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How much of Tanach is in the Talmud?

How much of Tanach is referenced in the Talmud? Our friends at 929 asked us that question, and we really had no idea. If you had to estimate, what number would you guess? Even for scholars that we quizzed, guesses ranged from less than 1% to more than 50%. There are 23,206 verses in Tanach and 2,711 pages in the Babylonian Talmud — what do you think?

Turns out, the question is pretty easy for us to answer, given the data that we have on Sefaria. We wrote a quick script, and found that there are 6448 unique verses referenced in the Talmud — which is almost 28% of the total number of verses in Tanach. It’s not even close to consistent, though — some books like  Nehemiah and Chronicles I & II have less than 10% of their verses referenced, while Leviticus has nearly 75% of its verses referenced.

Here’s the full breakdown of the data — each book with the number of verses referenced out of the total number in the book:

Genesis: 513/1533 (33.46%)
Exodus: 511/1210 (42.23%)
Leviticus: 644/859 (74.97%)
Numbers: 461/1288 (35.79%)
Deuteronomy: 564/956 (59.0%)
Joshua: 99/658 (15.05%)
Judges: 98/618 (15.86%)
I Samuel: 151/811 (18.62%)
II Samuel: 141/695 (20.29%)
I Kings: 191/817 (23.38%)
II Kings: 119/719 (16.55%)
Isaiah: 422/1291 (32.69%)
Joel: 14/73 (19.18%)
Jeremiah: 207/1364 (15.18%)
Ezekiel: 196/1273 (15.4%)
Hosea: 73/197 (37.06%)
Amos: 44/146 (30.14%)
Obadiah: 6/21 (28.57%)
Jonah: 10/48 (20.83%)
Micah: 28/105 (26.67%)
Nahum: 8/47 (17.02%)
Habakkuk: 19/56 (33.93%)
Zephaniah: 17/53 (32.08%)
Haggai: 9/38 (23.68%)
Zechariah: 63/211 (29.86%)
Malachi: 29/55 (52.73%)
Psalms: 635/2527 (25.13%)
Proverbs: 313/915 (34.21%)
Job: 220/1070 (20.56%)
Song of Songs: 57/117 (48.72%)
Ruth: 26/85 (30.59%)
Lamentations: 52/154 (33.77%)
Ecclesiastes: 94/222 (42.34%)
Esther: 95/167 (56.89%)
Daniel: 77/357 (21.57%)
Ezra: 46/280 (16.43%)
Nehemiah: 39/405 (9.63%)
I Chronicles: 78/943 (8.27%)
II Chronicles: 79/822 (9.61%)

All of Tanach: 6448/23206 (27.79%)

If you want to get a better sense of the texture of the references, you can always dig into our Talmud-Tanach Explorer.

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17 Comments

  1. this sort of information leaves me scratching my head. On the surface, it looks really interesting. Then I think about it, and I wonder – how do verses which repeat (see ספר מקבילות המקרא) or וידבר ה’ אל משה לאמור get counted.
    And then, I wonder, is this counting the Yerushalmi? Or not? And how does the stats for the Yerushalmi stack up against the stats of the Bavli? And, once we get started, should we look at the Mekhilta (which one?), Sifrah, and Sifrei?
    And then I want to know – what are the stats for halakhic material vs. agadic material. And, yes, you can cross that with the Bavli vs. the Yerushalmi, why not.

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    • Lev Israel says

      @Shabtai – good questions, all! These results are from the Bavli. As our data gets better, we can start to investigate the Yerushalmi and the midrashim. I think it would be interesting to find related passages in the different works based on similarities in their reference patterns…

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  2. yd says

    1. yes, would love stats for the other rabbinic works as well.
    2. one assumes וידבר ה’ אל משה לאמור per se isnt ever commented upon in the Bavli and hence it wouldnt be counted at all in these stats.
    3. I was interested in the accuracy of your dataset. that is, how carefully/accurately were the sources noted? I checked an index I use for the Book of Ruth and it displays 33 unique verses cited in the BT. Your stats shows 26. hence my question. thanks!

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    • Lev Israel says

      We can’t make a claim of completeness with our set of references – but we have a reasonably good data set. If I had to quantify it, I’d say we’re above 90%. I’m curious which ones we miss out on…

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  3. yd says

    ps obviously …וידבר is quoted but the question is if the import of such quote is on the verse per se, or separate from the following verses. in any case, the stats should (theoretically!) reflect whatever has been noted in the citations – whether both verses, or only the one(s) following.

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  4. The Rambam writes in the Mishna Torah (see quote below) that one should divide his learning time into three. It has been stated that simply by reading Gemara one will end up spending 1/3 of his time learning tanach and 1/3 learning Mishna (and the last 3rd is pure Gemara.) So we the 28% number is pretty in sync with this. I would like to know what percent of Gemara is Mishna. Do you have any stats on that?

    וחייב לשלש את זמן למידתו: שליש בתורה שבכתב; ושליש בתורה שבעל פה; ושליש יבין וישכיל אחרית דבר מראשיתו, ויוציא דבר מדבר, וידמה דבר לדבר, וידין במידות שהתורה נדרשת בהן עד שיידע היאך הוא עיקר המידות והיאך יוציא האסור והמותר וכיוצא בהן מדברים שלמד מפי השמועה–ועניין זה, הוא הנקרא תלמוד.

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    • Lev Israel says

      Ah, but it’s not that 28% of Talmud is Tanach – it’s that 28% of Tanach shows up in the Talmud…

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      • Good point! I realized that right after I posted. So then another question would still be what percent of Talmud is Tanach? (I guess based on words – though that would mean each word would have to be categorized to figure that out.)

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  5. Steven Kozlowski says

    Hi

    In the spirit of asking questions about relationships between Tanach and Talmud, of the 6448 pasukim quoted in the Talmud, what are the frequencies of each pasuk. For example, how many are quoted more than once? What pasuk is the most cited and how many citations is that? What is the second most cited and how many times, etc.?

    A second question: How granular can the link explorer tool on the website go? Can it look at a perek rather than a sefer? Could it show the relationships of a singe pasuk?

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  6. Lev Israel says

    Good questions!

    I added some functionality to the script that gave the original data (and fixed a bug along the way that had me ~1% off with some of the numbers.) With the bug fixed, and with the latest data in the system, we’re seeing 6345 verses referenced. Of those, 3081 are referenced more than once

    I’ll post the 20 most referenced verses, below. It’s worth comparing them to the work that Michael Satlow did earlier, linked above. There are some significant differences, surprisingly. For instance, our number 2, Deuteronomy 25:5, doesn’t make it into his top 7. His number 3, Leviticus 25:5, doesn’t make it into our top 20. Needs some further exploration.

    As for the link explorer, what’s been built so far provides for zooming in only to the book level. The lines are drawn to the verse/page level, but the picture remains at the book level. There’s nothing preventing it from going farther; it’s just a small matter of programming. In the meantime – two things that may help.
    1) At the link level, you can view the verse, with it’s links, directly in the reader. Browse from the menu at the top left of the site.
    2) Within the link explorer, you can click and drag and the horizontal book lines to highlight a section of a book. When the cursor looks like a crosshair, that’s when you can click and drag. A hidden feature.

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    • Lev Israel says

      20 Most Frequent
      Deuteronomy 24:1 – 40 occurrences
      When a man taketh a wife, and marrieth her, then it cometh to pass, if she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some unseemly thing in her, that he writeth her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house,
      כִּֽי־יִקַּ֥ח אִ֛ישׁ אִשָּׁ֖ה וּבְעָלָ֑הּ וְהָיָ֞ה אִם־לֹ֧א תִמְצָא־חֵ֣ן בְּעֵינָ֗יו כִּי־מָ֤צָא בָהּ֙ עֶרְוַ֣ת דָּבָ֔ר וְכָ֨תַב לָ֜הּ סֵ֤פֶר כְּרִיתֻת֙ וְנָתַ֣ן בְּיָדָ֔הּ וְשִׁלְּחָ֖הּ מִבֵּיתֽוֹ׃

