1950-1959
   Home | Biblical Index | Statistics | Eulalie
| 1902-1909 | 1910-1919 | 1920-1929 | 1930-1939 | 1940-1949 1950-1959 | 1960-1969 | 1970-1977
 

Nothing Serious (1950) [NS] • The Old Reliable (1951) [OR] • Barmy in Wonderland (1952) [BIW]
Pigs Have Wings (1952) [PHW] • Ring for Jeeves (1953) [RFJ] • Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954) [JFS]
French Leave (1956) [FL] • Cocktail Time (1958) [CT] • A Few Quick Ones (1959) [FQO]

NOTHING SERIOUS

NS, Chapter 1 (The Shadow Passes)

She was persuaded to emerge from her retirement and once more set her hand to the plough.

Luke 9:62 / And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Devoted to the interests of our better-class babes and sucklings

Psalm 8:2 / Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

Jesus quotes this verse in Matthew 21:16, to justify the behaviour of the children shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David" in the temple, on the day of his solemn entry in Jerusalem.

It would have been in better taste for Nannie Byles to let the dead past bury its dead.

Matthew 8:21-22 / 21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

The actual quotation, however, comes from Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life": "Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! / Let the dead Past bury its dead! / Act,—act in the living Present! / Heart within, and God o'erhead!"

Threatening to make his name a hissing and a byword.

Jeremiah 29:18 / And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and a hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them.

Other versions of the Bible, found on the Internet, read "byword" instead of "reproach".

His eye was not dimmed nor his natural force abated

Deuteronomy 34:7 / And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

A blinding light had flashed upon Bingo.

Isaiah 9:2 / The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

NS, Chapter 2 (Bramley is so Bracing)

The man's thought processes are a sealed book to me.

Isaiah 29:11 / And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.

Revelation 5:1 / And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

The sealed book symbolises God's secret decrees. Only the Lamb (i.e. Jesus Christ) is worthy "to take the scroll and break the seals of it" (Revelation 5:9).

I suppose practically the last thing an unmarried schoolmaster wants to find in his sanctum is an unexplained baby

The Latin word means "holy place" (Exodus 26:33, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy (Place) was the middle room, between the Porch and the Holy of Holies.

Bingo hopped like the high hills.

Psalm 68:16 / Why hop ye so, ye high hills? This is God's hill, in the which it pleaseth him to dwell: yea, the Lord will abide in it for ever (Book of Common Prayer).

The psalmist warns other mountains not to be jealous of the hill of Zion, God's dwelling place on earth.

NS, Chapter 3 (Up From the Depths)

Up From the Depths

Psalm 130:1 / Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.

A possible allusion?

NS, Chapter 4 (Feet of Clay)

Feet of Clay

Daniel 2:33 / His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

In the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has a puzzling dream, which only Daniel is able able to reveal: "Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces" (Daniel 2:31-34). Daniel's interpretation of the dream is too long to be discussed in detail (read Daniel 2:36-45), but we must note the meaning of the "feet of clay": "And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken" (Daniel 2:42). Hence the modern use of the expression "feet of clay" to indicate a flaw in the character of an admired person.

A slight tiff with my helpmeet.

Genesis 2:18 / And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

She said that if he expired his blood would be on my head.

Joshua 2:19 / And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.

Biblical expression, used to indicate someone's responsibility for another person's death.

Going from strength to strength

Psalm 84:7 / They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

The scales had fallen from her eyes.

Acts 9:18 / And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:1-19 relate the conversion of Saul, as the apostle Paul was known then. He was travelling to Damascus, in order to persecute Jesus' disciples there, when there came a light from heaven, causing him to fall to the ground, and a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul got up, he could see nothing at all, until a disciple who lived in Damascus, Ananias, laid his hands on him, whereupon the "scales fell away from Saul's eyes".

Like a child breaking up a Noah's Ark with a tack hammer

Genesis 6:13-14 / 13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.

The Master's text refers to a toy replica of the vessel in which Noah saved his family and the animal kingdom.

NS, Chapter 5 (Excelsior)

Horace Bewstridge beat his breast.

Luke 18:13 / And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Horace Bewstridge rent his pullover.

Genesis 37:29 / And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.

In the Bible, beating one's breast and rending one's garments are traditional signs of mourning and repentance.

He had stood addressing his ball like Lot's wife just after she had been turned into a pillar of salt

Genesis 19:26 / But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

When Lot, Abraham's nephew, was summoned by angels to take his wife and his daughters and leave the city of Sodom, which was soon to be destroyed, he was told that they should not look behind them. Lot's wife did, however, with desastrous results. This anecdote is probably a popular explanation of some strangely shaped mass of rock which is still pointed out to tourists near the Dead Sea.

This dog (...) was the apple of Irwin Bott's eye. (...)

For they were presumably the apples of her eye, just as Alphonse was the apple of theirs.

Deuteronomy 32:10 / He [the Lord] found him [his people] in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

NS, Chapter 6 (Rodney Has a Relapse)

Not before I had seen Rodney Spelvin start and throw his head up like a war horse at the sound of the bugle.

See Job 39:25. Curiously enough, this is one of the passages where Wodehouse does not quote the Authorised Version, which he uses elsewhere ("He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha"), but a different translation, in which the war-horse starts at the sound of the bugle. On the internet, I have found only one version that comes close to our text, the so-called "New Living Translation": "It snorts at the sound of the bugle." Unfortunately, this translation was only published in 1996! Could someone help me to identify the version used by Wodehouse?

And felt that I had sown the good seed.

Matthew 13:24 / Another parable put he [Jesus] forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.

It seemed for a moment as if it must have been snatched up to heaven.

2 Kings 2:11 / And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

A possible allusion to the prophet Elijah's translation into heaven.

William cast a hunted look at his helpmeet

See above.

NS, Chapter 7 (Tangled Hearts)

This habit of his of scattering advice on every side like a sower going forth sowing

Matthew 13:3 / And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.

This all-flesh-is-as-grass note which had been introduced into the conversation

Isaiah 40:6 / The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.

1 Peter 1:24 / For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.

He groaned in spirit.

John 11:33 / When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

It seemed to Bessemer that with a few minor changes he could have stepped straight into the Book of Revelations and no questions asked.

The Book of Revelation, or "Apocalypse of John", is the last book of the New Testament and of the entire Bible. Like other apocalyptic literature, its aim is to reveal hidden things, especially what will happen when this world ends. The language used in this sort of writing is highly symbolic, and its visions of horror and destruction should not be taken literally. The true message of the Book of Revelation is a hopeful one: God protects his persecuted Church and will lead her to victory.

Feeling like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

Daniel 3:20 / And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

These three friends of Daniel—perhaps the most popular biblical characters in the Wodehouse canon—had refused to worship the statue of king Nebuchadnezzar, and were thrown in the furnace. But the fire had no power on them, "nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them" (Daniel 3:27).

These men were passing through the furnace.

Isaiah 48:10 / Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

There are many other passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace.

If I can trim that ginger-headed Delilah

Judges 16:4-5 / 4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.

Full story in Judges 16:4-22. Samson's wife Delilah betrayed the secret of his great strength—namely that his head had never been shorn—to the Philistines, lulled him to sleep in her lap, and summoned a man who sheared Samson's hair. The Philistines were so enabled to seize him and put out his eyes.

NS, Chapter 8 (Birth of a Salesman)

Freddie eyed with scorn one who, like Lord Emsworth, neither toiled nor spun.

Matthew 6:28-29 / 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

A bright light shone upon Lord Emsworth.

See above.

There had begun to burgeon one of those regrettable neo-Babylonian orgies

Daniel 5:1-4 / 1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. 3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

This banquet, given by Belshazzar, in reality son of the last king of Babylon, Nabonidus, may well be the prototype of the "Babylonian orgy" to which Wodehouse periodically refers. It was during this meal that the "writing on the wall" appeared, announcing Belshazzar's downfall.

"Oh, for the wings of a dove!" he had said to himself

Psalm 55:6 / And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.

NS, Chapter 9 (How's That, Umpire?)

Only a man with an exceptionally clear conscience can enter this holy of holies

"Holy of Holies" means "most holy place" (Exodus 26:34, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the back room of the building was the most sacred place, because it contained the ark of the covenant; it was therefore called the "Holy of Holies". The high priest alone was allowed to enter this chamber, once a year only.

She reminds me of... who was that woman in the Bible whose work was always so raw?... Delilah?... No... It's on the tip of my tongue... Ah yes, Jezebel. She's a modern streamlined Jezebel, dash her insides.

1 Kings 21:23 / And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

2 Kings 9:35-36 / 35 And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. 36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he [Jehu] said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jizreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel.

Jezebel was the wife of Ahab, king of Israel. Her despotism and idolatry have made her a symbol of female wickedness. Ahab's general Jehu ordered that she be thrown out of her window. You can read about her in 1 Kings 16-21 and 2 Kings 9.

For Delilah, see above.

NS, Chapter 10 (Success Story), section 1

"Who was it said: 'You can't keep a good man down'?"

"Jonah, taunting the whale."

Jonah 1:17 / Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. / 2:10 / And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

The "great fish" has become a "whale" in popular imagination.

NS, Chapter 10 (Success Story), section 2

I felt like throwing in the towel and turning my face to the wall

2 Kings 20:1-2 / 1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. 2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord...

NS, Chapter 10 (Success Story), section 5

There is a time for reckless courage and a time for prudence.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 / 1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

Possible reminiscence of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, with its repeated mentions of a time to do something, and a time to do the opposite.

With the troops of Midian prowling around

Allusion to a hymn by John Mason Neale (1818-1866), first published for congregational use in his Parish Hymn Book (1863): "Christian, dost thou see them / On the holy ground? / How the troops of Midian / Prowl and prowl around? / Christian, up and smite them, / Counting gain but loss; / Smite them by the merit / Of the holy cross." In the Old Testament, the Midianites lived to the south of the Promised Land. Their raids on the neighbourhood lead them to blows with the Hebrews. Judges 6-8 describe how Gideon delivered Israel from their oppression.

Back to top

THE OLD RELIABLE

OR, Chapter 1

"Wasted my substance. What a lesson this should be to all of us, Phipps, not to waste our substance."

"Yes, sir."

"A fool's game, wasting your substance. No percentage in it. If you don't have substance, where are you?"

