As Wise as . . .


As broke as the Ten Commandments.

I wouldn’t know him from Adam’s off ox.

Like the peace of G-d, it passeth aaaaaalllll understanding.

Like a camel through the eye of a needle.

As poor as Job’s mouse.

A fig leaf.

The greatest comeback since Lazarus. (Once favored by sports announcers and writers.)

There are a lot of sayings, both quotes and country sayings, that draw on the Bible. Some are still fairly common, some seem to be fading from everyday use. I’d never heard “like the peace of G-d” used outside of worship until someone used the phrase to describe a really, really strange court ruling.

I’ve used “as broke as the Ten Commandments” to describe the months when I had so little income that I was leaning on savings and fond hopes.

“I wouldn’t know him from Adam” is the more common phrase, and still used. The off-side ox was the one farther from the driver or handler, and so got seen less. That version also comes as ” . . .from Adam’s housecat” and “from Adam’s grandmother.” The same sense applies (and yes, grandmother is piling exaggeration on exaggeration).

Job lost everything. His mouse would have been pretty badly off.

The eye of the needle was both a colorful description of the nearly impossible, and the name of one of the smaller gates leading into Jerusalem.

Solomon asked for wisdom, and was considered the wisest man to ever live, as well as the best ruler Israel ever had. His later poor decisions don’t count, just his early years.

Only one of these is an actual Scripture reference. If you start drawing on those, there are lots and lots of phrases in English that come from the Authorized Version/King James Version. “A house divided against itself.” “Render unto Caesar,” and many, many more.


13 thoughts on “As Wise as . . .

  1. A few years back, John Ringo (and Linda Evans) wrote a Bolo novel titled “The Road To Damascus” and I commented (in Ringo’s Tavern) that the title “revealed the plot”.

    It was sad that few understood me. Apparently, they never heard about a “road to Damascus” experience. 😦

    • This was an intended effect of dumbing down the language, some 50-60 years back. Replacing classics with something modern and relevant meant the seven lean heifers were consuming the fattened heifers of legacy. Notice how (Sub)Standard English is now bereft of expressive but non-obscene terms. The effect is like factory-made mashed potatoes, studded with ghost pepper fragments.

      • I think it had more to do with “Get Religion Out Of Schools”. 😡

        • Partially. While they’ve been especially thorough and vociferous in tossing out religion, other aspects of our western heritage have more quietly been expunged from schools as well. Latin and Greek works, even in English translation, seem to have become rather rare. English and American classics that might challenge the narrative or be politically incorrect are seldom seen, either, nor those that are inspired by Christian values but are not explicitly Christian. How many works by Twain, Orwell, Kipling, and C.S. Lewis are kids being exposed to?

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