pit'-i (chamal, chuc; eleeo):

"Pity," probably contracted from "piety," is tender feeling for others in misery or distress. It is allied to compassion (which see), but differs in respect of the object that causes the distress (or feeling). The feeling of pity is excited chiefly by the weakness, miserable or degraded condition of the object; compassion by his uncontrollable and inevitable misfortunes: "We pity a man of weak understanding who exposes his weakness; we compassionate the man who is reduced to a state of beggary and want" (Crabb, English Synonyms). Pity often becomes allied to contempt; "a pity" is something to be regretted. See PITIFUL. In the Old Testament "pity" is closely akin to "mercy." It is most frequently the translation of chamal, "to pity," "to spare," e.g. in Nathan's parable of the poor man's one lamb, it is said that the rich man was worthy to die because he had "no pity" (2 Samuel 12:6).

In Jeremiah 13:14 we have, "I will not pity nor spare, nor have mercy," the Revised Version (British and American) "compassion"; compare 21:7; Lamentations 2:2; Ezekiel 5:11; 7:4, in all of which passages "pity" stands in a negative connection; we have it positively attributed to God in Ezekiel 36:21, "I had pity for mine holy name," the Revised Version (British and American) "regard"; Joel 2:18; chuc, probably meaning, primarily, "to cover," "protect," hence, to pity, to spare, is translated "pity" (Deuteronomy 7:16; 13:8; Ezekiel 16:5, etc., all negative; Jonah 4:10, positive:

"Thou hast had pity on the gourd (the Revised Version (British and American) "regard for") and should not I spare (the Revised Version (British and American) "have regard for," chuc) Nineveh," etc.); chanan, "to incline, toward," "be gracious," "pity," is thrice rendered "pity" (Job 19:21, "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me"; Proverbs 19:17; 28:8, "he that hath pity upon the poor"); racham, "to feel warm," "to love," twice (Psalms 103:13, "like as a father pitieth his children"; Isaiah 13:18, "no pity"); once in plural rachamim (Amos 1:11); other words once so translated are chemlah, "pity" (Isaiah 63:9); checedh, "loving-kindness" (Job 6:14, the Revised Version (British and American) "kindness"); machmal, "object of pity" (Ezekiel 24:21); nudh," to move," "bemoan" (Psalms 69:20). In the New Testament "pity" occurs once only as the translation of eleeo, "to be kind," "tender" (Matthew 18:33, the Revised Version (British and American) "mercy"). In 2 Macc 3:21 we have (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)) "pitied" in the obsolete sense of exciting pity, "Then it would have pitied (eleein) a man to see the multitude," etc.

The Revised Version (British and American) has "pity" for "mercy" (Proverbs 14:21); "have pity on" for "spare" (Psalms 72:13); for "favour" (Psalms 109:12; 102:13,14), "Have pity upon her dust."


W. L. Walker

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'PITY'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.