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peshat

(Hebrew: "spread out"), in Jewish hermeneutics, the simple, obvious, literal meaning of a biblical text. In the interpretation of the Halakha (the "Proper Way"; i.e., the Oral Law that was essentially an interpretation of the Written Law), peshat was preferred. Other interpretive principles, however, could be used simultaneously in any given text: remez (meaning "hint," in reference to typological or allegorical interpretations), derash (meaning "search," in reference to biblical study according to the middot, or rules), and sod (meaning "secret," or mystical interpretation). The first letters (PRDS) of these four words were first used in medieval Spain as an acronym forming the word PaRaDiSe to designate a theory of four basic interpretive principles: literal, philosophical, inferred, and mystical

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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