What does the idiom: מצא חן בעיני (to find favor/grace in one’s eyes) express, what does it really mean and when is it used in the Tenach?

I noticed it’s almost always connected to a request of some kind.

In modern days it seems to mean something like finding ‘likeability’ in the eyes of someone; i.e. ‘if you like’. So is this expression used to gain someone’s approval or support?

Hopefully someone could help me difine the meaning of this phrase.


There are a few answers but I will say two.

One is- the רטבה on Brachot 35 says that when the פסוק says חן it is the ultimate source of kabala from the eyes meaning when one asks for Finding favor on the eyes one is asking if I found the knowledge in the eyes of the מלאכים.

There is still one problem. There's a rule that the פסוק will also retain its simple meaning.

Thus the simple meaning of the פסוק is that one sees with their eyes. When one stands before you they would see you. If one has acted kindly, then they will see you in a positive way. if one does evil they see you in a negative way. The phrase of saying finding favor in your eyes also tells a person to look at what I have done. I have acted properly before you and just, do not act evil towards me.

  • Who is the רטבה? Did you mean the ריטב״א? Where does he say this? Which passuk?
    – DonielF
    Mar 16 '20 at 0:12
  • Bareisheit 18 1-5 another source is when the chachamim created brechot it says chen and that is the ritva in the gemara that uses this is the source another area to defend the ritva is using exodus 33;13 Mar 16 '20 at 0:29
  • but there is no ritva on the torah and that is why you must go to the gemara brachot Mar 16 '20 at 0:29
  • brachot 35 is where you should find that ritva Mar 16 '20 at 0:34
  • 1
    Please edit all relevant information into your answer itself
    – DonielF
    Mar 16 '20 at 1:10

In Megillas Esther 5:8 when Esther approached Achashveirosh the passuk writes:

אִם־מָצָ֨אתִי חֵ֜ן בְּעֵינֵ֣י הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ וְאִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ ט֔וֹב לָתֵת֙ אֶת־שְׁאֵ֣לָתִ֔י וְלַעֲשׂ֖וֹת אֶת־בַּקָּשָׁתִ֑י יָב֧וֹא הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ וְהָמָ֗ן אֶל־הַמִּשְׁתֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֣ה לָהֶ֔ם וּמָחָ֥ר אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֖ה כִּדְבַ֥ר הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃

"If I have found favour in the eyes of the king, if it please Your Majesty to grant my wish and accede to my request—let Your Majesty and Haman come to the feast which I will prepare for them; and tomorrow I will do Your Majesty’s bidding.”

Interestingly, the Malbim over there states:

אם מצאתי חן, ר"ל התניתה בזה שני תנאים, א. שתהיה היא רצוי אליו לתת שאלתה מצד מן השואל, ב. שיהיה המבוקש עצמו דבר שטוב לפני המלך ואינו נגד רצונו, כי מה שנגד רצונו אינה מבקשת שיתן לה, כי מבטלת רצונה מפני רצונו, ואז יבא המלך והמן אל המשתה שתעשה למחר, ומחר אעשה כדבר המלך לאמר את הבקשה שאני מבקש, וגם בזאת השכילה לאמר, כי היא איננה כדאי לבקש דבר מן המלך, אבל אחר שהמלך פקד עליה שתבקש ממנו דבר, הנה תבקש בקשתה כדי לקיים דבר המלך ופקודתו שרוצה בזה שתבקש:

To paraphrase:

In this context it was a calculated comment to initiate two things - firstly to provide a favourable opening to ask a request and then secondly to ensure that she was seeking something in line with the king's will and not anything that maybe deemed against his will. This was crucial as if it would be against Achashveirosh's will that would essentially damage the impact of her request and her standing in the eyes of the king. Thus it was all carefully calculated to ensure that when she asked for a feast with Achashveirosh and Haman she had the opening in place for the King to accept her request and see that it be answered.

  • The Malbim is commenting on two parts of the passuk. אִם־מָצָ֨אתִי חֵ֜ן בְּעֵינֵ֣י הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ corresponds to א and וְאִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ ט֔וֹב corresponds to ב.
    – N.T.
    Aug 14 '20 at 9:54
  • @NT are you sure? That part of the pasuk is not mentioned? It is said in relation to the dibbur hamaskil אם מצאתי חן
    – Dov
    Aug 14 '20 at 10:01
  • The Malbim to Esther has two parts, the questions and the peirush that answers them. In the questions he writes מהו הכפל מצאתי חן ואם על המלך טוב, what is the repetition of "if I found favor" and "if it is good in the eyes of the king"? As someone who has learned a fair amount of Malbim, explaining apparent redundancies is one of his main goals.And a dibbur hamaschil is just a guide, but not exclusive.
    – N.T.
    Aug 14 '20 at 19:03

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