Four Different Meanings of Scripture: Jewish scholars, especially rabbis, hold to the belief that passages of scripture in the Bible have more than one definition. Moreover it has long been thought that the literal meaning of the text is not the important thing to focus on. It might even be the least important.
Confusing? Well, maybe not. What if I told you that a Jewish scholar may look at a piece of scripture and determine four different meanings from it?
What are the four different meanings?
The first interpretation is “pashat,” which is the literal meaning, the simplest way of looking at it. That might be described as reading the passage, word-for-word, and taking an exact, literal meaning from the text.
Then comes “derush” which is the meaning you get after further examination. You studied and have come up with your deductions, as if to say “Oh, that’s what this means!” The thought process is kicking in.
Next we have “remaz” or suggested meaning of the text. When David wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd…” did he really mean we were sheep, or is there something else? What is it telling you?
Finally there is “sod” which is the allegorical meaning, that being a story that can be interpreted to have a deeper, or hidden meaning. Jesus spoke in parables. He told a story to uncover a bigger meaning.
Here’s another interesting tidbit for you. The first letters of each of these meanings, P R D S, are the consonants in the word paradise. Go to the Gospel of Matthew and read Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” and apply these four interpretations to it. See what happens.
Bible can be difficult to follow
The Bible offers us an endless wealth of wisdom and knowledge, but at the same time, by just reading the words it’s easy to get mixed up and lost.
Remember that the Bible is the Word of God, the living Word of God. It transforms, it strengthens, and it comforts. Pray before you read.
The Bible has a picture of what God has in mind for you today. Is there a commandment, or a warning, or encouragement or all of the above?
We only understand what God reveals to us
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Bible is “spiritually discerned.” That means if God does not intend for you to understand the text, you won’t. You can read something a hundreds of times and not get it. But then, like a veil is lifted, you read it and you understand completely.
Were you just too dumb to understand? No, certainly not. If God wants you to understand fully, you will.
Understanding the Bible is an infinite process
From Genesis to revelation, the Bible is one, contiguous story, It ties together. It builds on itself. It explains itself and interprets itself.
Jesus constantly mentioned the Old Testament, or more appropriately, the Jewish text. To understand Revelation, for example, you have to understand the book of Daniel.
References, cross references lead you down endless intellectual rabbit holes, enriching your spirit and challenging you intellect. It’s an amazing book on many different levels.