Understanding the Torah Literally


Did everything written in the Torah literally happen? Or are some things non-literal stories meant to inspire us but not actual historical events?

For instance, were all creatures on Earth literally created in 6 days? Was there a talking snake? Did Moses kill 30 virgins?



  1. There are certainly parts of the Bible that are meant as metaphor and not to be taken literally. For example, Deuteronomy 10:16 which tells us to “circumcise the foreskin of your heart”. However, sections which talk about the historical experiences that shaped the Jewish nation, and which many of our commandments are based upon, are meant to be taken literally. Since we believe in Divine intervention, prophecy and miracles, these stories are not fantastic and unbelievable to us. However, when it is possible, the commentaries do try to reduce the miraculous aspect of events and show that they can be understood as part of nature as well.

    Just as an aside, I am not sure that I understand your reference to Moses killing thirty virgins.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team