13 – The Writing is on the Wall

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

The Writing is on the Wall – The etymology of this phrase is found in the Book of Daniel. “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote” (Daniel 5:5). This Divine graffiti was a pronouncement of judgment upon King Belshazzar for his pride and disrespect of God.

The phrase is associated with judgment that is plain to all to see. The story of Belshazzer’s feast and the writing on the wall has become a popular theme in art (Rembrandt, Martin, Allston, Hiller); music (from the classics by Handel and Schumann, country by Johnny Cash and cinema appearing in the James Bond film, Spectre); literature (poems, plays and paperbacks) and there is even a book concerning social media by the title.

In the “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson, writes, “like the Babylonian finger on the wall, to be spelling out the letters of my judgment.” So, next time you see a bit of graffiti, let it remind you that we too must one day give an account to God.

Posted in Influence

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