Luke 15:13 / And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

The "prodigal son" is the name usually given to the younger of two sons in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Having demanded of his father his share of the estate, he left for a distant country and "wasted his substance with riotous living." Came a famine, and he hired himself out to one of the inhabitants who made him feed his pigs. "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." So he decided to go home. Instead of rebuking him, his father clasped him in his arms, kissed him, and ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and to kill the fatted calf. One of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel, illustrating God's mercy.

There is a time for tickling cats under the ear and a time for not tickling cats under the ear.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 / 1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

Possible reminiscence of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, with its repeated mentions of a time to do something, and a time to do the opposite.

So be of good cheer, Phipps

Matthew 9:2 / And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer: thy sins be forgiven thee.

It isn't a thing you can shout from the house tops

Matthew 10:27 / What I tell you in darkness, that preach ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

OR, Chapter 2

Kay held austere views on the subject of young men wasting their substance in riotous living

See above.

The cheesecake zone of Hollywood, in which until a short while before, he had had his being.

Acts 17:28 / For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

The curious expression "had his being" can probably be traced back to the above excerpt—referring to God—from the apostle Paul's speech before the council of the Areopagus, which itself may be an indirect quotation of the poet Epimenides of Cnossos.

OR, Chapter 4

No Israelite in the desert, watching manna descending from the skies just when he had been saying to himself how well a spot of manna would go down right now, if only he had it, could have shown a more instantaneous approval and enthusiasm.

Deuteronomy 8:16 / Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end.

John 6:49 / Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

After their flight from Egypt, God provided the Israelites in the desert with a miraculous sort of food, called "manna" (full story in Exodus 16:1-36).

He directed a searching glance at Bill, as if he were weighing her in the balance.

Daniel 5:27 / Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

Belshazzar, whom the book of Daniel calls "king" of Babylon and son of Nebuchadnezzar (he was, in fact, the son of Nabonidus and was never king), was giving a great banquet—one of these "Babylonian orgies" to which the Master periodically refers—when suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall: "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin". Daniel was able to interpret this "writing on the wall", and gave the meaning of the word "tekel": "You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting". That same night, Belshazzar was murdered.

A tolerant view of the straying from the straight and narrow path of those with whom she associated

Matthew 7:14 / Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

OR, Chapter 6

I guarantee you will be treated as a ewe lamb. (...)

You will welcome him in and treat him like a ewe lamb. And when I say ewe lamb, I mean EWE LAMB. (...)

Your status, as I foreshadowed, will be that of a ewe lamb.

2 Samuel 12:3 / But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

I am not at all sure if this or any other biblical text is the direct source of the expression "my ewe lamb".

I have tidings of great joy.

Luke 2:10-11 / 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

You might have been the Queen of Sheba welcoming King Solomon.

1 Kings 10:1 / And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.

It is Solomon who received the queen of Sheba, not the reverse!

OR, Chapter 7

In moments of emotion, Adela always resembles those priests of Baal who gashed themselves with knives.

1 Kings 18:28 / And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah sets up a competition between 450 priests of Baal (a pagan divinity) and himself, as the representative of the God of Israel. In spite of their impressive self-mutilation, the priests of Baal were unable to make their god ignite a sacrificial bull.

OR, Chapter 8

I'm afraid the moment has arrived when we must cease to hide your light beneath a bushel.

Matthew 5:15-16 / 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

OR, Chapter 11

The workings of your mind are a sealed book to me.

Isaiah 29:11 / And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.

Revelation 5:1 / And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

The sealed book symbolises God's secret decrees. Only the Lamb (i.e. Jesus Christ) is worthy "to take the scroll and break the seals of it" (Revelation 5:9).

You mock at my grey hairs and will probably sooner or later bring them in sorrow to the grave

Genesis 42:38 / And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

OR, Chapter 12

Wine is a mocker and strong drink is raging, and he liked it that way. Any time wine wanted to mock him, his whole demeanour suggested, it was all right with James Phipps, and the same went for strong drink when it wished to rage.

Proverbs 20:1 / Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

His obvious eagerness to spare no effort to make the party go would have touched and delighted some such person as a fun-loving Babylonian monarch of the old school, always on the look-out for sympathetic fellow-revellers to help the Babylonian orgy along (...)

It was as though he had started hobnobbing with a Babylonian monarch and the Babylonian monarch had suddenly turned around and snubbed him, as Babylonian monarchs are so apt to do.

Daniel 5:1-4 / 1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. 3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

This banquet, given by Belshazzar, in reality son of the last king of Babylon, Nabonidus, may well be the prototype of the "Babylonian orgy" to which Wodehouse periodically refers. It was during this meal that the "writing on the wall" appeared, announcing Belshazzar's downfall.

Rousing a sleeping hostess from her slumbers as if the Last Trump had sounded.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 / 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The trumpet is a traditional feature of so-called apocalyptic imagery, i.e. the language describing metaphorically what will happen at the end of time. The instrument symbolises the solemn fulfilment of God's plan.

Grinding the face of the poor and taking the bread out of the mouths of the widow and the orphan.

Isaiah 3:15 / What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.

Exodus 22:21 / You must not be harsh with the widow, or with the orphan; if you are harsh with them, they will surely cry out to me, and be sure I shall hear their cry. (Jerusalem Bible)

Wine when it is red (...) stingeth like an adder, and so do adverse criticisms of his skill as an artist. Phipps was thus in the position of a man who is stung by two adders simultaneously

Proverbs 23:31-32 / 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

OR, Chapter 13

A little folding of the hands in sleep will do him good

Proverbs 6:9-11 / 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

OR, Chapter 14

As for Kay, the thought struck him that if you slapped a pair of wings on her, she could step straight into any gathering of Cherubim and Seraphim and no questions asked.

Probable allusion to the hymn "Glorious Majesty" by Samuel Johan Hedborn. The first stanza runs as follows: "Glorious Majesty, before thee / We bow to worship and adore thee; / With grateful hearts to thee we sing, / Earth and heaven tell the story / Of thine eternal might and glory, / And all thy works their incense bring. / Lo, hosts of cherubim and countless seraphim / Sing hosanna, holy is God / Almighty God, all merciful and all wise God!" Cherubim and seraphim are the two highest orders of angels. In the Temple of Jerusalem, cherubs (or cherubim, in Hebrew) covered the ark with their wings, garding God's presence. In the prophet Isaiah's vision (Isaiah 6:1-13), seraphim stood above God's throne. In the Bible, however, angels never sing "Hosanna"; this shout of acclaim is only heard at Jesus' solemn entry in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).

OR, Chapter 17

Smedley skipped nearly like the high hills as is within the scope of a seated man.

Psalm 114:4 / The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

One of Wodehouse's favourite biblical gags. This Psalm deals with the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, as related in Exodus, chapter 14. Although the book of Exodus does not mention any "skipping mountains", this and other extraordinary phenomena are part of the metaphorical language the Bible uses to evoke the power and glory of God. The "high hills" instead of "mountains" may be found in Psalm 68:16 / Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

You wolf in butler's clothing!

Matthew 7:15 / Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Heavens, Smedley, you look like something left over from the Ark

Genesis 6:5—9:17 relates the biblical story of Noah and his ark.

Has it occurred to you that you will have some exceedingly nasty questions to answer about this on Judgement Day?

2 Peter 3:7 / But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

The New Testament teaches that Christ will return in glory on the "day of the Lord", which will also be the "day of judgment", when the dead will rise to be judged.

OR, Chapter 18

Miss Gladys ("Toots") Fauntleroy was one of those girls who do not object to letting the sun go down on their wrath

Ephesians 4:26 / Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.

The sinister goings-on of this bally Labour Government who go about seeking whom they may devour.

1 Peter 5:8 / Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

OR, Chapter 19

There was a suggestion in his deportment of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego coming out of the burning fiery furnace.

Daniel 3:20 / And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

These three friends of Daniel—perhaps the most popular biblical characters in the Wodehouse canon—had refused to worship the statue of king Nebuchadnezzar, and were thrown in the furnace. But the fire had no power on them, "nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them" (Daniel 3:27).

The trouble with you, Phipps, is that you will insist on trying to hide your light beneath a bushel.

See above.

OR, Chapter 20

After that I wash my hands of the matter

Matthew 27:24 / When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

There isn't a jury in America that won't give him your head on a charger.

Mark 6:27-28 / 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his [i.e. John the Baptist's] head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.

Salome's dancing so pleased her stepfather Herod Antipas, that he promised to give her anything she might demand, "unto the half of my kingdom". At her mother Herodias' request, the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist, who had denounced Herodias' illegal marriage with Herod Antipas.

He reminds me of the deaf adder with whom the charmers had so much trouble.

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often quoted by Wodehouse.

Well, well. Joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 30:5 / For his anger endureth but a moment: in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

OR, Chapter 21

What's wrong with marriage? (...) Look at King Solomon. (...)

Brigham Young—Henry the Eighth—King Solomon—knowledgeable fellows, all of them, men whose judgement you could trust. And they had liked being married, so much so that, as Bill had indicated, they made a regular hobby of it.

1 Kings 11:1 / But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites.

1 Kings 11:3 / And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hunderd concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

Back to top

BARMY IN WONDERLAND

BIW, Chapter 1

He is sick of a fever.

Matthew 8:14 / And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.

"His lines are cast in pleasant places", it would have said to itself. "Yea, he has a goodly heritage."

Psalm 16:6 / The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

As so often when in Mervyn Potter's society, he was trying to think who it was that he reminded himself of. Then he got it. Job. Job after he had lost his camels and acquired all those boils. Not that Job's sorrows could be compared with those of a man forced to associate with Mervyn Potter.

Job 1:17 / While he [a messenger] was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Job 2:7 / So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

Job is a God-fearing and honest man, who loses his possessions and his children, and whose own body is afflicted with horrible ulcers. The Book of Job chiefly consists of long discussions between Job and three of his friends who, while trying to comfort him, are more trying than comforting.

BIW, Chapter 2

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning?" he had pictured Mr Anderson saying.

Isaiah 14:12 / How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

Isaiah 14:3-21 is a satire on the king of Babylon's death. The name "Lucifer", Latin for "light-bearer", is used in classical mythology for the planet Venus. The Fathers of the Church saw in the fall of this "morning star" a symbol of that of the devil. That was how "Lucifer" became a synonym for Satan.

Still, all flesh is grass.

Isaiah 40:6 / The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.

