Plain Meaning and Analogy

Peshat veHeqqesh


By Yochanan Zaqantov


Peshat is likely from the verb pashat (pey-shin-tet) reference number 6584.  It means to strip off.  Thus, peshat as the plain meaning is that which is evident from a farmer or shepherd reading it.  You might also say it is the revealed meaning from the reading of the Hebrew.  The stripped off may have been a commentary on the stripping off the added things that the rabbinates added through their traditions.


Many scholars believe that peshat came into being because of the advent of Semitic language grammar and Hebrew grammar by the Rabbinates trying to combat the grammarians from Muslim, Karaite, and Christian sects.  The time period of its rise was the 10th century and continued through the 12th century.  This coincides with the Golden Age of Karaites.


Peshat was used by the Karaites is very similar to today, however; the Rabbis who also claim to use Peshat, use it in a different way.  The Karaites understood the peshat to be it contextual meaning and not merely the literal meaning.  Though we will see the basis of reading as to read the literal text and seek the meaning from searching the entire scriptures (miqra/mikra). Where as the Rabbinical Peshat was the generally accepted meaning.  In other words, the meaning the majority believes it is to be understood.  (Cherry, “Torah Through Time”, page 17-18)


In the Karaite Anthology, Jacob al-Kirkisani, wrote about principles of biblical exegesis.  His works are up to 938 CE and thus align with the thoughts of scholars on the idea that this was the period of Hebrew Grammar.


When one makes a commentary we have to use some form of interpretation to be consistent in our reasoning.   That is why I choose Jacob Al-Kirkisani from the Karaite Anthology by Leon Nemoy.   From page 53 to 68 and establishes what are the basis for knowing in order to properly interpret the Hebrew text.  We will examine his method and see how it does apply to our understanding of using peshat to be the basis of understanding the miqra.


Hakham Kirkisani discusses the allowance of using reasoning to understand the miqra.  In one place he states,


“Thus, Scripture says, confirming the validity of the use of reason: in order that they may see, and know, and consider … that the hand of the Lord has done this (Isa 41:20); that is, to infer by way of reasoning that a thing made presupposes the existence of a maker.  Another passage, That they may know from the rising of the sun … that there is none besides me (Isa 45:6), represents a rational proof of the oneness of God.  Another verse, thou hast heard; see all this … they are created now, and not from old. (Isa. 48:6-7), is a proof of the temporal incipiency of substance, on the ground that it is inseparable from other temporal incipients, meaning the accidences.  The passage , Remember the former thing of old (Isa 46:9), proves the impossibility of one thing proceeding another thing which in turn  is proceeded by a third thing, and so forth, without end.  The verse, Know ye that the Lord he is God, it is he who has made us (Ps. 100:3), shows the impossibility of things being self created.  In the passage, behold, this I have found, said Koheleth… (Eccles. 7:27), i.e., “I have found that all things depend one upon another”-we find the same demonstration; namely, proof for the existence of cause and effect through dependence of all existent things upon the other.  The verses, Does not the ear test words? …Is Wisdom with the Aged?  (Job 12:11-12), [refer] to the validity of reasoning, as does the verse, Now they see not the light (Job 37:21), meaning that he who denies the existence of God is like one who denies the existence of light, since reason perceives the existence of God by means of incontrovertible proof in the same manner as the sense of sight perceives the existence of Light.” (pp. 56-57, Karaite Anthology, Nemoy, L)


Here we see that what Hakham Kirkisani is telling us is that, as the senses perceive things with our eyes, ears and nose.  We are able to reason about the world around us and so that same reasoning can be done with scriptures and the proof of Elohim’s existence is proven in that we can reason from looking as scriptures in the whole.  Thus, we can use reasoning to develop and understanding of scriptures as long as we balance the use of analogy to derive things not necessarily meant by the text.  So when focusing on Peshat we try to stay grounded to the text of scripture (miqra).  Reasoning is not the expanding of meanings to make the words mean whatever we want them to but to elicit the meaning of the text as it would be understood if it was read to a person and that person hearing it would readily understand it.


