A surprising number of idioms in common use in English originate in the Bible. In many cases people do not realise that they are quoting the Bible when they use them, and the use of such phrases does not necessarily mean that the speaker is making a religious reference.
There are a number of English translations of the Bible. These references are not all from the same version.
By the sweat of your brow
By hard physical work
East of Eden
The Land of Nod to which Cain fled after murdering Abel. Also the title of a novel by John Steinbeck
Genesis 4:16 and 1 Samuel 13:14
He sold his birthright for a mess of pottage
Stranger in a strange land
In the Bible these are pots for cooking meat but now means places of sexual excess
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth
Apple of his eye
A favourite, much-loved person
Deuteronomy 32:10 and Zechariah 2:8
A man after his own heart
Someone with the same values and attitudes
1 Samuel 13:14
I'll pin him to the wall
1 Samuel 18:10-11
You don't know the half of it
When the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon.
Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard
1 Kings 10:7
The salt of the earth
Genuine true, honest people
Turn the other cheek
Do not seek revenge.
Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29
Going the extra mile
The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
This is used to refer to lack of co-ordination in an organisation. It originates in
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
No man can serve two masters
Ye cannot serve God and mammon
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Straight and narrow
A course of honest and moral behaviour
The full selection of biblical quotations is available to registered users of DIPLOTAXIS.
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