Why the Pentateuch was written

Why the Pentateuch was written.

Why the Pentateuch was written

The Pentateuch refers to the first five books of the Bible and these five books are seen as the basis/foundation of the entire Bible and they represent some important parts of the word of God.[1] The authorship of the first five books of the Old Testament has been a contentious one with claims that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch while others claim he authored only certain portions. Although the authorship of the books is not the main issue of concern in this essay, it is important to note that some sections of the Pentateuch note that Moses was instructed to write them. As an example, Exodus 17:14-15 notes that ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, write this in a book…Moses built an altar and named it the Lord is My Banner.’ The passage indicates that Moses was the author of this Bible section and the reason behind the writing was so as to record God’s word against the Amalekites. The Bible is filled with such instances and following each book from Genesis shows that the writing was focused on God’s revelation on the foundation of the world, the creation of man, how sin entered the world, judgment, and God’s covenant with his people.

The beginning of the world and the conception of man in God’s image is explicitly recorded in Genesis and this means that the writing of the book was God’s way of revealing the origin of the world. The book of Genesis need not be seen as a historical record, but rather a revelation where God was showing how important man is to Him by creating him in His image. From the revelation of the creation of man in God’s image, the sections that follow and the preceding books detail how man distanced himself from God but He always showed mercy.

Further, from the revelation of man’s closeness to God, the Pentateuch also has God’s instructions and laws that he passed on to the Israelites. The book of Exodus mainly details God’s instructions to the Israelites. In Exodus 24:4 and 34:1 Moses was at Mount Sinai recording God’s law that he was also to pass to the Israelites and this is also recorded in Deuteronomy 31:9 where Moses writes the laws and gives it to priests to read to the people. The passages of Deuteronomy 4:13, 5:22, 6:9, 10:2-4, 11:20, 17:18, and 27:3 all detail how God passed His laws to His people. While all these passages show that the Pentateuch was written to give laws that Israelites had to follow, it also has instructions on how to worship God. Such instructions are in Exodus 27 that has details on the building of an altar while Exodus 28 and Numbers 17 have details on the selection of priests. The instructions contained in the Pentateuch go beyond worship and also include how priests were supposed to deal with curses (Numbers 5:23). As such, the writing of the Pentateuch was also to detail God’s instructions on how his people were supposed to relate to Him.

The different passages detailed have shown that the Pentateuch contains God’s revelation on the creation of man in His image, and hence details how close man is to God. Also, the books contain a detail of God’s instruction to his people through the commandments as well as what they were supposed to do to draw closer to Him. Despite the fall of man through sin, God was always merciful to his people and this also shows man’s importance above all other creations.



Herbert Wolf. An Introduction to the Old Testament Pentateuch. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991.




[1] Herbert Wolf. An Introduction to the Old Testament Pentateuch. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991).

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Why the Pentateuch was written

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