Hakham Kirkisani states this as:


“King Solomon has said: the words of a man’s mouth are deep waters (Prov. 18:4), implying that God has placed it in the power of Sages to elicit the meaning of things and to bring them near to men’s understanding by joining or separating or arranging and placing them in the proper sequence, just as He has put in their minds the art of raising water from the bowels of the earth.  …Were it not for human reason and the power of reasoning , in eliciting that which is unknown and learning that which is inaccessible to the senses by means of demonstrated proofs, would man have any advantage over beast?... Man, on the other hand has been favored above all animals with wisdom of choice, i.e., of deduction and inference, as illustrated by the aforementioned contrivance to raise water from the bowels of the earth.” (pg, 58, Karaite Anthology, Nemoy, L)


Even with in the text of scripture it tells us to reason with one another thus we are to discuss and to show one another our understanding of scripture.   As shown we are given choices to decide and therefore to reason out the choice one must be able to know and understand what the text is saying.    Because each of us has a responsibility to reason for ourselves, we must search it out for ourselves.  As it is written, “For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that you should say: 'Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea that you should say: 'Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?' But the word is very near unto you, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil,” (Devarim/Deut. 30:11-15) Thus, this shows us the responsibility to individually choose and while we have Sages to guide us or teach us we must not rely upon their words without investigation of our own.  To use the Peshat is therefore absolutely important for us to make the reasoned choice demanded of us today because while they simply heard the words and know the context of them we find ourselves outside their context and having to dig into the language to understand it like they would have.


In order to have a basis for understanding scripture, Hakham Kirkisani establishes some primary statement of fact to work from.


1.      He states that we accept as a people that our Prophet Moshe is the one who wrote down the Torah as it is stated in many places that he did just that.  Shemot 34:17 And Yehovah said unto Moses: 'Write you these words, for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.'

2.      “Scripture as a whole is to be interpreted literally, except where literal interpretation may involve something objectionable or imply a contradiction.” (pg 60, Ibid)

3.      The Hebrew Language is the primordial language that Elohim addressed Adam and all others after him.

4.      The scripture is written for man in a way that he can understand it.  It conveys thoughts and ideas in a way that man can relate them to himself.

5.      The scripture does not state something false without attributing it to something or someone which shows it to be an untruth.

6.      Not everything recounted in scripture in the Hebrew Language was originally spoken in Hebrew.  They were recounted in Hebrew. (pp.60-68, Ibid)


Based upon these things we see that first and foremost that the reading of the text should be literal but not exclusively literal and that is why we define peshat as contextual in nature.  The text and how it is written the time period it was written and who it was written for give us a better understanding of how to interpret it.  Though I don’t go through the different proof that Kirkisani shows for these points you have the reference to go back and read the material in the book itself.   We know that torah is stated as truth so all false statements made in it are logically identified in it and show the statement to be false.  Also, that as written it is to be understood is evident in that after being read to us as a people we could do it.  As it is written,  And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, that bore the ark of the covenant of Yehovah, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying: 'At the end of every seven years, in the set time of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles when all Israel is come to appear before Yehovah Eloheykha in the place which He shall choose, you shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.  Assemble the people, the men and the women and the little ones, and your stranger that is within your gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law; and that their children, who have not known, may hear, and learn to fear Yehovah Eloheykhem, as long as you live in the land whither you go over the Jordan to possess it.' (Devarim/Deut. 31:9-15)” First, we see again it was written down and physically handed to the Kohenim (Priests).  This means what was given every seventh year was just that a reading of the text written down.  Next, it was understandable in their hearing so that they could learn, hold in awe, and do all that what was written.   It was not just understood by adults but simple enough that children could understand it.  They were to learn to hold Elohim in awe. 


