Chesed

Discussion in 'Languages' started by Stephen L Smith, Jan 25, 2012.

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  1. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Sophomore

    What Bible translation, do you think, comes closest to translating the Hebrew word Chesed. What about the ESV's "Steadfast love".
     
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I think that the language of "covenant-love" is pretty good, in most instances.
     
  3. JP Wallace

    JP Wallace Moderator Staff Member

    I quite like the consistency of the ESV, its use of 'steadfast love' constantly highlights the use of the word 'chesed' which is not so evident in many other translations - but I think ideally as Bruce writes 'covenant love' is the essential idea.
     
  4. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Freshman

    Sproul calls it "loyal-love". I like lovingkindness in many places, at least for sentimental reasons.

    Since the topic has been raised.... wondering if any well-versed in Hebrew can comment on its use in Lev 20:17? To mean, it seems incongruous with its usual use.
     
  5. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Keil & Delitzsch have a discussion at Prv.14:34 on the use of this word in an "odd" way, or with a "contrary" meaning. They propose what appears to me to be a semantic-development notion, based on a root word. [edit] I said this seems strained to me, but after reviewing, it doesn't seem so. The deep-root word, ch-s-d, expresses this idea: to stoop. This stooping, then, can have all sorts of developmental connotations, both good and bad. And a bad connotation might just survive to be used in the negative sense of the word, along side a majority reading that is by far the ordinary understanding. But see also below.[edit]



    John Gill (@ Prv.14:34) appeals to a Jewish interpretation, that takes the chesed in the sense of religious acts or of piety. An ugodly people have a "covenant-love" for sin. So the verse we have heard often as "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach (chesed) to any people," might be taken in this sense, "Righteousness exalteth a nation (goi, gentile): but the religion or piety of the peoples (I believe MT has a plural) is sin." Those not with the God of Israel have a covenant with death, Is.28:15.

    So taking Lev.20:17 with such a reckoning in mind, we might explain it thus (just a suggestion; I won't say this read is unequivocally the best): The sexual sin expressed is akin to, or is essentially an expression of, an alternative religion or piety. Those involved have chosen incest over obedience, making that relationship their "covenant." The manner of expression of the sin by the text implies not a forcible rape (a molestation), but that HE sees her, the same way that SHE sees him. They have made their grotesque relationship, their "covenant-love," a supreme act of idolatry.

    I prefer the second sort of "ironic" read of chesed. Objectively, sin is a reproach to any people, and incest is a disgrace. But perhaps the text isn't giving us the direct description of the sin or crime in God's eyes and the eyes of the righteously offended; but how these people involved are actually engaged with their perversion. In other words, in these we have chesed read subjectively, or with a subjective-slant.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    There does not seem to be a single translation for an all purpose word such as chesed. "Steadfast love" would only represent the meaning of the word in a few places. At other times it is not the love but the faithfulness, mercy, kindness, goodness, or piety of the person's commitment to a relationship which is being conveyed. In other words, "love" is only sometimes the dominating characteristic of chesed. Context is required to bring out the nuance.
     
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