The Sacredness of the Torah

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Your personal Bible may have a black, brown, blue, or red leather or imitation leather cover. The words may be a fine-print, red-letter edition distinguishing Christ's words. Your translation may be the popular 1611 King James Version, New King James Version, Amplified, or New American Standard. It may have a red ribbon inserted to mark selective passages. Your Bible might be a translation from a language other than English. In the Jewish synagogue, the Torah is in the form of a scroll and not a leather-bound book.

The Jewish Scriptures read by the rabbi in a Jewish synagogue are penned by scribes on a large scroll. The scroll is rolled together on two wooden spindles, and the script is handwritten with special ink on a kosher, animal-skin parchment. The primary scroll in every synagogue is the Torah-Genesis through Deuteronomy. The other books in the synagogue consist of the Prophets (called the Haftorah), the writings, and the wisdom literature.

Copying the Sacred Text

Often critics will claim that the words (English translation) of our Bible cannot be trusted. They allege that throughout the centuries, copyists have made critical errors when scribing the individual letters and have added some words and omitted others. Those who make such statements are perhaps ignorant of the laws that were established by ancient scribes who were given the duty of copying the Scriptures.

The Parchment: The parchment is made from the skin of a "clean" (kosher) animal. A Torah scroll consists of eighty skins. There are 248 columns on each scroll, and each section holds 3 to 4 columns. There must be three inches across the top and two inches between the columns.

The ink: The ink consists of a special mixture made of gallnuts, copper sulfate crystals, gum Arabic, and water. The ink is prepared in small amounts to prevent it from drying up while the scribe is meticulously penning the letters on the scroll. The ink must be very dark for the letters to be seen, and they must remain equal in color throughout the scroll.

The pen: A quill pen is used to write the letters. It must come from a clean animal. A goose feather is the choice of many scribes. The most important aspect is that the end of the quill must be cut precisely to ensure the letters are formed properly. Many pens are used when writing a scroll.


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