BIW, Chapter 3

J.G. Anderson had removed the scales from his eyes

Acts 9:18 / And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:1-19 relate the conversion of Saul, as the apostle Paul was known then. He was travelling to Damascus, in order to persecute Jesus' disciples there, when there came a light from heaven, causing him to fall to the ground, and a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul got up, he could see nothing at all, until a disciple who lived in Damascus, Ananias, laid his hands on him, whereupon the "scales fell away from Saul's eyes".

BIW, Chapter 4

She disliked wolves, and though this young man did not look like one, she had been earning her living in New York long enough to know that many wolves, and not the least predatory of them, go about in sheep's clothing, deceiving the eye with open, engaging faces.

Matthew 7:15 / Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

BIW, Chapter 5

You mustn't make a god of your stomach, Phipps

Philippians 3:19 / Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.

BIW, Chapter 6

Whither thou goest I will go.

Ruth 1:16 / And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, i will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.

The Book of Ruth tells the story of Ruth, a Moabitess, who had married a Hebrew and determined to live in Judah with her mother-in-law (to whom she spoke the above words), where she was to become the great-grandmother of king David through her marriage with Boaz.

"Oh", he said to himself, "for the wings of a dove"

Psalm 55:6 / And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.

He had a gun with him. He's been blazing away with it all the evening. Slain his thousands, if you ask me.

1 Samuel 18:6-7 / 6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. 7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

BIW, Chapter 7

An inner sanctum where Mr Lehman held conferences with his partner

The Latin word means "holy place" (Exodus 26:33, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy (Place) was the middle room, between the Porch and the Holy of Holies.

BIW, Chapter 8

Be slow to wrath, they always taught me at my Sunday School

James 1:19 / Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

"The man struck me as having deaf adder blood in him. I don't know how well you are up on deaf adders", said Mervyn Potter, "but their leading characteristic is a disinclination to hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely."

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often quoted by Wodehouse.

"What!" said Jack McClure, skipping like the high hills.

Psalm 114:4 / The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

One of Wodehouse's favourite biblical gags. This Psalm deals with the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, as related in Exodus, chapter 14. Although the book of Exodus does not mention any "skipping mountains", this and other extraordinary phenomena are part of the metaphorical language the Bible uses to evoke the power and glory of God. The "high hills" instead of "mountains" may be found in Psalm 68:16 / Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

BIW, Chapter 9

The wife of Mr Lehman's bosom strode in.

Deuteronomy 13:6 / If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers...

BIW, Chapter 11

Let your Yea be Yea and your Nay Nay, your Phipps Phipps and your Fungy Fungy.

James 5:12 / But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

If that sort of thing is to be allowed to go on, then let the sun be darkened and the moon turned to blood.

Joel 2:31 / The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.

According to the Old Testament, the "day of the Lord", God's final intervention in favour of his people, will be accompanied by cosmic phenomena. The traditional imagery used by the prophets to evoke these signs should not be taken literally.

BIW, Chapter 15

Cecil Benham was calm, reserved, well stricken in years and very dignified.

Genesis 18:11 / Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age...

Luke 1:7 / And they [Zacharias and Elisabeth] had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

He looked like a minor prophet of the Old Testament about to curse the people for their sins.

The last twelve books of the Old Testament, all attributed to different prophets, are called the "Minor Prophets", not because they are less important than the "major" prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), but because their writings are much shorter. They are, in the traditional order, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Like that of all prophets, their message is a melange of threat and consolation. In the Wodehouse canon, a Minor Prophet is practically the equivalent of a Scottish elder rebuking sin from the pulpit.

The portentous manner of the seasoned fixer enveloped Bernie Sampson like a garment.

Psalm 104:1-2 / 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.

BIW, Chapter 16

Surely I can bung in the word in season?

Proverbs 15:23 / A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

BIW, Chapter 17

"Millions", said Barmy, himself again now that his path had been made straight.

Matthew 3:3 / For this is he [John the Baptist] that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

The sun seemed darkened.

See above.

I had been saved from the scaffold at the eleventh hour

Matthew 20:6 / And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

In the "Parable of the vineyard labourers", Jesus tells us of a landowner going out several times a day to hire workers for his vineyard: at daybreak, at the third hour (about 9 am), at the sixth hour (midday), at the ninth hour (3 pm) and, surprisingly, even at the eleventh hour (about 5 pm)! In the end, those who were hired at the eleventh hour receive the same wages as those who have been working all day. This story thus illustrates God's generosity, which exceeds the human understanding of justice.

I gloried in my youth.

Ecclesiastes 11:9 / Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

BIW, Chapter 18

The salt of the earth.

Matthew 5:13 / Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Hence the use of this phrase to indicate a person who is thought to make the world a better place.

BIW, Chapter 20

His eye was not dimmed nor his natural force abated.

Deuteronomy 34:7 / And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

You say Ha! thereby placing yourself in a limited class with the war-horse which, if you recall, made the same observation among the trumpets

Job 39:25 / He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

BIW, Chapter 21

"The word in season, what?"

"Right plumb spang in season", said Mervyn Potter.

See above.

Mr Lehman, who during these exchanges had been glowering at the wife of his bosom

See above.

There was a sound like a mighty rushing wind

Acts 2:2 / And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

This verse describes the Holy Ghost descending on the Apostles on the feast of Pentecost.

Was it you who crept up on me like a thief in the night

1 Thessalonians 5:2 / For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

King Solomon, he told himself, was a fool to this clear thinker.

1 Kings 3:16-28 narrates the "judgment of Solomon". Two prostitutes, each of whom had had a child, came to the king, claiming to be the mother of the only one to survive. Solomon solved the dilemma by ordering that the child be cut in two halves. The real mother, burning with pity for her son, having abandoned her claim, the king decided that the child be given to her. Barmy may have seen a certain resemblance between the two women fighting for the child and the two producers competing for the play.

I'll never forget it, dear old present help in time of trouble

Psalm 46:1 / God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Fly like a youthful hart or roe over the hills where spices grow.

Song of Solomon 8:14 / Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

The immediate source for this quotation is Hymn 78 by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), the final stanza of which runs: "Come, my Beloved, haste away, / Cut short the hours of thy delay; / Fly like a youthful hart or roe / Over the hills where spices grow."

Back to top

PIGS HAVE WINGS

PHW, Chapter 1, section 1

There was a snake in his Garden of Eden

Genesis 2:8 / And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The Hebrew word for "garden" was translated as "paradise" in the Greek version of the Old Testament.

Genesis 3:1 / Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

The serpent symbolises a force hostile to God and mankind. The New Testament and the Christian tradition identify this being with the Devil or Satan.

PHW, Chapter 1, section 3

Ichabod, felt Lord Emsworth

1 Samuel 4:19-21 / 19 And his daughter in law, Phineas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

"Ichabod" means "Where is the glory?", viz. the glory of the Lord, whose "throne", the ark of the covenant, has been captured by the Philistines. The tragic circumstances surrounding the boy's birth have lead to his name being used as an exclamation of distress. Lord Emsworth is "thinking nostalgically of former custodians of his pig supreme", and is probably weeping "lost glory".

What Blandings Castle needs, to make it an earthly Paradise, is fewer and better Connies.

See above, for the origin of the word "paradise". Galahad's maxim should make it clear to the meanest intelligence that the gardens of Blandings Castle are NOT the original gardens of Eden from which we are all exiled...

PHW, Chapter 1, section 4

My child, I'm a pauper. (...) All the runners-up get are the few crumbs that fall from his table.

Luke 16:19-21 / 19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores. 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

There is a striking resemblance, of course, between the "pauper" Galahad and the poor Lazarus of the parable.

PHW, Chapter 1, section 5

My first task is to put the fear of God into Connie.

Proverbs 1:7 / The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

One of the countless mentions of the "fear of the Lord" in the Bible. It may be useful to remark that this "fear" has nothing to do with feelings of danger or terror, but is practically synonymous with reverence and devotion.

PHW, Chapter 2, section 1

A man with a fondness for the fleshpots

Exodus 16:3 / And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Arrived in the land of milk and honey

Exodus 3:8 / And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

The scales had fallen from his eyes

Acts 9:18 / And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:1-19 relate the conversion of Saul, as the apostle Paul was known then. He was travelling to Damascus, in order to persecute Jesus' disciples there, when there came a light from heaven, causing him to fall to the ground, and a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul got up, he could see nothing at all, until a disciple who lived in Damascus, Ananias, laid his hands on him, whereupon the "scales fell away from Saul's eyes".

Informed that he was mortifying the flesh

Colossians 3:5 / Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

PHW, Chapter 2, section 2

The destruction of the cities of the plain

Genesis 19:29 / And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

The "cities of the plain" include Sodom and Gomorrah.

Cast her into outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth

Matthew 22:13 / Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Traditional biblical description of damnation. The variant "wailing" can be found in Matthew 13:42 and 13:50.

PHW, Chapter 2, section 3

See the troops of Midian prowl and prowl around.

Allusion to a hymn by John Mason Neale (1818-1866), first published for congregational use in his Parish Hymn Book (1863): "Christian, dost thou see them / On the holy ground? / How the troops of Midian / Prowl and prowl around? / Christian, up and smite them, / Counting gain but loss; / Smite them by the merit / Of the holy cross." In the Old Testament, the Midianites lived to the south of the Promised Land. Their raids on the neighbourhood lead them to blows with the Hebrews. Judges 6-8 describe how Gideon delivered Israel from their oppression.

Lower yourself to the level of the beasts of the field

Daniel 4:32 / And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

Towards the end of his life, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, suffered a form of madness which lead him to believe he was an animal. The author of the book of Daniel considered this a punishment for worshipping the wrong gods. Chapter 4 gives the biblical version of this strange disease.

PHW, Chapter 2, section 4

Like a Grade A deaf adder

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often alluded to by Wodehouse.

To provide the Empress with her daily bread

Matthew 6:11 / Give us this day our daily bread.

One of the petitions of the Lord's prayer, of course.

PHW, Chapter 2, section 5

Going about seeking whom he may devour

1 Peter 5:8 / Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

PHW, Chapter 3, section 2

Lord Emsworth would have given him all he had, even unto half his kingdom.

Mark 6:22-23 / 22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, she danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it to thee. 23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.

Whereupon, at her mother Herodias' request, the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist, who had denounced Herodias' illegal marriage with Herod Antipas.

