So let’s say you want to describe the feeling of anticipating a future that’s better than the present. You might be giddy or excited or maybe unsure, but most of us know that experience. We call it “hope.” It’s a state of anticipation, and it’s a crucial for healthy human existence, and it’s a really important concept in the Bible. In fact, there are many words for “hope” in the ancient languages of the Bible, and they’re all fascinating.
In the Old Testament, there are two main Hebrew words translated as “hope.” The first is yakhal, which means simply “to wait for.” Like in the story of Noah and the ark, as the flood waters recede, Noah had to yakhal for weeks. (1)
The other Hebrew word is qavah, which also means “to wait.” It’s related to the Hebrew word qav, which means “cord.” When you pull a qav tight, you produce a state of tension until there’s release. That’s qavah: the feeling of tension and expectation while you wait for something to happen. The prophet Isaiah depicts God as a farmer who plants vines and qavahs for good grapes. (2) Or the prophet Micah talks about farmers who both (3) qavah and yakhal for morning dew to give moisture to the land.
1. You can read this in Genesis 8:10-12.
Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; 9but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. (Genesis 8:10-12)
2. See Isaiah 5:2.
He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it And also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones. (Isaiah 5:2)
3. See Micah 5:6.
They will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, The land of Nimrod at its entrances; And He will deliver us from the Assyrian When he attacks our land And when he tramples our territory. (Micah 5:6)