The Jewish holy book is the Tanakh (Jewish Bible), containing
the Torah and the prophetic books. The Torah is the most holy book
of Judaism. Torah, which means "teaching", is God's revealed
instructions to the Jewish People.
The purpose of the rest of the prophets is, simply put, to
uphold the Torah.
(It is important to note that while "Torah" is generally used to
refer to the Five Books of Moses or Pentateuch, it is sometimes
used to refer to the basic texts of Judaism in general. In this
sense, "Torah" includes the Torah itself, as well as Midrash,
Mishnah, and Talmud, which are the Oral Torah. None of the Books of
the Oral Torah are sacred and this will be discussed below in
"Additional Non-Holy Supplements".)
The complete Jewish Bible is composed of 24 books called the
Tanakh (תנ״ך). In Hebrew, Tanakh is an acronym of T, N, K which
stands for the three parts of the Tanakh:
1. Torah (Teachings) (the T represents the letter 'taf' -
2. Nevi'im (Prophets) (the N represents the letter 'nun' - נ
3. K'tuvim (Writings) (the K represents the letter 'chaf-sofit'
- ך which can be transliterated as either 'ch' or 'kh' in
1) Torah (תורה) also called
the "Teachings" or the Pentateuch and is the primary Jewish holy
book. It is composed of the 5 Books of Moses (also called the Books
of the Law). These books are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,
and Deuteronomy. Jews believe that the Torah was given by God to
Moses (Exodus 24:12), who transmitted it to the people (Deuteronomy
31:24). Traditionally, it is read in front of a congregation three
days a week and the scroll containing the Torah is considered holy.
The word "Torah" derives from the Hebrew Word "yarah" which means
"to aim" or "direct" and Jews believe that the words of the Torah
aim and direct a Jew to proper action (orthopraxis) and proper
belief (orthodoxos). The word Torah also has the same root as
'morah', meaning teacher.
The Torah laid down the fundamental laws of moral and physical
conduct. The Torah begins with a description of the origin of the
universe and ends on the word Israel, after the story of the death
of Moses, just before the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites.
Traditionally, the document is viewed in two parts: the written
and oral Torah. The written Torah is the Five Books of Moses.
(Bereshit, "In the beginning," also
called Genesis; Shemot, "Names," also
called Exodus; Vayikra, "He called,"
also called Leviticus; Bamidbar, "In
the desert," also called Numbers; and Devarim, "Words," also called Deuteronomy). The
oral Torah is the discussions and interpretations of those
scriptures applied into law and practice over time, collected in
Talmud and Mishnah.
1-5: The Torah or Five Books of Moses:
1. (בראשית / Bereshit) - Genesis
2. (שמות / Shemot) - Exodus
3. (ויקרא / Vayikra) - Leviticus
4. (במדבר / Bamidbar) - Numbers
5. (דברים / Devarim) - Deuteronomy
2) Nevi'im (נביאים) which is
usually translated as the "Prophets". The Jews see the book of
Prophets as the story of their past and the relationship between
God and Israel. 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, etc. Judges is credited to Samuel, Kings was written by
Jeremiah. The Prophets is comprised of a total of 8 books according
to the Jewish count.
6-9: The Nevi'im Rishonim, the Early Prophets:
6. (יהושע / Y'hoshua) - Joshua
7. (שופטים / Shophtim) - Judges
8. (שמואל / Sh'muel) - Samuel (I & II)
9. (מלכים / M'lakhim) - Kings (I & II)
10-13: The Nevi'im Acharonim, the Later Prophets
10. (ישעיה / Y'shayahu) - Isaiah
11. (ירמיה / Yir'mi'yahu) - Jeremiah
12. (יחזקאל / Y'khezqel) - Ezekiel
13. (תרי עשר / Trei Asar), or Minor Prophets (or "The Twelve
Prophets") Books and Prophets within the Trei Asar
a. (הושע / Hoshea) - Hosea
b. (יואל / Yo'el) - Joel
c. (עמוס / Amos) - Amos
d. (עובדיה / Ovadyah) - Obadiah
e. (יונה / Yonah) - Jonah
f. (מיכה / Mikhah) - Micah
g. (נחום / Nakhum) - Nahum
h. (חבקוק /Havakuk) - Habakkuk
i. (צפניה / Ts'phanyah) - Zephaniah
j. (חגי / Khagai) - Haggai
k. (זכריה / Z'kharyah) - Zechariah
l. (מלאכי / Mal'akhi) - Malachi
3) Ketuvim (כתובים) which is
usually translated as the "Writings" and which composes the
remaining History Books: Daniel, Lamentations, and others. Jewish
tradition (Talmud, Bava Batra 14b) states that the prophetic books
were written by the authors whose names they bear: Daniel, Ezra,
Nehemiah, etc. Ruth was written by Samuel, Lamentations was written
by Jeremiah, Psalms was set in writing by King 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. Concerning Job, the Talmud states more than
one opinion as to when it was written. The Writings consists of 11
books by the Jewish count:
14-16: The "Sifrei Emet"
14. (תהלים / Tehillim) - Psalms
15. (משלי / Mishlei) - Proverbs
16. (איוב / Iyov) - Job
17-21: The "Five Megilot" or "Five Scrolls"
17. (שיר השירים / Shir Hashirim) - Song of Songs
18. (רות / Rut) - Ruth
19. (איכה / Eikhah) - Lamentations
20. (קהלת / Kohelet) - Ecclesiastes
21. (אסתר / Esther) - Esther
22-24: The rest of the Writings:
22. (דניאל / Dani'el) - Daniel
23. (עזרא ונחמיה / Ezra v'Nechemia) - Ezra-Nehemiah
24. (דברי הימים / Divrei Hayamim) - Chronicles (I & II)
Further Discussion on the Tanakh
The Torah is also called "The Five Books of Moses".
