Old origins of modern expressions

From Time to Time - Part 1

Ezekiel 4:1-17, From time to time

Ecclesiastes 10:1-10, Fly in the ointment

Phrasing originated by the KJV

2 Samuel 1:17-27, How are the mighty fallen

Joshua 23:1-14, Know for a certainty

2 Corinthians 12:1-10, A thorn in the flesh

Job 19:21-29, The root of the matter

Jeremiah 2:1-13, Be horribly afraid

Acts 17:1-9, Turned the world upside-down

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15, Let us now praise famous men

KJV and one earlier translation

Isaiah 38:1-5, Set your house in order

Job 19:6-20, The skin of my teeth

Psalms 107:23-32, At their wit's end

KJV and two earlier translations

1 Samuel 13:1-15, A man after his own heart

Jeremiah 13:18-27, The leopard [change] his spots

Isaiah 52:1-10, Eye to eye

Matthew 13:1-9, Fell by the way side/on stony ground

Luke 12:13-21, Eat, drink, and be merry

More Old Origins of Modern Expressions

Copyright information, disclaimers, and sponsors
Return to homepage

Abbreviations: Wycliffe, 1388 (W); Tyndale, 1526-30 (T, New Testament only); Geneva, 1560 (G); Bishop's, 1568 (B); Douay-Rheims, 1582, 1609-10 (D); King James Version, 1611 (K).

Ezekiel 4:1-17, From time to time (G, B, D, and K; counted by National Geographic, but not Crystal) (07/25/22)

Introduction 1: If you've been around for a while, you know that from time to time I use the King James Bible as the source for the daily scripture passage. You also know that from time to time I like to do a study that links popular culture to the scripture. This new study does both.

According to one count (David Crystal, Begat, 2010), the King James Version of the Bible and its English predecessors have given rise to 257 modern expressions. Different people would count different ways. For example, I found two of the phrases that we'll look at in a December 2011 National Geographic article on the King James Bible, but not in Begat. This study will read passages from the KJV that originated or popularized 55 of these expressions that seemed the most interesting or surprising to me.

The KJV was not the first English translation; that would be the Wycliffe Bible translation into Middle English. Small portions were translated even earlier, into Old English in the 7th century. Several earlier translations provided phrases popularized by the KJV: Wycliffe, 1388 (W); Tyndale, 1526-30 (T, New Testament only); Geneva, 1560 (G); Bishop's, 1568 (B); and Douay-Rheims, 1582, 1609-10 (D). Even though the earlier translations originated the phrases, however, all of them gradually or rapidly fell out of use after the introduction of the KJV. Coverdale's Psalter, 1535 (C) is a bit of a special case, because it has been influential on its own through The Book of Common Prayer. Note that even different editions of the same translation sometimes have slightly altered wording, so these attributions aren't written in stone (a phrase we'll consider later).

From time to time: God has sent prophet after prophet to the city of Jerusalem, but they wouldn't listen. So God thinks, well, maybe they can see; I'll try that. He tells Ezekiel to set up a little image of Jerusalem under siege, undergoing great famine. For a year, Ezekiel is to live on a diet of bread and water - and not even all he wants of that. He can only eat and drink from time to time. God even wants him to use human dung for cooking, but Ezekiel protests that he's never eaten unclean food in his life. That's a reasonable objection, so God lets him use cow dung.

According the research done by National Geographic, by far the most commonly used expression from the King James Bible is "from time to time."
Ezekiel 4:10-11: And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.
Reader Question: I'm surprised that God calls Ezekiel "son of man." Isn't that how Christ is addressed sometimes, or what he calls himself?

