Commentaries on the Whole Pentateuch

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For more great commentaries on the Pentateuch, be sure to check:
Commentaries on the Whole Old Testament & Whole Bible Commentaries.

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Subsections

See also individual commentaries on the Pentateuch:

Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy

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Order of Contents  40+ total

The Best Commentaries  7
More Commentaries  16+
The Early Church  1
Jewish Commentaries  3
On the Pentateuch in General  2
Christ in the Pentateuch  2
Expositions of the 10 Commandments
The Judicial Laws
The Ceremonial Laws
Authenticity of the Pentateuch  13+
In Latin  1

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The Best Commentaries on the Whole Pentateuch

Introductory Level

Allis, O.T.

God Spake by Moses: an Exposition of the Pentateuch  Buy  1951  159 pp.

Allis (1880-1973) was one of the great, early Westminster Seminary scholars.

‘The Five Books of Moses’ in The Biblical Expositor: The Living Theme of the Great Book with General and Introductory Essays and Exposition, vol. 1  Buy  ed. Carl Henry  1960

This little known commentary set by leading evangelicals (many of which were reformed) is brief (think airplane view) but helpful.

De Graaf, S.G. – Promise and Deliverance, vol. 1 (From Creation to the Conquest)

“De Graaf studies the Old Testament with an eye on the covenant and the kingdom of God.  The book is written in an easy-to-undrstand style.” – Tremper Longman III, 4 out of 5 stars

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Medium Level

Ainsworth, Henry – Annotations upon the Five Books of Moses, the Book of the Psalms, and Song of Songs, or, Canticles, vols. 1, 2  d. 1622,  vol. 1 goes up through Num. 11

***  ‘Thoroughly learned.  Though old, not out of date.’ – Spurgeon

‘Ainsworth was a celebrated scholar and an excellent divine.  His uncommon skill in Hebrew learning, and his excellent commentaries on the Scripture are held in high reputation to this day.’ – Benjamin Brook, ‘Lives of the Puritans’

Bush, George 

Notes, Critical and Practical on: Genesis, vol.1 (1-21), 2 (22-50), Exodus, vol. 1 (1-20), 2 (21-40), Leviticus, Numbers

Bush was a Biblical scholar, a professor of oriental literature in New York City University, and initially a presbyterian minister.

On Genesis: ** – ‘Bush has in the most barefaced manner taken copious verbatim extracts from Andrew Fuller, without acknowledgement, and he has also plagiarized Lawson on Joseph by wholesale, without even mentioning his name.  For such a scholar to be guilty of wholesale plunder is inexcusable.  It is one of the worst cases of robbery we have ever met with, and deserves a far stronger denunciation than our gentle pen and slender space will permit.’ – Spurgeon

On Exodus: ** – ‘Of considerable value.  We do not know that it is a plagiarism.’

On Leviticus: *** – ‘The author read extensively to produce this volume.  In his later years he became a Swedenborgian, but there is no trace of that leaning in this or his other comments.  He inserts the notes of the Pictorial Bible, but handsomely acknowledges them.’

On Numbers: *** – ‘Although Bush is indebted to many authors, he is by no means a mere collector; his remarks repay you for consultation, and we hope that in this case they are his own.’

Questions and Notes, Critical and Practical upon: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus

Scripture Questions Designed Principally for Adult Bible Classes: Deut.-Esther

Wright, Abraham – A Practical Commentary or Exposition upon the Pentateuch  1662

** ‘An extremely rare old book.  The style and matter are after the manner of Christopher Ness [see here].  Wright [1611-1690] does not comment upon every verse, but after indicating the run of the chapter gives little sermons upon the more salient points.  He is very quaint and pithy.’ – Spurgeon

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Scholarly

Keil – Commentary on the Pentateuch

**  “A work for the learned.  It has received the highest commendations from competent scholars.  But it is somewhat dull and formal.” – Spurgeon

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More Commentaries on the Pentateuch

Simple, Devotional & Practical

Anonymous- Bible Teachings; or Remarks on Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus  1855  Preface by William B. MacKenzie

**  “This book was written by the Three Misses Bird, of Taplow.  The remarks are very plain and practical, and a spirit of earnest piety and fervent prayer pervades them throughout.” – Spurgeon

Blunt, Henry – Family Exposition of the Pentateuch, vol. 1 (Gn), 2 (Ex-Lv), 3 (Nm-Dt)  1844

**  “See remarks under each separate volume [below]” – Spurgeon

Erdman, Charles – The Pentateuch, a Concise Commentary  Buy  1950

Erdman was a conservative liberal, who is known for his opposition to J. Gresham Machen at old Princeton Seminary.

