Hebrew Words: The Four Levels of Meaning

“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language”. Zech. 3:9


by Dr. Victoria Sarvadi © 2017


Hebrew is a fascinating language. Unlike Latin and Germanic languages, all the letters of the Hebrew language have a meaning.


For example:

Aleph means “head”, Bet means “house” therefore- ABBA (daddy in English) means “head of house and the house’s leader”.  Because the sounds are repeated, the word has a very casual and childlike quality similar to the word dada.


Hebrew letters are essentially building blocks and when put together create more than a word but an entire concept.


It is also a fact that Hebrew does not employ separate letters for vowels as other languages do.  A few consonants can act as vowels (like the “y” in English) and a tittle or a jot may also change the way a word is pronounced. However, a slight change in the way a word is pronounced can change the nuance of the Hebrew word entirely even to mean the opposite.


One of the most profound truths concerning Hebrew is what is known and pronounced as PaRDeS. (Remember there are no vowels in Hebrew).  This word “PRDS” is where we get the word “paradise” but the Hebrew word itself is actually an acronym.


P – stands for the word P’shat.

R – stands for the word Remis.

D – stands for the word Drash.

S – stands for the word Sod.



P’shat refers to a literal, concrete or surface meaning. This level of meaning of all Hebrew words is the common meaning that first translates to other languages. This is one reason why other languages often lack the ability to convey deeper Biblical truths.





Remis indicates a hint or prophecy and suggests or points to something more profound that is hidden from the surface. This is evident with strange and elusive words. A good example is the word “breaker” in Micah 2:13. The mere p’shat (literal) meaning doesn’t give enough information for this word in other translations.  In the depths of this word is the inference of Messiah. This elusiveness of clear meaning should cause one to dig for more clarity.



Drash is a deeper concept of a word that is connected to other words and often requires a search in several places in scripture to find its true meaning. This level of meaning is contextual and surrounding words are necessary to bring the idea into focus. The word should be searched for in other parts of the Bible. Example: The word “clouds” found in Daniel


“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him. Daniel 7:13 CJB


This word “cloud” can be brought into closer illumination with its use in the book of Psalms.


He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot. Psalms 104:3


The word “cloud” in English could be described as a billow of gasses but the deeper meaning is the agent by which God (His Spirit) presents Himself to this physical world. He comes back on “clouds of glory”, Stephen saw a “cloud of witnesses”, God led the Israelites as a “cloud by day”… These words should not be taken just on the surface as a literal cumulus or cirrus cloud. A drash study would bring one to the conclusion that there is a splendid spiritual element to this “cloud” that accompanies or brings the very Presence of God to be seen on Earth. In Hebrew the word mishkan is basically understood as a “container” or “place” of his glory. In fact, the very familiar word Shekinah (glory) comes from this word mishkan. The reality is we must be ready for the coming of the Lord. To be watching for this manifested glory.


And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:9-11 KJV



Sod level is the mystical meaning of Hebrew e Hand most of the time will not be readily apparent.  Digging deep into sod level is rich and fulfilling. The sod level is revealed by the Spirit, which is the chokmah (divine wisdom) of God. The Word promises us this chokmah if we are seeking the heart of God and we simply ask Him for it.


If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  James 1:5 KJV


Take the word tsala, which translates on the p’shat (literal) level as “rib”. However, as one digs down in the deeper drash and sod levels of this Hebrew word, wonderful concepts begin to emerge.


The word also means “chamber” or “portion”. So, what chamber could have been removed from the human being in order to create a female?  First, let’s look at the adam (which by the way, translates to the “red dirt being” and was not called by the proper name Adam until after the tsala was removed).  This original creation consisted of both sexes in one being. But the adam was lonely so God took something out of the adam and fashioned or designed another being from it.  Tsala has the inference (In Hebrew) that if it is removed then the absence of it would cause the adam to walk with a limp or curved to one side.  This implies that when Eve came along side Adam, he straightened up, and no longer limped, no longer was unbalanced but instead was counter balanced. Marriage is the mystery of God where the two become one in an intimate sense. Amazing that this deep level of meaning is in the word t’sala.


Hebrew is a rich, multi-dimensional language. spiritual, colorful, full of pictures, nuances and idioms, Hebrew was the means by which God first communicated His deepest thoughts and truths and wrote them down on tablets of stone.


Just knowing there is such a thing called PRDS (the four levels of meanings of the Hebrew language) should be helpful with those readers who are studying His Word in other languages of the nations. God speaks on many levels. May your spirit hear what His Spirit is conveying through His marvelous Word.


The amazing prophecy of Zephaniah 3:9, reminds us of a wonderful promise during the future millennial reign of Christ: “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord.” Yes, the world will once again have a pure language that unifies His people!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *