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Listen, my son, to your father’s teaching,
and do not ignore the instruction of your mother, Bible

“instruction.” The Hebrew word is torah (#08451 תֹּרָה torah or תּוֹרָה towrah). Traditionally, torah is translated “law,” but that translation is easily misunderstood by giving the wrong impression because torah means much more than just “law,” in the sense of legal codes to obey. On a basic level, it means guidance or instruction, but it also has meanings that include doctrine, custom, theory, etc. We see this clearly in “the Torah,” which was the name the Jews gave to the first five books of the Bible, the five “Books of Moses”—Genesis through Deuteronomy.

“The Torah” is much more than regulations (“law”); it is a whole set of examples, historical records, moral and legal regulations, customs, and the acts of God, which people are to then use as the basis of their society and to develop sound thinking. The Torah gave guidance, and even some specific regulations to obey and use as examples in their lives. A person who studies the Torah learns how to think like God thinks, and gains wisdom and insight, learns how to deal with life in order to be godly, learns the importance of godly families, and learns the basics of how to live in and govern a godly society. Actually, torah does not even mean “law,” even though it gets translated that way in the majority of English Bibles. It is well known that at age 13 a proper Jewish boy goes through a ceremony called “Bar-mitzvah,” and becomes a “son of the law.” That is because “bar” means “son” and mitzvah (#04687 מִצְוָה) means “law” or “commandment.” So, if we were going to pick an English word that was somewhat close to torah, a better choice than “law” would be “instruction.”

So, in many places in the Bible, translating torah as “law” is far too limited in scope, and although “teaching” or “instruction” is a better translation, in order to properly understand the Bible, the wise Christian should learn what torah means so he can better understand and appreciate what God is saying. Torah is at the very heart of the Old Covenant, and the New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant.


Commentary for: Proverbs 1:8