by the skin of one’s teeth; by the skin of the teeth

just barely
—Because Tom left work late, he caught the last bus only by the skin of his teeth.

Job lost everything he had and was so near death he said,

My bones stick to my skin and my flesh;
I have escaped alive with only the skin of my teeth. (Job 19:20)

The skin of one’s teeth originally referred to the gums surrounding the teeth. While this certainly is not much skin, many people think of the modern skin of one’s teeth as meaning “the skin on the teeth,” which is no skin at all. The more common usage of the phrase (using by rather than with), shifts the meaning more towards escaping harm by the smallest of margins.

Later, Job responded to the men who thought they knew the cause of his suffering, calling that cause “the root of the matter.” He warned them to be careful about God’s judgment in their own lives:

If you say, “How we will pursue him,
since the root of the trouble [root of the matter—KJV] is found in him!”
Fear the sword yourselves,
for wrath brings the punishment by the sword,
so that you may know
that there is judgment.” (Job 19:28,29)

Today, root of the matter means “the main part or cause of something.”

 

Advertisements
Previous Post
Comments are closed.
  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture in brackets is from the King James Bible.

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed by Craig Thompson under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

    Any reproduction of this content using passages from the NET Bible must follow NET Bible's copyright policy for use of those passages.

    For information on creating translations of Putting Words in Our Mouths, please go here.

  • Visit My Blog: Clearing Customs

    A Treatise about Frogs: On the Boiling, Swallowing, Eating, and Metaphorizing of Such

    A Frog in Every Pot A frog likes water, but not hot water — Swahili proverb You’ve heard it said that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will immediately jump out, but if you put it in cool water that you slowly bring to a boil, the frog won’t notice and will […]

    Places and Destinations: What Do You Know?

    I don’t read travel magazines much. I just don’t seem to fit into their target demographic. I like to dream, but I can’t afford to visit most of their “Bucket List Destinations for this year!” No, the the magazines I normally browse are less apt to showcase the five best restaurants in Paris than they are […]

  • Advertisements