Did Moses Write Pentateuch [The Torah]?

by Arfaque Malik, London

The Light (Pakistan), 8th July 1980 Issue (Vol. 60, No. 13, pp. 10–11)

The first five books of the Bible namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy commonly known as Pentateuch are believed to have been written by Moses, even the account of his death and burial are believed to have come from his pen. The books themselves do not reveal their author or authors. It is not until we reach the book of Chronicler, written almost a thousand years later than the time of Moses that his name is con­nected with the writing of the first five books. We shall briefly examine if the five books in question were actually written by Moses.

  1. The view that Moses wrote these books is difficult to maintain. How could he have written the story of his own death?
  2. How would one explain the state­ment, “No man knoweth of his sepul­chre unto this day”? (Deut. 34:6). The words “Unto this day” clearly in­dicate the passage of time. He who wrote these words lived long after the death of Moses who certainly could not have written these words.
  3. In Deut. 34:10 we read “there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses”. The words “since in Israel like unto Moses” clearly indicate that considerable time had elapsed during which such a pro­phet could have arisen but failed to do so.
  4. The word “Prophet” has been used in Deut. 34:10, but this word did not come into use, according to the Bible, until the time of Samuel as we are informed. “He that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer” (1 Sam. 9.9). Moses lived in the thirteenth century B.C. and Samuel in the eleventh. So the authorship must be at least two hundred years after Moses.
  5. Genesis 12:6 records: “The Canaanite was then in the land”. Why should such a statement be made if Canaanite was still in the land as he certainly was at the time of Moses? One would speak in such terms after and probably considerable after, the event had taken place.
  6. Again in Genesis 36:31 we read, “These are the Kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any King over the children of Israel”. How could this be written before there were Kings in Israel? How could Moses talk about Kings in Israel when there were none?
  7. In Genesis 36:31 we have seen reference to “King”. Since the first King of Israel was Saul, who reigned the last quarter of the eleventh century B.C., this is the earliest date that this passage could have been written. By this time Moses had been dead for the greater part of two centuries.
  8. Genesis 14:14 tells us that Abrah­am pursued his enemies as far as the city of Dan. But we know on the authority of Judges 18:29 that this city, the earliest name of which was Laish, did not receive the name Dan until considerably after the time of Moses. Was there any way by which Moses could have foreseen that Laish was going to be called Dan?

Considerations of which the above are only a few examples, leave us no option but to dismiss the proposition that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Perhaps these books were written centuries later; perhaps they were not written by any one person but were composed from several sources. No one can ascertain who wrote them. No one can establish when they were written. Despite this uncertainty and the fact that Mosaic authorship can easily be disapproved, Pentateuch is still considered authentic and the “word” of God. In­credible!!!