullness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear
record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God. Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in
purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God. And after that they go forth by the hand of the
twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles; behold after this, thou seest the foundation of a
great and abominable church, which is the most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have
taken away from the Gospel of the Lamb, many parts which are plain and most precious; and also, many
Covenants of the Lord have they taken away; 1 Nephi 13:24-26 (RLDS 3:165-169).
. . . These last records, which you have seen among
the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first . . . 1
Nephi 13:40 (RLDS 3:192-193).
. . . in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles . . . 3 Nephi 16:7 (RLDS 7:31).
Charity . . . rejoiceth not in inquity but rejoiceth in truth, . . . Moroni 7:45 (RLDS 7:51).
Now we have already shown that the truth (Torah) makes us free.
. . . if you continue in my word, then you are my
disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth
shall make you free. (John 8:31-32).
Therefore the Torah brings freedom. This is
completely contrary to what most people have been taught.
The common wisdom is that the Torah is bondage and that “freedom in Christ” means freedom from
Torah. For example one author writes:
“Many Christians today woud return to Sinai.
They would put upon the church the yoke of bondage, the Law of
Moses. (God’s Plan of the Ages; Louis T. Talbot; 1970; p. 66)
However as we shall see, the scriptures teach that
exactly the opposite is true. The central story of Judaism is
that of the Exodus from Egypt. The children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt. God promised to bring them
out of bondage and give them freedom. Upon leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, YHWH led them to
Mt. Sinai where he delivered the Torah to them. Note that the theme of this central story is that God promised
freedom from bondage and gave the children of Israel Torah.
The Book of Mormon says:
Now ye know that the children of Israel were in
bondage; and ye know that they were laden with tasks, which
were grievous to be borne; wherefore, ye know that it must needs be a good thing for them that they should be
brought out of bondage. 1 Nephi 17:25 (RLDS 5:105-106).
Now why would YHWH lead the people out of bondage
in Egypt, lead them to Mt. Sinai, and deliver them right
back into bondage again? And why would he at the same time promise them freedom. God is no liar. He
promised the people freedom and he gave them Torah because the Torah is freedom from bondage. The
Torah is truth (Psalm 119:142) and the truth will make you free (John 8:31-32).
This truth is proclaimed by the Psalmist:
So shall I keep your Torah continually forever and
ever, And I will walk in freedom; for I seek your preceipts.
As well as by Ya’akov HaTzadik (James the Just)
who called the Torah “the Torah of Freedom” (James 1:25;
However many today teach that the Torah is bondage
and that Torah-lessness is freedom. They have
exchanged the truth (Torah) of God for a lie (Torah-lessness) (Romans 1:15). Of these 2 Peter 2:19 states:
While they promise them freedom, they themselves
are servants of corruption: for of whom a man is
overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage.
According to Kefa these men “turn from the holy
commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:21) they
promise freedom but deliver bondage.
The Book of Mormon makes great use of the term “freedom”
and from “searching the scriptures” we have
learned that real freedom only comes from Torah. The Book of Mormon also says:
. . . the Messiah should be manifest unto them in
the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of
them out of darkness unto light – yea out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom. 2 Nephi 3:5
This brings us to the terms “light” and “darkness”.
Now we know that “light” is “freedom” and “darkness” is
“captivity” so “light” should relate to Torah. Let us search the scriptures.
For the commandment is a lamp; and the Torah is light . . . (Proverbs 6:23)
Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
To the Torah and to the testimony; if they speak
not according to this word, it is because there is no light in
them. (Isaiah 8:20), also 2 Nephi 18:20 (RLDS 9:58)
. . . for a Torah shall proceed from me, and I will
make my judgement to rest for a light of the people. (Isaiah
So according to the Tanak, the Torah is a light
for our paths. Those that walk in the Torah walk in the light.
