Have you always wanted to read the Bible, but didn’t know how to get started?
In addition to the myriad editions of the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Tanach) available in book form, the entire Bible can be read in Hebrew and English on Sefaria, an online resource that enables users to search by keyword and provides links to commentaries and other related materials. Below, we outline the contents of the Bible, with links to our articles about each section.
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Along with the numerous articles linked to throughout this guide, the following provide some general information about the Bible, its origins, scholarship on it and the Jewish tradition of commentary.
The Torah is divided into the five books below, and each book is divided into about 10 portions. There are 54 portions in total, and the Jewish community reads one a week over an annual cycle that begins each fall on the holiday of Simchat Torah. To find out this week’s portion, visit My Jewish Learning’s homepage. We also have a special index page for each portion, which includes a detailed summary of both the portion its related Haftarah reading; a quiz, links to the full text and commentaries from a variety of perspectives.
Each week a reading from the Prophets, called a Haftarah, is read after the Torah reading. Each Torah portion is paired with a specific Haftarah, which is listed on My Jewish Learning’s page for that portion.
Jonah (read on Yom Kippur)
Many of the books, or chapters, in Ketuvim, are associated with Jewish holidays, when they are read. In these cases, the holiday is listed in parentheses after the book name below.
Song of Songs (Passover)
Lamentations (Tisha B’Av)
Pronounced: hahf-TOErah or hahf-TOE-ruh, Origin: Hebrew, a selection from one of the biblical books of the Prophets that is read in synagogue immediately following the Torah reading.
Pronounced: tah-NAKH, Origin: Hebrew, Hebrew Bible (an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim, or the Torah, Prophets and Writings).