Compassion

Psalm 78.38

          But He Himself,
      The Compassionate One,

    atones for moral perversity
   And He does not cause one
           to be destroyed.
 
  

Compassion is not a commonly used word in the KJV Bible. It occurs in the Hebrew terms only 22 times, and in the Greek terms only 19 times.
Yet YAHWEH is identified as a compassionate God.
It's one of His primary attributes. The concept is far more often "
translated" as mercy (along with its variations). 

Strong's Numbers 7349, 7355, and 7356 are translated as mercy 80 times. This is not really a correct translation. (See the study on mercy for more detail on that term.) As you can quickly see below these should have been translated as compassion, not mercy. This would also be more in keeping with YAHWEH's divine character.

There are several Greek terms that are defined as compassion but are not translated as compassion in the KJV Bible.
This is
confusing. One must ask why this is not done. The primary goal of this study, and others like it that are being prepared, (Check the “Scripture Studies” section.) is to help eliminate confusion within The Scriptures. 

The current state of affairs has left us with innumerable “translations” that are not really "translations" at all. Instead, they are misleading presentations  of the "traditions of men”. There's a special term for this. It's called eisegesis. It means placing one's own ideas into a text to make it conform to one's own world view or belief system. 

Exegesis, on the other hand, is seeking to discover what the text actually says, and means. In this word study the following conventions will be used: 
bold = best translation 
{ } = Writer's insertions for purposes of clarity. 
[not used] = the term is not translated in the KJV as the key word for this study. 
In some cases this demonstrates there is a more correct word that could have been used, but was not used. 

Please pay very careful attention to the terms given. Many of them are formed from the same “root”, giving them essentially the same meaning. Note that in Hebrew the only differencebetween some terms is the vowel pointings.

HEBREW TERMS:

2550. lAmDj chamal, khaw-mal´; a primitive root; to commiserate; by implication, to spare
have compassion, (
have) pity, spare.              [occurs 5 times]

 2551. hDlVmRj chemlah, khem-law´; from 2550; commiseration:
—merciful, pity.                                                 [not used]
Note:
These two terms would be best translated as pity

7349.
M…wjAr rachuwm, rakh-oom´; from 7355; compassionate:
full of compassion, merciful.                            [occurs 5 times]

7355. MAj∂r racham, raw-kham´; a primitive root; to fondle; by implication, to love, especially to compassionate: 
have compassion (on, upon), love, (find, have, obtain, show) mercy(-iful, on, upon), (have) pity, Ruhamah, x surely.                                              [occurs 8 times]

7356. MAjAr racham, rakh´-am; from 7355; compassion (in the plural); by extension, the womb (as cherishing the fetus); by implication, a maiden: 
—bowels,
compassion, damsel, tender love, (great, tender) mercy, pity, womb. 
                                                                           
[occurs 4 times]
Note: The bowels/belly is the place Hebraically where compassion (feeling) resides.


GREEK TERMS:

1653. ejlee÷w eleeo, el-eh-eh´-o; from 1656; to compassionate (by word or deed, specially, by divine grace favor): 
have compassion (pity on), have (obtain, receive, show) mercy (on). 
                                                                           
[occurs 3 times] 

1654. ejlehmosu/nh eleemosune, el-eh-ay-mos-oo´-nay; from 1656; compassionateness, i.e. (as exercised towards the poor) beneficence, or (concretely) a benefaction: 
— alms(-deeds).                                                
 [not used]

1655. ejleh/mwn eleemon, el-eh-ay´-mone; from 1653; compassionate (actively): 
— merciful.                                                        
[not used]

1656. e¶leoß eleos, el´-eh-os; of uncertain affinity; compassion (human or divine, especially active):
— (+ tender) mercy.                                            [not used]
Note: Three of these connected terms are defined as compassion. Only one of them is translated as compassion in the KJV translation. The others could certainly have been used also, but are not.

3627. oijktei÷rw oikteiro, oyk-ti´-ro  also (in certain tenses) prolonged; oijktere÷w oiktereo, oyk-ter-eh´-o; from oi\ktoß oiktos (pity); to exercise pity: — have compassion on.
                                                                           
[occurs 2 times] 

3628. oijktirmo/ß oiktirmos, oyk-tir-mos´; from 3627; pity:
- mercy.                                                              
[not used] 

3629. oijkti÷rmwn oiktirmon, oyk-tir´-mone; from 3627; compassionate:
- merciful, of tender mercy.                                 [not used]  {should be pity}

4697. splagcni÷zomai splagchnizomai, splangkh-nid´-zom-ahee; middle voice from 4698; to have the bowels yearn, i.e. (figuratively) feel sympathy, to pity
have (be moved with) compassion.               
[occurs 12 times]

4698. spla¿gcnon splagchnon, splangkh´-non; probably strengthened from splh/n splen (the “spleen”); an intestine (plural); figuratively, pity or sympathy:
- bowels, inward affection, + tender mercy.         [not used]

Note: The Hebrew concept of emotions was centered in the "bowels" or "intestines". These two Greek terms are the best Greek terms to convey this concept. It is the emotions that are involved in acts of compassion.

4834. sumpaqe÷w sumpatheo, soom-path-eh´-o; from 4835; to feel “sympathy” with, i.e. (by implication) to commiserate:
have compassion, be touched with a feeling of.   [occurs 1 time]

4835. sumpaqh/ß sumpathes, soom-path-ace´; from 4841; having a fellow-feeling (“sympathetic), i.e. (by implication) mutually commiserative
having compassion one of another.                [not used] 

4841. sumpa¿scw sumpascho, soom-pas´-kho; from 4862 and 3958 (including its alternate); to experience pain[not used]jointly or of the same kind (specially, persecution; to “sympathize”): 
— suffer with.                                                       
[not used]

ENGLISH DEFINITIONS:

Commiserate - to feel sorrow or show sorrow or pity for; sympathize with in distress.

Compassion - sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, with the urge to help; pity; deep sympathy.

Compassionate - feeling or showing compassion; pitying; sympathizing deeply.

Mercy -

1. a refraining from harming or punishing offenders, enemies, persons in one's power, etc.; kindness in excess of what may be expected or demanded by fairness; forbearance and compassion

2. a disposition to forgive, pity, or be kind

3. the power to forgive or be kind; clemency; as, throw yourself on his mercy

4. kind or compassionate treatment; relief of suffering

5. a fortunate thing; thing to be grateful for; blessing

Pity - sorrow felt for another's suffering or misfortune; compassion; sympathy.

            - (In other words, pity is equivalent to compassion.)

CONCLUSIONS:

There are two fundamental terms in Hebrew for compassion. There is only one fundamental Greek term for compassion, (Strong's Numbers 1653-1656.) but it is virtually unused in The New Covenant. Several other Greek terms that are "translated" as compassion actually have a different meaning. Part of the problem lies within the English definitions of the terms that are used as "translations" of compassion. There is an overlap in meaning that occurs, with some terms being called compassion when in fact a different connotation is indicated.

For the sake of consistency in translation, and in order to maintain a proper connection to the very character of YAHWEH Himself, each of these terms should properly be translated as identified above (the individual terms that are "boxed in”). To deviate from this is to add confusion for the reader. James Strong seems to use these terms as synonyms and acts as if they are interchangeably equivalent. This is not helpful in many cases. Strong's definitions often do not help us to separate the terms from one another. 

If you’d like to see a full listing of the verses where these terms occur in which the proper term has been inserted please click on this link: PDF - CompassionThis will open a PDF file you can download and study as you have time.


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