This is why both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament speak of those who walk in darkness (Jn. 8:12;
12:35; 1Jn. 1:6; 2:11):
Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth
the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and
hath no light? 2 Nephi 7:10 (RLDS 5:67).
These are those who do not walk by the light of Torah.
Understanding 1 Nephi 13:20-29 (RLDS 3:156-175)
13:20 (RLDS 3:156-157) And it came to pass that
I, Nephi beheld that they did prosper in the land, and I
beheld a Book; and it was carried forth among them.
13:21 (RLDS 3:158) And the angel saith unto me, knowest thou the meaning of the Book?
13:22 (RLDS 3:159) And I saith unto him, I know not.
13:23 (RLDS 3:160-164) And he saith, Behold, it
proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew, and I, Nephi, beheld
it; and he saith unto me, The Book which thou beholdest, is a record of the Jews, which contains the
covenants of the Lord which he hath made unto the Houses of Israel; and it also containeth many of the
prophesies of the Holy Prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of
brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made
unto the House of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.
The book is clearly the Bible and especially the
Tanak (“Old Testament”) which corresponds with the “brass
plates” (1 Nephi 5:10-22 (RLDS 1:158-174); 19:22 (RLDS 5:262-264). These included the five books of
Moses (Torah), a record of the Jews (Ketuvim), and the prophecies of the holy prophets (Navim)
The first letter of each [T]orah; [N]avim and [K]etivum
forms the word TaNaK which refers to the “Old
Testament” in Judaism. Notice that the Tanak is “of great worth” unto the Gentiles.
13:24 (RLDS 3:165) And the angel of the Lord said
unto me, Thou has beheld that the Book proceeded forth
from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceedeth from the mouth of a Jew, it contained the plainness of the
Gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth
which is in the Lamb of God;
Notice it says “mouth of a Jew”. The implication
is that the oral understanding of this book as it was taught
was correct when the original, Jewish followers of Yahshua taught it. Notice it says “they bear record
according to the truth”. According to the TaNaK itself:
. . . your Torah (law) is truth. (Psalm 119:142)
. . . all your commandments are truth. (Psalm 119:151)
When the message came forth from the mouth of a
Jew, they did “bear record according to the Torah and
13:25 (RLDS 3:166) Wherefore, these things go forth
from the Jews in purity, unto the Gentiles, according to
the truth which is in God;
Again the message went forth from the Jews in purity according to the Torah and commandments.
13:26 (RLDS 3:167-169) And after that they go forth
by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the
Jews unto the Gentiles; behold, after this, thou seest the foundation of a great and abominable church, which
is the most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the Gospel of the
Lamb, many parts which are plain and most precious; and also, many Covenants of the Lord have they taken
Notice that AFTER the message goes forth from the
Jews unto the Gentiles there is formed among the
Gentiles an “abominable church” which takes material away from the message. The consistent reference to
“mouth of the Jew” may imply that it was not so much the written text that was altered, but the oral
understanding of what it meant. When the Jews taught the message they taught it according to the “truth” . . .
according to the Torah and commandments. But AFTER the Gentiles formed the abominable church, they
took away from the message. This itself points back to the Torah:
You shall not add to the word which I command you,
neither shall you take away from it, that you may keep the
commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deut. 4:2)
What thing soever I command you, observe and do
it: you shall not add thereto, nor take away from it. (Deut.
So it seems that AFTER the message went forth from
the Jew to the gentiles, the Gentiles formed an
abominable church and took away truth (Torah) from the message!
13:27 (RLDS 3:170) And all this have they done,
that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord; that they
might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men;
13:28 (RLDS 3:171) Wherefore, thou seest that after
the Book hath gone forth through the hands of the great
and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the Book, which is the
Book of the Lamb of God;
13:29 (RLDS 3:171-175) And after that these plain
and precious things were taken away, it goeth forth unto
all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the
many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity; and thou seest
because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the Book, which were plain unto
the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God; and
because of these things which were taken away out of the Gospel of the Lamb, an exceeding great many do
stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them;
14:20 (RLDS 6:32) Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.