‘A concise commentary incorporating the writer’s previous works on the Pentateuch published between 1949 and 1953.  Contains good preaching values.’ – Cyril J. Barber

Meyer, F.B. – The Five Books of Moses: a Devotional Commentary on Each Chapter  Buy  1955  189 pp.  Includes homiletical outlines

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Medium Level

Puritans

Babington, Gervase – Certain Plain, Brief and Comfortable Notes upon the 5 Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy  also in Works, d. 1610

*  “Our copy is in the old Black Letter.  It contains little to repay the student for toiling through the old-fashioned expressions.” – Spurgeon

Jackson, Arthur – A Help for the Understanding of the Holy Scripture, containing certain short notes of Exposition upon the Five Books of Moses  1643

Jackson (1593-1666) was a reformed puritan.  

‘…which appear to have been the result of his pulpit expositions to his people.  Valuable his works would be if there were no better, but they are not comparable to others already and afterwards mentioned.  You can do without him, but he is a reputable author.’ – Spurgeon

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More

Gerlach, Otto von – Commentary on the Pentateuch  1860

**  “Very different from other German authors.  Plain, clear, and instructive.  Not choked up with metaphysical bewilderments and long lists of skeptical authors whose names defile the pages which bear them.” – Spurgeon

Kidder, Richard – Commentary on the First Five Books of Moses, vol. 1 (Gen.-Ex.), 2 (Lev.-Dt.)

Kidder (1634-1703) was an Anglican.

Townsend, George – The Pentateuch and the Book of Job, arranged in Chronological Order, with Prayers and Notes, vol. 1, 2  1849

Townsend (1788–1857) was an English priest.

*  “A singular combination of family prayers, essays and notes, by an able but singular writer.” – Spurgeon

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Scholarly

Barrett, R.A.F. – A Synopsis of Criticisms upon those passages of the Old Testament in which modern commentators have differed from the Authorized Version, vol. 1, pt. 1 (Gen-Lev 6), pt. 2 (Lev 6-Deut), vol. 2, pt. 1 (Josh-2 Sam 3), pt. 2 (2 Sam 3-2 Kings), vol. 3 pt. 1 (Chron-Esth)  1847

The work is mainly involved with textual criticism, but also contains commentary.  We generally do not recommend the distinctive readings of the critical texts, which this work is mainly about.

**  “The object of this work is to lay before the reader the principal alterations which modern critics have proposed in the Authorized Version, together with the reasons for or against such emendations.  Many of the notes are in Latin.  Of small use to the average minister.” – Spurgeon

Brightwell, Thomas – Notes Selected from the Exegetical Parts of Rosenmuller’s Scholia, and of Dathe’s Notes to his Latin Version, also from Schrank, Michaelis, Le Clerc, Ainsworth, Poole, and other Authors  1840

**  “This writer worked very industriously at the almost impossible task of condensing the twenty-eight volumes of Rosenmuller’s Notes.  Besides the remarks from authors mentioned in the text, there are observations from the manuscripts of Joseph Kinghorn, of Norwich.  It is not a didactic or spiritual work, but almost entirely explanatory and illustrative.” – Spurgeon

Kalisch, M.M. – Historical and Critical Commentary on the Old Testament, with a New Translation, vol. 1 (Gen), 2 (Ex), 3 (Lev 1-10), 4 (Lev 11-27)  1858

**  “Contains a large amount of historical illustration, shedding new light upon the letter of the Word.  The author has used the fresh information which has come to us from the Euphrates and the Nile.  At the same time he sows skepticisms broadcast, and we cannot recommend him.” – Spurgeon

The Laws of Moses in the Pentateuch

Michaelis, John David – Commentaries on the Laws of Moses, vols. 1, 2, 3, 4  1814  d. 1791

*  “However much of learning there may be here, we are not prepared to recommend a work which treats so sacred a subject with levity and coarseness.” – Spurgeon

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The Early Church on the Pentateuch

Parker, Jr., Samuel – Bibliotheca Biblica; being a Commentary Gathered out of the Writings of Fathers and Ecclesiastical Historians, etc., vol. 1, pt 2 (Gn 25-50), 2 (Ex), 3 (Lv), 4 (Nm), 5 (Dt)  1720

*  “Darling says, that this is ‘a commentary of profound learning and research;’ but it seems to us to be mainly filled with that archaic learning which is now out of date.” – Spurgeon

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Jewish Commentaries on the Pentateuch

Recommended

Hertz, J.H – The Pentateuch and Haftorahs: Hebrew Text English Translation and Commentary  Buy  1st ed. 1937

This is a standard, conservative Jewish commentary found in many synagogues, by the influential English, Rabbi Hertz (1872–1946).  Every Christian should love the books of Moses, and everything in them.  This cheaply priced, but sturdy, commentary will greatly help you toward that end.