Examples of Peshat


Shemot/Exodus 16:22


23     he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a day of rest, a holy sabbath of the Lord. Bake what you would bake and boil what you would boil (va’et asher tevashelu bashelu   וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר־תְּבַשְּׁלוּ בַּשֵּׁלוּ); and all that is left put aside to be kept until morning.”


If you just look at the English translation you would think this would be boil.  However, by using peshat we can determine the word’s meaning by examining the other places this is used.  Normally we would work through every reference to the word.  This one can be known by looking at two other verses.  The Hebrew word we are looking at is Bashal (Bet-Shin-Lamed).  In this example, be see that their were commanded to absolutely bashal the Manna.

Devarim/Deuteronomy 16:7


7     You shall cook (ubishal’ta   וּבִשַּׁלְתָּ) and eat it at the place that the Lord your God will choose; and in the morning you may start back on your journey home.


Here we see bashal again.  If one would use the previous verse then one might conclude that the Pesach Zevach was to be boiled.  That translation of the Pesach Zevach would be problematic.  We are told how to cook it and not to cook it.


Shemot/Exodus 12:8-9


8     They shall eat the flesh that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs. 9     Do not eat any of it raw, or cooked in any way with water (ubashel mebushal bamayim – and cook from cooking waters

  וּבָשֵׁל מְבֻשָּׁל בַּמָּיִם), but roasted—head, legs, and entrails—over the fire.


Here we see a restriction for not to eat it cooked in water.  Thus, the only time one way refer bashal as boiling is where the Hebrew word for water is also used to qualify the cooking.  In this case, we see that cooking the Pesach in water is forbidden.


“Sahl ben Matzliah (, Sahl Ben Matzliah HaCohen , 910-990), also known as Abu al-Sari was a [Karaite] philosopher and writer.

Born in [Jerusalem] , he belonged to the [Rechabites] , and was one of the apostles of the Karaites who traveled extensively to win new adherents for Karaism and thereby strengthen the failing faith of their coreligionists. He was distinguished for his profound knowledge of Biblical and post-Biblical literature, and was a master of Arabic. Although he was one of [Saadia Gaon] 's bitterest enemies, most of his attacks were directed against [Samuel ben Jacob] , a pupil of the gaon. The subject of his polemics, as with his predecessors, was the abolition of [purification law] s and of the lighting of lights and drawing of water on the [Sabbath] . He often reproaches the [Rabbinite] s for preaching and teaching for the sake of gain, asserting that their aims are not as free from selfishness as those of the Karaites. Sahl's polemics throw much light upon the degree of laxness in religious ceremonial prevalent in his time. Thus he complains against the Rabbinites that in many matters they openly made common cause with non-Jews and were thereby led astray from the strict observance of the dietary laws.

Sahl was especially interested in calendric questions, and in one of his writings reviews the whole controversy between [Rabbi Meïr of Jerusalem] and Saadia in order to draw attention to the conciliatory disposition of the Palestinian Jews. He rendered valuable services to Karaism by establishing four fundamental exegetical principles. These four principles were:

1 the laying of special emphasis on the literal interpretation of the Scriptures
2 speculation
3 inference by analogy ( hekkesh )
4 the agreement of the totality.

By these principles he made possible the acceptance by Karaism of many decisions not found in the Bible, and also brought about the introduction of many modifications in the ceremonial.”


Heqqesh is analogy. 


Hakham Basyatchi lays out for us the ways in which Heqqesh is used.  In his writings on ‘Adderet ‘Eliyahu, he discusses ordinances in general and these can be found from 238 to 246.  He discusses both positive and negative ordinances.  Yet, for this paper we will focus on pages 246 to 250 in which he explains the ways of Heqqesh and even Sevel HaYerushah which is the Buren of the Inheritance.


“You must know that there are many ordinances which are not expressly mentioned in the Law but which issue from the validity of other ordinances or from the accounts of the prophetic utterances, and their excellent requires their being obligatory.  These ordinances are derived by means of analogy, in several ways, as is evident from the words of scholars” (Ibid, Pg. 246)


Here we see that he outlines what is Heqqesh first.  It is an analogy and is not something you will find expressed in the Torah or the utterance of the prophets/Nevi’im.  It is found in the utterances of the Sages or Scholars we refer to as Hakhamim.  This is very important to know since we also know our brother’s the Rabbanites also have utterances of Sage and Scholars who are known as Rabbis.  So we must look at this carefully as not to confuse the two.  First, in Karaism while we consider the words of our Sages and that while some Karaites like Hakham Basyatchi might refer to these utterances as obligatory it does not mean that all Karaites hold them as such.  As Karaites, we are taught that the obligatory is the Torah as it is the utterance of Elohim through Moshe.  As well is the Prophets, which we are told to follow their utterances it they be true as defined in the Torah.  The utterances of Sages are therefore words of men and must be validated by the Torah and Nevi’im. 


Hakham Basyatchi continues in the Karaite Anthology.


“The First Variety: when an ordinance is found in the Law in one place and its precise meaning is explained in another place, either in the Law or in the prophetic books, we assume that the explanation of the ordinance as first is the same as that found in the other place.  For example, with regard to the verse if brethren should dwell together, and one of them should die (Deut. 25:5), one might be in doubt as whether brethren signifies brothers by blood or by common family.  Now from the story of Ruth, the Moabite, we learn that redemption of the of the deceased brother’s wife and property belonged in Ruth’s case to a brother of the family.  Since the Law forbids the application of this ordinance to brothers by blood, we therefore interpret If brethren should dwell together to refer only to brothers by family.  Likewise, we assume that the verse Thou shalt not take a wife in addition to her sister, to make enmity (Lev. 18:18), refers to sisters by religion , and not by blood, in accordance with what scholars have explained in this matter.” (pg 246, Ibid)


Now without commenting on the argument he uses to make this case, lets look at the example.  We find a scripture where we are unsure of the application of a word in Hebrew that can mean Brother by blood (immediate family or close family) or Brothers by family (family in extended or relation) or Brothers by mankind (all brothers regardless) we must have a way to define which set of meanings should be applied here.  Thus, by referencing other places in scriptures to support the argument in applying brothers in this way.  In this way we must be careful in our reasoning and application of like verses since one may use one set of verse to prove it the way Hakham Basyatchi’s has shown and use another set to prove it is another way.  For instance, if we consider the case of Tamar then we could also use that as a way to say that clearly Onan served as a brother by blood and it was understood that one who is a blood brother of the deceased man’s literal brother he is allowed to take the wife of his brother.  Also given that Yehudah/Judah was the one who gave her the child predates Vayiqra/Leviticus 18, and the prohibition of a Father sleeping with his daughter in Torah that the levirate marriage was a particular practice before the giving of the Torah.  So one must be careful to build the Heqqesh argument well or else it is easily refuted.


Another example of Heqqesh the rule of the particular to the general rule by Hakham Basyatchi follows, which is also to say a specific rule which can be expanded to cover a general rule expanding the coverage of the specific rule:


 “For example, the verse Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together (Deut. 22:10), forbids the combination of two specific kinds of animals, one of which is clean and the other unclean; it also mentions plowing, which is a particular kind of work used here in lieu of all kinds of work of work.  We conclude therefore that it is forbidden to use all sorts of unclean and clean animals together in all kinds of work, because one is strong and the other is weak, since unclean beasts are always stronger than clean, for which reason the flesh of the unclean is forbidden, as is well known to practitioners of medicine.  We thus learn that unclean and clean animals of any species whatever may not be used jointly in the same work, of whatever type it may be.” (pg 247, Ibid)


As we examine this type of Heqqesh, we see that this is like the example the cooking on the Chaggim and Yamin Tovim with the exception of Yom HaKippurim.  That takes the specific command for the Chag HaMatzot first and last days and expands it to all the rest.  The part I would disagree with here is the premise that all unclean animals are stronger.  A bull is a clean animal and is quite strong and there are plenty of unclean animals weaker than the bull.


