The early Hebrew wisdom was expounded by the parents, teachers, and
priests in the family and temples. Its content was utilitarian and
concerned with the worldly life, yet its distinctive nature was the
fear of Yahweh which is found in JE stories, Proverbs, the Deuteronomic
As to the pre-exilic Torah, in Proverbs it means the instruction
given by parents/teachers, and in the Tetrateuch and the early prophets
the instruction given by the priests and the prophets. As the Book of
Proverbs contains an instructional form of Torah drawn from individual
experience, the Deuteronomic history is another from of it based on a
collective experience. In the exilic and post-exilic period the priestly
Torah-giving was gradually replaced by the scribal Torah-studying/teaching.
In Ben Sira the Torah became the book of life that contains all the
wisdom from the past.
In the wisdom psalms the Torah is identified with wisdom: the "Torah"
as God's wisdom and human "wisdom" as man's fear of Yahweh. Ps 1
testifies to the Torah as the source of life, health, growth, and fruit.
Ps 19 confesses it as trustworthy or sufficient to bring salvation
and joy. Ps 119 praises it as promise, salvation, mercy, as well as the
way or the truth for life. The Torah was never a static rigid code of
law, but the living address of God that emanates light and holiness.
The essential force of the Torah is to make man hope in God. The Torah
is the gift of God, the living force to guide the people.