What are the different Rabbinical approaches to when exactly were (at least the first 4 books of) the Torah scrolls available to the Jews in the wilderness?

I'm asking specifically about the scrolls as we know it, not esoteric "Torah" knowledge. This question implies that the Jews did receive the scrolls from Moses in the wilderness, not written later by anyone else.


2 Answers 2


Gittin 60a (as explained by Rashi):

בעא מיניה אביי מרבה ... למאן דאמר תורה מגילה מגילה ניתנה
תיבעי למאן דאמר תורה חתומה ניתנה

alludes to a debate as to whether the Torah was written down one paragraph at a time throughout the stay in the desert, and then put together at the end of the forty years, or was only written down for the first time, in one go, at the end of the forty years (with earlier installments simply remembered orally until the time came to write it all down).

  • Thank you, can you specify when " at the end of the forty years" happened - before Chumash Dvorim, or just before Moses died?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 7:42
  • The end of וילך says "וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה בְּאָזְנֵי כָּל־קְהַל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת עַד תֻּמָּם׃" - he spoke not wrote, so for both views when did they have a full scroll?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 7:46
  • Rashi talks about כשנגמרו כל הפרשיות and סוף מ' לאחר שנאמרו כל הפרשיות כולן. It sounds to me like right at the end of everything, just before Moshe's death
    – Joel K
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 8:17
  • So weird it isn’t mentioned IN the Torah!
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 8:45
  • 2
    – Joel K
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 10:53

The first step of the answer: Shemos 24:4:

וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֵ֚ת כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֣י ה' וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֣ם בַּבֹּ֔קֶר וַיִּ֥בֶן מִזְבֵּ֖חַ תַּ֣חַת הָהָ֑ר וּשְׁתֵּ֤ים עֶשְׂרֵה֙ מַצֵּבָ֔ה לִשְׁנֵ֥ים עָשָׂ֖ר שִׁבְטֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

Moses then wrote down all the commands of the LORD. Early in the morning, he set up an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.


ויכתב משה. מִבְּרֵאשִׁית וְעַד מַתַּן תּוֹרָה, וְכָתַב מִצְווֹת שֶׁנִּצְטַוּוּ בְמָרָה:

ויכתב משה AND MOSES WROTE [ALL THE WORDS OF THE LORD] — from בראשית up to (but not including) the account of the Giving of the Torah and he wrote down the commandments that were given to them in Marah (cf. Mekhilta on Exodus 19:10).

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