Answer: Good question. "A son of X" is an idiom that means "a person with the characteristics of X." So "a son of man" just means "a mortal." It wasn't really until late in OT times, or maybe even intertestamental times, that "the son of man" became a Messianic figure. The first such designation is in Daniel 7:13. Even in Daniel, Gabriel calls Daniel, "son of man" in 8:17. But yes, Jesus uses that name for himself many times. I think there's some disagreement among scholars about whether he meant it as "a person with the characteristics of a mortal man" or as "the Messiah." It's hard to know for a certainty (a phrase we consider below), although I think most people tend to go with the latter. John also seems to use it a few times to refer to Jesus (e.g., maybe in John 3:13-14 and definitely in John 12:34 and Revelation 1:13 and 14:14). Stephen uses it in Acts 7:56. I can't find anyplace that Jesus is directly addressed as "Son of Man," unlike Ezekiel and Daniel. So as a form of address, it seems to mean "mortal," and as a title it seems to mean "Messianic Figure."

Ecclesiastes 10:1-10, Fly in the ointment (indirect) (07/26/22)

Introduction 2: No other English translation can match the King James Version for calm majesty and ethereal beauty, much less for its influence on modern English. The fly in the ointment is that unless you grew up reading it regularly, the thees and thous, haths and doths, goeths and doeths, italics, suffers that mean allow, lets that mean should, and offends that mean threaten make it extremely difficult for the modern reader to understand the text!

When I first started teaching Bethel, I suggested that students read something other than the King James Bible. Over the years, I moved on to pleading with them not to read it, and finally to forbidding them to use it for class - all to no avail. In the second year of one class, an older lady came to me and admitted that I was right. She had finally purchased a modern translation, and the readings were taking half the time and she understood them better.

Another problem for this kind of study is that different translations are different, and some biblical phrases have come into English only in an altered form and may be missing entirely from any given modern translation. Some translators like to go with the closest English word, and others like to use a word or expression that means the same to you. For example, I was talking to two Wycliffe translators who were working on a translation into one of the pueblo languages here in New Mexico. The pueblo man said that in his language there really isn't a word for "hello" or an occasion to say it. Instead, if you come to see a friend who happens to be chopping wood, you say, "Are you chopping?" and the friend will respond, "Yes, I'm chopping." If I were translating from that language into English, I might go with, "Hello, how are you?" "I'm fine!" These differences in translation are the reason I'll send you the scripture passage each day with the one or two verses containing the day's phrase from the KJV, the whole passage in a modern translation, and finally the whole passage from the KJV.

Fly in the ointment: The writer of Ecclesiastes, reputed to be Solomon, is not fine. He thinks that wisdom and righteousness should be honored and rewarded, and when he looks around, he sees exactly the opposite happening. He is struck by the reality that one little mistake can ruin the reputation of a wise, honorable person. He compares this little mistake to "dead flies in the ointment." The expression has come to us as "the fly in the ointment," and we use it to mean some trivial problem that has negative effects out of proportion to its real importance. Politicians and other public figures should get little plaques for their desks that quote Ecclesiastes 10:1.
Ecclesiastes 10:1: Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.

Phrasing originated by the KJV

2 Samuel 1:17-27, How are the mighty fallen (07/27/22)

Introduction 3: Quick! When was the King James Version published? 1611, you say? Well, you're right, for a certain value of "right." The 1611 version looks like the picture on the left. (Click on the image to get a bigger picture).

Evolution of the KJV. Click to enlarge.
Evolution of the KJV. Click to enlarge.

Notice that the font of the text is difficult - and archaic even in 1611 - most noticeably in words with s's or v's, like "Heauen" and "faid." But on the other hand, it has a little chapter introduction, cross-references, and (bottom left) footnotes! Words that aren't in the Hebrew, but are required in English (such as "was" and "it was") are in little bitty type. It included all the books of the Apocrypha. Translators worked from the Hebrew and Greek, whereas some of the earlier translations worked from the Vulgate, a Latin translation from around 400 A.D.

The "standard" 1769 version, shown in the middle image, has an updated font and spelling and maybe some minor corrections. It still had the notes and cross-references. The Bible I grew up on, printed around 1956, is more like the right-hand image, and probably a lot more like the one you are accustomed to. The font and spelling are modern. Sadly, the chapter introductions, cross-references, footnotes, and Apocrypha have disappeared; however, the italics are still there. Also, my copy is "self-pronouncing," that is, every name has pronunciation symbols telling you how to say it. As a result, I can read the Bible out loud as easily as a newspaper, but I never saw a cross-reference until I was 30. My recommendation? You should buy the study edition of a self-pronouncing modern translation.