PHW, Chapter 4, section 1

Entering a den of lions like the prophet Daniel

Daniel 6:16 / Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The satraps of the kingdom of Darius, resenting Daniel's promotion, had set a trap for him by inducing Darius to sign a decree banning prayer to anyone but the king. When Daniel was seen praying to his God, the king had no choice but to order him to be thrown into a den of lions. Next morning, Daniel was found, unhurt, and his accusers were thrown to the lions instead.

Or a burning fiery furnace like Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego

Daniel 3:20 / And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

These three friends of Daniel—perhaps the most popular biblical characters in the Wodehouse canon—had refused to worship the statue of king Nebuchadnezzar, and were thrown in the furnace. But the fire had no power on them, "nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them" (Daniel 3:27).

Let the dead past bury its dead

Matthew 8:21-22 / 21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

The actual quotation, however, comes from Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life": "Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! / Let the dead Past bury its dead! / Act,—act in the living Present! / Heart within, and God o'erhead!"

PHW, Chapter 4, section 2

Make them say "The half was not told me", like the Queen of Sheba when she met King Solomon.

1 Kings 10:6-7 / 6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. 7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

PHW, Chapter 5, section 1

It was as though a light had shone upon his darkness

John 1:5 / And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

He might have been a prominent Christian receiving an unexpected call from one of the troops of Midian.

See above.

PHW, Chapter 5, section 2

The man has no bowels of compassion.

1 John 3:17 / But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

The "bowels" or "entrails" are often used like this in Hebrew (and in the Greek of the New Testament, which was nearly always written by men whose mother tongue was a Semitic language), because they are the source of feelings. A good contemporary translation would say "heart".

PHW, Chapter 5, section 5

On that last awful day, when we are called to render account before the judgement seat, you'll be sorry you spoke so harsh.

Matthew 12:36 / But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

2 Corinthians 5:10 / For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ: that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

PHW, Chapter 6, section 2

It seemed to George Cyril Wellbeloved that the end of the world had come and Judgment Day set in with unusual severity.

2 Peter 3:7 / But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

The New Testament teaches that Christ will return in glory on the "day of the Lord", which will also be the "day of judgment", when the dead will rise to be judged.

PHW, Chapter 6, section 3

He would flourish like a green bay tree.

Psalm 37:35 / I myself have seen the ungodly in great power : and flourishing like a green bay-tree (Book of Common Prayer).

PHW, Chapter 7, section 2

Washing his hands of the whole unpleasant affair

Matthew 27:24 / When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

She spread disaster and desolation on every side like a sower going forth sowing.

Matthew 13:3 / And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.

Opening verse of one of Jesus' best-known parables.

PHW, Chapter 7, section 3

A brotherly pat on the back from the author of the Song of Solomon

The "Song of Solomon" or "Song of Songs" (the latter title means "the greatest of all songs") is a collection of love poems. The Jewish and Christian tradition have always interpreted them as an allegory of the loving relationship between God and his people, or between Christ and his Church.

PHW, Chapter 8, section 1

At that moment, a child could have played with her

Isaiah 11:8 / And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.

Isaiah 11:1-9 is a poem which describes the marvels to be accomplished by the Messiah: the verse quoted here shows that in the messianic era the peace and harmony will be restored which once reigned supreme in Eden.

He left Lord Emsworth frozen where he lay, like a male Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19:26 / But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

When Lot, Abraham's nephew, was summoned by angels to take his wife and his daughters and leave the city of Sodom, which was soon to be destroyed, he was told that they should not look behind them. Lot's wife did, however, with desastrous results. This anecdote is probably a popular explanation of some strangely shaped mass of rock which is still pointed out to tourists near the Dead Sea.

PHW, Chapter 8, section 4

Even if it involves going through fire and water

Psalm 66:12 / Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

Look at Samson and Delilah.

Judges 16:4-5 / 4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.

Full story in Judges 16:4-22. Samson's wife Delilah betrayed the secret of his great strength—namely that his head had never been shorn—to the Philistines, lulled him to sleep in her lap, and summoned a man who sheared Samson's hair. The Philistines were so enabled to seize him and put out his eyes.

PHW, Chapter 10, section 1

It was as if a hart, panting for cooling streams when heated in the chase, had come to a cooling stream and found it dried up.

Psalm 42:1 / As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

However, the immediate source for this quotation appears to be the hymn "Converting Grace 230", from "A New Version of the Psalms": "As pants the hart for cooling streams / When heated in the chase; / So longs my soul, Oh God, for Thee, / And Thy refreshing grace".

To ring through the room like the Last Trump

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 / 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. / 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The trumpet is a traditional feature of so-called apocalyptic imagery, i.e. the language describing metaphorically what will happen at the end of time. The instrument symbolises the solemn fulfilment of God's plan.

PHW, Chapter 10, section 4

A deaf adder could.

See above.

PHW, Chapter 11, section 1

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing. It was King Solomon who said that, and he knew, eh! I mean, nothing much you could tell him about wives, what?

Proverbs 18:22 / Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.

The book of Proverbs as a whole is traditionally attributed to Solomon, although the king is only responsible for a part of it. As Gally rightly observes, Solomon knew what he was talking about. According to 1 Kings 11:1 and 11:3, "King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites"; "he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart."

PHW, Chapter 11, section 2

Came out rejoicing in my strength

Job 39:19-21 / 19 Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? 20 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils is terrible. 21 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men.

PHW, Chapter 11, section 4

Fighting the good fight takes it out of a man.

2 Timothy 4:7 / I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

The apostle Paul, shortly before his martyrdom in 67, looks back on a well-spent life.

PHW, Chapter 11, section 5

Go and lower yourself to the level of the beasts of the field

See above.

Back to top

RING FOR JEEVES

RFJ, Chapter 1

Where there ain't no ten commandments

The Ten Commandments or Decalogue (literally "Ten Words") constitute the heart of the Law of Moses. You can find the text in Exodus 20:1-17, or in a slightly different version in Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

RFJ, Chapter 2

The Rowcester men have all been lilies of the field. Why, Uncle George didn't even put on his own boots.

Matthew 6:28-29 / 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: / 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

RFJ, Chapter 4

He tottered in, breathing heavily like a hart that pants for cooling streams when heated in the chase

Psalm 42:1 / As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

However, the immediate source for this quotation appears to be the hymn "Converting Grace 230", from "A New Version of the Psalms": "As pants the hart for cooling streams / When heated in the chase; / So longs my soul, Oh God, for Thee, / And Thy refreshing grace".

RFJ, Chapter 5

A hundred times, he says, it has enabled you to snatch him from the soup at the eleventh hour.

Matthew 20:6 / And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

In the "Parable of the vineyard labourers", Jesus tells us of a landowner going out several times a day to hire workers for his vineyard: at daybreak, at the third hour (about 9 am), at the sixth hour (midday), at the ninth hour (3 pm) and, surprisingly, even at the eleventh hour (about 5 pm)! In the end, those who were hired at the eleventh hour receive the same wages as those who have been working all day. This story thus illustrates God's generosity, which exceeds the human understanding of justice.

RFJ, Chapter 6

One would have said that passing the veil made the late Messrs. Bessemer and Spottsworth clairvoyant.

Hebrews 6:19-20 / 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

The most sacred room of the Temple of Jerusalem, called the "Holy of Holies", was separated from the rest of the edifice by a veil, beyond which only the high priest was allowed to go. The Epistle to the Hebrews presents Jesus as the eternal high priest, who, through his death and resurrection, has passed "beyond the veil" of the heavenly sanctuary, to take place at God's right hand. The phrase "beyond the veil" or "passing the veil" is therefore commonly used with reference to the next world.

"How about apes, ivory and peacocks?"

"They'll be there."

1 Kings 10:22 / For the king [Solomon] had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.

In the Bible, "T(h)arshish" stands for the western limits of the earth. It is interesting to note that modern translations read "baboons" instead of "peacocks".

Your domestic amenities which suggested the mad luxury that led to the fall of Babylon.

Isaiah 13:19 / And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. / 13:22 / And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

Jeremiah 51:13 / O thou [Babylon] that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness.

RFJ, Chapter 7

It was not long after my husband had passed the veil

See above.

She raised her eyes heavenwards, as if pleading for a thunderbolt to strike this man.

Luke 9:54 / And when his disciples James and John saw this [viz. that the people of a Samaritan village did not want to receive Jesus], they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?

Monica started like a war-horse at the sound of the bugle.

See Job 39:25. Curiously enough, this is one of the passages where Wodehouse does not quote the Authorised Version, which he uses elsewhere ("He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha"), but a different translation, in which the war-horse starts at the sound of the bugle. On the internet, I have found only one version that comes close to our text, the so-called "New Living Translation": "It snorts at the sound of the bugle." Unfortunately, this translation was only published in 1996! Could someone help me to identify the version used by Wodehouse?

RFJ, Chapter 8

I passed through the furnace like Shadrach, Meshach and Nebuchadnezzar or whoever it was.

Isaiah 48:10 / Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

There are many other passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace.

Daniel 3:20 / And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Of course, Captain Biggar meant to say "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego", Nebuchadnezzar being the bad guy of the story! These three friends of Daniel—perhaps the most popular biblical characters in the Wodehouse canon—had refused to worship the statue of king Nebuchadnezzar, and were thrown in the furnace. But the fire had no power on them, "nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them" (Daniel 3:27).

Sort of heaping coals of...

Proverbs 25:21-22 / 21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.

The Apostle Paul quotes this maxim in his Epistle to the Romans 12:20.

He greeted him effusively as one who had fought the good fight.

2 Timothy 4:7 / I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

The apostle Paul, shortly before his martyrdom in 67, looks back on a well-spent life.

"But now it would take very little to start me singing like the Cherubim and Seraphim. It was the Cherubim and Seraphim who sang, wasn't it?"

"Yes, m'lord. Hosanna, principally."

Probable allusion to the hymn "Glorious Majesty" by Samuel Johan Hedborn. The first stanza runs as follows: "Glorious Majesty, before thee / We bow to worship and adore thee; / With grateful hearts to thee we sing, / Earth and heaven tell the story / Of thine eternal might and glory, / And all thy works their incense bring. / Lo, hosts of cherubim and countless seraphim / Sing hosanna, holy is God / Almighty God, all merciful and all wise God!" Cherubim and seraphim are the two highest orders of angels. In the Temple of Jerusalem, cherubs (or cherubim, in Hebrew) covered the ark with their wings, garding God's presence. In the prophet Isaiah's vision (Isaiah 6:1-13), seraphim stood above God's throne. In the Bible, however, angels never sing "Hosanna"; this shout of acclaim is only heard at Jesus' solemn entry in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).

