II Timothy is Paul’s “Last Will and Testament”. He knows he is going to die. What words does he write to his disciple to pass on his legacy? It is written in II Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that has nothing to be ashamed of, rightly dividing the word of truth” (Jubilee Bible). What does Paul mean by this? Does he say that the scriptures can be interpreted wrong? Did Pail believe that there were rules to be followed when trying to understand the scriptures? Could it be that he was talking about the Seven Rules of Hillel?
Consider this: The Seven Rules of Hillel existed long before Rabbi Hillel (60BCE – 10CE); but he is the person to write them down. You can see them in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and was also used by Yeshua and in Paul’s writings.
During the time of Yeshua’s boyhood, Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shamai each had a school. Rabbi Hillel was known for teaching the Spirit of the Torah and Rabbi Shamai was teaching the letter of the Torah. Depending on the questions given to Yeshua, you can know what group (school) of Pharisees He was talking to. When Hillel died in 10CE, his son, Simeon, became the Leader of Hillel’s school. When Simeon died, the leadership of Hillel’s school passed to Hillel’s grandson, Gamilel. This is the same Gamilel that defended Peter and John in Acts 5:34-39. He was also Paul’s teacher as recorded in Acts 22:3. Gamilel would have taught Paul these rules of interpreting the scriptures. This process would have been used when Paul told Timothy to “rightly divide the word of truth”
1. Kal Va-Chomer:
Argument that reasons: If a rule or fact applies in a situation where there is relatively little reason for it to apply, certainly it applies in a situation where there is more reason for it to apply. (If X is true of Y then how much more X must be true of Z (Where Z is of greater weight than Y).
This rule is often, but not always, starts with the phase: "If this .... then how much more so..."
The rabbis recognize two forms of this rule:
- Kol v'chomermeforash- In this form the kal vachomerargument is explicit.
- Kol v'chomersatum - In this form the kal vachomerargument is only implied.
- “Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the Sinner” (Proverbs 11:31).
- “If you have run with footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?” (Jeremiah 12:5a).
- You can find other examples of this rule in Deuteronomy 31:27; I Samuel 23:3; Jeremiah 12:5b; Ezekiel 15:5; and Esther 9:12.
Brit Hadashah examples
This rule is also applied by Yeshua, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews:
- John 7:23; Matthew 12: 11-12; Matthew 6:29, 30(which is also Luke 12:24, 28);Matthew 7:11(which is also Luke 11:13) Matthew 10:25(which is also John 15:18-20).
- Romans 5:8-9, 10, 15, 17; 11:12, 24; I Corinthians 9:11-12; 12:22; II Corinthians 3:7-9, 11; Philippians 2:12; Philemon 1:16.
The writer of Hebrews:
- Hebrews 2:2-3; Hebrews 9:13-14; Hebrews 10:28-29; Hebrews 12:9, 25.
2. Gezerah shawah:
Argument from analagy. (Comparing similar words in different passages). An analogy is made between two separate texts on the basis of a similar phrase, word or root – i.e., where the same words are applied to two separate cases, it follows that the same considerations apply to both.
- By comparing I Samuel 1:10(Samuel) to Judges 13:5(Samson) using the phrase "no razor shall touch his head" you can conclude that Samuel, like Samson, was a Nazarite.
Brit Hadashah example:
- In Hebrews 3:6-4:13the writer of Hebrews compares Psalms 95:7-11= Hebrews 3:7-11 to Genesis 2:2= Hebrews 4:4based on the words "works" and "day"/"today" ("today" in Hebrew is literally "the day"). The writer of Hebrews uses this interpretation process to conclude that there will b. 6,000 years of this world followed by a 1,000 year Shabbat.
- Binyan ab mi-katub ehad: (Building up a “family” from a single text).
A foundational passage serves to interpret other passages; an application of a provision found in one passage only to passages which are related to the first in content but do not contain the provision in question. This is when a principle is found in several passages: A consideration found in one of them applies to all.
Brit Hadashah Example:
- Hebrews 9:11-22 applies the "blood" taken from Exodus 24:8and connects it toHebrews 9:20which connects it to Jeremiah 31:31-34.
- Binyan ab mi-shene ketubim: (Building up a “family” from two or more texts).
The same as the preceding one except that the provision is generalized from twoBiblical passages. It creates a Standard by relating two passages together: The principle can then be applied to other passages - a decision where two laws that seem to contradict are settled by another verse which resolves the conflict.
- You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in measures of length, of weight, or quantity. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall you have; I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:35-36). By use of the fourth rule of Hillel we can recognize that the provision of equals weights and measures applies also to how we judge others and their actions.
