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The Middle East As Net Exporter of Religion

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Torah Scroll

Torah Scroll

The Torah constitutes the first and oldest part of the Hebrew Bible and contains the Pentateuch, or “Five Books of Moses,” ascribed by Jewish tradition to divine inspirations received by Moses around 1200 BCE. It contains a variety of materials, including laws, poems, genealogies, and narratives, and forms the most essential part of the teachings of Judaism. Reading and copying the sacred text is an important religious duty in Judaism, and copies of the Torah were made by specially trained scribes with meticulous attention to accuracy. Torah scrolls occupy a revered place in Jewish prayer rituals. Modern scholarship generally considers the text of the Pentateuch to be a product of the period when many Jews were held captive in Babylon (modern Iraq) and were under Persian domination (roughly 530-330 BCE). It may be that the Jews’ codification of their holy book was inspired by the existence of the Zoroastrian sacred text, the Avesta, which in the same period combined more ancient Zoroastrian hymns and laws. The Pentateuch was incorporated into Christianity, forming the first part of what Christians call the “Old Testament;” and the Qur’an, or Muslim holy book, refers repeatedly to the Torah as an earlier form of God’s revelation.

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