Hesed int Lxx?

How is “hesed” translated into the LXX?


Looks like “steadfast love”, at least according to the NRSV. See:


Whoops, that link might not work. In any event, here’s an example from Genesis 24

  1. ויאמר ׀ יהוה אלהי אדני אברהם הקרה־נא לפני היום ועשה־חסדעם אדני אברהם׃

O Lord the God of my master Abraham, meet me to day, I beseech thee, and show kindness to my master Abraham.
“Domine,Deus domini mei Abraham, occurre obsecro mihi hodie et fac misericordiam cum domino meo Abraham.
καὶ εἶπεν κύριε ὁ θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου μου αβρααμ εὐόδωσον ἐναντίον ἐμοῦ σήμερον καὶ ποίησον ἔλεος μετὰ τοῦ κυρίου μου αβρααμ

Doesn’t “hesed” translate to “Mercy”? Or “Love”?

My understanding, based on Chasidic and Talmudic writings, is that it’s the type of “love” in the sense of lovingkindness, faithful love, etc. So, you’ll see that the Latin Vulgata translates it “miseracordia” (mercy), and the Septuagint translates it “eleia”, as in “Kyrie eleison” (mercy).

As a side note, a “Chassid” is one possessed of “chesed”, i.e., a loving, charitable person.


Does the LXX use “agape” or “agapan” some of the time?

Again, THANKS!

Thanks for that info. I seem to recall either Scott Hahn or Tim Gray calling it “Covenantal Love”.

Oddly enough, no (this is fun!). Agape is “ahava” in OT Hebrew. See:

 Ecclesiastes 9
  1.  και γε ***αγαπη*** αυτων και γε μισος αυτων και γε ζηλος αυτων ηδη απωλετο και μερις ουκ εστιν αυτοις ετι εις αιωνα εν παντι τω πεποιημενω υπο τον ηλιον
    גם אהבתם גם־שנאתם גם־קנאתם כבר אבדה וחלק אין־להם עוד לעולם בכל אשר־נעשה תחת השמש׃
    Amor quoque eorum et odium et invidiae simul perierunt, nec iam habent partem in hoc saeculo et in opere, quod sub sole geritur.
    Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun.


Is “ahava” used very often?

My computer is rather slow.

(My computer says: “Its user is rather slow, too.”)

I am unable to get to the Greek or Hebrew for some strange reason. However, it would not help much, my language skills are too weak.

Again, thank you so much.

God Bless,

Jim Baur

Jim, here is a link that gives you every place that they can be found, you should find this very helpful, I use this site all the time and I am even using it for a project that I am workin on right now bibleq.com/search?q=%D7%90%D7%94%D7%91%D7%94&site=scripturetext&client=multigreek&proxystylesheet=multigreek&filter=0&num=10&output=xml_no_dtd&btnG.x=11&btnG.y=10

Notice that the Hebrew word that you asked about אהבה is in bold, click onto those links and it will give you the passages to where you can analyze each Hebrew word.

I’m using it for the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew litteralchristianlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Hebrew+Matthew

Here’s something that your post reminded me of; it’s the Holy Father’s parsing of the various Greek words for “love” in Deus Caritas Est:

“Eros” and “Agape” – difference and unity

  1. That love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings, was called eros by the ancient Greeks. Let us note straight away that the Greek Old Testament uses the word eros only twice, while the New Testament does not use it at all: of the three Greek words for love, eros, philia (the love of friendship) and agape, New Testament writers prefer the last, which occurs rather infrequently in Greek usage. As for the term philia, the love of friendship, it is used with added depth of meaning in Saint John’s Gospel in order to express the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. The tendency to avoid the word eros, together with the new vision of love expressed through the word agape, clearly point to something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of love.


Chesed can include both meanings, so rendering it by just one word would not do it justice. I’ve seen Bibles render it into stuff like “covenant mercy” or “lovingkindness”. :slight_smile:

Great link! It’s found a permanent place in my bookmarks.

