Man’s Use of Old Testament Language

A surprising number of phrases and expressions and everyday sayings are derived from the Old Testament and are used over and over by the man in the street without being aware in most instances that he is using Old Testament language. Many of them have a colloquial ring which he doesn’t associate with the Bible. Richard Hanser came across many such expressions when he was doing research for his script for “The Law and the Prophets”. Mr. Hanser said, “It is an indication of the power and precision of the Old Testament language which refers to events of thousands of years ago but so many of the expressions can still be encountered in the conversation of today’s cab drivers, stenographers and the man at the next desk in anybody’s office.”

For instance; If somebody says he wants to get at the “root of the matter” he is quoting from the book of Job and if somebody else is referred to as “living off the fat of the land” the phrasing comes from Genesis, and if a national hero is said to have “feet of clay” the description comes from the book of Daniel.

A man might be said to live to “a good old age” (Genesis) or he might “die before his time” (Ecclesiastes), but at any rate, sooner or later, he “gives up the ghost” (Jeremiah). When he does he had better first “set his house in order” (II Kings); and if he is missed, people will say that he was “a man after my own heart” (I Samuel).

Your child may be “the apple of your eye” (Psalms) but perhaps you are “at your wit’s end “(Psalms) when he fails to “rise and shine” (Isaiah) at school time. In which case you are advised nol to “spare the rod” (Proverbs).

And when you fail “to see eye to eye” (Isaiah) with someone, you shouldn’t take a “holier than thou” (Isaiah) attitude, but remember President Johnson’s favorite saying; “Come now and let us reason together” (also Isaiah).

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