Trh, 'instruction, teaching, guidance, law' - from a selection of Biblical Hebrew word studies taken from our courses and supplementary in-depth Hebrew word essays added online for general use.

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torahTwrh - 'instruction, teaching, guidance, law'

More than Just 'Law'

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The word torah - view larger image trh (Strong's #8451) means more than just 'law', its usual simplistic translation (always 'law' in the KJV 219x). It derives from yarah - view larger image yrh (Strong's #3384) meaning 'to shoot out the hand as pointing, to show, indicate', 'to teach, instruct', 'to lay foundations', 'to sprinkle, to water', 'to shoot, as an arrow'.

yarah - view larger image Yrh begins with the letter 'y' ydh which is the picture letter of a hand whilst another word sometimes used for teaching and instruction lmadh (Strong's #3925) begins with picture letter 'l' of an ox-goad, used for disciplining and training an animal or soldiers. How much better to be taught by pointing than by poking, by the demonstration of the hand rather than the discipline of the rod.

torah - view larger image Trh then derives from a root verb which has more to do with 'hand' led instruction than 'rod' following legalism. It means:

First Use

Regarding the last definition, it cannot exclusively mean 'The Law' as its first use predates the Law and is used of Abraham's obedience to God's revelation:
"...And all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my torah." (Genesis 26:4-5)
So Abraham was renowned and the world blessed not because of mere 'faith' but, in agreement with the early rabbis and the apostle James, because of his obedience to God's torah. Torah is not just law and faith involved action and obedience.

It was also broader than 'a Law' for Jews only as its second use in the Bible says that there was "one torah" (Exodus 12:49) for the Israelite and for the stranger in their midst.

Summary

Its basic idea, then, is 'instruction' or 'teaching' to a valued individual rather than to a beast of burden. Even when it is legitimately translated as 'law' the emphasis is still on instruction. The Torah/Law of Moses might better be translated as 'the instruction of God by revelation through Moses'.

In the modern Christian church 'law' has become a negative word and 'revelation' a positive one. But they are both the same. The famous verse in Proverbs 29:18 is usually quoted as half a verse only. Its second half, written in parallel terminology, says the same thing so that revelation and torah instruction are virtually identical:
"Where there is no revelation, the people perish.
But blessed is he who keeps the torah/law" (Proverbs 29:18)

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