Rabbinic Midrash Methodologies (Exegetical Rules)

Midrash Halakah (law texts) Midrash Aggadah (narrative texts)
R. Ishmael b. Elisha (13)  
Hillel (7) R. Eliezer b. Jose Ha-Gelili (32)
Name (if applicable)  
Transliterated Hebrew
[English translation]
Definition or Description Scriptural
Example
Ribbui
[extension]
    1 The particles "et," "gam," and "af," which are superfluous, indicate that something which is not explicitly stated must be regarded as included in the passage under consideration, or that some teaching is implied thereby.  
Mi'ut
[limitation]
    2 The particles "ak," "ra?" and "min" indicate that something implied by the concept under consideration must be excluded in a specific case  
Ribbui ahar ribbui
[extension after extension]
    3 When one extension follows another it indicates that more must be regarded as implied.  
Mi'ut ahar mi'ut
[limitation after limitation]
    4 A double limitation indicates that more is to be omitted.  
Kal va-chomer
[light and heavy]
1 1   An argument from the less important to the more important (or vice versa), corresponding to the scholastic proof a fortiori Ex. 6:12
2Ki 5:13
Kal va-chomer meforash
[...explicit]
    5 Kal va-chomer, expressly so characterized in the text Jer. 12:5
Kal va-chomer satum
[...implied]
    6 Kal va-chomer, implied, but not explicitly declared in the text Prv. 11:31
Gezerah shavah
[argument from analogy]
2 2 7 Biblical passages containing synonyms or homonyms are subject, however much they differ in other respects, to identical definitions and applications. Lev. 1:15,
5:8
Binyan ab mi-katub ehad
[principle from a single text]
3     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.  
Binyan ab mi-shene ketubim
[principle from multiple texts]
4     Application of a provision found in a generalization of two biblical passages to passages which are related to the former in content but do not contain the provision in question. Ex. 21:26–27
Binyan ab
[principle from text]
  3 8 A combination of Hillel's rules 3 and 4  
Derek kezarah
[brief path]
    9 Abbreviation is sometimes used in the text when the subject of discussion is self-explanatory.  
Davar shehu shanui
[repeated expression]
    10 Repetition implies a special meaning  
Siddur she-nehlak     11 Where in the text a clause or sentence not logically divisible is divided by the punctuation, the proper order and the division of the verses must be restored according to the logical connection.  
      12 Anything introduced as a comparison to illustrate and explain something else, itself receives in this way a better explanation and elucidation.  
Kelal u-perat; Perat u-kelal
[general ⇔ particular]
5 4 13 Definition of the general by the particular Lev 19:18
5   Definition of the particular by the general Dt. 22:13
Kelal u-perat u-kelal   6   The general, the particular, and the general Dt. 14:26
    7   The general which requires elucidation by the particular, and the particular which requires elucidation by the general.  
    8   The particular implied in the general and excepted from it for pedagogic purposes elucidates the general as well as the particular.  
    9   The particular implied in the general and excepted from it on account of the special regulation which corresponds in concept to the general, is thus isolated to decrease rather than to increase the rigidity of its application.  
    10   The particular implied in the general and excepted from it on account of some other special regulation which does not correspond in concept to the general, is thus isolated either to decrease or to increase the rigidity of its application.  
    11   The particular implied in the general and excepted from it on account of a new and reversed decision can be referred to the general only in case the passage under consideration makes an explicit reference to it.  
Kayotze bo mi-mim'kom akher
[Analogy from another passage]
6     Similarity in content to another scriptural passage. Gen 12:3, 22:18
Davar ha-lamed me'anino
[interpretation from context]
7 12   Interpretation deduced from the context. (Ishmael #12 is amplified in certain particulars) Ex. 20:15
      14 Something important is compared with something unimportant to elucidate it and render it more readily intelligible.  
    13 15 When two biblical passages contradict each other the contradiction in question must be solved by reference to a third passage.  
Davar meyuchad bi-mekomo     16 An expression which occurs in only one passage can be explained only by the context.  
      17 A point which is not clearly explained in the main passage may be better elucidated in another passage.  
      18 A statement with regard to a part may imply the whole.  
      19 A statement concerning one thing may hold good with regard to another as well.  
      20 A statement concerning one thing may apply only to something else.  
      21 If one object is compared to two other objects, the best part of both the latter forms the tertium quid of comparison (unidentified third element that is in combination with two known ones).  
      22 A passage may be supplemented and explained by a parallel passage.  
      23 A passage serves to elucidate and supplement its parallel passage.  
      24 When the specific implied in the general is especially excepted from the general, it serves to emphasize some property characterizing the specific.  
      25 The specific implied in the general is frequently excepted from the general to elucidate some other specific property, and to develop some special teaching concerning it.  
Mashal
[parable]
    26 A parable.  
Mi-ma'al
[from the preceding]
    27 Interpretation through the preceding.  
Mi-neged
[from the opposed]
    28 Interpretation through the opposite.  
Gematria     29 Interpretation according to the numerical value of the letters.  
Notarikon     30 Interpretation by dividing a word into two or more parts.  
[Postposition of the precedent]     31 Many phrases which follow must be regarded as properly preceding, and must be interpreted accordingly in exegesis.  
      32 Many portions of the Bible refer to an earlier period than do the sections which precede them, and vice versa.