{Word Study} Faint “Da’avah”


Jeremiah 31:25:  “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
Faint – Hebrew: da’avah – To flow away with anxiety and/or distress
Jeremiah is speaking of the future restoration of Judah after going through captivity.   The word “refresh” in the Hebrew is “ravah” which is very hard to define.  You really need to experience “ravah” to understand the word.   The English word “refresh” is probably the best we can do but “ravah” means much more than that.  The word “weary” is “aphah” which could mean weary or could mean thirsty.   Considering the picture that is being drawn and the fact that the word “aphah” is a direct object of the word “ravah” I would be incline to render this as “thirsty.”  The picture being drawn is that of one who has wandered in a desert without water and is taking his first sip of water.
. The next words are curious.  He will “satisfy the faint.”  What satisfaction does a fainting person need?   The word “satisfy” in the Hebrew if “mala” which is commonly used to express the idea of filling.   The word “faint” is “da’avah” which means to flow away.  It is also used to express anxiety or distress.  However, to stay with the picture of wandering in a desert, we would best render this as faint.   The picture is one who has wandered in the desert until he has reached the point of collapse.  He has fallen to the ground overcome with thirst and weariness to the point of fainting.  God then rides up on His camel loaded with bags of water where the weary travel can drink his fill and God puts him on the camel to carry him to his journey’s end.
What I find a little curious is the use of the word “da’avah” as the direct object of “mala.”  How do you fill someone that is faint?  A person becomes faint because they lack something, either water or air.  Hence, God is not just reviving someone who is faint, He is filling them with whatever is lacking that is causing them to faint or be weary.
There is one word that is in the Hebrew and not found in the translation used above. It is the word “nephesh” or “soul.”   God will satisfy the weary “soul” and fill the soul that is fainting.    Here it makes sense to use the word “mala” for fill. The word itself tells us what God will fill our souls with.  The word is spelled “mem – water of life, lamed – learning, and aleph – God.”   God fills our weary souls with the water of life that comes from learning about Him and/or knowing Him.