Hebrew רחמים (pronounced rakhamim) is usually translated as “mercy.” However, it is actually plural in form, like many common Hebrew words including “face” (פנים, panim), “water” (מים, mayim), and even God (אלהים, elohim). What is very interesting is that the singular form רחם (rakham) looks identical to the word for “womb” (רחם, rekhem), which is in fact closely related.

Hebrew is a very physical language, and concepts that may seem unconnected to us often share the same root. What is the deep connection here? In ancient times in particular, if a woman was able to get pregnant and give birth it meant that God had bestowed mercy on her and opened her womb (Luke 1:57-58).

This is one obvious connection between rekhem (“womb”) and rakhamim (“mercy”). Another connection may be understood from the “compassion” typically felt by a mother for her own offspring, the “fruit of her womb” (Isaiah 49:15).

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190 COMMENTS

  1. It is interesting to think that Sarah conceived Issac is a good thing; it is hard to understand that Cain's wife got God's grave to conceive to spread his evil seeds around. But anyway, given enough patience, all Cain's seeds was terminated by the flood, just like all the wicked people will be destroyed on Jesus coming again. Jesus, with His many disciples, has no any descendants but their lives live forever; many worldly people struggle to spread their seeds around, generation by generation, but never know to convert to Jesus will get the same result as Cain's seeds-Bible

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    • I've read, and also heard a lot of times that the flood targeted the seed of Cain. I beg to differ Mary with all due respect. I stand to be corrected if I have a wrong thinking. I think the flood was targeting the Children of the Fallen Angels (Giants) which were produced through sexual engagement with daughters of men. These Giants had started to feed on humans and were generally not part of God's creation, they were offsprings of an unauthorised relationship. Many people also tell us that Cain was the offspring of the devil and Eve. If we are to go according to the Bible as written by Moses in Genesis, God says "And Adam knew his wife and beget Cain" NOT "The serpent knew Eve and Beget Cain" I believe God and He has No reason to LIE to us. So Cain was 100% Human, wicked as he was.
      Let us try and stick to what is written in the Bible and not try to reason and dilute God's Word with our own Theories.

      Thanks, but As I say I stand to be corrected, but with Scriptural support.

      L Mabhida

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    • Hello Mary,
      This is a very good point and very important,as the seed of Cain was since Genesis the seed of the Serpent - violence, hate and delusion. Jesus himself is part of King's David family tree and the Bible is so specific, careful to record genealogy as if it is so important to God.

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    • Our Lord Christ Jesus did go & preached to the spirits in prisons (from the great flood Noah & household were saved). The Lord did go & preached the gospel during His death on the Cross that.. I think remember this correctly. The Lord care for all His creation. God confronted Cain about killing Abel but He also spoke protection for Cain from being pursued (meaning to find & kill by others). I think Cain certain locations (which means people other then His parents). God’s cares for His creation is unbelievable I find!! Peace be w you, Mary.

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    • G-d, Loved Cain also and allowed him and his to prosper in the Worldly, while His blessings were towards a future people’s.
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  2. In Dutch the word for mercy is "barmhartigheid" . Barm is the the womb; hartigheid is the "love of the heart". This is very similar to "compassion" as you have written. So for me (of Dutch descent) mercy has meant the heart's compassion for the womb. That's a powerful imagery of how much God's love from His heart is expressed in his mercy towards us.
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    • Exactly the same comparison! Really causes one to suspect that the word — and many others—were influenced by Hebrew. Etymology is endlessly fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing, Bro. Frank!
    • Almost exactly the same comparison! Really causes one to suspect that the word — and many others—were influenced by Hebrew. Etymology is endlessly fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing, Bro. Frank!
    • Hi Frank In Afrikaans it is also "barmhartigheid" and womb would be "baarmoeder"...(hopefully my spelling is correct). @Dr Eli; these studies are so interesting as well as edifying. Thank you. I will look at both english and afrikaans words with renewed interest.

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    • Actually "Barm" does not mean "womb", it comes from ancient Nordic, baðmr, and means "breasts", and is very close to the womb, physically speaking. Just to point out the obvious.

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  3. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg Everything you write is amazing to me. I just wanted to say thank you for educating me on a daily bases. May the Lord bless you and your house, may he keep you safe from Evil, sickness and harm all the days of your life. God Bless you and your staff...
  4. Hello there! Good day! I just want to ask if this would somehow be related also to Isaiah's prophecy of a virgin who shall be called Immanuel. (Is 7:14) Although it's very clear to me that this pertains to Christ.
  5. I really want to study Hebrew but I am a grandma and am looking after grandchildren. I also may be moving soon How much would it cost to enroll in the course?
    • Hi Annie, I am so glad that you want to study Hebrew! Here is the link to the course: https://israelbiblecenter.com/courses/biblical-hebrew-first-steps/ And good news - We've designed these courses with busy people like you in mind. Our program is perfect for people on the move since it is so flexible and affordable. This is the link - https://israelbiblecenter.com/membership-account/certificate-in-jewish-studies/
  6. Dr. Eli, I read you posts every day. I learn a lot. I wish I could take your Hebrew course (it was recommended by Dr. John Garr) but, being on a fixed income cannot. Life happens but I can still read and learn from your posts. I still use your book on John in my studies and preparing for the Bible studies I lead. Thank you very much!
    • Shalom Tony! You are so welcome! - and please know that I am so glad that you are a part of our community.
  7. Mercy and the womb. I have been unbelievably blessed with four granddaughters and seven great granddaughters. On 16 May, my oldest granddaughter gave birth to a little boy after having had five girls. We are excited to have a little boy but he did ruin our all girl record, . If I may write something funny, my granddaughter told me these words. “I told David today that if he grows up and does not know how to talk to women I don’t know what else I could have done for him“.
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