The Way of Some Men & The Narrow Path along The Way
The modern manner of interpreting Biblical text is commonly called exegesis. This method concerns itself mostly with the literary and grammatical context of Scripture verses. Practitioners of exegesis sometimes view anything beyond the literal text as "isogesis" and often pay it little heed to it, or regard it with suspicion. This is an unfortunate error, a result of a backlash against improper allegorizing of the Scriptures, resulting in a case where "the baby is thrown out with the bathwater."
With regard to the proper understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures in their proper context, including the “ The Gospels “ & NT books, there are in fact "levels" of interpretation that must be taken into consideration. This was the method used to write and interpret Scripture by the authors themselves as well as the audience of their time and culture. Jesus, Yeshua Messiah, himself only taught to the masses in a parable. Why? Yeshua did so for the mysteries of the kingdom are contained in the deeper meaning, SOD, of the words He spoke and written in the Holy Scriptures.
THE RULES OF PARADISE INTERPRETATION *
The four levels of interpretation are called: Parshat, Remez, D’rash & Sod. The first letter of each word P-R-D-S is taken, and vowels are added for pronunciation, giving the word PaRaDiSe (meaning "harmonious" and "eternal”). How about a deeper revelation using PaRDeS (meaning "garden" or "orchard"). Each layer is deeper and more intense than the last, like the layers of an onion.
P'shat (pronounced peh-shaht' - meaning "simple")
The p'shat is the plain, simple meaning of the text. The understanding of scripture in its natural, normal sense using the customary meanings of the word’s being used, literary style, historical and cultural setting, and context. The p'shat is the keystone of Scripture understanding. If we discard the p'shat we lose any real chance of an accurate understanding and we are no longer objectively deriving meaning from the Scriptures (exegesis), but subjectively reading meaning into the scriptures (eisogesis). The Talmud states that no passage loses its p'shat:
Talmud Shabbat 63a - Rabbi Kahana objected to Mar son of Rabbi Huna: But this refers to the words of the Torah? A verse cannot depart from its plain meaning, he replied.
Note that within the p'shat you can find several types of language, including figurative, symbolic and allegorical. The following generic guidelines can be used to determine if a passage is figurative and therefore figurative even in its p'shat:
- When an inanimate object is used to describe a living being, the statement is figurative. Example: Isaiah 5:7 - For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant; and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
- When life and action are attributed to an inanimate object the statement is figurative. Example: Zechariah 5:1-3 - Then I turned, and lifted up my eyes, and looked, and behold a flying scroll. And he said to me, What do you see? And I answered, I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits. And he said to me, This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole earth; for everyone who steals shall be cut off henceforth, according to it; and everyone who swears falsely shall be cut off henceforth, according to it.
- When an expression is out of character with the thing described, the statement is figurative. Example: Psalm 17:8 - Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings ...
Remez (pronounced reh-mez' - meaning "hint")
This is where another (implied) meaning is alluded to in the text, usually revealling a deeper meaning. There may still be a p'shat meaning as well as another meaning as any verse can have multiple levels of meaning.
An example of implied "REMEZ" Proverbs 20:10 - Different weights, and different measures, both of them are alike an abomination to the Lord. The p'shat would be concerned with a merchant using the same scale to weigh goods for all of his customers. The remez implies that this goes beyond this into aspects of fairness and honesty in anyone's life.
D’rash (pronounced deh-rahsh' also called "Midrash")
This is a teaching or exposition or application of the P'shat and/or Remez. (In some cases this could be considered comparable to a "sermon.") For instance, Biblical writers may take two or more unrelated verses and combine them to create a verse(s) with a third meaning.
There are three rules to consider when utilizing the d'rash interpretation of a text:
- A drash understanding can not be used to strip a passage of its p'shat meaning, nor may any such understanding contradict the p'shat meaning of any other scripture passage. As the Talmud states, "No passage loses its p'shat."
- Let scripture interpret scripture. Look for the scriptures themselves to define the components of an allegory.
- The primary components of an allegory represent specific realities. We should limit ourselves to these primary components when understanding the text.
Sod (pronounced sawd or sood [like "wood"] - meaning "hidden")
This understanding is the hidden, secret or mystic meaning of a text. Some examples of this would be the "dragon," "whore of Babylon," and number "666," all from the book of Revelation. Others would include; Yeshua's command in John chapter 6:53, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Or Paul's statement in Galatians 4:26, "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."