So, just for fun, I dug up 2 places in the LXX where both ahava and chesed are used in the same sentence:

Esther 2

  1. ***ויאהב*** המלך את־אסתר מכל־הנשים ותשא־***חן וחסד*** לפניו מכל־הבתולת וישם כתר־מלכות בראשה וימליכה תחת ושתי׃

καὶ ἠράσθη ὁ βασιλεὺς εσθηρ καὶ εὗρεν χάριν παρὰ πάσας τὰς παρθένους καὶ ἐπέθηκεν αὐτῇ τὸ διάδημα τὸ γυναικεῖον

Et amavit eam rex plus quam omnes mulieres; habuitque gratiam et favorem coram eo super omnes virgines, et posuit diadema regni in capite eius fecitque eam regnare in loco Vasthi.

the king loved Esther more than all the other women; of all the virgins she won his favor and devotion, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

Psalms 33

  1.  ***אהב*** צדקה ומשפט ***חסד*** יהוה מלאה הארץ׃ 	

ἀγαπᾷ ἐλεημοσύνην καὶ κρίσιν τοῦ ἐλέους κυρίου πλήρης ἡ γῆ

Diligit iustitiam et iudicium; misericordia Domini plena est terra.

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

Two interesting things: (1) The Greek “harin” included both senses of “favor and devotion”, which require two words even in Hebrew!; and (2) in Psalms, we have to use “love” twice in English for what appear to be two quite distinct concepts.

Thanks to all who are helping me.

My God you guys are generous–generosity is produced (karpos) by the Holy Spirit!


I will have to study all that you wonderful people gave me.

I will be back.


So, to reasonably convey “chesed”, we need “loving-kindness.” But the Greek LXX uses “charin” in Esther to convey “chen v’chesed” (“faith” and “lovingkindness”), so we have 1 Greek word doing the work of 2 Hebrew words, or 3 English words!

I’m always astounded by the multiplicity of different ways which different languages carve up reality.

Careful; while COPLAND 3 is very likely a legitimate scholar, I’m practicing philology without a license. :smiley:

Good luck to ya, Jim!

Exodus 34:6

English NASB: Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;

Hebrew Masoretic: Hesed—חֶסֶד translated: goodness, [resources of] love, loving-kindness, merciful, sometimes grace, and especially loyalty

וַיַּעֲבֹר יְהוָה עַל-פָּנָיו, וַיִּקְרָא, יְהוָה יְהוָה, אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן–אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם, וְרַב-חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת

Aramaic Peshitta: taybūṯā—kindess, thanks, beneficence, grace, charity, soundness

ܘܥܒܼܪ ܡܪܝܐ ܩܕܡܘܗܝ܂ ܘܩܼܪܐ ܡܪܝܐ ܡܪܝܐ܂ ܐܠܗܐ ܡܪܚܡܢܐ ܘܡܪܚܦܢܐ܂ ܕܢܓܝܪܐ ܪܘܚܗ ܘܣܓܝܐܐ ܛܝܒܘܬܗ ܘܩܘܫܬܗ܂

Greek Septuagint: Polyeleos—πολυελεος translated: Very merciful, compassionate, full of mercy

Και παρηλθεν κυριος προ προσωπου αυτου και εκαλεσεν κυριος ο θεος οικτιρμων και ελεημων μακροθυμος και

πολυελεος και αληθινος

Latin Vulgate: Miserationis—Mercy

Quo transeunte coram eo, ait: Dominator Domine Deus, misericors et clemens, patiens et multæ miserationis, ac verax

Hosea 6:6

Hosea 6:6 shows that hesed is something that God desires in man, which implies loyalty to God. In fact the NASB translates it:

English NASB: “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Hebrew Masoretic: Hesed—חֶסֶד translated: goodness, [resources of] love, loving-kindness, merciful, sometimes grace, and especially loyalty

כִּי חֶסֶד חָפַצְתִּי, וְלֹא-זָבַח; וְדַעַת אֱלֹהִים, מֵעֹלוֹת

Aramaic Peshitta: bataybūṯā—kindess, thanks, beneficence, grace, charity, soundness

ܡܛܠ ܕܨܒܝܬ ܒܛܝܒܘܬܐ ܘܠܐ ܒܕܒܚܬܐ܂ ܘܒܐܝܕܥܬܗ ܕܐܠܗܐ ܛܒ ܡܢ ܝܩ̈ܕܐ ܫ̈ܠܡܐ܂

Greek Septuagint (LXX): eleos—ἔλεος translated: mercy, act of kindness

διότι ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν καὶ ἐπίγνωσιν θεοῦ ἢ ὁλοκαυτώματα

LXX Translation: For mercy I want, and not sacrifice, and full knowledge of God rather than whole burnt-offerings.

