Originally, the Hebrew word for grace (chen) denoted 'favour'. The associated verb 'to show favour' (chanan) meant literally to 'lower one's look' or to 'look while leaning down'. In other words, it is the language of the court: God as sovereign ruler shows favour towards God's chosen ones: 'I will be gracious (show favour) to whom I will be gracious (Exodus 33:19). It carries a clear sense of the free gift of a gracious God. The graciousness of God becomes an attribute expected of the just Israelite: 'The wicked perish and do not pay back, but the just are gracious and keep giving' (Psalm 37:21).

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