How are the mighty fallen: We'll spend a few days on phrases that originated in the King James Bible, and not in any of its English predecessors. King Saul and his son Jonathan were killed together in a battle with the Philistines. In spite of Saul's frequent attempts to kill him, David had never raised his hand against Saul, whom he referred to as "the LORD's anointed." And the king's son Jonathan was David's best friend. Naturally he was devastated when they died, and he wrote a lament for them, with the refrain "How are the mighty fallen!" We use this phrase today not necessarily to describe the death of a leader, but I think more often to describe a fall from grace due to bad behavior. You also see "How the mighty have fallen" and "How the mighty are fallen." One form or another of the phrase has been used for novels, political commentaries, and even a computer game. "Tell it not in X, and publish it not in Y" is also very common today; Gath and Ashkelon were Philistine cities. And by the way, we no longer have a copy of The Book of Jashar.
2 Samuel 1:19: The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!

Joshua 23:1-14, Know for a certainty (07/28/22)

After the death of Moses, Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, and then he led them in many battles against the pagan peoples who were already there. On his deathbed, he warns them against associating with those peoples, knowing that if they do, they will fall away from God.

One of the great things about the King James Bible is that it uses "ye" to address "more than one of you" and "you" to address "you alone." Modern English uses "you" in both cases, and in many passages, it's difficult to know for a certainty whether "ye" or "you" is intended. Sometimes that can be a problem, so it doesn't hurt to keep your KJV handy as a reference.
Joshua 23:12-13: Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you: Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10, A thorn in the flesh (07/29/22)

Introduction 4: Don't get me wrong. The KJV is a good translation, and if you can read it and you like it, that's fine. There are a few problems. First, as I mentioned earlier, everybody owns a King James, but most people don't read it regularly, so when they try, it's difficult, because the language is about 500 or 600 years old. Second, many manuscripts have been found in the past 400 years, and quite a few of these are superior to the manuscripts available in 1611. Thus a modern translation is likely to reflect the original Greek a little better than the KJV. None of the changes that I'm aware of are important to salvation, however. And finally, English itself has changed a lot in 400 years. Many words simply don't mean now what they meant then, and that can be confusing and even misleading. When I say, "Pleeease get a modern translation!!!!!" I'm not knocking the KJV, I just want you to get something you will read.

A thorn in the flesh: Now, I may be the only commentator in the Western World who thinks that Paul is not talking about himself in vss. 3-5, so you can ignore me if you want to. It seems to me that Paul is perfectly willing to boast about himself and often does, in spite of what he says in the second part of vs. 5. If we assume that he's talking about himself, we're also assuming that he's telling an out-and-out lie in the first part of vs. 5: "About such a man I will boast, but about myself I will not boast." I'm not willing to call Paul a liar, so I have to conclude that he knew somebody else who had this particular vision. People who insist it was Paul and he was too modest to say so are a thorn in my flesh, to tell you the truth.

And by the way, exactly how you say these phrases seems to depend partly on where you grew up. My husband and I grew up in two different states on the West Coast, and we both learned it as "a thorn in the side."
2 Corinthians 12:7: And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Job 19:21-29, The root of the matter (08/01/22)

You know that the original biblical texts had no punctuation or spaces between words. Those began to be added to the text later to make reading easier, and even today, different translators punctuate differently in some verses. We see a case of that here, where the KJV has Job saying that his friends should say, "Why are we persecuting him, since the problem is me?" The World English Bible has Job saying his friends might say, "We will persecute him!" because he is the problem. My Greek study buddy and I have the policy that if we think the text would make more sense if punctuated differently, we just agree to do it differently (although of course we aren't publishing anything).

Now, I can already hear you starting to worry. If the text can be punctuated - or spaced - any old which way, how do we know what's right? So to get to the root of the matter, let me quickly assure you that I've never seen a case where changing the spacing or punctuation makes a difference that's important to God's plan of salvation. In fact, these differences are only very rarely important for understanding the text at all.* So read whichever translation you like, and let the scholars worry their pretty little heads about punctuation.

