How was the Torah (aka the Five Books of Moses) given if the story of the Torah being given is contained in these books?

In other words, the Torah tells the story - close to halfway through it - of itself being given. This means that as the Jews of the time were studying the Torah, they were learning about themselves in the present and reading about their future (including mistakes and sins they should have then avoided).

How does this all make sense?

  • In Sotah 37b, the argument of R. Yishmael and R. Akiva. According to R. Yishmael, not all the Torah was given in Har Sinai, only its "basics" (כללות).
    – Binyomin
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


Rashi explains it simpler.

Contrary to popular belief, the Jews didn't receive the entire Torah at Sinai.

Shemos 24:3-4 'Moses came and told the people all the words of God and all the ordinances, and the entire people replied with one voice saying, "All the words that God has spoken, we will do." Moses wote all the words of Hashem..'

Rashi (verse 4) comments: And Moses wrote: From Bereishis and until Matan Torah.

The later parts of the Torah were added on piece by piece and stitched on - very much like our Sifrei Torah today - over the next 40 years.

It was still all the Word of Hashem, dictated to Moshe, though not all received on that day.

  • 2
    If the rest of the Torah wasn't given by Moshe, then how do we say that Torah is "Moshe misinai"? Wouldn't it be logical to say that half of the Torah was given on mount Sinai? Commented May 30, 2014 at 9:09
  • 1
    it absolutely was dictated to Moshe - though not all in one go.
    – Zvi
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 9:22
  • 1
    @DavidFeigen - Yes, it would be. We say that because the majority of the practical laws were given on Sinai.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 4:33
  • According to one opinion in the gemara, the last verses of Sefer Devarim were prophetically written by Yehoshua, not Moshe.
    – Loewian
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 18:47
  • Does this Rashi contradict the first, famous Rashi in parshas Behar, that the whole Torah was given at Sinai?
    – Binyomin
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 12:02

An answer that deal with this is found at Who wrote the verse near the end of the story about Mahn in Shmot 16:35?

The basic point is that Moshe Rabbeinu wrote the final version of the Torah just before he died when everything had already happened. An example is the cheit hameraglim (the sin of the spies) which caused the extra 40 years in the desert. had they not sinned, the incident would not have been in the Torah and Moses would have written the Torah just before they entered.

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