International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
fant (`ayeph, `uph, ya`aph, `alaph, aTaph, dawway, yaghea`, macac, rakhakh, paghar, kahah; ekluo, ekkakeo, kamno): The Hebrew vocabulary for the depressing physical conditions and mental emotions which are rendered in the King James Version by the English words "faint," "fainthess," and other compounds of that stem, is, as will be seen above, wide and varied in derivation. The 11 Hebrew and 3 Greek words and their derivatives are used in 62 passages in the King James Version to express these conditions.
`Ayeph is used to express the exhaustion from fatigue and hunger in the case of Esau (Genesis 25:29, 30). This and its variants come from a root which primarily means "to cover or conceal," therefore "to be dark or obscure," and so, figuratively, "to be faint or depressed." Israel's helpless state when harassed by Amalek (Deuteronomy 25:18) and the plight of Gideon's weary force when they sought in vain for help at Succoth (Judges 8:4) are described by the same word. Isaiah also uses it to picture the disappointed and unsatisfied appetite of the thirsty man awakening from his dream of refreshment (Isaiah 29:8). In 2 Samuel 16:14, `ayephim is probably a proper name of a place (Revised Version, margin).
`Uph in 1 Samuel 14:28-31 describes the exhaustion of Saul's host in pursuit of the Philistines after the battle of Michmash. The same word expresses the failure of David's strength when in conflict with the same foes, which led to his imminent peril and to the consequent refusal of the commander of his army to allow him to take part personally in the combat (2 Samuel 21:15).
Ya`-aph is used by Ziba when he brought refreshments to David's men on the flight from Absalom (2 Samuel 16:2); see also its use in Isaiah 40:28. Cognate verbal forms occur in Isaiah 40:30, 31 Jeremiah 2:24; Jeremiah 51:58, 64 Habakkuk 2:13, as also in Judges 8:15, meaning in all cases the faintness or exhaustion of fatigue or weariness.
`Alpah expresses the faintness from thirst in Amos 8:13, or from the heat of the sun (Jonah 4:8), and figuratively, the despondency which was the result of the captivity (Isaiah 51:20). Ezekiel uses it allegorically as describing the withering of the trees for grief at the death of the Assyrian kings (Ezekiel 31:15).
`ATaph is the weariness of the wanderers in the desert (Psalm 107:5), the faintness from hunger (Lamentations 2:19), or the despondency of Jonah dispelled by his remembrance of God's mercies (Jonah 2:7).
Dawway, from a root which signifies the sickness produced by exhaustion from loss of blood, is used in Isaiah 1:5 for the faintness of heart, the result of remorse for sin, and in Jeremiah 8:18 for the prophet's sorrow for the sins of Israel. A cognate form expresses his sorrow on account of the judgments of God which were incurred as punishments for the national backsliding (Lamentations 1:13, 12; Lamentations 5:17).
Macac, literally, "dissolving or melting," is applied to the contagious fear which the example of a cowardly soldier produces among his comrades (Deuteronomy 20:8, the Revised Version (British and American) "melt"). In the remarkable passage in Isaiah 10:18, in which God pronounces the doom of Assyria when his purposes of chastisement on Israel have been fulfilled, the collapse of Assyria is said to be "as when a standard-bearer fainteth." For this the Revised Version, margin substitutes "as when a sick man pineth away," which is probably the correct rendering. The word macac may mean either a sick man, or else something glittering and seen from afar, such as a standard, but the former sense is more intelligible and suggestive in the context. The rarely used verbal form cognate to macac is used on account of its assonance. Yaghea` (yagha`), which is usually translated "grieved" or "tormented" or "fatigued," is rendered as "fainted" in Jeremiah 45:3. This passage, "I fainted in my sighing" the King James Version, is in Hebrew the same as that which reads, "I am weary with my groaning" in Psalm 6:6, and is similarly rendered in the Revised Version (British and American).
Rakhakh, like macac, primarily signifies "to melt" or "to become soft," and is used in prophetic exhortations in which the people are encouraged not to be panic-stricken in the presence of enemies (Deuteronomy 20:3, and also Jeremiah 51:46 Isaiah 7:4). Another related word, morekh, in the sense of despair and utter loss of courage, is used in expressing the consequences of God's wrath against Israel (Leviticus 26:36). In its literal sense it signifies "blandness," as of the words of a hypocritical enemy (Psalm 55:21).
Paghar is the prostration of utter fatigue whereby one is unable to raise himself or to proceed on a journey, as were some of David's little band (1 Samuel 30:10-21). A cognate word describes the prostration of amazement and incredulity with which Jacob heard of Joseph's condition in Egypt (Genesis 45:26).
Kahah, the pining of earnest, longing desire, is translated "fainteth" in Psalm 84:2; Psalm 119:81; elsewhere it is rendered by words expressing wasting or languishing. The panic in Canaan due to famine is expressed (Genesis 47:13) by the word lahah, which implies a state of frenzy.
The only records of actual fainting are
(1) Daniel, in Daniel 8:27, where the word used is the Niphal of the verb hayah, literally, "became," meaning that he became weak;
(2) swooning is mentioned in Additions to Esther 5:7-14.
In the New Testament "faint" is used in the sense of physical exhaustion (Matthew 9:36 the King James Version; Matthew 15:32 Mark 8:3), where it is part of the verb ekluo, "to relax." Otherwise it is used figuratively of discouragement of spirit. The same verb is used in Galatians 6:9 Hebrews 12:3, 5; but in Luke 18:1 2 Corinthians 4:1-16; Ephesians 3:13 it is part of the verb ekkakeo (according to some authorities egkakeo, pronounced enkakeo, meaning "to be faint-hearted" or "to be culpably negligent"). In Revelation 2:3 it is kopiao, literally, "to be tired."