Aphorisms are sayings or adages of a truth or opinion. They originated from various sources including the Bible, periods of history, and everyday life.
UPDATE: Please see the conclusion at the end of this essay of why reading it serves any purpose.
The following aphorisms had their origin in the 1500s.
Don’t Throw the Baby out with the Bathwater
People took their yearly baths in May in a bathtub that was filled with hot water. The man of the house bathed in the clean water. The sons took baths next, then the women, children, and last of all, the babies. By that time the baby was washed, the water was so dirty you could actually lose them in it.
The idea behind this expression was that when a suggestion was made, or a subject has been decided upon, that simply because one part was not working, that it did not mean that other parts within it were worth discounting as well.
It’s Raining Cats and Dogs
During this time, houses had thatched roofs. They were made of thick straw piled high with no would underneath. Many times their would be two stories with patios on the second floor as a place to retreat during the hot summer days. Also, the patios were used many times by household pets as sleeping quarters. It was not uncommon during hard rains to see through the house window, a dog or a cat falling, as they would venture onto the straw of the thatched roof, which became very slippery they would slide off and fall to the ground.
The idea behind this expression was that the rain fall was very hard.
During this time only rich homeowners could afford wooden or slate floors, with the poorer residents having only dirt as their floor.
The idea behind this expression was that the individual was very poor.
In the winter, slate floors of wealthy homeowners would get slippery when they got wet. So, they started to spread thatch on the floor to keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they would keep adding it until; when the door was opened it would start falling outside. Then, they put a piece of wood on the entry that was called a threshold.
The idea behind this expression was that the area underneath the front doorway was given the name threshold.
Peas Porridge Hot, Peas Porridge Cold, Peas Porridge in the Pot Nine Days Old
In many homes, there was a big kettle that hung over the fire, and every day, the fire was lit, and food (mostly vegetables, and occasionally meet) was added to the pot. People would eat the stew for dinner and then leave the leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight, and then start all over again the next day. Sometimes, the pot would have food in it that had been in there for a month.
Bring Home the Bacon
Poverty, having been prominent, many families could only afford leftover pieces of a pig, and the ham roast or bacon was very costly, therefore a man that made enough money to be able to bring bacon home displayed that he made a good income.
The idea behind this expression was that being able to afford bacon was a sign of wealth.
Chew the Fat
While entertaining guests, it was common to cut off bits of pork to share with the guest in chew on during conversation.
The idea behind this expression was that of sharing conversation with a guest.
If people had money, there plates were made of pewter. However, most people didn’t have pewter plates, but had trenchers. These were pieces of wood with the middle scooped out like bowls. The wooden pieces weren’t worst very often, and subsequently would get worms in the wood. After eating off the trenchers with worms, people would get trench mouth.
In a large household with servants, the bread was divided according to status in the home. The workers would get the burnt bottom of the low, the family would get the middle, and guest would get the top or the upper crust as a sign of generosity. In rich families, the family members only ate the upper crust, as it was the most desired cut of the bread.
The idea behind this expression was that the affluent and persons of privilege deserved the upper crust and were so named after.
Wake, Graveyard Shift, Saved by the Bell, and Dead Ringer
People drank out of lead cups, and when they drink ale or whiskey, the combination would sometimes produce an intoxicant that would render them unconscious, creating shallow breathing, and a light heartbeat. A Midwest town relocated a cemetery, and in the process a casket broke open with the inhabitant displaying a look of absolute terror on his face, with her hands outstretched, and the inside of the lid of the coffin with scratch marks. The townspeople, fearful of ever been buried alive, developed a routine to safeguard them against this possibility.
First the dead body of a family member would be placed on the kitchen table for a couple of days, family members gathered around and ate and waited to see if the person would wake up. That’s where the custom of the “Wake” came from. Also, a hole was cut in the coffin with a string placed around the wrist of the deceased, and run up through the ground and connected to a bell on a pivot, so that if an individual woke up in a coffin, they could ring the bell and alert people that they were alive.
This is where we got the term “Saved by the Bell” and if a person looked just like the deceased, they were called a “Dead Ringer,” indicating that they actually were the person who had been thought to be deceased, and had apparently woken up and rung the bell to save their life. One other precaution taken by the townspeople was to place someone in the graveyard to stay awake all night and listen for any bell bells ringing. The individual hired for this would be said to work the “Graveyard Shift.”
In the past, nice beds were made of a wooden frame with leather strands running back and forth in order to cradle the sleeper while still having the ability to afford movement. However, after time leather strands were apt to pull apart allowing for the individual to fall through the floor below.
The thought behind this expression was that of wishing someone a good night’s sleep without interruption.
The question has been posed, besides that of entertainment; what’s the reason for engaging in reading post which have to do with old expressions such as these are?
The answer is that as rational creatures created by our God to function in a logical manner wherein communication is much more than simple primal communication concerning survival (such as when animals communicate danger, or location for mating, or other such raw forms of basic information sharing for the survival of the specie); where communication transcends thought and contemplation, where ideas and aspirations concerning the future, as well as the past; it is important to understand that words are important, that they have meaning; and even when men make up words, it is important, reflecting rationality and meaning. That even Aphorisms written over 500 years ago still affect us today and how we communicate with each other. Words are life-and-death; no matter how much the evil on tries to devalue their meaning.
This is one of the most successful schemes of the devil in dumbing down our society and culture by disenfranchising words from meanings. If he can dumb down the culture at large, or the society as a whole; it will eventually affect the church. And when words have no meaning, the words written in ” God’s word,” have no meaning as well; or a least those words have lost some of their power.
God chose to communicate to man through words (whereas in some religions, the deity primarily uses numbers), words recorded in an instrument which I refer to as the “Word of God,” whereas many refer to as “The Bible;” words are more important than life or death.
(SIDENOTE: The reason I refer to holy Scripture as “The Word of God,” more often than “The Bible,” is because there is no ambiguity in this term, no vagueness. It is in your face, either arrogant if not true; or humbling if it is.
On the other hand the term “the Bible,” has become so neutered and impotent in our current vernacular, wherein many times it does not SEEM to hold the force and power of the expression, “The Word of God.”
It is not that the term “The Bible” has changed, it’s not. Let me ask you this, how times how you’ve heard it referred to as: “The Holy Bible,” giving greater attentions to its sacred nature as a book that is consecrated unto God, by God – much more rare is it to hear these days – isn’t it.
There are many churches across America, especially within orthodoxy; where the Bible has become a man-made book of suggestions; as opposed to what it is: the living breathing – alive “Word of God.” I use that term to make man’s ears cringe every time they hear it, because of the force it demands, the choice that it demands of the hearer – is it truly God’s Word – to you? It’s like using the name of “Jesus” in public.
How much easier is it to use the term “God,” which is the generic title which holds no specific meaning to the individual hearer, because it is a subjective term that can referred to many different false religion’s deity. Yet, when you say that personal name: “JESUS,” every time, I still cringe after almost 40 years of being a believer. Even now when I say that word, as it rolls off my tone; tears flow – because of Who He is, and what He means to me.
How the church has sold its birthright as children of God because of political correctness, or; as I believe it to be most of the time outright fear – fear of rejection of men. As for me, I serve and worship “JESUS the CHRIST,” the Son of the Living God; and my life is ordered by His Communication to me – “The Word of God.”)
(SIDENOTE: What is the difference between these two expressions, “The Bible,” and “The Word of God”? The term “Bible” comes from the Latin [biblia] and means: “book,” and became used for the Holy Scripture in the form of: “The Book” [ta biblia], and is a term which displays the preeminence of this book in that it uses the definite article “the,” indicating that it is a reference to a particular book, as diverse from all others. And when referred to as: “The Holy Bible,” with the word “Holy” [Latin: sacra meaning “sacred” or “consecrated; the Greek word for “holy” is: hagios which simply means “separated unto,” in reference to God – meaning something or some person separated unto God’s purpose and possession; rather than the more traditional understanding of separated from sin. While the word “Holy” does not denotatively mean to separate from sin, though it would be implied, this is a secondary meaning in that it is separated from sin only because it has already been separated unto God – it is a positive reference – “unto,” much more than it is a negative reference, “from“], added; this term has become a standard phrase of recognition for this book for a few centuries. The phrase the “Word of God” has been utilized since its very inception, and is what it refers to in reference to God’s Verbal Word [1 Sam. 9:27; Kings 12:22], as well as His Written Word [1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Cor. 14:37]; as seen in both Testaments; and is even a termed used of Jesus [Rev. 19:13], Who is the living “Word of God.”)
Therefore, since the Word of God is written using words; we should never forget the power that words hold. The expression, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never harm me,” is overused, and misused far too often.
It is meant to convey the idea that if someone uses words against you, it is much different than using physical force, and within the arena wherein it was originally termed, that of dealing with children; this makes a lot of sense.
If little Johnny says words that hurt Little Bobby, Little Bobby doesn’t have the right to physically attack little Johnny. However, in our grown-up world far too often this type of thinking creates more problems than it addresses.
Words are perhaps the most deadliest tools we have to work with as intelligent, rational beings. Consider the following scenarios: the word “guilty,” uttered by a judge to a defendant; the words “I love you,” spoken by a child to their parent; the words “I want a divorce,” spoken by one mate to another; the words ” you have terminal cancer,” spoken by a doctor to his patient; the words “go to hell,” spoken by God to one of His creatures.
You see, it’s not that words don’t have power, they do; the problem is when ever words are meant to be coupled with actions, and the actions are withheld, that the words become impotent; and without power concerning what they proclaim.
It’s when there is an incongruence – an inconsistency between the words spoken and reality, that words can no longer be trusted. however, this is not the fault of the words, it is the problem of the speaker.
This is one of the many, many outcomes of the fallen nature. Lying was never meant to be a part of humanity, it is a result of sin. Lying, deception, fraud, and manipulation; are some of Satan’s greatest tools. Hence, Jesus’ words as recorded in John 8:44, which states:
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Therefore, to conclude. Words should always be coupled with the actions that they are meant to convey, at least if they are honest, positive, or righteous in their inference or direction. And even expressions such as those listed above are based upon intellect, reason and logic; and therefore held great meaning to those that commonly used them, even if today they mean very little to us.
We should remember Proverbs 18:21, which states:
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
Something to think about.