Draught or Catch
Draught, which has its roots in German but is actually considered Early Middle English, is pronounced Draft. Over the years, the phonic spelling (draft) has displaced the ME spelling (draught). [Isn’t it cruel that phonics is spelled with the ph instead of fonics!] The word means to pull; typically, to pull a big or heavy load. A draft horse is a large horse, bred to pull a big load — sometimes called a dray horse or plow horse. It’s no pony, for it’s a heavy load the beast lugs. (Draft beer is ‘pulled up’ and out of a keg.)
“…Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught” (Luke 5:4).
This promise from Jesus of a massive haul is purposely the complete opposite of the natural world situation: “…we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing.” God is about to shew Peter he is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think; and all Peter must do is obey a simple command: to lower his nets.
It’s a great and encouraging lesson for us…unless we look into the NIV! The NIV has replaced draught with catch. And with the change, the depth of understanding is lost: “…let down your nets for a catch” (NIV). That’s it…catch. Not a massive haul, not a big and heavy load…a catch. A few little fish in a bucket would constitute a catch. A few suckers and pan fish on a line is a catch. No need to launch out in the deeper water, you can get a catch near the shore! Hey, if you are fast, you may even ‘catch’ a fish by hand! This word, catch, is not quite the direct opposite of nothing, as draught is. The sense of the miracle adjectives exceedingly and abundantly are washed out: this is only an undefined catch (shrug, yawn).
There was such a haul of fish, the nets broke. The helping ships were so overloaded, they began to sink—that’s a draught, a miracle! The object lesson: from nothing in our own strength and intellect, to a massive load, after acting on God’s word. Peter was so impressed, so astonished, he humbled himself before all and acknowledged the truth about himself and Jesus. No mere catch caused this reaction, this was a draught!
I’m somewhat miffed that the modern bibles dilute the impact of the KJV vocabulary! The NIV reader, and the lazy KJV reader who doesn’t look up draught, are led to miss the fullness, the totality, of what has happened here in Galilee; and consequently, miss the full relevance for us today.