The alternate translation readings of the Hebrew are helpful.  ‘Haftorahs’ are selected readings from the prophets and other O.T. writings used in the liturgy of the synagogue.  The commentary brings out many textual insights in the Biblical narratives that will be profitable to all who treasure the Word of God.  

Read the commentary on Dt. 18:18, about the coming prophet that will be greater than Moses, Num. 19 on the sacrifice of the Red Heifer and Num. 21 on the brazen serpent and see the greatest wisdom of the Rabbis admit ignorance on what these mysteries in the Torah mean, though every babe in Christ will readily discern of whom they speak.  See the wooden, carnal exegesis of the ceremonial laws and the sterile, short-sighted, nationalist interpretation of the prophets, and your eyes will be opened and greatly confirmed in the faith of our Jewish Savior and the true spirituality of the Torah and the prophets.

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A Historic Jewish Commentary

Etheridge, J.W. – The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch, with the Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum, vol. 1 (Gn-Ex), vol. 2 (Lv-Dt)  1865

A targum was an Aramaic translation of, and commentary on, the Hebrew scriptures.

*  “Comparatively few of our readers will set much store by the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel; but those who desire to read it will find here a good literal version.” – Spurgeon

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More Jewish Commentaries

Delgado, Isaac – A New English Translation of the Pentateuch… with a Comment…  Buy  1789

*  “The author modestly says, that his work is ‘highly useful’.  This is another instance of paternal partiality, and of ‘great cry and little wool’.” – Spurgeon

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On the Pentateuch in General

Hengstenberg, E.W. – Egypt and the Books of Moses; or the Books of Moses Illustrated by the Monuments of Egypt  1845

**  “Dr. Hengstenberg, as Professor at Berlin, had access to the rich collection of Egyptian antiquities in the Museum, and he has made noble use of his advantages.” – Spurgeon

Saurin, Jauques – Dissertations on the Most Memorable Events of the Bible, vol. 1: The Books of Moses  d. 1730  This is all that was ever published of the series.

Saurin (1677-1730) was a French preacher.

*  “More eloquent than accurate.  Florid rather than solid.” – Spurgeon

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Christ in the Pentateuch

The Best

Law, Henry – Christ is All: The Gospel of the Pentateuch: Gen., Exo., Lev., Num. & Deut.  1860 ff.

Law was an evangelical in the Church of England.

*** – ‘Deservedly popular.  Simple, instructive, full of Christ.  Law abounds in gospel.’

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More

Browne, Robert – Christ in the Law; or the Gospel foreshadowed in the Pentateuch  1872

*  “Of the High Church order, and praised by the Saturday Review.  What worse need be said?  Yet will we add that the savor of Christ in these books saves them from unqualified condemnation.” – Spurgeon

Kingsley, Charles – The Gospel of the Pentateuch, a set of Parish Sermons  18 Sermons  1878

**  “A small volume of Kingsley’s usual sort.  Not over-freighted with what is usually known as the Gospel; but plain and practical, with common-sense remarks for common people.” – Spurgeon

Morison, James – Introductory Key to the First Four Books of Moses, being an Attempt to show that the Great Design of the Things Recorded Therein was the Sufferings of Christ and the Following Glory  1810

*  “Plain, forcible, and instructive remarks, realizing the title–an Introductory Key.” – Spurgeon

Pierce, Samuel – Pentateuch: Discourses on the Several Revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ, from the Fall, to Moses, etc. 1815  with a preface by Robert Hawker.  Pierce was reformed.

*  “Dr. Hawker says, that ‘these Discourses carry with them testimonies of being written under Divine teaching.’  Sweet, but not very expository.” – Spurgeon

Lockyer, Herbert – The Gospel in the Pentateuch  Buy  1939  112 pp.

Lockyer was a voluminous author and was associated with Moody Bible Institute.

“Contains an abundance of practical material and aims at expounding Luke 24:27 and its relationship to the Pentateuch.  Complete with numerous helpful charts.” – Cyril J. Barber

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Expositions of the 10 Commandments

Expositions of the 10 Commandments

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The Judicial Laws

The Judicial Laws

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The Ceremonial Laws

The Ceremonial Laws


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The Authenticity and Integrity of the Pentateuch

Check also the Authenticity of the Old Testament and Introduction to the Old Testament, which works usually treat of the authenticity of the Pentateuch.

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Short

Green, William H. – Pentateuch Analysis  1888  34 pp.

Green (1825–1900) was an imminent Princeton, Hebrew scholar.

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Intermediate

Stuart, Alexander Moody – Israel’s Lawgiver: his Narrative True and his Laws Genuine  1882  203 pp.