Latin Vulgate: misericordiam—mercy

quia misericordiam volui et non sacrificium et scientiam Dei plus quam holocaust

Matthew 9:13

NASB English: “But go and learn what this means: ’ DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Greek Byzantine Majority: eleos—eleon, eleos in Alexandrian, eleoV in Hort & Westcott poreuqenteV de maqete ti estin eleon qelw kai ou qusian ou gar

hlqon kalesai dikaiouV alla amartwlouV eis metanoian

Aramaic Peshitta: hnana— ܚܢܳܢܳܐtranslate: mercy

ܙܶܠܘ ܝܺܠܰܦܼܘ ܡܳܢܰܘ܃ ܚܢܳܢܳܐ ܒ݁ܳܥܶܐ ܐ̱ܢܳܐ܂ ܘܠܳܐ ܕܿܶܒܼܚܬ݂ܳܐ܂ ܠܳܐ ܓܿܶܝܪ ܐܶܬܼܺܝܬܼ ܕܿܶܐܩܪܶܐ ܠܙܰܕܿܺܝܩܶܐ̈܂ ܐܶܠܳܐ ܠܚܰܛܳܝܶܐ̈

Latin Vulgate: misericordiam–mercy

euntes autem discite quid est misericordiam volo et non sacrificium non enim veni vocare iustos sed peccatores

Now we will look at another word that is sometimes translated grace or favor.

Genesis 6:8

English NASB: But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Hebrew Masoretic: khane or chên or chn— חֵן translated: graciousness, that is, subjectively (kindness, favor) or objectively (beauty): - favor, grace (-ious), pleasant, precious, [well-] favored.

וְנֹחַ, מָצָא חֵן בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה

Aramaic Peshitta: rḥmyn–

ܘܢܘܚ ܐܫܟܚ ܪ̈ܚܡܐ ܒܥܝܢ̈ܝ ܡܪܝܐ܂

Greek Septuagint: carin–grace, favor

Νωε δὲ εὗρεν χάριν ἐναντίον κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ

Latin Vulgate: Gratiam–grace

Noë vero invenit gratiam coram Domino.

Genesis 19:19

Here we see Hesed and chen in the same verse:

Hebrew Masoretic:

הִנֵּה-נָא מָצָא עַבְדְּךָ חֵן, בְּעֵינֶיךָ, וַתַּגְדֵּל חַסְדְּךָ אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ עִמָּדִי, לְהַחֲיוֹת אֶת-נַפְשִׁי; וְאָנֹכִי, לֹא אוּכַל לְהִמָּלֵט הָהָרָה–פֶּן-תִּדְבָּקַנִי הָרָעָה, וָמַתִּי

Greek Septuagint: ἔλεος–

ἐπειδὴ εὗρεν ὁ παῖς σου *ἔλεος ἐναντίον σου καὶ ἐμεγάλυνας τὴν δικαιοσύνην σου ὃ ποιεῖς ἐπ᾽ ἐμέ

τοῦ ζῆν τὴν ψυχήν μου ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ δυνήσομαι διασωθῆναι εἰς τὸ ὄρος μὴ καταλάβῃ με τὰ κακὰ καὶ


*other LXX manuscripts have carin instead, the same word the New Testament uses for grace.

In some Jewish manuscripts such as the Targum Jonathan, replace another word for grace with hesed in its targums.


I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you.

I will have to print this out and read it slowly, thanks!

Again, thank you so much.

Actually, I thank all of you that have been so helpful.

I will be back with more questions, I am sure.


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