Monday, March 15, 2010

The skin of my teeth

You're telling a friend about a wreck you almost had and you say "I escaped an terrible accident by the skin of my teeth."  And you're friend knows exactly what you mean.  But do you know where that phrase comes from?  Do you know how it was used originally?  Well, if you're curious, keep reading.

Its in the book of Job.  In chapter 19 Job is lamenting about how his friends have been hounding him and tormenting him and making him feel humiliated while in midst of tumultuous emotional, physical, relational and theological suffering.  Job's friends are constantly blaming him for his suffering and Job is constantly blaming God for his suffering.  Starting in verse 14, Job starts recounting the relationships he has lost (or that have been reversed) because of what God has done to him.  After naming them, in verse 20, Job says "I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth."

Job hasn't actually escaped anything.  He's using sarcastic irony.  He's saying that he hasn't been supported by his friends, family or even his own skeletal structure.  The image of "skin of my teeth" means he's left with nothing.  There's nothing good about his situation.  The irony is that to escape with nothing but yourself and your misery, is no escape at all.

So next time you hear that saying, you'll know how it was used when it was originally written.

1 comment:

draysult said...
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