Talmud Vs. Torah: What is the real difference?

As a Christian brought up in a family of pastors, the Bible has always been a significant part of my life. All the values and virtues I learned were solely based on the Bible, and I knew the Bible as the only sacred book. However, recently during our weekly Bible study, we discussed other religions’ versions of sacred texts. The ones that interested me the most were the Talmud and Torah, so I decided to do more research on them. So, let us look at Talmud vs. Torah; what are they? And how do they differ?

The Talmud and Torah are sacred Jewish literature. The Torah is a collection of five books believed to have been given by God to Moses when he went to Mount Sinai. It contains six hundred and thirteen mitzvot (commandments) meant to be obeyed by the followers. These commandments are similar to those in the Old Testament in Exodus 20:1.The Talmud came much later and contained interpretations and discussions on the Tora by many rabbis. They are two types of Talmud; Jerusalem Talmud and Babylonian Talmud.

In this article, I invite you to join me as I deeply analyze the main differences between the Talmud and the Torah, as well as any similarities. I will also help you figure out which one is more important between them and why. Keep reading on to find out more.

Talmud Vs. Torah: Differences in the definition

Talmud Vs. Torah - What is the real difference?
Talmud Vs. Torah. Image source: Pixabay

The Torah is a compilation of five books believed to have been passed to Moses, i.e., Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. These books form a sacred document that is central to Judaism. The Torah was traditionally handwritten on a scroll by a scribe or sofer, and this document was known as the Sefer Torah. The modern printed form came later in a bound book form and was referred to as Chumash.

On the other hand, the Talmud is defined as a compilation of discussions and lectures between the rabbis. The Talmud was initially an oral commentary passed on through generations describing the written Torah but was later written down over four hundred years. They are typically written in short verses and preserve various teachings and views on the Torah. The Talmud has two major components; Mishnah, which refers to the main text of the Talmud and the first major written combination of the oral Torah; and the Gamara, which comprises of a collection of the rabbinic commentaries and analysis of the Mishnah and is usually presented in sixty-three books.

Differences between Talmud and Torah

Parameter of comparison




A compilation of rabbinic debates, lectures, and discussions that were compiled and edited between the 3rd and 6th centuries.

Consists of the five books of Moses, or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, which God gave to Moses around 1313 BCE.


Talmud means learning or instructions.

The meaning of the Torah is to guide or teach.

Other Names.

The Talmud is also known as the Babylonian Talmud.

The other name of the Torah is Pentateuch.

Original version.

Oral Torah.

Written Torah.


Written down by sages of academics.

Written down by Moses, dictated by God.


The Talmud comments on the laws and teachings of the Torah.

The Torah describes the history of the Jewish people, the creation of the world, and the laws that the Jewish people are required to follow.

Similarities between Talmud and Torah

Talmud Vs. Torah
Similarities between Talmud and Torah. Image source: Pixabay

The Talmud and Torah are both highly religious literature that contains valuable religious works for the Jewish community.

They have similar uses as both are used to teach the Jewish law in religious Jewish schools as well as by orthodox Jews who pray three times a day.

Additionally, both scriptures were originally written in the Hebrew language, as the primary users were the Jews, whose main language is Hebrew.

Is The Torah the Old Testament?

The Torah comprises of the first five books of the Old Testament but is not referred to as the Old Testament since it is mainly used by Jews, and they do not have the New Testament. Hence the Torah is not the Old Testament.

The Old Testament and Torah have other characteristics which makes them different from each other; first, the Torah comprises only of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible while the Old Testament is the first division of the Bible made up of thirty-nine books; additionally, the Torah is believed to have been written by Moses whereas the Old Testament was written by several authors.

Why is the Torah more important than the Talmud?

The Torah is more important than the Talmud because the Talmud is made up of teachings describing the written Torah. This implies that the Talmud is dependent on the Torah and would not exist if the Torah did not exist. Additionally, the Torah is the primary source of the Jewish traditions, teachings, and laws.

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