People ask me all the time, “Wow! That’s amazing! How do you know that?” The truth is, it’s been a long journey, reading, learning, and analyzing.
Along the way I’ve picked up some amazing resources that have helped me come this far. They can help you too. If you’re looking for a list of books, articles, and websites to help you get started or further your existing knowledge, you’ve come to the right place.
Welcome to the Torah Discoveries Resources section.
The Things you Need
This is a curated list of books and sites that I strongly recommend for building your knowledge base. I have used all these sources myself, and many of these were crucial in the development of my knowledge.
Before continuing, here’s an important disclosure.
Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these items, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
Here’s a list of the tools that I have used (and still use) to fully develop my knowledge in history, archaeology, geography, and science.
Whenever I begin to research a topic I pull off the shelf “The Living Torah” by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. The benefits this volume offers are tremendous. For example, the translation was redone to make it more understandable to a regular reader of modern English, unlike some of the more “old-fashioned” translations. However that’s just the beginning. The footnotes are the main attraction of this volume. Thorough, yet concise, they are chock-full of information on just about everything you can imagine. From alternate translations to historical and scientific facts and everything in between there is something for everyone in every topic. The cross-references to other places in the Torah are invaluable as well as the references to ancient writers such as Josephus and Eusebius among many others.
There are also maps and charts to explain various complicated passages. An extensive bibliography with details about each author is included in the back, allowing you to master the history of Rabbinic tradition as well. If you buy just one thing this should be on the top of your list! Available at Amazon.
Whenever I have a geographical or historical question this is my go-to book. Whether you are trying to understand Avraham’s journey, the direction of travels through the Wilderness, the various wars and the parties involved, or just trying to get a better understanding of life back in those times, this atlas explains all that and more.
The maps are beautifully rendered, with roads and cities clearly marked. Various archaeological finds that shed light on the various peoples mentioned in the Torah as well as those that explain certain conflicts are all presented. The text is very clear and flows easily allowing for an easy read, concealing the massive amount of research that clearly went into this volume. Available on Amazon.
Rabbi Wein’s classic books have opened the doors to Jewish history for many, including myself. That’s how I got my start and I still refer to them until today! Extremely clear and covering all the basics from the Second Temple era until today.
The basics are where everyone must start and no one can do it can do it as enjoyable as Rabbi Wein! (The basics are not so basic anyway. There’s a treasure trove of information here that you’ve never seen before even if you’ve taken classes before.) Available on Amazon.
I’ve always wondered about the origins of Lashon Hakodesh/Hebrew. Did Adam speak it? Did Avraham converse with it? When did its’ use disappear? And when did Yiddish pop up?
My good friend, Rabbi Klein, uses his expertise in Hebrew to answer all these. Throughout this book, I can’t help but be amazed by how detailed each chapter is. But it’s well explained with summaries and lots of fun facts along the way to lighten things up.
Rabbi Klein also traces the development of Hebrew from Adam to Abraham, through the bondage in Egypt, the First Temple era, and beyond. He also discusses at length the rebirth of Hebrew in modern-day Israel and the world. Included as well is a section explaining the holiness of Hebrew and Aramaic. A great resource for understanding Hebrew – from our prayers and Torah study to everyday mundane conversation. Available on Amazon.
This website is a great resource for all things related to the ancient world. Full of articles about all sorts of topics, from history and archaeology to warfare and culture, as well as clearly organized by location and civilization.
Need to know about ancient inscriptions? They’ve got tons of them, translated and annotated, all clearly organized. Also, they’ve got a large section about museums that are dedicated to ancient world with descriptions of the museums, pictures of the collections, and clearly located on Google Maps. Check it out here.
Aish.com is known more for its’ articles about the basics of Judaism, not history. Yet the website has an impressive list of articles on Torah and Jewish history, starting with their Crash Course with Rabbi Ken Spiro. Very meticulously researched and lightly written, they are a great, often overlooked, source of knowledge. Aish.com also offers nice stipends for guest posts, so you’ll have articles from some great authors at times, really enhancing their collection. Check it out.
Archaeology and the Torah
As I began to go through Torah in my archaeological studies, I realize that I was in way over my head. The numerous issues that archaeologists raised were tough and the little material I had found was either lacking in depth or way over my head.
Enter Dr. Meitlis, professor of archaeology at Herzog College and a graduate of Tel Aviv University. Having studied under some of Israel’s greatest as well as extensive experience in the field grants him impeccable credentials. He does an amazing job in this groundbreaking work.
Extremely detailed, he amasses the wealth of archaeological evidence available and proceeds to shed light on numerous parts of the Torah. “Problematic” passages become clear under his careful hand, and the bible critics are silenced. A must read for anyone with serious questions. (Note: Very detailed and full of footnotes. Not a quick read.) Available on Amazon.
One of the most common questions I get asked about whenever I give a lecture on Talmudic chronology is the missing 168 years. It’s a very difficult question to answer. One that has been grappled with for 500 years now by various rabbis and historians.
(Note: The missing 168 years is the discrepancy between the Talmudic chronology for the Second Temple era which is 420 years, 34 of which are under Persian rule, and the secular chronology which allots 588 years for the Second Temple, 202 of which are under Persian rule.)
Rabbi Hool breaks through the fog of Jewish history’s biggest mystery with this book. Extremely detailed, he argues strongly for the preservation of Jewish tradition against the secular narrative. Like a detective sniffing out clues one by one, he constructs a glorious edifice. While I personally do not agree with all of his conclusions, it is nonetheless a compelling read. Available on Amazon.