In a third type of Heqqesh, we can see the use of a comparative analogy or equal nature.  In this example Hakham Basyatchi show us that we can use analogy to reflect a specific rule and develop an equal rule.  This allows us to show that though not covered directly in the text we can establish a rule that covers something not documented.


“For example, it is written: Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy fathers’s brother (Lev. 18:14), from which we learn by way of comparative analogy that the same prohibition applies also to the mothers brother.” (pg 247, Ibid)


This can further be supported by the verse in Lev. 18:8 Do not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is the nakedness of your father.  This supports the previous because since the Father’s nakedness is equal to the mother’s nakedness then those relatives on the mothers side are equal because of the linkage to the mother from the father.  This is in my opinion a very sound usage of Heqqesh.


The fourth type of Heqqesh is using the analogy leading from the minor to the major.  Hakham Basyatchi explains:


“… the law sometimes forbids a minor thing without prohibiting  the corresponding major, the illegality of which is therefore derived by way  of this variety of analogy.  For example, it is written: Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy son’s daughter, of thy daughter’s daughter (Lev. 18:10), but Scripture does not expressly forbid marrying the daughter herself. That the latter, too, is forbidden we learn by arguing from the minor to the major, i.e., if the daughter’s daughter is forbidden, how much more so the daughter herself” (Ibid, page 247)


This use of Heqqesh is to fill a blank which is logical and can be shown it too would be apply given the part which was missing would be consistent in being applied from what is known.


The fifth variation is an analogy based on the studying of the word of an ordinance.  In this one would look at the underlying meaning of the word to define and arrive at a understanding not listed in the text.  In this example Hakham Basyatchi states:


“Likewise, in interpreting the verse This month shall be for you the beginning of the months (Exod. 12:2), we learn its meaning from the literal significance of the word month, i.e., “renewal of a thing,” meaning the renewal of the visibility of the moon to the inhabitants of the earth.  So also from the expression A moon of days (Deut. 21:13) meaning a month, we learn that this renewal takes place in the moon as viewed by those living upon the earth.”  (Ibid, pages 247-248)


In my understanding this is to build a case upon the meaning of a word is more of a peshat method.  As such I don’t see this as a variation of Heqqesh but Peshat.  Normally, one will search the scripture to find the overall meaning of the word and based upon the meaning from the verb the noun is derived from or in the cases the noun it is derived from one then can be certain of the meaning of the Hebrew word in question and thus the studying of the word is in my view Peshat.


The sixth variation of Heqqesh according to Hakham Basyatchi is referred to logical preference.  This Hakham Basyatchi explains is the reasoning for the development of the Sevel Hayerushah or Burden of the Inheritance.


“This applies to cases were we find no pertinent ordinance written in the Law, nor one that might be derived by analogy from another written ordinance; in such cases reason supplies the pertinent, whether permissive or prohibited.  Most of the laws governing inheritance are derived by way of logical preference, as will be explained in the proper place.” (Ibid, page 248)


So we see that the burden of the inheritance may not have any reference to scripture but are just logical reason on a topic by a Sage and thus are the opinion of that Sage.  As Karaites we are to study the scriptures and where an opinion is not supported in the scripture it is a preference and should not be seen as binding.


The seventh variety of Heqqesh is based on similarity.  Hakham Basyatchi states:


“…what is prohibited to one of two of a kind, if forbidden to the other also, as required by both reason and common knowledge.  For example, if marrying then daughter of the father’s wife is forbidden because of two closely related persons may not be married to two other closely related persons, then likewise whenever the marriage of two close relatives to two other close relatives is involved, the same prohibition should apply.” (Ibid, page 248)


This is where Heqqesh is used to greatly restrict who may or may not marry.  And in determining the relationship one must determine who is or not a close relative.  You can see how Heqqesh could be expanded to a point where a relationship might be allowed in the Tanakh but through Heqqesh it would be restricted.