The term Torah can refer loosely to the entire Jewish Bible.
There are those who would claim that the canon of the Tanakh was
completed after the Second Destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
However, all evidence disproves this claim with the codification
being completed no later than the Hasmonean era (140-37 BCE).
Tradition places the sealing of the Tanakh around 340 BCE.
The Tanakh is, essentially, what Christians mistakenly call the
"Old Testament". They call it that because they think that is has
been superseded by the "New Testament". But to Jews the Tanakh can
not be superseded by anything.
Additional Non-Holy Supplements
There are other Jewish texts; however, they are not considered
prophetic and are not within the above canon.
In addition to Tanakh, there is the Talmud (itself composed of
Mishna & Gemara), which are additional writings containing oral
laws and interpretations of the Tanakh handed down until about 500
C.E. (when it was sealed and put in writing).
The Mishna and the Talmud are of tremendous importance in
Judaism. Some people believe that Jews regard the Talmud as a holy
text. While it does contain rich commentaries on the holy texts of
the Bible, The Talmud is not often referred to as holy text, but
rather an important text.
Other books of major importance include the Shulchan Aruch (Code
of Jewish Law), the Mishneh Torah (Maimonides' codex), and the
Zohar (a mystical Midrash). There are generally accepted prayer
books, mainly 'Sidur' (meaning arrangement) and religious Jews
would refer to various writings by Jewish Theologises of the past
2000 years, such as Talmud, Gama'ra, "Shulkhan aruch" etc.
Here is a partial list of additional non-holy Jewish books, in
no particular order:
Apocrypha: Additional books from
the post-Biblical Era which did not make the Biblical Canon, such
as Maccabees and Ben Sira.
Pirkei Avot: (Sayings of the
Fathers) is a compilation of the ethical teachings and maxims of
the Rabbis of the Mishnaic period.
Midrashim: (Deeper Readings) A
collection of stories that explain Torah verses and Jewish
Haggadah: (The Retelling) The
prayerbook used on the night of Passover that details the Exodus
from Egypt and its religious significance.
Moreh Ha-Nevukhim: (Maimonides'
Guide to the Perplexed) A discussion of Jewish philosophy.
Derekh Hashem: (Way of God) A book
on Divine Providence, which explains Jewish philosophy.
Ramban al Ha-Torah: (Nahmanides on
the Torah) A book detailing Nahmanides' views expounding and
commenting on Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki's (Rashi's) more famous
Related Links for further information.
Jewish View on
The Talmud is a holy book. It is the Oral Torah. While in theory
a Torah command supersedes a Rabbinic one, in reality what usually
happens is that the earlier text is reinterpreted so that the later
one is in agreement with it, rather than the other way around.
"Torah le'Moshe miSinai" is a phrase commonly found in the Gemara
where no Scriptural source can be found for a Halacha.
In some ways, yes, it is only some Jews who believe that the
Talmud is either binding or holy, but those who do not are not
considered Orthodox, and Orthodox practices are generally the ones
that are most traditional.
The Talmud is holy and is regarded as such by the Jewish
community, along with all other works of halacha, hashkafa, and
aggada; these are considered to be "sifrei kodesh" and must be
regarded with a certain respect under Jewish law (for instance, not
sitting down on a surface where such a book is lying), although
this is true only up until a certain point, as there is an informal
and formal hierarchy (more recent books are generally regarded with
less reverence than, say, the Rambam; as are works that are not in
Hebrew, with the exception of the Rambam.)
However, the reverence afforded these books is lesser to that
afforded a Torah Scroll. While the Talmud is central to
understanding Jewish Law and is certainly a treasured book, it is
not holy to the same extent or in the same way that the Tanakh and
specifically the Torah are.
Answer 2 (Islamic View)
From the Islamic perspective, the Jewish holy book is the Torah.
Torah reflects real God words revelation to prophet Moses (peace be
upon him). Other books are collections of other human writers and
religious leaders texts. The God holy books; that revealed by God;
the Creator; are Psalms (revealed by God to Abraham), Torah
(revealed by God to Moses), in addition to the Bible that is
revealed by God to Jesus and Qur'an; the last God holy book; that
is revealed by God to Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
The books considered sacred by the Jewish people are the Tanakh
and the Talmud. Even though the Talmud is not considered a holy
book, it is (together with the Torah) what most Jews follow, except
for the Karaites.
The most important Jewish Holy Book is the Torah.