EXAMPLES OF PARADISE FROM MATTHEW
Examples of the Remez, D'rash and Sod, can be found in Matthew as follows. (Of course the p'shat is throughout the text.) Without knowledge and application of the rules of PARDES, these verses would either not make sense or indicate an error on the part of the author:
Matthew 2:15 - "Out of Egypt I called my son." This is a quote from Hosea 11:1 that Matthew is applying to Yeshua. If we were to insist on a literal exegesis only and researched the quote, we would have to accuse Matthew of improperly using Scripture, as Hosea is clearly speaking of the nation of Israel, and not the Messiah. Matthew however, is hinting (remez) at the relationship between Israel and the Messiah, in this and other verses he uses.
Matthew 18:18 - "... Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" This is a verse that has been interpreted in numerous (incorrect) ways due to a lack of understanding that this ad'rash (teaching) concerning decisions one makes in their personal "walk with God" (called your "halakha" in Hebrew/Judaism).
Matthew 26:28 - "Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, Drink from it all of you, This is my blood ..." Taken literally this verse would not only be a violation of the Torah commandment against consuming blood, but along with other verses about eating Yeshua's flesh (John 6:51-56), could be grounds for accusations of cannibalism. There is a far deeper, more mystical meaning here however (the sod), even one that those who heard Him did not understand (John 6:52).
"RENEWING" YOUR MINDSET
Most people studying the Scriptures today have an "approach" that is formed by their church, cultural, educational and family background. No matter how objective they try to be ("letting the Scriptures speak for themselves"), the fact is that they are 20th century, "western-minded" people, who are reading documents from another time and (Hebrew) culture. In the case of the New Testament letters, you also have documents that were translated into the Greek language of 1900+ years ago and then into today's modern language(s).
All of this presents not only a question of grammatical difficulty -- it also often involves understanding complex Hebrew religious concepts for which there was no adequate expression in the Greek language, and are "lost" in the translation. (i.e., You need to put the text back into the context the Hebrew authors intended it to be read in.)
Although this may sound "simple," it is in reality the single greatest obstacle for the modern Bible student to overcome, especially one raised in "Christian America or Europe."
The first step toward eliminating bias is to understand the Gospels, as well as the rest of the books of the "New Testament," must be studied in the following context:
- They are first century Hebrew texts written by authors with a Hebrew understanding of such things as "faith" or "salvation" or "law." They were never meant to be interpreted with a 20th century "western mindset," (that has been tainted by almost 2000 years of non-Jewish, and even anti-Jewish theology.)
- They were written with an assumption that the reader(s) have some grounding in Torah (i.e., books with the primary focus on gentiles, such as "Romans"), and in some cases are well established in Torah (i.e., books with the primary message to Jews - Worshipers of Yehovah, such as "Hebrews").
- They are written at a time when Rome controlled the land of Israel and its people, and gentiles "coming to faith" by the preaching of the disciples, were entering from a very anti-Semitic Roman culture and had little regard for anything Jewish, even as believers.
- They are written at a very "Messianically-focused" time in Israel's history.
- There was a wide range of opinion on spiritual matters in Judaism at that time.
BE LIKE THE BEREANS!
Remember always that there is but only One Truth Teacher, and that is the Holy Spirit. Give reverence to Him and he will teach you all the deep things of Yehovah.
It is the privilege of each believer in Yeshua Messiah, aka Jesus Christ, even the humblest, to be "taught of God - Yehovah." Each humblest believer is independent of human teachers -- "Ye need not that any man teach you”
(1 John 2:27). KJV - 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
This, of course, does not mean that we may not learn much from others who are taught of the Holy Spirit. If John had thought that he would never have written this epistle to teach others. Be like the Bereans and search out the scriptures for what men teach!
(Acts 17:10-11) KJV - 10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
The man who is the most fully taught of God is the very one who will be most ready to listen to what God has taught others. Much less does it mean that when we are taught of the Spirit, we are independent of the written Word of God; for the Word is the very place to which the Spirit, who is the Author of the Word, leads His pupils and the instrument through which He instructs them
(Eph. 4:17-18) KJV - 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
(John 4:32-34) KJV - 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
(Eph. 5:14-19) KJV - 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
(Col. 3:16-17) KJV - 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
But while we may learn much from men, we are not dependent upon them. We have a Divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit.
Col. 1:26-29 KJVr - 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:27 To whom YeHoVaH would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Anointed Yeshua:29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.