RFJ, Chapter 10

Causing manufacturers of raincoats and umbrellas to wonder uneasily if they have been mistaken in supposing England to be an earthly Paradise for men of their profession.

Genesis 2:8 / And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The Hebrew word for "garden" was translated as "paradise" in the Greek version of the Old Testament.

RFJ, Chapter 11

One of those beautiful friendships you read about, the kind that existed between Damon and Pythias, David and Jonathan, or Swan and Edgar

1 Samuel 18:1 / And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

The friendship of David and Jonathan, son of Saul, is celebrated by the Bible.

Confronted by such figures, they become like the deaf adder that hearkens not to the voice of the charmer, charming never so wisely.

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often quoted by Wodehouse.

RFJ, Chapter 14

This man came inviting him to dance before him as David danced before Saul.

2 Samuel 6:14 / And David danced before the Lord with all his might: and David was girded with a linen ephod.

1 Samuel 16:23 / And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

Wodehouse is confusing king David dancing before the ark of God (Saul was dead by then), with the young David relieving king Saul of his depressions by playing the harp.

The Major's technique when performing the Charleston is a sealed book to us.

Isaiah 29:11 / And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.

Revelation 5:1 / And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

The sealed book symbolises God's secret decrees. Only the Lamb (i.e. Jesus Christ) is worthy "to take the scroll and break the seals of it" (Revelation 5:9).

RFJ, Chapter 15

You make take these mauve pyjamas and raze them to the ground and sow salt on the foundations.

Judges 9:45 / And Abimelech fought against the city [Shechem] all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

Sowing salt on the foundations of a devastated city is a gesture meant to assure the infertility of the soil. It should be noted that this custom was not restricted to the Hebrews and that Wodehouse therefore had not necessarily the Bible in mind when using this expression.

RFJ, Chapter 16

"Ichabod", he was saying to himself, and he meant it.

1 Samuel 4:19-21 / 19 And his daughter in law, Phineas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

"Ichabod" means "Where is the glory?", viz. the glory of the Lord, whose "throne", the ark of the covenant, has been captured by the Philistines. The tragic circumstances surrounding the boy's birth have lead to his name being used as an exclamation of distress. Colonel Wyvern is thinking nostalgically of "the golden age before the social revolution", weeping "lost glory".

RFJ, Chapter 18

Your immediate reaction is, no doubt, a disposition to rend the garments and scatter ashes on the head.

Joshua 7:6 / And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.

One of many passages in the Bible where people tear their garments and put dust or ashes on their head, traditional signs of mourning and repentance.

"What was the name of the woman who drove a spike into her husband's head? It's in the Bible somewhere."

"I fancy your ladyship is thinking of the story of Jael. But she and the gentleman into whose head she drove the spike were not married, merely good friends."

"Still, her ideas were basically sound."

"It was generally considered so in her circle of acquaintances, m'lady."

Judges 4:21 / Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.

Judges 4:17-22 tells how Jael, one of the Master's all-time favourites, managed to kill Sisera, the commander of the armies of Jabin, king of Canaan. One hates to contradict Jeeves, but Jael's conduct was obviously not dictated by feelings of warm friendship.

Back to top

JEEVES AND THE FEUDAL SPIRIT

JFS, Chapter 1

Feeling like a shepherd when a strayed sheep comes trickling back to the fold.

Matthew 18:12-13 / 12 How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

JFS, Chapter 2

You lowered yourself to the level of the beasts of the field.

Daniel 4:32 / And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

Towards the end of his life, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, suffered a form of madness which lead him to believe he was an animal. The author of the book of Daniel considered this a punishment for worshipping the wrong gods. Chapter 4 gives the biblical version of this strange disease.

JFS, Chapter 3

She had a legal right to bring my grey hairs in sorrow to the grave

Genesis 42:38 / And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

JFS, Chapter 4

"Oh, for the wings of a dove" about summed up my feelings as I tried not to look at them.

Psalm 55:6 / And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.

This club book had enabled me to put it so crushingly across the powers of darkness in the shape of Roderick Spode.

Luke 22:53 / When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.

JFS, Chapter 5

I began to understand how these birds in Holy Writ must have felt after their session with the deaf adder. I can't recall all the details, though at my private school I once won a prize for Scripture Knowledge, but I remember that they had the dickens of an uphill job trying to charm it, and after they had sweated themselves to a frazzle no business resulted. It is often this way, I believe, with deaf adders.

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often quoted by Wodehouse.

She refused to be consoled.

Jeremiah 31:15 / Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Several Bible texts speak of persons who refuse to be comforted, but the verse quoted above is more likely to have left its marks in the memory of P G Wodehouse, as it is quoted by the evangelist Matthew to illustrate the distress of the mothers of the slaughtered innocents. When Herod, king of Judaea, heard of the birth of an infant who was to be king of the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all the children of two years and younger, expecting the newborn king to be among the victims. "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not" (Matthew 2:17-18).

JFS, Chapter 7

Am I to infer from this that the dove of peace has pulled a quick one since I saw you last night?

Genesis 8:11 / And the dove came in to him [Noah] in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

The olive leaf or branch, heralding the end of the flood, has become the universal symbol of peace and goodwill.

JFS, Chapter 8

Then what's the idea, you half-witted Gadarene swine

Mark 5:11-13 / 11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.

For the full story, read Mark 5:1-20, and the parallel versions in Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39. The incident takes place in the country of the "Gadarenes" or "Gerasenes", east of the Sea of Galilee.

I had always supposed Milady's Boudoir to be her ewe lamb.

2 Samuel 12:3 / But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

I am not at all sure if this or any other biblical text is the direct source of the expression "my ewe lamb".

JFS, Chapter 9

Never heard of him. He's a sealed book to me.

Isaiah 29:11 / And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.

Revelation 5:1 / And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

The sealed book symbolises God's secret decrees. Only the Lamb (i.e. Jesus Christ) is worthy "to take the scroll and break the seals of it" (Revelation 5:9).

"You conjured up in my mind's eye the picture of a man who was sticking his ears back and refusing to play ball, like Balaam's ass."

"What do you know about Balaam's ass?"

"Me? I know Balaam's ass from soup to nuts."

Numbers 22:23 / And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.

Read the full story in Numbers 22:1-35, and discover that the priceless ass was Balaam, not his donkey.

I don't know what's the matter with the son of Belial.

Deuteronomy 13:13 / Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known.

"Belial" is a Hebrew word of uncertain etymology, probably meaning "worthlessness" or "wickedness". It gradually came to be taken as the proper name of an evil spirit.

JFS, Chapter 11

I would be compelled, I saw, to spend a substantial portion of my time flying like a youthful hart or roe over the hills were spices grow, as I remembered having heard Jeeves once put it, and the Woosters resent having to sink to the level of harts and roes, whether juvenile or getting on in years.

Song of Solomon 8:14 / Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

The immediate source for this quotation is Hymn 78 by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), the final stanza of which runs: "Come, my Beloved, haste away, / Cut short the hours of thy delay; / Fly like a youthful hart or roe / Over the hills where spices grow."

He had imagined that he could penetrate into my sanctum without let or hindrance

The Latin word means "holy place" (Exodus 26:33, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy (Place) was the middle room, between the Porch and the Holy of Holies.

JFS, Chapter 12

Jewellery is to him, as to most of the male sex, a sealed book.

See above.

The moon would have been turned to blood

Joel 2:31 / The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.

According to the Old Testament, the "day of the Lord", God's final intervention in favour of his people, will be accompanied by cosmic phenomena. The traditional imagery used by the prophets to evoke these signs should not be taken literally.

It's the end of all things.

1 Peter 4:7 / But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

Showing a disposition to pant like a hart when heated in the chase.

Psalm 42:1 / As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

However, the immediate source for this quotation appears to be the hymn "Converting Grace 230", from "A New Version of the Psalms": "As pants the hart for cooling streams / When heated in the chase; / So longs my soul, Oh God, for Thee, / And Thy refreshing grace".

JFS, Chapter 14

"Well!" she said, looking like a female minor prophet about to curse the sins of the people.

The last twelve books of the Old Testament, all attributed to different prophets, are called the "Minor Prophets", not because they are less important than the "major" prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), but because their writings are much shorter. They are, in the traditional order, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Like that of all prophets, their message is a melange of threat and consolation. In the Wodehouse canon, a Minor Prophet is practically the equivalent of a Scottish elder rebuking sin from the pulpit.

JFS, Chapter 15

Each time saved from the scaffold at the eleventh hour

Even if an eleventh-hour reprieve failed to materialize

Matthew 20:6 / And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

In the "Parable of the vineyard labourers", Jesus tells us of a landowner going out several times a day to hire workers for his vineyard: at daybreak, at the third hour (about 9 am), at the sixth hour (midday), at the ninth hour (3 pm) and, surprisingly, even at the eleventh hour (about 5 pm)! In the end, those who were hired at the eleventh hour receive the same wages as those who have been working all day. This story thus illustrates God's generosity, which exceeds the human understanding of justice.

He was once more in the position of an Assyrian fully licensed to come down like a wolf on the fold with his cohorts all gleaming with purple and gold

Allusion to the opening lines of "The Destruction of Sennacherib", by Lord Byron: "The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, / And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; / And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, / When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee." According to the Bible, when Hezekiah, king of Judah, refused to become an Assyrian feudatory, Sennacherib marched on Jerusalem. Isaiah promised Hezekiah that God would not allow the Assyrian king to take the holy city. "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses" (2 Kings 19:35).

Eliminating, therefore, the wings of the dove, for which I would gladly have been in the market

See above.

JFS, Chapter 16

Stilton who, as I had just been informed, was prowling about, seeking whom he might devour.

1 Peter 5:8 / Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

JFS, Chapter 17

His whole demeanour was that of an Assyrian who, having come down like a wolf on the fold, finds in residence not lambs but wild cats, than which, of course, nothing makes an Assyrian feel sillier.

See above.

Stilton (...) is apt (...) to yield to the lure of the flesh pots.

