Hesed, covenant, Old Testament


The concept of hesed (pronounced khesed) 1 is unfamiliar to most Bible readers. This is partly due to the fact that it is a Hebrew word found in the Old Testament; thus, we will never come across the word hesed anywhere in our King James Version (KJV). Moreover, the term is difficult to translate, the KJV providing no less than fifteen different terms to signify the presence of hesed in the text, the most common being mercy, kindness, and lovingkindness.2 Yet the principle of hesed may be one of the most important doctrinal concepts in the Old Testament, as it appears 245 times in the Hebrew Bible and embodies both the manner in which Israel was expected to act and the true nature of God. Thus, by studying the hesed references within their contexts and discerning the pattern in which this gospel principle is revealed, we can recognize its importance, particularly through its emphasis on acts of deliverance in the Old Testament narratives and its insight on what it means to be like God in our own personal journeys toward salvation.3

Original Publication Citation

Approaching Holiness: Exploring the History and Teachings of the Old Testament, Krystal V. L. Pierce and David Rolph Seely, Editors (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book), 2022

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor