Hillel’s Rules of Scriptural Reasoning

Hillel’s seven rules and the New Testament

1. Kal V’Khomer (light and heavy)

Kal v’khomer is the first of the seven rules for understanding the scriptures written by Hillel. Hillel did not invent the rules, in fact they are so old we see them used in the Tenach.

The kol v’komer thoughtform is used to make an argument from lesser weight based on one of greater weight. It may be expressed as:

If X is true of Y
then how much more X must be true of Z
(Where Z is of greater weight than Y)

A kol v’khomer argument is often, but not always, signalled by a phrase like “how much more…”

The Rabbinical writers recognize two forms ok kol v’khomer:

kal v’khomer meforash – In this form the kal v’chomer argument appears explicily.

kal v’khomer satum – In which the kal v’khomer argument is only implied.

There are several examples of kal v’khomer in the Tenach. For example:

Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. (Prov. 11:31)


If you have run with footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? (Jer. 12:5a)

Other Tenach examples to look at:

Dt. 31:27; 1Sam. 23:3; Jer. 12:5b; Ezkl. 15:5; Esther 9:12

For those who wish to look as rabbinical usage of implied occurances:

Num. 12:14 & b. BK 25a; Dt. 21:23 & m. San. 6:5
Lev. 21:16-21 & Num. 8:24-25 & b.Hul. 24a

There is also an important limitation to the kal v’khomer thoughtform. This is the dayo (enough) principle. This is that the conclusion of an argument is satisfied when it is like the major premise. In other words the conclusion is equalized to the premise and neither a stricter nor a more lenient view is to be taken. (m.BK 2:5)

Rabbi Tarfon rejected the dayo principle in certain cases (b.BK 25a)

There are several examples of kal v’khomer in the New Testament. Yeshua often uses this form of argument. For example:

If a man recieves circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the Law of Moses should not be broken, 
are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the sabbath? (Jn. 7:23)


What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?
Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?
Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. (Mt. 12:11-12)

Other examples of Yeshua’s usage of kal v’khomer are:

Mt. 6:26, 30 = Lk. 12:24, 28
Mt. 7:11 = Lk. 11:13
Mt. 10:25 & Jn. 15:18-20
Mt. 12:12 & Jn. 7:23

Paul uses kal v’khomer in:

Rom. 5:8-9, 10, 15, 17; 11:12, 24
1Cor. 9:11-12; 12:22
2Cor. 3:7-9, 11
Philip. 2:12
Phil. 1:16
Heb. 2:2-3; 9:13-14; 10:28-29; 12:9, 25

2. G’zerah Shavah (Equivalence of expresions)

An analogy is made between two seperate texts on the basis of a similar phrase, word or root.

Tenakh example:

Judges 13:5 & 1Sam. 1:10

3. Binyan ab mikathub echad (Building of the father from one text)

One explicit passage serves as a foundation or starting point so as to constitute a rule (father) for all similar passages or cases.

Ex. 3:4 God addressed Moses “Moses, Moses…” all the time.

Heb. 9:11-22 applies “blood” from Ex. 24:8=Heb. 9:20 to Jer. 31:31-34

4. Binyab ab mishene kethubim (Building of the father from two or more texts)

Ex. 21:26-27

two texts or provisions in a text serve as a foundation for a general conclusion.

In Heb. 1:5-14 Paul cites:

Ps. 2:7 = Heb. 1:5

2Sam. 7:14 = Heb. 1:5

Deut. 32:43/Ps. 97:7/(Neh. 9:6) = Heb. 1:6

Ps. 104:4 = Heb. 1:7

Ps. 45:6-7 = Heb. 1:8-9

Ps. 102:25-27 = Heb. 1:10-12

Ps. 110:1 = Heb. 1:13

to build a rule that the Messiah is of a higher order than angels.

5. Kelal uferat (the general and the partcular) 

Gen. 1:27 > Gen. 2:7, 21

a general statement is first made and is followed by a single remark which particularizes the general principle.

6. Kayotze bo mimekom akhar (analogy made from another passage)

Two passages may seem to conflict until a third resolves the conflict.

Lev 1:1 & Ex. 25:22 > Num. 7:89

2Sam. 24:9 & 1Chr. 21:5 > 1Chr. 27:1

Ex. 19:20 & Dt. 4:36 > Ex. 20:19 (m.Sifra 1:7)

Paul shows that the following Tenach passages SEEM to conflict:

The just shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17 = Hab. 2:4)


There is none righteous, no, not one… (Rom. 3:10 = Ps. 14:1-3 = Ps. 53:1-3; Eccl. 7:20


[God] will render to each one according to his deeds. (Rom. 2:6 = Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12)


Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom YHWH shall not impute sin. (Rom. 4:7-8 = Ps. 32:1-2)

Paul resolves the apparant conflict by citing Gen. 15:6 (in Rom. 4:3, 22):

Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

Thus Paul resloves the apparant conflict by showing that under certain circumstances, belief/faith/trust (same word in Hebrew) can act as a substitute for righteousness/being just (same word in Hebrew).

7. Davar hilmad me’anino (Explanation obtained from context) 

the total context, not just the isolated statement must be considered for an accurate exegesis.


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