The Hebrew names of the Chumashim are usually referred to as בראשית שמות ויקרא etc. but the English names do not correlate with these names literally. The English names are Exodus, Numbers etc not Names, Desert (or Wilderness). While the Hebrew names are obviously based on the first words (or Parsha) of the sefer, where did the other names originate from and why don't we just use the English translation of the Hebrew version?

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    These English words are taken from the book titles in the Septuagint, so that might be a place to start in terms of reasearch.
    – rosends
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:15
  • Hi and welcome to MY! These are non-Jewish names taken from Greek, so I don't know to what extent your question is on-topic here. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah#Contents Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:20
  • My original question was more as to why the Engligh translations use those names as opposed to the Hebrew names. It was edited by someone to remove that part of the question. I added it back in
    – Chatzkel
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:21
  • "why don't we just use the English translation of the Hebrew version" I don't understand the question. Use whatever you want. People speaking English usually use English words.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:21
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    Why did you say "Hebrew" instead of "Holy Tongue"?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


If you look in midrash and other early sources, you will actually find the following Hebrew names for the 5 books:

  1. Sefer Bereshit
  2. Sefer Hageulah
  3. Toras Kohanim
  4. Chumash Hapekudim
  5. Mishneh Torah

These ancient Hebrew names correspond exactly with the English names you cited. For some reason, in modern Jewish speech the names based on the first word have become more popular. However, the names in English, deriving from the Septuagint, possibly originated from these ancient Hebrew names of these books.

  • Wikipedia says that the Septuagint was created around the 3rd century BC. Most of our midrashim come from a far later period, often centuries later. Why do you think that we invented these names and not heard them from the Hellenised Jews? Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:50
  • @Kazibácsi that is a fair comment. Perhaps you are correct. My main point was that the older Hebrew names did indeed correspond with these names. As to which came first, I guess that is speculation and impossible to know. I find it unlikely that jews did not have names for these books, but I guess which came first is lost to history. I changed my answer from probably to possibly. Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:52
  • Titles were later invented in antiquity, initially such works didn't have proper titles. See also here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_(publishing) Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:56
  • @Kazibácsi that article does not seem particularly well sourced or convincing. There are several books, with titles, quoted by name within Tanakh itself. Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 15:59
  • @chess like what? ספר דברי הימים למלכי יהודה is a description not a title.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 16:01

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