An excellent question, because the agonizing and linguistic contortions surrounding this word among non-Hebrew speakers have always puzzled me.
The traditional translation—lovingkindness—is totally inapt on several grounds: it’s a made-up word, cloyingly sentimental, semantically wrong, and rhythmically horrible, wreaking havoc on the meter of any verse in which it is present.
The old adage is that reading something in translation is like kissing a beautiful woman through a veil.
In the case of the Hebrew Bible, this is actually not true: reading it in translation is like kissing a drawing of a beautiful woman recreated by a police sketch artist based on someone’s description…
Just to be clear: no Jews became slaves in Egypt, just as no Canadians died in the Black Plague of the 14th century.
The Quran’s version of the story is reflective of the conventional practice in the Middle East (and throughout the world) of primogeniture—i.e., succession by, or preference of, the first-born son.
Broadly speaking, the advantages are three: accuracy, brevity, and poetry.
John Steinbeck (and following him, the TV series Hell on Wheels) got it wrong: the Hebrew word is actually timshol, not timshel, and it means “thou shalt rule over” or “thou shalt control”—not “thou mayest.”
The context is what God says to Cain (Gen. 4:7), who is disheartened by the fact that God had preferred Abel’s offering of the “firstlings of his flock” over Cain’s offering of “fruit of the ground”:
(My answer to this question at Quora.com)
The best part of the Hebrew Bible is Genesis 1 – II Chronicles 36.
Everything else was deemed not good enough to be included in the canon.