      Deuteronomy 25:5 – 30 occurrences
      If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not be married abroad unto one not of his kin; her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother unto her.
      כִּֽי־יֵשְׁב֨וּ אַחִ֜ים יַחְדָּ֗ו וּמֵ֨ת אַחַ֤ד מֵהֶם֙ וּבֵ֣ן אֵֽין־ל֔וֹ לֹֽא־תִהְיֶ֧ה אֵֽשֶׁת־הַמֵּ֛ת הַח֖וּצָה לְאִ֣ישׁ זָ֑ר יְבָמָהּ֙ יָבֹ֣א עָלֶ֔יהָ וּלְקָחָ֥הּ ל֛וֹ לְאִשָּׁ֖ה וְיִבְּמָֽהּ׃

      Numbers 5:13 – 24 occurrences
      and a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, she being defiled secretly, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken in the act;
      וְשָׁכַ֨ב אִ֣ישׁ אֹתָהּ֮ שִׁכְבַת־זֶרַע֒ וְנֶעְלַם֙ מֵעֵינֵ֣י אִישָׁ֔הּ וְנִסְתְּרָ֖ה וְהִ֣יא נִטְמָ֑אָה וְעֵד֙ אֵ֣ין בָּ֔הּ וְהִ֖וא לֹ֥א נִתְפָּֽשָׂה׃

      Leviticus 1:5 – 23 occurrences
      And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall present the blood, and dash the blood round about against the altar that is at the door of the tent of meeting.
      וְשָׁחַ֛ט אֶת־בֶּ֥ן הַבָּקָ֖ר לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה וְ֠הִקְרִיבוּ בְּנֵ֨י אַהֲרֹ֤ן הַֽכֹּֽהֲנִים֙ אֶת־הַדָּ֔ם וְזָרְק֨וּ אֶת־הַדָּ֤ם עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֙חַ֙ סָבִ֔יב אֲשֶׁר־פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃

      Leviticus 23:40 – 22 occurrences
      And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
      וּלְקַחְתֶּ֨ם לָכֶ֜ם בַּיּ֣וֹם הָרִאשׁ֗וֹן פְּרִ֨י עֵ֤ץ הָדָר֙ כַּפֹּ֣ת תְּמָרִ֔ים וַעֲנַ֥ף עֵץ־עָבֹ֖ת וְעַרְבֵי־נָ֑חַל וּשְׂמַחְתֶּ֗ם לִפְנֵ֛י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִֽים׃

      Exodus 22:8 – 22 occurrences
      For every matter of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, whereof one saith: ‘This is it,’ the cause of both parties shall come before God; he whom God shall condemn shall pay double unto his neighbour.
      עַֽל־כָּל־דְּבַר־פֶּ֡שַׁע עַל־שׁ֡וֹר עַל־חֲ֠מוֹר עַל־שֶׂ֨ה עַל־שַׂלְמָ֜ה עַל־כָּל־אֲבֵדָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר יֹאמַר֙ כִּי־ה֣וּא זֶ֔ה עַ֚ד הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים יָבֹ֖א דְּבַר־שְׁנֵיהֶ֑ם אֲשֶׁ֤ר יַרְשִׁיעֻן֙ אֱלֹהִ֔ים יְשַׁלֵּ֥ם שְׁנַ֖יִם לְרֵעֵֽהוּ׃ (ס)

      Leviticus 6:3 – 21 occurrences
      And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh; and he shall take up the ashes whereto the fire hath consumed the burnt-offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar.
      וְלָבַ֨שׁ הַכֹּהֵ֜ן מִדּ֣וֹ בַ֗ד וּמִֽכְנְסֵי־בַד֮ יִלְבַּ֣שׁ עַל־בְּשָׂרוֹ֒ וְהֵרִ֣ים אֶת־הַדֶּ֗שֶׁן אֲשֶׁ֨ר תֹּאכַ֥ל הָאֵ֛שׁ אֶת־הָעֹלָ֖ה עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֑חַ וְשָׂמ֕וֹ אֵ֖צֶל הַמִּזְבֵּֽחַ׃

      Leviticus 1:2 – 21 occurrences
      Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When any man of you bringeth an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd or of the flock.
      דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אָדָ֗ם כִּֽי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם קָרְבָּ֖ן לַֽיהוָ֑ה מִן־הַבְּהֵמָ֗ה מִן־הַבָּקָר֙ וּמִן־הַצֹּ֔אן תַּקְרִ֖יבוּ אֶת־קָרְבַּנְכֶֽם׃

      Leviticus 27:10 – 21 occurrences
      He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good; and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then both it and that for which it is changed shall be holy.
      לֹ֣א יַחֲלִיפֶ֗נּוּ וְלֹֽא־יָמִ֥יר אֹת֛וֹ ט֥וֹב בְּרָ֖ע אוֹ־רַ֣ע בְּט֑וֹב וְאִם־הָמֵ֨ר יָמִ֤יר בְּהֵמָה֙ בִּבְהֵמָ֔ה וְהָֽיָה־ה֥וּא וּתְמוּרָת֖וֹ יִֽהְיֶה־קֹּֽדֶשׁ׃

      Exodus 22:30 – 20 occurrences
      And ye shall be holy men unto Me; therefore ye shall not eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.
      וְאַנְשֵׁי־קֹ֖דֶשׁ תִּהְי֣וּן לִ֑י וּבָשָׂ֨ר בַּשָּׂדֶ֤ה טְרֵפָה֙ לֹ֣א תֹאכֵ֔לוּ לַכֶּ֖לֶב תַּשְׁלִכ֥וּן אֹתֽוֹ׃ (ס)

      Leviticus 5:1 – 20 occurrences
      And if any one sin, in that he heareth the voice of adjuration, he being a witness, whether he hath seen or known, if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity;
      וְנֶ֣פֶשׁ כִּֽי־תֶחֱטָ֗א וְשָֽׁמְעָה֙ ק֣וֹל אָלָ֔ה וְה֣וּא עֵ֔ד א֥וֹ רָאָ֖ה א֣וֹ יָדָ֑ע אִם־ל֥וֹא יַגִּ֖יד וְנָשָׂ֥א עֲוֺנֽוֹ׃

      Leviticus 17:11 – 19 occurrences
      For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life.
      כִּ֣י נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַבָּשָׂר֮ בַּדָּ֣ם הִוא֒ וַאֲנִ֞י נְתַתִּ֤יו לָכֶם֙ עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם כִּֽי־הַדָּ֥ם ה֖וּא בַּנֶּ֥פֶשׁ יְכַפֵּֽר׃

      Numbers 6:5 – 19 occurrences
      All the days of his vow of Naziriteship there shall no razor come upon his head; until the days be fulfilled, in which he consecrateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow long.
      כָּל־יְמֵי֙ נֶ֣דֶר נִזְר֔וֹ תַּ֖עַר לֹא־יַעֲבֹ֣ר עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ עַד־מְלֹ֨את הַיָּמִ֜ם אֲשֶׁר־יַזִּ֤יר לַיהוָה֙ קָדֹ֣שׁ יִהְיֶ֔ה גַּדֵּ֥ל פֶּ֖רַע שְׂעַ֥ר רֹאשֽׁוֹ׃

      Leviticus 25:46 – 19 occurrences
      And ye may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession: of them may ye take your bondmen for ever; but over your brethren the children of Israel ye shall not rule, one over another, with rigour.
      וְהִתְנַחֲלְתֶּ֨ם אֹתָ֜ם לִבְנֵיכֶ֤ם אַחֲרֵיכֶם֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אֲחֻזָּ֔ה לְעֹלָ֖ם בָּהֶ֣ם תַּעֲבֹ֑דוּ וּבְאַ֨חֵיכֶ֤ם בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אִ֣ישׁ בְּאָחִ֔יו לֹא־תִרְדֶּ֥ה ב֖וֹ בְּפָֽרֶךְ׃ (ס)

      Leviticus 7:19 – 19 occurrences
      And the flesh that toucheth any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire. And as for the flesh, every one that is clean may eat thereof.
      וְהַבָּשָׂ֞ר אֲשֶׁר־יִגַּ֤ע בְּכָל־טָמֵא֙ לֹ֣א יֵֽאָכֵ֔ל בָּאֵ֖שׁ יִשָּׂרֵ֑ף וְהַ֨בָּשָׂ֔ר כָּל־טָה֖וֹר יֹאכַ֥ל בָּשָֽׂר׃

      Leviticus 6:2 – 19 occurrences
      Command Aaron and his sons, saying: This is the law of the burnt-offering: it is that which goeth up on its firewood upon the altar all night unto the morning; and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning thereby.
      צַ֤ו אֶֽת־אַהֲרֹן֙ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֣יו לֵאמֹ֔ר זֹ֥את תּוֹרַ֖ת הָעֹלָ֑ה הִ֣וא הָעֹלָ֡ה עַל֩ מוֹקְדָ֨ה עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֤חַ כָּל־הַלַּ֙יְלָה֙ עַד־הַבֹּ֔קֶר וְאֵ֥שׁ הַמִּזְבֵּ֖חַ תּ֥וּקַד בּֽוֹ׃

      Deuteronomy 12:17 – 18 occurrences
      Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thine oil, or the firstlings of thy herd or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill-offerings, nor the offering of thy hand;
      לֹֽא־תוּכַ֞ל לֶאֱכֹ֣ל בִּשְׁעָרֶ֗יךָ מַעְשַׂ֤ר דְּגָֽנְךָ֙ וְתִֽירֹשְׁךָ֣ וְיִצְהָרֶ֔ךָ וּבְכֹרֹ֥ת בְּקָרְךָ֖ וְצֹאנֶ֑ךָ וְכָל־נְדָרֶ֙יךָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּדֹּ֔ר וְנִדְבֹתֶ֖יךָ וּתְרוּמַ֥ת יָדֶֽךָ׃

      Leviticus 5:21 – 18 occurrences
      If any one sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and deal falsely with his neighbour in a matter of deposit, or of pledge, or of robbery, or have oppressed his neighbour;
      נֶ֚פֶשׁ כִּ֣י תֶחֱטָ֔א וּמָעֲלָ֥ה מַ֖עַל בַּיהוָ֑ה וְכִחֵ֨שׁ בַּעֲמִית֜וֹ בְּפִקָּד֗וֹן אֽוֹ־בִתְשׂ֤וּמֶת יָד֙ א֣וֹ בְגָזֵ֔ל א֖וֹ עָשַׁ֥ק אֶת־עֲמִיתֽוֹ׃

      Leviticus 19:14 – 18 occurrences
      Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but thou shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.
      לֹא־תְקַלֵּ֣ל חֵרֵ֔שׁ וְלִפְנֵ֣י עִוֵּ֔ר לֹ֥א תִתֵּ֖ן מִכְשֹׁ֑ל וְיָרֵ֥אתָ מֵּאֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ אֲנִ֥י יְהוָֽה׃

      Deuteronomy 25:2 – 18 occurrences
      then it shall be, if the wicked man deserve to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to the measure of his wickedness, by number.
      וְהָיָ֛ה אִם־בִּ֥ן הַכּ֖וֹת הָרָשָׁ֑ע וְהִפִּיל֤וֹ הַשֹּׁפֵט֙ וְהִכָּ֣הוּ לְפָנָ֔יו כְּדֵ֥י רִשְׁעָת֖וֹ בְּמִסְפָּֽר׃

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  7. More related questions: Does your definition of the Babylonian Talmud include the Minor Tractates? (it shouldnt) and Does it include text from tractates of the Mishnah? (it shouldnt) and especially for Mishnah text upon which there is no BT expansion?

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    • Lev Israel says

      Again – good points. It does not include the minor tractates, but does include the Mishnah, including Mishnayot that are printed in the main Talmud text but don’t have Talmud expansion on them. (There are only 5-10 of the latter.)

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  8. Mindy says

    Could you post a revised table (Based on corrections you mentioned above)?
    Also, since I like to do sorting, it would be nice for me if you could put each of the stats (book name, number of verses, number of verses cited, percent) in a separate “column”.
    I would be interested in Tora stats by parasha more than by chapter.
    Anyway, great job, Lev!

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  9. Pingback: On Judaism and Technology | The Sefaria Blog

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