I desire mercy and the knowledge of Yahweh.
I do not desire sacrifices and burnt offerings.
HESED is an “obligation to the community,” a “joint obligation” between parties involved in a "reciprocal relationship." For humans it may be a joint obligation between relatives, friends, host and guest, master and servant, etc. Or, for Yahweh it may be a joint obligation between Yahweh and mankind or Yahweh and a specific group that is in a covenant relationship with him.
For I desire HESED and not sacrifice . . .
Now let’s plug the definition of "mercy" into the words of Yeshua – "I desire compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power, not sacrifice." When we include this information in the parallelism above, it would mean something like this:
Below is the definition of HESED:
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,and the knowledge of Yahweh more than burnt offerings.
A point that immediately stands out is that the first part of the parallelism “forbearance,” required one “not to do something”, while the second part “sacrifices,” required one “to do something.” Did Yeshua really want to create a movement of people who did nothing if people repeatedly offended them or had enemies repeatedly attacked them? Based on the history of Christianity, it is clear that the above understanding is what many Christians were taught.
So, did Yeshua have something else in mind? When we take another look at what Yeshua asked them “to go and learn” we discover something that he was quoting Hosea 6:6. Below is an English translation:
This pretty much reflects the conclusion we reached above. However, as you know, Hosea was not written in English and Yeshua didn’t teach in English to an American audience. Hosea’s words were recorded in Hebrew and Yeshua was teaching a Jewish audience that understood Hebrew. This is what we find in the Hebrew text:
"Go and Learn" Page 2
I desire for you to show compassionate or kindly forbearance
toward those that offend you, your enemy, or other person in your power.
I do not desire for you to bring and present sacrifices to me.
When the reciprocal relationship is between people, HESED is used in context that describe the following actions: (1) people doing favors and benefits for other people;
(2) people doing acts of kindness to the lowly, needy and miserable; (3) people doing acts of affection or love for Israel; and (4) acts that are beautiful in appearance to God.
When the reciprocal relationship is between Yahweh and people, HESED is used in contexts that describe the following actions of Yahweh: (1) redemption of Israel from its enemies and troubles; (2) preservation of human life from death; (3) redemption from sin; (4) faithfulness; and (5) loyalty.
The first things that jump out are that HESED involves a reciprocal relationship and an action. The Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon provides this very important information:
Using the parallelism model above again, this is what it reveals: