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In our study of word pictures, we are going to learn about what I call the "fence words." These are the qualities of God that draw a man to want to accept his plan of salvation.

Chet in Hebrew and kheth in Aramaic are the picture of a tent wall or fence. It divides what is inside from what is outside. The letter even looks like a fence! There are four major words that we will look at in 2 different articles. Below are both the Hebrew and Aramaic words and how to pronounce them.


The first concept is mercy, which sometimes is also translated grace.

In the east, fences were made mostly of stone. Picture yourself outside of this fence and then learn that the fence of God is mercy. God wants to give life to those who are outside the fence and despite their frailties and mistakes. It is the Hebrew word chen.


Khet is the pictograph of the fence and nun is the sprouting seed. Putting these together, the simple word picture is the fence of life


Genesis 6:7-9 (KJV)
And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

The action underneath the verb chanan is “to give a favor.” “The verb chanan depicts a heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need.” That is a quotation from theTheological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Perfect does not mean that Noah never made a mistake. It means that his heart was searching after God – he walked with Elohim -- and he was blameless in his generations, meaning he had kept the genealogy pure from the time of Adam. But Noah certainly had a need because in Genesis 6:5 it says, "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

Chen is usually translated grace or favour, but I like to translate it as mercy, because I believe that communicates more of the heart of the word. The fence that gives life, or protects life is the place where we can find answers for any kind of need.

The Aramaic khenana is more often translated mercy and other related nouns have the same idea of something being undeserved. The prophecy of Elisabeth to Mary is the first place this word is used in the New Testament.

Luke 1:50 (MGI)
and his mercy [is] on those who fear him for ages and generations.
When David was fleeing from Saul, he penned a cry for mercy. He ran to the fence and the first thing he found was mercy!
Psalm 57:1-2 (KJV)
Be merciful (chanan) unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
2 I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.
Now we can learn a new fence word: chesed. King James translates it 149x as mercy, but the ESV chooses “steadfast love” and the NASB, “lovingkindness.” Since as we have seen, mercy is used for a number of words, I like “lovingkindness” the best. We now learn about 2 new letters:


Samekh or semkath is a pictograph of a thorn or support. It means support, or protection. Dalet or daleth is the picture of a door and means the entrance or how to go in the door. So the simple meaning of chesed is the fence of the door.

The first place that chesed is used is regarding Lot and how God saved him out of the destruction of Sodom.

Genesis 19:19 (KJV):
Behold now, thy servant hath found grace [chen] in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy [chesed], which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
Psalm 32:10 (KJV):
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.
Lovingkindness is the fence around a person when they trust (the word picture for this trust is to "go inside the surrounding fence"). Chesed provides support and protection.
Deuteronomy 7:9 (KJV):
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy [chesed] with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
We accept God’s mercy and find his lovingkindness or steadfast love at the door of the fence.
Brown Driver Briggs Lexicon has a great summary of chesed:
  1. In redemption from enemies
  2. Preservation of life from death
  3. Quickening of spiritual life
  4. Redemption from sin
  5. Keeping covenants

These are the first two fence words. God's mercy and favor draws people to come to His fence. There they find protection and care and his faithful lovingkindness.

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