Exodus 16:3 / And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Seppings flung wide the gates

Psalm 24:7 / Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

A passage in Tales of St Austin's proves that Wodehouse is referring to this psalm here, although he does not quote the Authorised Version. Contemporary translations, such as "Today's English Version", read: "Fling wide the gates, open the ancient doors, and the great king will come in". Wodehouse may be quoting from "The Crucifixion", a composition by Sir John Stainer (1840-1901)—words by the Rev J Sparrow-Simpson—in which the choir sings: "Fling wide the gates / for the Saviour waits / to tread in His royal way / He has come from above / in His power and love, / to die on this Passion day."

He was doubtless a devoted and excellent husband, true as steel to the wife of his b.

Deuteronomy 13:6 / If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers...

And I, with something of the emotions of Daniel passing out of the stage door of the lions' den, went to my room.

Daniel 6:16 / Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The satraps of the kingdom of Darius, resenting Daniel's promotion, had set a trap for him by inducing Darius to sign a decree banning prayer to anyone but the king. When Daniel was seen praying to his God, the king had no choice but to order him to be thrown into a den of lions. Next morning, Daniel was found, unhurt, and his accusers were thrown to the lions instead.

The way things disappeared at Brinkley Court (...) was enough to make a man throw in his hand and turn his face to the wall.

2 Kings 20:1-2 / 1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. 2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord...

JFS, Chapter 18

Bertie, my pet, I have fought the good fight.

2 Timothy 4:7 / I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

The apostle Paul, shortly before his martyrdom in 67, looks back on a well-spent life.

Do you remember the hymn about "See the troops of Midian prowl and prowl around"? It goes on "Christian, up and smite them", and that is what I have done, in spades.

Allusion to a hymn by John Mason Neale (1818-1866), first published for congregational use in his Parish Hymn Book (1863): "Christian, dost thou see them / On the holy ground? / How the troops of Midian / Prowl and prowl around? / Christian, up and smite them, / Counting gain but loss; / Smite them by the merit / Of the holy cross." In the Old Testament, the Midianites lived to the south of the Promised Land. Their raids on the neighbourhood lead them to blows with the Hebrews. Judges 6-8 describe how Gideon delivered Israel from their oppression.

"And I stood there as if I had been turned into a pillar of salt, like Lot's wife."

I recalled the incident to which she referred, it having happened to come up in the examination paper that time I won that prize for Scripture Knowledge at my private school, but it's probably new to you, so I will give a brief synopsis. For some reason which has escaped my memory they told this Mrs Lot, while out walking one day, not to look round or she would be turned into a pillar of salt, so of course she immediately did look round and by what I have always thought an odd coincidence she was turned into a pillar of salt. It just shows you, what? I mean to say, you never know where you are these days.

Lot's wife couldn't have been stiffer.

Genesis 19:26 / But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

When Lot, Abraham's nephew, was summoned by angels to take his wife and his daughters and leave the city of Sodom, which was soon to be destroyed, he was told that they should not look behind them. Lot's wife did, however, with desastrous results. This anecdote is probably a popular explanation of some strangely shaped mass of rock which is still pointed out to tourists near the Dead Sea.

JFS, Chapter 19

She had cleared the mantelpiece in my bedroom of its entire contents, including a terracotta elephant and a porcelain statuette of the Infant Samuel in Prayer.

A picture of the Infant Samuel in prayer, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, apparently inspired the little statuette which could be found in nearly every respectable protestant household in the days of yore. Sir Joshua may have based his painting on 1 Samuel 3:1-18, where the child Samuel is called by the Lord and replies: "Speak; for thy servant heareth."

The Trotter woman is raising Cain

See Genesis 4:1-26. Cain is the first son of Adam and Eve, and a tiller of the soil, while his brother Abel was a shepherd. When both made gifts to God of their produce, the Lord accepted the latter's offering, but not the former's. Cain killed Abel and was condemned by God to be "a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth." Making trouble is raising the spirit of Cain.

JFS, Chapter 20

The scales fell from my eyes

Acts 9:18 / And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:1-19 relate the conversion of Saul, as the apostle Paul was known then. He was travelling to Damascus, in order to persecute Jesus' disciples there, when there came a light from heaven, causing him to fall to the ground, and a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul got up, he could see nothing at all, until a disciple who lived in Damascus, Ananias, laid his hands on him, whereupon the "scales fell away from Saul's eyes".

There is nothing that makes a woman sicker than the sudden realization that somebody she thought she was holding in the hollow of her hand isn't in the hollow of her hand by a jugful.

Isaiah 40:12 / Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

JFS, Chapter 21

The worm of yesterday (...) had become a worm in tiger's clothing.

Matthew 7:15 / Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Jocular adaptation of the gospel text?

JFS, Chapter 22

Curvetted out like one of those mettlesome steeds which, though I have never heard one do it myself, say "Ha!" among the trumpets.

Job 39:25 / He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

Back to top

FRENCH LEAVE

FL, Chapter 1

It gives them a kick to dangle bars of gold before the eyes of the widow and the orphan and then shout "April fool!" and snatch them away again.

Exodus 22:21 / You must not be harsh with the widow, or with the orphan; if you are harsh with them, they will surely cry out to me, and be sure I shall hear their cry. (Jerusalem Bible)

She knew those bees. They bit like serpents and stung like adders.

Proverbs 23:31-32 / 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Henry was terrific. He intimidated the sons of Belial.

Deuteronomy 13:13 / Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known.

"Belial" is a Hebrew word of uncertain etymology, probably meaning "worthlessness" or "wickedness". It gradually came to be taken as the proper name of an evil spirit.

FL, Chapter 2

By the time he arrived at the director's sanctum his geniality had returned

The Latin word means "holy place" (Exodus 26:33, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy (Place) was the middle room, between the Porch and the Holy of Holies.

FL, Chapter 3

Old Nick felt himself justified in mourning over him as a prodigal son.

The "prodigal son" is the name usually given to the younger of two sons in the parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Having demanded of his father his share of the estate, he left for a distant country and "wasted his substance with riotous living." Came a famine, and he hired himself out to one of the inhabitants who made him feed his pigs. "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." So he decided to go home. Instead of rebuking him, his father clasped him in his arms, kissed him, and ordered his servants to bring out the best clothes and to kill the fatted calf. One of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel, illustrating God's mercy.

The young fellow had not yet brought his father's grey hairs in sorrow to the grave

Genesis 42:38 / And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

FL, Chapter 4, section 1

Listening to the din of the Festival, she mourned and would not be comforted

Jeremiah 31:15 / Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Several Bible texts speak of persons who refuse to be comforted, but the verse quoted above is more likely to have left its marks in the memory of P G Wodehouse, as it is quoted by the evangelist Matthew to illustrate the distress of the mothers of the slaughtered innocents. When Herod, king of Judaea, heard of the birth of an infant who was to be king of the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all the children of two years and younger, expecting the newborn king to be among the victims. "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not" (Matthew 2:17-18).

FL, Chapter 4, section 4

Having accepted meekly a lecture which would have been considered on the severe side by a Hebrew prophet in the habit of rebuking the sins of the people

Wodehouse usually attributes a rebuking role to the "minor prophets" of the Old Testament.

Well, what's wrong with kissing? The early Christians used to kiss everyone they met.

Romans 16:16 / Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

Several of the epistles of the New Testament end with the author asking his readers to greet each other with a "holy kiss" or a "kiss of love".

FL, Chapter 4, section 5

And mark how all things work together for good...

Romans 8:28 / And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

FL, Chapter 4, section 6

Only Aunt Hermione's former husband, whom she cast into outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 22:13 / Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Traditional biblical description of damnation. The variant "wailing" can be found in Matthew 13:42 and 13:50.

You're going to have a very pleasant trip, my lad, with those two aboard. You'll feel like Noah trying to keep the tiger from chewing up the hippopotamus.

Genesis 7:7-9 / 7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, 9 there went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.

Needless to add that the Bible does not say anything about the social life of the animals aboard the ark!

FL, Chapter 5, section 3

As he thought of his recent triumph over the forces of darkness

Luke 22:53 / When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.

Chapter 6, section 1

If I were to intervene, olive branch in hand

Genesis 8:11 / And the dove came in to him [Noah] in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

The olive leaf or branch, heralding the end of the flood, has become the universal symbol of peace and goodwill.

At the outset of their interview she had had this commissaire docketed as a stuffed shirt and a broken reed

Isaiah 36:6 / Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.

FL, Chapter 6, section 3

Shaking the sand of Roville off their shoes and going home

Matthew 10:14 / And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Jewish gesture, signifying that the place or the house that refuses Jesus' word is to be considered as "unclean", i.e. unworthy to approach God.

FL, Chapter 6, section 4

If she let me down, I'd turn my face to the wall and give up the struggle.

2 Kings 20:1-2 / 1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. 2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord...

FL, Chapter 7, section 2

The scales had fallen from his eyes

Acts 9:18 / And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:1-19 relate the conversion of Saul, as the apostle Paul was known then. He was travelling to Damascus, in order to persecute Jesus' disciples there, when there came a light from heaven, causing him to fall to the ground, and a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul got up, he could see nothing at all, until a disciple who lived in Damascus, Ananias, laid his hands on him, whereupon the "scales fell away from Saul's eyes".

FL, Chapter 7, section 3

A haunting suspicion that life among the fleshpots had left him out of condition

Exodus 16:3 / And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Talk about fighting the good fight!

2 Timothy 4:7 / I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

The apostle Paul, shortly before his martyrdom in 67, looks back on a well-spent life.

FL, Chapter 7, section 4

"Thou art the man", said the desk

2 Samuel 12:7 / And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man.

After sleeping with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, King David had the latter killed by sending him into the front line of battle. Nathan the prophet was sent to David, and told him the (fictitious) story of two men, one rich, the other poor. The poor man had nothing but a "ewe lamb" (see above, chapter 7), "which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter" (2 Samuel 12:3). When a traveller came to stay with the rich man, the latter, refusing to take one of his own, took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for his guest. David's reaction to this tale was as Nathan had foreseen: "As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die". After which Nathan only had to draw the conclusion: "Thou art the man", thus denouncing David's crime, as symbolised by the parable of the ewe lamb.

Just as the scales had fallen from Freddie Carpenter's eyes that night

See above.

FL, Chapter 9, section 1

She stood as if, like Lot's wife, she had been turned into a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19:26 / But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

When Lot, Abraham's nephew, was summoned by angels to take his wife and his daughters and leave the city of Sodom, which was soon to be destroyed, he was told that they should not look behind them. Lot's wife did, however, with desastrous results. This anecdote is probably a popular explanation of some strangely shaped mass of rock which is still pointed out to tourists near the Dead Sea.

FL, Chapter 9, section 2

Became aware of the Tempter at his elbow.

Matthew 4:3 / And when the tempter came to him [Jesus], he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

The "Tempter" is, of course, the devil or Satan.

FL, Chapter 9, section 3

That morbid urge to self-torture which led the priests of Baal to gash themselves with knives

1 Kings 18:28 / And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah sets up a competition between 450 priests of Baal (a pagan divinity) and himself, as the representative of the God of Israel. In spite of their impressive self-mutilation, the priests of Baal were unable to make their god ignite a sacrificial bull.

His face showed that he was bearing good tidings.

Isaiah 52:7 / How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace: that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

FL, Chapter 10, section 1

Terry went to the telephone to inform Mr. Clutterbuck that his path had been made straight.

Matthew 3:3 / For this is he [John the Baptist] that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

FL, Chapter 11, section 3

"Then be prepared for tidings of great joy", said Russell Clutterbuck

Luke 2:10-11 / 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

FL, Chapter 12

Go on, grind the face of the poor.

Isaiah 3:15 / What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.

Dance before her.

2 Samuel 6:14 / And David danced before the Lord with all his might: and David was girded with a linen ephod.

1 Samuel 16:23 / And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

Because of other passages where Wodehouse mistakenly refers to David dancing before Saul, I have a feeling there is a biblical allusion here. The Master confused king David dancing before the ark of God (Saul was dead by then), with the young David relieving king Saul of his depressions by playing the harp.

He's a wash-out and a broken reed.

See above.

Back to top

COCKTAIL TIME

CT, Chapter 1

Though well stricken in years

Genesis 18:11 / Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age...

Luke 1:7 / And they [Zacharias and Elisabeth] had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

CT, Chapter 2

When you get a wife, I often say, you've got something.

Proverbs 18:22 / Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.

A look of ecstasy and exaltation such as Jael, the wife of Heber, must have worn when about to hammer the Brazil nut into the head of Sisera

Judges 4:21 / Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.

Judges 4:17-22 tells how Jael, one of the Master's all-time favourites, managed to kill Sisera, the commander of the armies of Jabin, king of Canaan. Not with a Brazil nut, of course, as that great country had not yet been discovered!

CT, Chapter 3

Delivering a sermon on the text "He that touches pitch shall be defiled" (Ecclesiasticus 13-1)

Ecclesiasticus 13:1 / He that toucheth pitch shall be defiled therewith; and he that hath fellowship with a proud man shall be like unto him.

There was joy that morning in the offices of Alfred Tomkins Ltd.

Psalm 30:5 / For his anger endureth but a moment: in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

A very probable allusion, given Wodehouse's fondness for this verse.

Cocktail Time, which Alfred Tomkins Ltd. had been looking on all this while as just another of the stones the builder had refused, was plainly about to become the head stone of the corner.

Psalm 118:22 / The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

Psalm 118 is a hymn of thanksgiving. Verse 22 is an allusion to the destruction of the Temple in 587 BC and its rebuilding towards the end of the 6th century BC. The "head stone of the corner" is a messianic theme which the New Testament applies to Jesus Christ: he was refused by the "builders" (the Jewish establishment), but became the "keystone" of God's covenant with mankind, by his resurrection.

But Sir Raymond saw none of these attractive sights or, if he did, saw them as through a glass darkly.

1 Corinthians 13:12 / For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

The apostle Paul compares the believers' present imperfect knowledge of God—a dim reflection in a mirror—with the perfect understanding that will be theirs in heaven.

His whole attention was riveted on the morrow and what it was going to bring forth.

Proverbs 27:1 / Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

DICK, WHERE ART THOU?

Genesis 3:9 / And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

After Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God came to see Adam in the evening, but the latter became afraid and hid.

CT, Chapter 4

Dance before her.

2 Samuel 6:14 / And David danced before the Lord with all his might: and David was girded with a linen ephod.

1 Samuel 16:23 / And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

Because of other passages where Wodehouse mistakenly refers to David dancing before Saul, I have a feeling there is a biblical allusion here. The Master confused king David dancing before the ark of God (Saul was dead by then), with the young David relieving king Saul of his depressions by playing the harp.

CT, Chapter 5

Solomon in all his glory might have had a slight edge on Cosmo Wisdom, but it would have been a near thing.

Matthew 6:28-29 / 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

CT, Chapter 6

J.P. Boots did not in so many words bid Cosmo go and sin no more, but this was implied in his manner.

John 8:11 / She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

In John 8:3-11, the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman along who has been caught committing adultery, the penalty for which offence is death by stoning, according to the law of Moses. Looking for something to use against him, they ask Jesus what he thinks of the matter. After his remarkable reply, the accusers withdraw, and Jesus dismisses the woman with the words: "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

CT, Chapter 7

"It isn't easy for leopards to change their spots."

"Do they want to?"

"I couldn't say. I know so few leopards."

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.

The cross he has to bear is that Hammer Hall is one of those betwixt-and-between stately homes of England

Matthew 10:38 / And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

CT, Chapter 8

Would have restored his youth, had his youth needed restoring.

Psalm 103:5 / Who [the Lord] satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

A possible reminiscence.

"She's a gaby, that one. Verily, as a jewel of gold in a swine's stout is a woman which is without discretion. That's what Ecclesiastes wrote in the good book, Master Jonathan", said Miss Bruce, "and he was right."

Proverbs 11:22 / As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

Miss Bruce is curiously lacking discretion herself! Augustine Mulliner's bishop rightly attributed this maxim to the Book of Proverbs, not Ecclesiastes, in "Meet Mr Mulliner".

She is a bit testing, I suppose, though a useful person to have around if you want to brush up your Ecclesiastes.

The Book of Ecclesiastes belongs to the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. Its main theme is the vanity of human life.

CT, Chapter 9

Giving him the illusion that the world had suddenly come to an end and judgment day set in with unusual severity.

2 Peter 3:7 / But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

The New Testament teaches that Christ will return in glory on the "day of the Lord", which will also be the "day of judgment", when the dead will rise to be judged.

CT, Chapter 10

Considering it to resemble far too closely that of one of the less attractive fauna in the Book of Revelations.

The Book of Revelation, or "Apocalypse of John", is the last book of the New Testament and of the entire Bible. Like other apocalyptic literature, its aim is to reveal hidden things, especially what will happen when this world ends. The language used in this sort of writing is highly symbolic, and its visions of horror and destruction should not be taken literally. The true message of the Book of Revelation is a hopeful one: God protects his persecuted Church and will lead her to victory.

CT, Chapter 11

Remorse lent to his voice something of the warmth which a shepherd exhibits when he sees a lost sheep reporting for duty.

Matthew 18:12-13 / 12 How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

CT, Chapter 13

A live wire who, once started, went from strength to strength.

Psalm 84:7 / They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

Money was made to spend. Had no one ever told the Superba-Llewellyn studio that you can't take it with you?

Psalm 49:16-17 / 16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; 17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.

"Why, hullo!" she said, plainly surprised at this return to the fold.

See above.

CT, Chapter 14

As the fellow said—Ecclesiastes, was it?—I should have to check with Nannie Bruce—whoso findeth a butler findeth a good thing.

Proverbs 18:22 / Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.

Another Ecclesiastes/Proverbs mix-up! See above.

Who, I asked myself, is the Johnny who is always on the spot, the man who sticketh closer than a brother?

Proverbs 18:24 / A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

CT, Chapter 15

Start at the beginning, and let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.

James 5:12 / But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

As if words, however honeyed, could melt the obstinacy of a woman whose mother, I am convinced, must have been frightened by a deaf adder.

Psalm 58:3-5 / 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

These verses are certainly among the Bible texts most often quoted by Wodehouse.

CT, Chapter 17

You must go to him in person and grovel. Lick his shoes. Kiss the hem of his garment.

Matthew 9:20 / And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him [Jesus], and touched the hem of his garment.

A possible reminiscence?

There are men—the salt of the earth—who, if they see you searching islands on lakes, preserve a tactful silence

Matthew 5:13 / Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Hence the use of this phrase to indicate a person who is thought to make the world a better place.

He should have been seeking the young squirt out and kissing the hem of his garment

See above.

When it set its hand to the plough, it did not readily sheathe the sword.

Luke 9:62 / And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

The brother who is the apple of her eye

Deuteronomy 32:10 / He [the Lord] found him [his people] in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

CT, Chapter 18

Two Carlisles and a Cosmo Wisdom prowling and prowling around in the manner popularized by the troops of Midian

Allusion to a hymn by John Mason Neale (1818-1866), first published for congregational use in his Parish Hymn Book (1863): "Christian, dost thou see them / On the holy ground? / How the troops of Midian / Prowl and prowl around? / Christian, up and smite them, / Counting gain but loss; / Smite them by the merit / Of the holy cross." In the Old Testament, the Midianites lived to the south of the Promised Land. Their raids on the neighbourhood lead them to blows with the Hebrews. Judges 6-8 describe how Gideon delivered Israel from their oppression.

Fly like a youthful hart or roe over the hills where spices grow

Song of Solomon 8:14 / Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

The immediate source for this quotation is Hymn 78 by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), the final stanza of which runs: "Come, my Beloved, haste away, / Cut short the hours of thy delay; / Fly like a youthful hart or roe / Over the hills where spices grow."

CT, Chapter 19

Though a broken reed in the eyes of J.P. Boots

Isaiah 36:6 / Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.

Congratulating himself on having fought the good fight and won it

2 Timothy 4:7 / I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

The apostle Paul, shortly before his martyrdom in 67, looks back on a well-spent life.

CT, Chapter 20

She had unburdened her mind in a speech containing at least three extracts from Ecclesiastes.

For this and several other mentions of the "suspect" Ecclesiastes in this chapter, see above.

Had even Job, whose troubles have received such wide publicity, ever had anything on this scale to cope with?

Job is a God-fearing and honest man, who loses his possessions and his children, and whose own body is afflicted with horrible ulcers. The Book of Job chiefly consists of long discussions between Job and three of his friends who, while trying to comfort him, are more trying than comforting.