Do verses 25-27 seem familiar? That's because they're part of the lyrics of "The Messiah," which were compiled by Charles Jennens from the KJV and the Coverdale Psalter, even though Handel gets all the credit.
Job 19:28: But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?
* I'm. All, for punctuation? Isuspectyou. Could figure thi's out, anyway but. it would be, easier if I did it correctly in, the fir'st place.

Jeremiah 2:1-13, Be horribly afraid (08/02/22)

Christians are familiar with the idea of the Church as the bride of Christ. This is actually a very old idea; notice that in vss. 1-3, Israel is the bride of God. But Israel, a.k.a. Jacob, has deserted her lawful husband in favor of worthless husbands; Baal is not only a general term for a random god, but also another word for "husband." God is indignant. Who has ever heard of such a thing?! Not even pagan peoples desert their gods, and their gods aren't even real! God commands the heavens to be horribly afraid, because bad things are about to happen beneath them. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, is the prophet of the exile to Babylon.
Jeremiah 2:12: Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.

Acts 17:1-9, Turned the world upside-down (08/03/22)

Anyone who has lived through the COVID pandemic knows what it's like to have the world turned upside down. Things that we used to accept without question suddenly became dangerous. New - and therefore threatening - ideas and activities suddenly swept across the world. The world changed. That's exactly what was happening in Thessalonica, and people reacted exactly the same way as they have recently: some changed, some rebelled, and some went to court.

Paul and Silas were only able to stay in Thessalonica for three weeks. They left a small but vibrant church, although it was a little hazy on some of the finer points of Christianity, as we see in the books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
Acts 17:6: And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15, Let us now praise famous men (KJV 1611) (08/04/22)

If you had asked me where the saying, "Let us now praise famous men," came from, I would have said "Shakespeare, probably," but I would have been wrong. Don't take my word for anything. It's actually from the King James Bible, but the 1611 version, which included the Apocrypha, and in particular the book of Sirach, a.k.a., Ecclesiasticus. It's not in the "standard" 1769 version, which doesn't include the Apocrypha.

I was a little puzzled about why the passage starts by saying, "Let us now praise famous men," and then goes on to praise those "who have no memorial, who have perished as though they had not lived; they have become as though they had not been born." Naturally I wondered if famous is one of those old words whose meanings have changed dramatically from the time of the KJV, but it isn't. Apparently, famous has always had the meaning of "widely known." This passage seems to be saying, "Famous or not, the righteous will leave their mark on their descendants and on society."
Sirach 44:1 Let vs now praise famous men, and our Fathers that begat vs.

KJV and one earlier translation

Isaiah 38:1-5, Set your house in order (Bishops' Bible, 1568, and KJV, but "thine") (08/05/22)

Every time my husband or I must settle somebody's estate, we decide that this time we're going to set our house in order! So far it hasn't happened. When the LORD gave Hezekiah fifteen more years to prepare his will, have a courtyard sale, and downsize the palace, did he get everything in order? No, he did just what we're doing: he went about business as usual and thought, "It's my kids' problem, not mine" (2 Kings 20:12-19).
Isaiah 38:1: In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.

Job 19:6-20, The skin of my teeth (Geneva and KJV only) (08/08/22)

According to David Crystal in Begat, the King James Bible only originated 18 of the 257 phrases that have made it into everyday modern English. The others came from one or more of the earlier English translations. If you live in an English-speaking household, the chances are excellent that you own a copy of the King James Bible, whether you read it or not. What about the Geneva Bible, first published in 1560? Much less likely. My husband and I own upwards of 30 Bibles, in numerous translations, but until I got a copy of the Geneva Bible from e-sword for this study, we didn't have that one. Like the early KJV, it had cross-references and study notes and included the Apocrypha. From what I read, the study notes had strongly Calvinist leanings, but since my study tips tend to have Arminian leanings, I'm not in a position to throw stones.

