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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Gracious, to Be; Show Favor

A. Verb.

Chânan (חָנַן, Strong's #2603), “to be gracious, considerate; to show favor.” This word is found in ancient Ugaritic with much the same meaning as in biblical Hebrew. But in modern Hebrew chânan seems to stress the stronger meaning of “to pardon or to show mercy.” The word occurs around 80 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, the first time in Gen. 33:5: “The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.” Generally, this word implies the extending of “favor,” often when it is neither expected nor deserved. ) Chânan may express “generosity,” a gift from the heart (Ps. 37:21). God especially is the source of undeserved “favor” (Gen. 33:11), and He is asked repeatedly for such “gracious” acts as only He can do (Num. 6:25; Gen. 43:29). The psalmist prays: “… Grant me thy law graciously” (Ps. 119:29).

God’s “favor” is especially seen in His deliverance from one’s enemies or surrounding evils (Ps. 77:9; Amos 5:15). However, God extends His “graciousness” in His own sovereign way and will, to whomever He chooses (Exod. 33:19).

In many ways, chânan combines the meaning of the Greek haric (with the general classical Greek sense of “charm” or “graciousness”) and the New Testament sense of “undeserved favor” or “mercy.”

B. Noun.

Chên (חֵן, Strong's #2580), “favor; grace.” The root with the meaning “to favor someone” is a common Semitic term. In Akkadian, the verb enenu (“to have compassion”) is related to hinnu (“favor”), which occurs only as a proper noun. The Hebrew noun chên occurs 69 times, mainly in the Pentateuch and in the historical books through Samuel. The word’s frequency increases in the poetic books, but it is rare in the prophetic books. The first occurrence is in Gen. 6:8: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

The basic meaning of chên is “favor.” Whatever is “pleasant and agreeable” can be described by this word. When a woman is said to have chên, she is a “gracious” woman (Prov. 11:16); or the word may have the negative association of being “beautiful without sense” (Prov. 31:30). A person’s speech may be characterized by “graciousness”: “He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend” (Prov. 22:11; cf. Ps. 45:2). )

Chên also denotes the response to whatever is “agreeable.” The verbs used with “favor” are: “give favor” (Gen. 39:21), “obtain favor” (Exod. 3:21), and “find favor” (Gen. 6:8, RSV). The idioms are equivalent to the English verbs “to like” or “to love”: "[She] said to him, Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10, RSV).

The Septuagint translations are: charis (“grace; favor; graciousness; attractiveness”) and eleos (“mercy; compassion; pity”).

C. Adjective.

Channûn (חַנּוּן, Strong's #2587), “gracious.” One of the word’s 13 occurrences is in Exod. 34:6: “And the Lord passed by before him [Moses], and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.…”

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Gracious, to Be; Show Favor'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/g/gracious-to-be-show-favor.html. 1940.

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