CT, Chapter 21

Arrived in Johnny's sanctum

The Latin word means "holy place" (Exodus 26:33, Authorised Version). In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy (Place) was the middle room, between the Porch and the Holy of Holies.

There was no room for doubt in his mind that all things were working together for good.

Romans 8:28 / And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

CT, Chapter 22

There was also, inset, a photograph of Phoebe's ewe lamb

2 Samuel 12:3 / But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

I am not at all sure if this or any other biblical text is the direct source of the expression "my ewe lamb".

The scales had fallen from his eyes.

Acts 9:18 / And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:1-19 relate the conversion of Saul, as the apostle Paul was known then. He was travelling to Damascus, in order to persecute Jesus' disciples there, when there came a light from heaven, causing him to fall to the ground, and a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul got up, he could see nothing at all, until a disciple who lived in Damascus, Ananias, laid his hands on him, whereupon the "scales fell away from Saul's eyes".

Nothing that can be shouted from the house tops or yelled on terraces.

Matthew 10:27 / What I tell you in darkness, that preach ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

CT, Chapter 23

"Oh, Frederick!" she said, panting like a white rabbit heated in the chase.

Psalm 42:1 / As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

However, the immediate source for this quotation—apart from the jolly substitution of the hart by a white rabbit!—appears to be the hymn "Converting Grace 230", from "A New Version of the Psalms": "As pants the hart for cooling streams / When heated in the chase; / So longs my soul, Oh God, for Thee, / And Thy refreshing grace".

They don't come any truer and stauncher than Bert. You know what Ecclesiastes said about him? He said... No, sorry, it's gone for the moment, but it was something very flattering.

See above. Once more, I have a feeling that the elusive quotation would have come from the Book of Proverbs, in fact...

There's nothing like getting married. It's the only life, as Brigham Young and King Solomon would tell you, if they were still with us.

1 Kings 11:1 / But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites.

1 Kings 11:3 / And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hunderd concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

CT, Chapter 24

You would wish me, as I was saying to Johnny the other day, to let my Yea be Yea and my Nay be Nay?

See above.

Spreading sweetness and light among the residents of that inland Garden of Eden

Genesis 2:8 / And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The Hebrew word for "garden" was translated as "paradise" in the Greek version of the Old Testament.

He had spread it like a sower going forth sowing.

Matthew 13:3 / And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.

Why (...) aren't you skipping like the high hills?

Psalm 114:4 / The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

One of Wodehouse's favourite biblical gags. This Psalm deals with the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, as related in Exodus, chapter 14. Although the book of Exodus does not mention any "skipping mountains", this and other extraordinary phenomena are part of the metaphorical language the Bible uses to evoke the power and glory of God. The "high hills" instead of "mountains" may be found in Psalm 68:16 / Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

CT, Chapter 25

Which would be the end of all things.

1 Peter 4:7 / But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

Ichabod was the word that sprang to the lips when the mind dwelt on Pongo Twistleton

1 Samuel 4:19-21 / 19 And his daughter in law, Phineas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

"Ichabod" means "Where is the glory?", viz. the glory of the Lord, whose "throne", the ark of the covenant, has been captured by the Philistines. The tragic circumstances surrounding the boy's birth have lead to his name being used as an exclamation of distress.

Back to top

A FEW QUICK ONES

FQO, Chapter 1 (The Fat of the Land)

The Fat of the Land

Genesis 45:18 / And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

Now that he saw the man in the flesh, he felt, like the Queen of Sheba, that the half had not been told unto him.

1 Kings 10:6-7 / 6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. 7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

Marvelling that the love of a woman could have made that dedicated man mortify the flesh as he was doing.

Colossians 3:5 / Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

The scales fell from my eyes.

Acts 9:18 / And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:1-19 relate the conversion of Saul, as the apostle Paul was known then. He was travelling to Damascus, in order to persecute Jesus' disciples there, when there came a light from heaven, causing him to fall to the ground, and a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul got up, he could see nothing at all, until a disciple who lived in Damascus, Ananias, laid his hands on him, whereupon the "scales fell away from Saul's eyes".

The eleventh hour had produced the man.

Matthew 20:6 / And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

In the "Parable of the vineyard labourers", Jesus tells us of a landowner going out several times a day to hire workers for his vineyard: at daybreak, at the third hour (about 9 am), at the sixth hour (midday), at the ninth hour (3 pm) and, surprisingly, even at the eleventh hour (about 5 pm)! In the end, those who were hired at the eleventh hour receive the same wages as those who have been working all day. This story thus illustrates God's generosity, which exceeds the human understanding of justice.

FQO, Chapter 2 (Scratch Man)

The scales have fallen from my eyes.

See above.

There is a time for reeling and a time for not reeling.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 / 1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

Possible reminiscence of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, with its repeated mentions of a time to do something, and a time to do the opposite.

FQO, Chapter 3 (The Right Approach)

As if unused to having members of the underworld take to themselves the wings of a dove

Psalm 55:6 / And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.

And now I see that for some reason he was hiding his light beneath a bushel, as father used to say.

Matthew 5:15-16 / 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

FQO, Chapter 4 (Jeeves Makes an Omelette)

When she says Go, accordingly, I do not demur, I goeth, as the Bible puts it

Matthew 8:8-9 / 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

My attitude towards Jeeves on these occasions is always that of a lost sheep getting together with its shepherd.

Matthew 18:12-13 / 12 How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

We skipped like the high hills.

Psalm 114:4 / The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

One of Wodehouse's favourite biblical gags. This Psalm deals with the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel, as related in Exodus, chapter 14. Although the book of Exodus does not mention any "skipping mountains", this and other extraordinary phenomena are part of the metaphorical language the Bible uses to evoke the power and glory of God. The "high hills" instead of "mountains" may be found in Psalm 68:16 / Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever.

FQO, Chapter 5 (The Word in Season)

The Word in Season

Proverbs 15:23 / A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

Having the wife of his bosom draw in her breath

Deuteronomy 13:6 / If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers...

Many fellows would just have turned their faces to the wall

2 Kings 20:1-2 / 1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. 2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord...

Trying by means of some breaths of fresh air to alleviate that Death-where-is-thy-sting feeling

1 Corinthians 15:55 / O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Another verse often quoted by P G Wodehouse, and always, one regrets to say, used in the wrong way! In the 15th chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul reminds his readers of the fundamental creed of the Christians: the resurrection of the dead, heralded by Christ's own rising from the dead. At the end of his explanation, he exclaims triumphantly: "When this perishable nature has put on imperishability, and when this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the words of scripture will come true: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?" (Jerusalem Bible)

With something of the emotions of one who has been tried in the furnace

Psalm 12:6 / The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

There are many other passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace.

There was a sound outside like a mighty rushing wind

Acts 2:2 / And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

This verse describes the Holy Ghost descending on the Apostles on the feast of Pentecost.

Saved from the scaffold at the eleventh hour

See above.

FQO, Chapter 6 (Big Business)

He sang in a soft undertone the hymn which runs "We plough the fields and scatter the good seed o'er the land".

Matthew 13:24 / Another parable put he [Jesus] forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.

The direct source, however, is the poem "We Plough the Fields", by Jane Montgomery Campbell, which contains these lines: "We plough the fields, and scatter / The good seed on the land, / But it is fed and watered / By God's Almighty Hand".

A helpmeet's gentle hand

Genesis 2:18 / And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

FQO, Chapter 7 (Leave It to Algy)

Oofy might be snatched up to heaven in a fiery chariot.

2 Kings 2:11 / And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

This other Eden, demi-Paradise

Genesis 2:8 / And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

The Hebrew word for "garden" was translated as "paradise" in the Greek version of the Old Testament.

Talk about manna from heaven!

Psalm 78:24 / And [the Lord] had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.

John 6:31 / Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

After their flight from Egypt, God provided the Israelites in the desert with a miraculous sort of food, called "manna" (full story in Exodus 16:1-36).

FQO, Chapter 8 (Joy Bells for Walter)

Job would probably have answered equally well

Job is a God-fearing and honest man, who loses his possessions and his children, and whose own body is afflicted with horrible ulcers. The Book of Job chiefly consists of long discussions between Job and three of his friends who, while trying to comfort him, are more trying than comforting.

And saddened though I was that at the eleventh hour this disaster should have occurred

See above.

FQO, Chapter 9 (A Tithe for Charity)

Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, that chronically impecunious man of wrath

Proverbs 19:19 / A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again.

Solomon in all his glory (...) had nothing on this superbly upholstered man of letters.

Matthew 6:28-29 / 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

FQO, Chapter 10 (Oofy, Freddie and the Beef Trust)

A difficulty in getting his three square meals a day, unless the ravens do their stuff.

1 Kings 17:4 / And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

During a period of drought and famine, the prophet Elijah was ordered by God to hide in the wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan, where ravens brought him bread in the morning and meat in the evening.

Down to the merest gnashing of the teeth

Matthew 22:13 / Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness;

there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

A possible allusion to this traditional biblical description of damnation?

"Just a couple of real good pals", said Jas Waterbury, "like what's-his-name and who-was-it in the Bible."

1 Samuel 18:1 / And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

The friendship of David and Jonathan, son of Saul, is celebrated by the Bible.

Only the fact of his having no soul prevented the iron entering into it.

Psalm 105:18 / Whose feet they hurt in the stocks: the iron entered into his soul (Book of Common Prayer).

Plug Bosher will skip like the high hills.

See above.

This caused Freddie to Oh-death-where-is-thy-sting a goodish bit.

See above.

Brotherly love was getting stronger on the wing daily.

Romans 12:10 / Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.

Feeling like Daniel after he had shaken off the lions and had a moment to himself.

Daniel 6:16 / Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

The satraps of the kingdom of Darius, resenting Daniel's promotion, had set a trap for him by inducing Darius to sign a decree banning prayer to anyone but the king. When Daniel was seen praying to his God, the king had no choice but to order him to be thrown into a den of lions. Next morning, Daniel was found, unhurt, and his accusers were thrown to the lions instead.

Though he had passed through the furnace

Isaiah 48:10 / Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

There are many other passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace.

I've got three nieces who are all good, sweet girls and the apple of my eye, and the applest of the lot is Myrtle.

Deuteronomy 32:10 / He [the Lord] found him [his people] in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

Back to top