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Advanced

The Best

Allis, O.T. – The Five Books of Moses: a Reexamination of the Modern Theory that the Pentateuch is a late Compilation from Diverse and Conflicting Sources by Authors and Editors whose Identity is Completely Unknown  Buy  1973  344 pp.

Allis (1880-1973) was one of the renowned, conservative scholars of early Westminster Seminary.

Green, William H. – The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch  1895  210 pp.

“A clear, concise refutation of the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis.” – Cyril J. Barber

Hengstenberg, E.W. – Dissertations on the Genuineness of the Pentateuch, vol. 1, 2

**  “This great author contends ably for the Pentateuch, but the perusal of his book reminds us of the king who ‘Fought all his battles o’er again, And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain.'” – Spurgeon

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More

1700’s

Witsius, Herman – The Question ‘Was Moses the Author of the Pentateuch?’ Answered in the Affirmative  33 pp.  from A Treatise on Prophets and Prophecy, Translated, Prefaced & Annotated by John Donaldson of the Free Church of Scotland

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1800’s

Green, William H.

The Pentateuch Vindicated from the Aspersions of Bishop Colenso  1863  210 pp.

Colenso‘s The Pentateuch and Joshua Critically Examined argued ‘the unhistorical character, the later origin, and the compound authorship of the five books usually attributed to Moses.’

The Hebrew Feasts in their Relation to Recent Critical Hypotheses Concerning the Pentateuch  1885  340 pp.

Moses and the Prophets  1882  390 pp.  This work is composed of Green’s reviews of 3 liberal works

Havernick, H.A. – An Historico-Critical Introduction to the Pentateuch  1850  470 pp.

*  “Almost entirely occupied with a discussion upon the genuineness of the Pentateuch.  A check to the rationalistic and infidel spirit.  Those who have never taken the poison do not need he antidote.” – Spurgeon

MacDonald, Donald – Introduction to the Pentateuch: An Inquiry, Critical and Doctrinal, into the Genuineness, Authority and Design of the Mosaic Writings, vol. 1, 2  1861

**  “A full review of the evidence, external and internal, for the genuineness, authenticity, and Divine character of the Pentateuch.  Its special attention is devoted to the connection between the Pentateuch and the great scheme of revelation, of which it forms the basis.” – Guardian, as quoted by Spurgeon

Shepheard, H. – Traditions of Eden: or Proofs of the Historical Truth of the Pentateuch, from existing facts, and from the Customs and Monuments of all Nations  1871  430 pp.

**  “A very interesting and curious work.  Good lectures might be gathered from it for week-night instruction.  Not a Commentary.” – Spurgeon

Vos, Geerhardus – The Mosaic Origin of the Pentateuchal Codes  1886  280 pp. with an Introduction by William H. Green

Vos (1862-1949) was one of the last conservative theologians at Old Princeton, and is known as the father of reformed Biblical Theology.

See also works written in response to Bishop Colenso’s The Pentateuch and Joshua Critically Examined (1888) which book argued ‘the unhistorical character, the later origin, and the compound authorship of the five books usually attributed to Moses.’

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For Reference

Delitzsch, Franz – ‘Theses on the Truth of Pentateuchal History’  7 Theses, 1 page

Delitzsch was a conservative German, Lutheran theologian and Hebraist, known for his contribution to the Keil-Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary.  His translation of the N.T. into Hebrew is still considered the standard translation.  The Free Churchman, ‘Rabbi’ John Duncan, said that Delitzsch “stood firm in maintenance of the divine authority and inspiration of the whole Old Testament” at a time when many “seemed willing to surrender.”

Here Delitzsch lays out his view of the production of the Pentateuch, which is not entirely recommended, and should be considered with caution.  He allows for a ‘successive development’ of the Pentateuch up through the centuries till it was compiled, edited and codified in the 8th century BC at the time of King Josiah’s ‘deuteronomic reformation’, it still retaining ‘the divine character of this law’.

Cyril J. Barber says of his commentary on Genesis that it, holds to the Mosaic authorship of Genesis, but leaves room for final redaction in the post-exilic period.  Advocates an early form of the documentary hypothesis, and holds to the ‘long day’ theory of creation.’

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A Latin Commentary on the Pentateuch

Robertson, James – Clavis Pentateuchi, or an Analysis of the Hebrew Words in the Pentateuch, with Notes  1770

*  “Almost entirely in Latin, and therefore useful only to those who can readily read that language.  The work was in good repute in its day.” – Spurgeon

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Related Pages

Whole Bible Commentaries.

Commentaries on the Whole Old Testament

Old Testament Commentaries

Old Testament Background, Survey, Authenticity and Introduction

Old Testament Theology

Life of Moses

Expositions of the 10 Commandments