Holman Bible Dictionary



To feel passion with someone, to enter sympathetically into their sorrow and pain. Compassion in English translations represents at least five Hebrew and eight Greek terms. Chamal means “to regret,” “be sorry for,” “grieve over,” or “spare someone.” Thus the rich man “refrained” (NIV) from taking his own sheep and took the poor man’s ( 2 Samuel 12:4 ). Pharaoh’s daughter “had pity” on the baby Moses (Exodus 2:6 ). David spared Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake (2 Samuel 21:7 ). Often it expresses God’s anger and decision no longer to show mercy and pity (Zechariah 11:6 ). Beyond this the Bible points to God’s plans to again have compassion for His people (Joel 2:18 ; compare Malachi 3:17 ; Genesis 19:16 ; 2 Chronicles 36:15 ; Isaiah 63:9

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