Job first "escaped with the skin of his teeth" in the Geneva Bible. Sometimes it seems to me that we use a biblical expression, but the original scriptural meaning has gotten a little bit lost. When we moderns say that we escaped by the skin of our teeth, we mean that we just barely avoided being caught, killed, bankrupted, or whatever, but now we're okay. When I started reading other translations, though, I began wondering whether this is what Job meant. It sounds to me, especially when I read the whole chapter, more like "the flesh is melting from my body; even my gums are thinning. I'm just barely hanging on." Those two ideas are close, but they don't seem to me to be the same.

By the way, since Job has spent the better part of nineteen chapters whining, I love the Easy-to-Read's rendering of vs. 7. Job sounds exactly like my kids when they were little: "He hurt me! It's not fair!" Notice that in vs. 14, he complains that his friends have forgotten him. To whom is he complaining? The four friends who are sitting with him!
Job 19:20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

Today's Rant: You can just skip this. Pleeease don't go around saying that the doctrines of other denominations are "unbiblical," unless you know for a fact that they are teaching child sacrifice or something. You may say, politely, that you disagree with a particular interpretation of scripture, but always remember that you could be wrong. If Christians would devote the same kind of energy to feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and preaching the Gospel that we do to stabbing each other in the back, the world would be won for Christ by the day after tomorrow.

Psalms 107:23-32, At their wit's end (Coverdale's Psalter and KJV only) (08/09/22)

I think I've said before that my favorite translation of the psalms is the King James Version, and my favorite modern translation is the Bible in Basic English.

You know that a KJV phrase has made it into modern English when you see it used in the same way in a computer game. One game has a place from which you can go any direction you want to, but every direction except the one you came from brings you right back to where you are and a sign saying, "You are at Witt's End." Yep. We really were at our wits' end until we figured out that there was nothing we could do there! The sailors in this psalm are in the same position. They have presumably tried everything to get out of the storm, but they can't. They are at their wits' end until they figure out that they should cry to the LORD for mercy.

As near as I can tell, it must have been the Coverdale Bible that originated the convention, adopted by the King James Version, of substituting LORD for the Hebrew YHWH. Many modern translations do the same, although not the Modern King James Version. The MKJV uses "Jehovah" more than 6,000 times instead of LORD, for reasons that are obscure to me, since KJV only uses "Jehovah" four times.
Psalm 107:27: They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.

KJV and two earlier translations

1 Samuel 13:1-15, A man after his own heart (Geneva, Bishops, K only) (08/10/22)

You know those forms you see that have blanks to fill in and extra words to cross out or circle? The Jewish historians had a form for introducing a new king, and it went like this: "King _ _ _ of Judah/Israel was _ _ years old when he became king, and he ruled for _ _ years." Now, King Saul was long gone by the time they came up with the formula, and the historians didn't know how old he was when he became king, but they used the form anyway. Consequently, translators seem to put in some arbitrary number. The Jewish Publication Society Bible and the Darby translation have, "Saul was - - years old when he began to reign; and two years he reigned over Israel," which isn't very informative but pretty much what the Hebrew says. They are translators after my own heart. Other translations range from 1 year old to 40 years old, with stops at "young man" and "30." Several say he "reigned for 1 year, and when he had reigned for two years ..." The point is that translation is a tricky business, especially when the original text doesn't give you much to work with. Pray for translators, read two or more unrelated translations, and don't worry about Saul's age, because it isn't important.

We've now come to expressions that were used in the KJV and two earlier translations, in today's case, the Geneva Bible (1560) and the Bishop's Bible. The Bishop's Bible was first published in 1568, and the translators of the KJV were instructed to take it as their basis. Apparently, it fell out of use fairly rapidly after the publication of the KJV in 1611.
1 Samuel 13:14: But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

Jeremiah 13:18-27, The leopard [change] his spots (Geneva, Douay-Rheims, K only) (08/11/22)

They say that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result (note: this is why computers make you insane; you do the same thing and get a different result). Jeremiah says, "You are asking why these bad things keep happening to you, but it's because you keep committing the same sins over and over again." At this point, God has decided, reluctantly, that the nation is so accustomed to doing evil that it will only learn right from wrong by going into exile. The leopard isn't going to change his spots without a good bleaching.
Jeremiah 13:23: Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

Isaiah 52:1-10, Eye to eye (Geneva, Douay-Rheims, KJV only) (08/12/22)

I don't quite see eye to eye with translations that render YHWH as "Yahweh." As I've mentioned before, the vowels given in the Hebrew text go with a different word, adonai/Lord. Nobody has spoken aloud the name of God, YHWH, for a few thousand years, so we don't know how to say it; instead most people say "Adonai" or "Ha Shem" (the Name). "Yahweh" is a decent guess, but a guess nevertheless.