There is one other form of acceptance of rules that Hakham Basyatchi states in that customs or traditions, which we have followed over time, are binding upon us.This I believe is the used of the sixth variety of Heqqesh in this.  He states:


“There are, however, other ordinances in the laws of the ordinances.”  (Ibid, page 248) 


Right here we should stop and think about this statement.  There is a law of ordinances?  Yes, Hakham Basyatchi hold the position that a custom or tradition is binding like that of the revealed words of the prophets.  This in and of itself is would seem to a bit of a leap in that our Sages or Hakhamim are not Navi and thus how can we elevate their words to be binding like the Nevi’im (Prophets).  But he is clear that in his opinion, this is the case.


“They are not recorded in the Law and have become as second nature to us; nevertheless, they flow in the sense from the intent of prophetic utterances.  Such ordinances are called by scholars “the burden of inheritance” or “tradition”” (Ibid, page 248)


So you see that this is very familiar and I believe a very talmudic position.  In the Hakham Nehemia’s work on Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus, he points out that the Rabbis believe that a minhag (custom) becomes binding over time on the whole of the community.


‘The rabbinical Maxim minhag Yisrael torah hi …”A custom of Israel is law.”  Actually, it literally says, “A custom of Israel is Torah!”’ (the Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus, page 19)


So what Hakham Basyatchi is stating is very much the same if one can take a tradition and say it is binding upon the even if there is no proof in scripture to support it.


‘The learned Rabbi Tobiah states that he who says that there are traditions which have no support in Scripture does so merely because of his insufficient comprehension of the particular ordinance.  That is why Scholars have said that all ordinances are valid, whether written in scripture or derived by way of analogy or transmitted by tradition; they have said also, “the observance of Scripture rests on three things: the written, analogy, and the burden of inheritance” (Karaite Anthology, Nemoy, L, Page 249)


Clearly, not every Karaite would agree with Sevel Hayerushah (burden of Inheritance) even though some things are transmitted by tradition unless they relate to scripture in some form how can one make that binding on an individual.


As you see Heqqesh, as analogy is very complex and if not used properly can cause issues.  We must therefore be careful in its use. Below are some more examples of using Heqqesh.


Examples of Heqqesh


When looking for an example of Heqqesh one only has to look into the Karaite Anthology by Leon Nemoy.  On pages 266 through 267, our sage Elijah Basyatchi wrote “Concerning the Dictum, Thou shalt not boil a kid in its Mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19).  In this section, Hakham Basyatchi goes through and give his interpretation of this verse.  He starts out with the Peshat but then quickly moves into Heqqesh.  He States, “…Its literal meaning is clearly that one must not boil a kid together with its mother’s milk.”  This is the plain meaning of the verse with its too other places in torah.  Yet immediately he moves into Heqqesh by stating this to cover both wild and domestic animals.  First, problem I have is how one would gather milk from a wild animal.  First you would have to catch the mother with its young.   Then, you would have to restrain the mother to milk her.  Then you would have to kill one of her off-spring so that you could cook it in it Mother’s milk.  I am not saying this is impossible but it is highly unlikely that one would go through the trouble of this.  If you waited until the animal was comfortable with you milking it you are starting to domesticate it and so it becomes less the wild animal.   He uses as support for not doing this Leviticus 22:28, which states “And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not slaughter it and it’s young in one day” This does support this idea and I agree with him hat this verse supports the idea but it never extends this to wild animals.   He states to make this extend to wild animals they use analogy (Heqqesh).


