The exalted biblical virtue of ‘che•sed’ is perhaps the most important in scriptural ethics. It has ample mentioning in the Bible: more than 400 times.
‘Che•sed’ translates mostly as ‘kindness’ in the Old Testament and mostly as ‘mercy’ in the New Testament. It is a derivative of the verb ‘chas,’ which means ‘sparing’ and ‘having mercy.’ The contextual meaning of this word is precisely: ‘refrain from killing, injuring, or distressing.’
Doing a ‘che•sed’ with a person, either by another person or by God himself, is much greater that doing someone a mere ‘favor.’ It is so important that it even became one of the major attributes of God Himself. A biblical, repeated attribute is something very close to becoming an actual name. In relation to God, ‘che•sed’ is a part of a well-known phrase which is an endearing attribute, almost another name for God. This beautiful phrase has become a part of the Hebrew traditional prayer: ‘E•rch A•pa•yim ve•Rav Che•sed’ (Long Suffering, and Abundant in Goodness) .
First said by Moses:
“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth’”
Moses says this exact name again and this time the English translation is a bit different:
“‘The Lord is long suffering, and of great mercy'”
Once again the English translation changes, while the exact Hebrew attribute remains the same when the prophet Joel says:
“‘for He is…slow to anger, and of great kindness”’
This attribute is identical in both the Hebrew and English texts in Jonah 4:2.
The Book of Psalms solidifies this expression and it now becomes a name to be used by future generations. The English text in Psalms, once again, is a bit different, but remains the same in its two identical references:
“long suffering, and bountiful in loving kindness”