14:21 (RLDS 6:33) Not every one that saith unto
me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he
that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
14:22 (RLDS 6:34) Many will say to me in that day,
Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in
thy name have cast out devils? And in my name done many wonderful works?
14:23 (RLDS 6:35) And then will I profess unto them,
I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
3 Nephi 14:20-23 (RLDS 6:32-35)
Now this text is virtually identical to Matthew
7:20-23. This gives us an opportunity to do a word study on the
word “iniquity”. The word for “iniquity” here in the Greek is a form of the Greek word ANOMOS. The Greek
word ANOMOS is formed by joining the Greek word NOMOS meaning “Torah” with the Greek prefix “A”
meaning “without”. Thus, the word “iniquity” here actually means “Torah-less” or “Torah-less-ness”. So in this
and perhaps other passages in the Book of Mormon “iniquity” refers to “Torahlessness”.
Ok now let’s go back to the apocalypse of Nephi:
14:7 (RLDS 3:214-217) for the time cometh, saith
the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous
work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting either on the one hand or on the other;
either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the convincing of them to the hardness of
their hearts and the blindness of their minds, unto their being brought down into captivity, and also unto
destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the capacity of the Devil, of which I have spoken.
The Messiah teaches truth which brings freedom (Jn.
8:31-32) while the devil teaches a lie (John 8:44 see
also Rev. 12:9 and 2 Nephi 2:18 (RLDS 2:103-109); 9:9 (RLDS 6:21-23); Ether 8:25 (RLDS 3:99-101) which
would therefore bring bondage. Remember, the Torah is truth (Psalm 119:142, 151). So if Messiah teaches
truth and Torah is truth, and the devil teaches a lie, then the lie must be Torahlessness (ANOMOS) like that in
3 Nephi 13:23 (RLDS 5:114)!
14:8 (RLDS 3:217-218) And it came to pass that when
the angel had spoken these words, he saith unto me,
Remember thou the covenants of the Father unto the House of Israel? I saith unto him, yea.
14:9 (RLDS 3:219) And it came to pass that he saith
unto me, Look, and beheld that great and abominable
church, which is the mother of abominations, whose foundation is the devil.
We read about this church earlier in chapter 13.
This church received the book form the mouth of the Jew
according to the Truth, but took many plain and precious things from it.
14:10 (RLDS 3:220-223) And he saith unto me, Behold,
there is, save it be, two churches: the one is the
church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the Devil; wherefore whoso belongeth not to the
church of the Lamb of God, belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is
the whore of all the earth.
These two churches seem to parallel the contrast
between the original Jewish followers of Yahshua and the
gentile Christian Church as shown in chapter 13. The “church of the Devil” who is “the great whore” appears
to be the church which gentilized the message in Chapter 13. The “great whore” is clearly the great whore
“Babylon” in Revelation 17.
This takes us to Revelation 18:4 and the call: “Come out of her, my people, . . .”
(see also Isaiah 48:20; 52:11; Jer. 50:8; 51:6, 45; Zech. 2:6-7; 2 Cor. 6:17)
A call which also appears twice in the Book of Mormon:
“. . . Depart ye, Depart ye, go you out from thence,
touch not that which is unclean; go you out of the midst of
her . . .” 3 Nephi 20:41 (RLDS 9:79) also Isaiah 52:11).
“Go you forth of Babylon . . .” 1 Nephi 20:20 (RLDS 6:27) also Isaiah 48:20)
This leads us to 2 Nephi 23-24 (RLDS 10); also Isaiah
13-14 which details the judgment of Babylon. It is
clear from 2 Nephi 23:10 (RLDS 10:10) that this is a last days event. And who is Babylon? According to the
Book of Mormon, as we have seen, it is the Gentile Christian Church which has gentilized the message and
taken the truth/Torah from it.