Now, you understood that when I said "see eye to eye," I meant "agree." This appears to me, and to several translation teams, to be not quite what the original text had in mind. When I read this passage, I thought it sounded more like what we mean by "see face to face," and I found something more like that, e.g., "see plainly," "see with their own eyes," or "see in plain sight," in several translations. A subtle difference, but a difference, nevertheless, that would make vs. 8 parallel with vs. 10, and the prophets are all about parallel structures:
(8) for they shall see eye to eye/plainly, when the LORD returns to Zion
(10) all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Isaiah 52:8: Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.

Matthew 13:1-9, Fell by the way side/on stony ground (G, B, K only) (08/15/22)

I mentioned before that I've read that the language of the King James was archaic even when it was published in 1611. This was probably because, as we are seeing now, the translators often adopted wording from earlier translations. So here's a bit of trivia for you: until the 1590s, a "farmer" was a person who collected taxes. No wonder that it was a "sower" who went out to sow. In the translations I have, only the recent ones have "farmer."

If you're like us, you get a lot of email. Sometimes so many emails come in that something important will fall by the wayside before I get a chance to respond to it. (This is why I often tell you to get back to me in two weeks if I don't answer your question!) The spam, of course, falls on stony ground; I don't even open it. The Parable of the Sower has been fertile ground for the growth of modern phrases (MWAHAHahaha!), giving us both "fell by the way side" and "fell on stony ground" (even though the KJV says "places"). Both mean that something, usually words or an idea, was lost in the shuffle or ignored.

This story is usually called "The Parable of the Sower," but others have called it "The Parable of the Soils" or "The Parable of the Seed." I'd actually call it an allegory, because everything stands for something. If you want to place emphasis on Jesus as the one spreading the word, you call it The Parable of the Sower. If you want to talk about the reaction of those who hear the word, you call it The Parable of the Soils. If you're preaching sermon about the spread of the Gospel, you call it The Parable of the Seed. It's more versatile than most of the parables.

By the way, David Crystal said in Begat that these two phrases were found only in the Geneva, Bishops', and King James Bibles, but I'm also seeing them in Tyndale.
Matthew 13:4-5: And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth.

Luke 12:13-21, Eat, drink, and be merry (Tyndale, Bishops', KJV) (08/16/22)

Every so often, I say to myself, "Self, you need to buy more Legos," or whatever. The rich man in Jesus' parable says to his soul, "Soul, you have a lot of Legos. Eat, drink, and be merry." I think we tell each other so often to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die, that we forget that it comes as a similarly ironic warning in the Bible. (Well, I forget; probably you don't. It always sounds to me like something out of Aesop's fables.) Isaiah has a similar idea in Isaiah 22:13, "Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die," and Paul quotes Isaiah in 1 Corinthians 15:32. Here we have two identical sayings and another that's similar, and they have three different meanings. "Say to my soul, Soul..." comes directly from the Greek via Wycliffe. I think it's a loss that several modern translations have "I'll say to myself, 'You have stored up..."

Luke 12:19: And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

More Old Origins of Modern Expressions
From Time to Time - Part 2
From Time to Time - Part 3

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

Our Sponsors:

St. John's United Methodist Church, "Transforming Lives Through Christ."
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110

St. John's Music Ministries now has a YouTube channel, bringing you free concerts and choral music. Check it out!

Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and 11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary.  Casual worship services are held Sundays at 9:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center.  Jazz Vespers are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John's feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program.

Storm Dragon SoftwareTM

Ducks in a Row, Inc.

This website is supported in part by the generosity of Mrs. J. Jordan.