Expressions Rooted in the Bible

In talks to religion teachers, I offer reasons to teach Scripture. First and foremost, the Bible is God’s Word to us and he speaks to us personally through it. Second, we come to know Jesus through Scripture. And third, an educated person is expected to know Scripture. (How often “Jeopardy!” as well as crossword puzzle clues are Scripture-based.) In addition, many of our common words and expressions have their origin in the Bible. You might already know that the concept of a scapegoat is derived from the Israelite’s practice of “loading their sins” on a goat and sending it out into the desert. But did you know that a man’s adam apple comes from the notion that when Adam ate the forbidden fruit, a piece of it got caught in this throat? And did you know that the expression “jumping Jehosaphat” is a substitute for taking the name Jesus in vain? Jehosaphat was a minor Jewish king. I find the following list intriguing. Hope you will too.

Can Ethiopians change their skin or leopards their spots?  (Jeremiah 13:23)

Even the nations are like a drop from a bucket. (Isaiah 40:15)

Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a foul odor. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

May … his enemies lick the dust. (Psalm 72:9)

They are blind guides of the blind. (Matthew 15:13)

I have escaped by the skin of my teeth. (Job 19:20)

Nothing better for people under the sun that to eat, drink and be merry. (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

Forbidden fruit  (Genesis 3:3)

Go the extra mile  (Matthew 5:41)

Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37)

Nothing but skin and bones  (Job 19:19)

Pride comes before a fall  (Proverbs 16:18)

Put words in one’s mouth  (Sirach 14:3)

Rise and shine  (Isaiah 60:1)

Wolves in sheep’s clothing  (Matthew 7:15)

Handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5:5)

[They] were at their wit’s end. (Psalm 107:27)

…that you may enjoy the fat of the land. (Genesis 45:17)

Salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)

Apple of my eye  (Zechariah 2:8)

Old as Methusalah (Genesis 5:25)

Sour grapes (Ezekiel 18:2)

There are more. Breathing life into something comes from Genesis where God breathes life into Adam. A Hail Mary pass is rooted in the Angel Gabriel’s words to the Blessed Virgin. Of course, you are familiar with “doubting Thomas” and “the patience of Job.”

Do you know of other sayings that originated in Scripture?








  1. Mary Collins-Smith on September 27, 2018 at 11:13 am

    How about “an eye for an eye”.?

    I love “pride comes before a fall”. It is so true!

  2. Kathleen Glavich, SND on November 5, 2018 at 9:49 am

    Thanks for the additions, Mary!

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