One of the greatest things about God is His everlasting and kind mercy. His love for us is so great that He constantly forgives us and tries to save us from the deadly consequences of sin. Therefore, I thought it’d be a great idea to take a look at the word mercy means in Hebrew and Greek.
All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise marked.
What Does The Word ‘Mercy’ Mean In Hebrew?
chanan- to implore.
As a verb, this word means “to be gracious, considerate, to show favor.” Usually, it’s used to describe the giving of favor when it is not expected or deserved. It can also be used to express generosity.
“The wicked borrows and does not repay,
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.”
– Psalm 37:21
God is the source of undeserved favor.
“Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have [a]enough.” So he urged him, and he took it.“
– Genesis 33:11
God’s favor can be seen by His deliverance of one’s enemies or surrounding evils. However, God uses His graciousness in His own way and whichever way He chooses.
checed- kindness, favor.
As a noun, this word means “loving-kindness; grace; goodness; steadfast love; faithfulness; mercy; goodness; devotion.” There are three basic meanings of this word and they always interact:
If there is any understanding of this word that lacks all three, it loses its richness.
This word refers to mutual rights and obligations between the parties of the relationship (especially Israel and Yahweh). Yet, checed is not limited only to obligation, but also generosity. It’s not only a matter of loyalty but mercy as well. The weaker party yearns for the blessing and protection of the stronger party. The stronger party has freedom but remains committed.
This term implies commitment and involvement in a relationship beyond the rule of law. For example, marriage is a legal matter, but the involvement transcends legalities.
Sometimes, devotion is the single best English word to describe checed.
“Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.“
– Isaiah 55:3
Both God and man can be the subject of checed. When a man is the subject, it usually speaks of the person’s kindness and loyalty to one another.
Checed is one of God’s most central characteristics. His lovingkindness is offered to His people, who need saving from enemies, sins, and troubles. This adjective is used multiple times to describe God’s nature, which is rich in checed.
“They refused to obey,
And they were not mindful of Your wonders
That You did among them.
But they hardened their necks,
And ]in their rebellion
They appointed a leader
To return to their bondage.
But You are God,
Ready to pardon,
Gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger,
Abundant in kindness,
And did not forsake them.“
– Nehemiah 9:17
The covenant made with God and His people is sealed with checed. Therefore, it indicated a special bond between God and His chosen people made in His image. Also, God will not abandon His covenant because of His checed.
kapporeth- lid, cover.
This word means the mercy seat, or the throne of God. It refers to the gold slab that rested on top of the ark of the covenant. There were two cherubim on top of the slab that faced each other. The gold slab represented God’s throne.
racham- to be compassionate.
“Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.“
– Psalm 25:6
racham- compassion, womb.
What Does The Word ‘Mercy’ Mean In Greek?
anileos- inexorable, merciless.
“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
– James 2:13
eleeo- to give out compassion.
As a verb, this word means to feel sympathy with the misery of another.
“When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”
– Matthew 9:27
Eleos is the free gift God gives for the forgiveness of sin. Also, it’s related to the misery that sin brings. God expresses His care for our misery by His efforts to lessen and remove it. However, these efforts can be hindered by man’s continued perverseness.
This word is used of God in Ephesians 2:4 and Romans 15:9. He’s merciful to those who fear Him (Luke 1:50). Therefore, boldly pray for mercy. Eleos can also be used of men. Since God is merciful, He expected men to show mercy to one another also.
“And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.“
– Luke 10:37
Whenever mercy and peace occur together, they are in that order (except in Galatians 6:16) That’s because mercy is the act of God and peace is the experience that follows and rests in the heart of man.
oiktirmos- pity, compassion.
This is otherwise known as the seat of emotions.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.“
All in all, God mercy is something that the English language fails to truly capture. It’s a combination of steadfast love, goodness, forgiveness, strength, lovingkindness, and so much more.
I will be forever grateful for God’s mercy and how He saved me from the devil’s hands.
That’s what the word mercy means in Hebrew and Greek. I pray you found this article helpful. If so, please share this content. Also, feel free to share any thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!