Thus, we see one level of Heqqesh used here.  He is not finished in that he uses the reverse case that is also acceptable in dealing with equal things.  However, by reversing this verse we expand this to now cover the Daughter’s milk not being used in with the Father’s or Mother’s meat.  Clearly, from reading the verse we can see that was never the intention of the words spoken and thus, I would contend that this is an adding to scripture in making a new rule via Heqqesh.  He even uses “you shalt not slaughter” and equates that to “You shalt not eat”.   In doing this, is that any different than Chava telling the snake “you shall not touch the fruit” (Genesis 3:3).  The command given to Adam and he was to pass onto Chava was “this fruit you shalt not eat” (Genesis 2:17).  Clearly, this again is an adding of a command that is not there.   If in this example it was adding, then to say “you shalt not eat” is also an adding of a new command not given.


So using reason and peshat, how might one understand this verse?  That one should not literally cook a young animal in its mother’s milk.   Anything else would be an addition.  This means one could have a goat burger with cow cheese or a steak with feta cheese because there is no way for a goat or sheep to be the mother of a cow nor a cow to be a mother of a goat or sheep.  Therefore, based upon peshat these would be permitted. 

You see from the example of Hakham Basyatchi that Heqqesh can expand the nature and add commands, which did not exist.  But isn’t there an acceptable usage for Heqqesh?  Yes there is.  If one looks into Leviticus 18 we see family relationships, which are forbidden. 


Let’s take a look at one.   In verse 6 it states, “None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover [their] nakedness: I [am] Yehovah.”  So anything that applies to one relative like an uncle could be extended to include the aunt, or the father to the mother, or the son to the daughter.  The text for the most part addresses the male in the relationship.  Therefore, the Heqqesh is to extend it to the female where the female is not addressed.   Let’s look at verse 16, Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it [is] thy brother's nakedness.  To use this in Heqqesh it would be to state, Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy sister's husband: it [is] thy sister's nakedness.  So for the sister she cannot have a sexual relationship with her sister’s husband.  In Heqqesh, the sister is equally forbidden to have a sexual relationship with sister’s husband.   It is an expanding from Peshat, but by limiting its use then one is careful not to add to the commandments and only extend where it makes sense to extend.


Another example of Heqqesh is found in the practice of cooking on the high days or Chagim (Feasts) or Yamin Tovim.


Shemot/Exodus 12:16 (15-16)


15     Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the very first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day to the seventh day that person shall be cut off from Israel.

16     You shall celebrate a sacred occasion on the first day, and a sacred occasion on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them; only what every person is to eat, that alone may be prepared for you.


From this verse we learn that while all work (Melakhah) is restricted on the Miqra Qodesh (set apart proclamations) and yet the one Melakhah it allows here on the first and last days on Chag HaMatzot (Feast of the Unleavened Breads) is only that one may prepare to eat.  In other words, they are allows to cook on these two days.  This is the only place where they make this exception.  If one were to use Peshat they these days are the only ones one would be allowed to cook.  However, by using the Heqqesh argument,  if one Chag where cooking is allowed then all Chagim or Yamim Tovim.  The only exception is the Yom Hakippurim, which is a Fast day, and no one is allowed to eat on that day.  So through Heqqesh while it never directly states it, some will cook on the Set-apart days, therefore one may use the Analogy to allow one to do it.


We see that Heqqesh can be dangerous if not used wisely.  The basis of using Heqqesh must be justified to make the understanding of the verse clearer.  It must also be recognized that when taken to a point it starts to add to what was written.  In doing this study, It is my hope that you will see from our Karaite History how some of the rules for Sevel Hayerushah (Burden of Inheritance) came from and that Karaites are not literalist but look to the context and while using reason will use the text as their basis for reading, understanding and doing the scripture.



Karaite Anthology, Nemoy, Leon, Yale University Press, Volume 5, 1952


The Hebrew Yeshua vs The Greek Jesus, Gordon, Nehemia, Hilkiah Press, 2005


Tanakh, Jewish Publication Society, 1985