Brit Hadashah example:
In Hebrews 1:5-14, the writer of Hebrews sites the following to build a rule that the Messiah is of a higher order than angels:
- Psalms 2:7= Hebrews 1:5
- 2 Samuel 7:14= Hebrews 1:5
- Deuteronomy 32:43/Psalms 97:7/() = Hebrews 1:6
- Psalms 104:4= Hebrews 1:7
- Psalms 45:6-7= Hebrews 1:8-9
- Psalms 102:25-27= Hebrews 1:10-12
- Psalms 110:1= Hebrews 1:13 This rule is especially useful in identifying biblical principles and applying them to real life situations. In this way Scripture is re-contextualized so that it remains relevant for all generations.
Kelal u-Perat and Perat u-kelal: (The general and the particular). A general summary statement is followed by an explanatory, more specific statement.
Definition of the general by the particular, and of the particular, and of the particular by the general.
- Genesis 1:27 makes the general statement that God created man. Genesis 2:7, 21turns this general statement into the particular by giving the details of the creation of Adam and Eve.
Brit Hadashah example:
This rule can be seen in the Sermon on the Mount. Consider this outline:
- Matthew 5:17 – 20: This rule is applied.
- Matthew 5:21 – 47: 6 examples are given for the rule.
- Matthew 5:48:The conclusion for following the rule that was given (The rule is restated in different words).
- Matthew 6:1: This rule is given.
- Matthew 6:2-18: 3 examples are given, including central understanding of the Lord’s Prayer as recorded in Matthew 6:14-15.
- Matthew 19:21: The conclusion for following the rule that was given - The rule is restated in different words (this conclusion will become the rule for the next section).
- Matthew 6:19-21: This rule is given.
- Matthew 6:22-33: 2 examples are given.
- Matthew 6:34: The conclusion for following the rule was given (The rule is restated in different words).
- Matthew 7:1-2: This rule is given
- Matthew 7:3-1: 2examples are given
- Matthew 7:12: The conclusion for following the rule that was given (The rule is restated in different words)
Rabbi Ishmael (100-170CE) took this fifth rule and expanded it to 13 rules by subdividing it into eight different groups.
Ka-yoze bo mi-makon aher: (Analogy made from another passage).
"Like it says elsewhere" – an explanation of a word in one text is clarified by use of same word in an unrelated text. Two passages may seem to conflict until compared with a third, which has points of general though not necessarily verbal similarity.
- Leviticus 1:1"" and Exodus 25:22"from above the ark of the covenant between the cherubim" seem to disagree until we examine Numbers 7:89 where we learn that Mosesentered the tent of meeting to hear the LORD (Adonai - YHVH) speaking from between the cherubim.
- I Chronicles 27:1explained the numerical disagreement between II Samuel 24:9andI Chronicles 21:5.
Brit Hadashah example:
- The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17,quoting Habakkuk 2:4) with There is none righteous, no, not one ..” (Romans 3:10quoting Ecclesiastes 7:20and Psalms 14:1-3 which is connected to Psalms 53:1-3).
These two passages are in conflict.
Paul does the same here:
- [God] will render to each one according to his deeds. (Romans 2:6, quoting Psalms 62:12and Proverbs 24:12) with Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man whom The LORD (YHVH) shall not impute sin. (Romans 4:7-8, quoting Psalms 32:1-2).
Paul resolves the apparent conflict by citing Genesis 15:6(in Romans 4:3, 22):Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Paul resolves the apparent conflict by showing that undercertain circumstances, belief / faith / trustcan act as a substitute forrighteousness/being just.
- Dabar ha-lamed mi-‘inyano:
An interpretation deduced from the context. The definition comes from the context of the total passage. The total context, not just the isolated statement, must be considered for an accurate interpretation.
Brit Hadashah example:
- Romans 14:1, "I know and am convinced by the Lord Yeshua that nothing is unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean."
Paul is not abrogating the kosher laws,but pointing out to gentile believers in the congregation at Rome (within his larger context of Romans) that:
1 Things are unclean not of themselves but because God said they are unclean.
2 And they must remember the higher principle, that their "freedom to eat what is unclean"is secondary to the salvation of unsaved Jews who are observing their behavior, as they are looking for "gentiles coming into the faith of Israel" to be acting in an "appropriate manner" as a truth test of Paul’s ministry (and the Messiah-ship of Yeshua).
The problem is that the rabbis have interpreted scripture using the “Midrashic Interpretation.” Midrashic Interpretation consists of taking words out of context and read meaning into them.
- Exodus 23:2 “You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice.” This verse means we should not testify that a person is guilty just because everyone else says he is guilty. That would be a perversion of justice.
- The rabbis take the same verse, remove words from the beginning and end. What is left is “side with the majority.” Removed from its context, these words are interpreted as a commandment to “go after the majority.”
- Whatever the rabbis say is binding because Exodus 23:2says to “go after the majority.”
This practice of taking words out of context, twisting their meanings, and “interpret” as they see fit is typical of rabbinical approach to scripture. This approach is not “interpretive” but “creative”. It uses “sound-bytes” to create a new meaning, which is not coming from scripture.