Kindness

Psalm 117.1-2

Praise YAHWEH Himself את,
all the nations!
Shout praises to Him,
 all peoples!
117:2 Indeed, His kindness is mighty concerning us!
And the faithfulness of
YAHWEH is to eternity!
Praise Yah!

Kindness is a primary concept in Scripture. There are many different forms of kindness we encounter. Because of this we often tend to duse different terms to express the type of kindness we’re experiencing. Even within Scripture we find several different “interpretations” of what the terms mean.

There is only one basic word in Hebrew for it, chesedalthough it takes two different forms. The concept of kindness occurs 287 times in the Hebrew text of The Old Covenant. It identifies a major aspect of the very character of YAHWEH.  It's a central feature in The Old Covenant. Without the kindness of YAHWEH we would all be in serious trouble.

James Strong’s Concordance provides some basic definitions for us to work with. Please keep in mind that everything after
 the (-) is how the word is actually used in the KJV Bible. it is
not part of the definition. It’s only how the word is used in the KJV.

There is a Greek term used to "translate” chesed in the Septuagint. It is dikaiosuneHere is James Strong's definition: 

1343. dikaiosu/nh dikaiosune, dik-ah-yos-oo´-nay; from 1342; equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification{Equity means fairness, impartiality, justice.}
- righteousness. 

This term is translated as both "kindness" and "righteousness" in the Septuagint. But you can quickly see that it does not mean "kindness”, except perhaps in the sense of fairness to another. 
Please note that it is never translated as "kindness" in The New Covenant.

Now, here's the Hebrew term that is the foundation of "righteousness":

6666. h∂q∂dVx tsdaqah, tsed-aw-kaw´; from 6663; rightness (abstractly), subjectively (rectitude), objectively (justice), morally (virtue) or figuratively (prosperity): 
—justice, moderately, right(-eous) (act, -ly, -ness). 
[6663.
qAdDx tsadaq, tsaw dak-´; a primitive root; to be (causatively, make) right (in a moral or forensic sense):  This term helps to define 6666.] 
—cleanse, clear self, (be, do) just(-ice, -ify, -ify self), (be turn to) righteous(-ness).

Note that this term is never translated as "kindness”. Kindness comes from certain other Hebrew terms. This term, #6666, identifies "rightness of action”, and is often translated as "justice".

This study reveals a more clear picture of the true meaning of the terms involved. Already you can recognize there's a problem with the way certain terms are "translated”. The primary goal of this study, and others like it that are being prepared, 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.

HEBREW TERMS:

2616. dAsDj chacçad, khaw-sad´; a primitive root; properly, perhaps to bow (the neck only (compare 2603) in courtesy to an equal), i.e. to be kind; also (by euphem. (compare l288), but rarely) to reprove: 
—shew self merciful, put to shame.                 [occurs 247 times] 
2617.
dRsRj checçed, kheh´-sed; from 2616; kindness; by implication (towards God) piety: rarely (by opposition) reproof, or (subject.) beauty: 
—favour, good deed(-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-)kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity, reproach, wicked thing.               
                                             [occurs 40 times]

GREEK TERMS:

The following four terms are only used two times;
therefore they are relatively insignificant to this study. 
These terms deal more with affection than with kindness.

5360. filadelfi÷a philadelphia, fil-ad-el-fee´-ah; from 5361; fraternal affection
brotherly love (kindness), love of the brethren.
                                                                        
[occurs 1 time] 

5361. fila¿delfoß philadelphos, fil-ad´-el-fos; from 5384 and 80; fond of brethren, i.e. fraternal:
love as brethren.                                          [not used]

5362. fi÷landroß philandros, fil´-an-dros; from 5384 and 435; fond of man, i.e. affectionate as a wife: 
— love their husbands.                                      [not used] 

5363. filanqrwpi÷a philanthropia, fil-an-thro-pee´-ah; from the same as 5364; fondness of mankind, i.e. benevolence (“philanthropy”):
kindness, love towards man.                          
[occurs 1 time] 

5364. filanqrw¿pwß philanthropos, fil-an-thro´-poce; adverb from a compound of 5384 and 444; fondly to man (“philanthropically”), i.e. humanely
— courteously.                                                   [not used]  

The following four terms are connected. 
The basic sense is usefulness, or benefit, but not kindness. 

5541. crhsteuomai chresteuomai, khraste-yoo´-om-ahee; middle voice from 5543; to show oneself useful, i.e. act benevolently:  {benefit} 
be kind.                                                          [occurs 1 time] 

5542. crhstologi÷a chrestologia, khrase-tol-og-ee´-ah; from a compound of 5543 and 3004; fair speech, i.e. plausibility: - good words.
                                                                           
[not used]

5543. crhsto/ß chrestos, khrase-tos´; from 5530; employed, i.e. (by implication) useful (in manner or morals){beneficial} 
- better, easy, good(-ness), gracious, kind.         
[not used] 

5544. crhsto/thß chrestotes, khray-stot´-ace; from 5543; usefulness, i.e. morally, excellence (in character or demeanor): 
— gentleness, good(-ness),
kindness.                 [occurs 4 times] 

There is only one fundamental Hebrew term for kind/kindness.

Unfortunately far too often this term is translated as “mercy”, “merciful”, or “pity”, and not kindness, its meaning by definition.
Please refer to the word studies on
mercy and pity for more information on those terms. 

There is no specifically equivalent Greek term. There are a couple of Greek terms that are "translated" as "kindness”, but that is not their proper meaning, as noted above. Also, they do not occur very often. Indeed, they more properly refer to something useful or beneficial - but not to "kindness" per se. 

This reveals one of the difficulties encountered in translating from one language to another. When an equivalent term does not exist a "substitution" is made by the translator. But not all "substituted" words give the proper sense of the original language term, 
resulting in confusion, and even deception

A listing of the verses in which these terms occur is not provided since there are 287 occurrences in Hebrew with none, effectively, in Greek.

Be sure to check out the other Scripture Studies on the site. Each word study reveals some very interesting surprises.


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May YAHWEH speak to your heart and bless you with understanding as you explore His Word.