11 – Give up the Ghost

Fifty common expressions that originated from the Bible that influence our language today.

Give up the Ghost – This expression, in its various forms, occurs 18 times in the Bible. The first time it appears is in Genesis 25:8, “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.” When Rachel died, the Bible tells us that “her soul” departed (Genesis 35:18) This harmonizes with both James definition of death, “the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26) and with Solomon explanation of death, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). It is further illustrated in the lives of Jesus and Stephan, yielding up their spirits in death (Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59).

The last time this expression is used in the Bible is in Acts 12:23, when King Herod died of what is believed to be “Morbus pedicularie.” “And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.”

While this idiom is sometimes used as a euphemism for death today, it is most often employed to describe a machine that has stopped working. It is a popular phrase in literature with William Shakespeare using it in both Julius Caesar and Henry VI. It is also a common name for books with the following authors using it as a title; Blackwell, Crewe, Mantel, Moran, Harris, Karbo, Strickland, Beckett, Holbrook, Reynolds and Roth.

There are over 40 singers and bands that have recorded a single by this title, at least five different albums cover and there was also a hardcore a punk band from Boston, Massachusetts that formed in 1998 with this name, but I believe it has since, “Given up the Ghost.”

Posted in Influence

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