Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Thu Jan 17 09:03:59 EST 2002

What does "loving kindness" mean? Since kindness, as an abstract
quality, cannot love, this is something meaningless except for those who
think they know what it means from reading the King James Bible etc.

As for "mercy", I think that is quite simply a mistranslation of the
Hebrew, though one that is unfortunately rather widespread because of
the Septuagint translation ELEOS.

I rather like George's suggestion of "commitment", in a rather modern
English sense. The problem with his alternative of "devotion" is that it
sounds very odd as an attribute of God towards his people.

But this word has been the subject of a considerable amount of scholarly
study e.g. by N. Glueck, K.D. Sakenfeld and G.R. Clark. These studies
are summarised, with a bibliography, in the article on this word in W.A.
VanGemeren "New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology &
Exegesis" vol.2, Zondervan 1997. Proper discussion should be informed by
the results of these studies.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Shoshanna Walker [mailto:rosewalk at]
> Sent: 16 January 2002 14:02
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: CHESED
> My first choice is  "Loving kindness" -   my second choice is "mercy"
> Chesed is the fourth "sephira" according to Kabbala, and the source
> of all the mercy in the world, its opposite is Gevura, "stern
> judgement"
> Shoshanna
>   I suppose it can be translated as "faithfulness", too.
> Ausra
>    George Athas <gathas at> wrote:
> > The second question might refer to a different word
> > which is notoriously difficult to translate into English but
> gets
> > rendered both as "righteousness" and "charity" in English versions.
> is
> > often understood as something like "covenant faithfulness," but I
> > know that that really captures the sense either.
> It's not that hard to translate CHESED into English. I go for either
> "commitment" or "devotion".
> Best regards,
> (Sydney, Australia)

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