Blog Archive

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

El YHWH Channun ve Rachum /
YHWH God Merciful and Gracious

For July, each post examines an Old Testament name of God.

El YHWH Channun ve Rachum /
YHWH God Merciful and Gracious

(pronounced: "yahd hay vahv hay vay khan-NOON rakh-OOM")

YHWH passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, "YHWH, YHWH God Merciful and Gracious is longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."
~ Exodus 34:5-7 (author)

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the LORD our God,
Until He has mercy on us.
~ Psalms 123:2 (NKJV)

Whether on a profile page for Facebook or Blogger, or in conversation, most everyone has opportunity to reduce to a small composite a summary of "who am I?" Here in Exodus, Moses says in effect, "Lord, show me the glory of Who You are." And the Lord YHWH sums up His identity with the words: "I am God Merciful and Gracious." It is a description which appears numerous times throughout Scripture.

The Hebrew word for mercy is rachum. The related noun racham can mean compassion or mercy, but it also refers to a mother’s womb. The Hebrew concept is that the womb or bowels are the seat of warm and tender emotions, as a mother for her baby. The verb form of racham not only means to have or show mercy, but also means to caress or stroke. The entire picture of mercy is deep and tender empathy and compassion which springs from the depths of a person, expressed toward another who is afflicted, and is accompanied by a desire to comfort and relieve the suffering.

The Hebrew adjective for gracious favor is channun. It is a word used solely as a descriptive term of God. The related verb chanan means to bestow, or to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior with favor. Another related verb, chanah, means to pitch a tent or encamp, and is used in Zechariah to describe the Lord encamping around His people and temple to protect them.

Oxford's definition of mercy is "compassion or forgiveness shown towards an enemy or offender in one's power."

Oxford's definition of favor is "approval or liking; act of kindness beyond what is due or usual; overgenerous preferential treatment."

I'll confess that I'm too overwhelmed by these words to try and say much more about this name. The picture God has drawn of Himself is absolutely contrary to every accusation He suffers of being uncaring, arbitrary, or malicious.

On a personal note: Though I've been studying the names of God and the etymology of these Hebrew words for many years, doing this series has been an astounding array of new revelations. These next three days will look at some aspects of God's nature which are more feminine (or if you prefer, more gentle)—all with a connection to a mother's body.

Feedback appreciated! Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Ah, friend. You've got me all the time, but when you talk about God's Truth as related to childbearing, childbirth and children in general--well, I'm a puddle of goo.

    Thank you for that powerful post. We have faith of a mustard seed and knowledge like looking through a mirror darkly, yet is it more than enough to change our lives. If only more hurting people (which is all of us) knew the power and the glory of the One who created them! I pray hearts will turn to Him today.

    God bless you, dear Anne.

  2. I like how Gwen wrote she was a puddle of goo--that about sums it up for me.

    Anne, you provided such rich contrast of God's names w/in the past few days. I love that! I love how all encompassing our God is!
    I think of Zeph 3:17 when I read this.
    ~ Wendy

  3. That is beautiful and amazing. Thanks for the great post.

  4. Anne,

    So touching....thank you! Blessings to you!


Your comments are appreciated and you can expect a reply. If Blogger doesn't accept your comment, or if you prefer
another method, I hope you'll respond via Twitter or email
(see sidebar icons or the "Contact Me" tab, above).

(Comments to older posts and will appear after approval.)