Posted by Smokey Stover on April 08, 2007
In Reply to: Between a rock and a hard place posted by RRC on April 05, 2007
: : : I believe that the phrase,"between a rock and a hard place" actually originates in scripture when Jacob is sleeping on a rock while wrestling with the Angel of the Lord and going to meet Esau, his brother, the next day who might kill him.
: : Two small problems: the scripture you reference was not written in English, and I'm having trouble with the concept of sleeping while wrestling.
: The sleeping on a rock (in Genesis 28) and the wrestling (in Genesis 32) are two different occasions over 14 years apart.
I used to think that this was a slang version of "between Scylla and Charybdis," and while I think it's a good modern version of that dilemma, apparently it's not derived from the Odyssey (or the BIble). It is, certainly, slang, colorfully expressing a very hard dilemma, that is, on the one hand a rock, on the other a hard place (like rock). Apparently (OED)it originated in the U.S., and was used in 1921 in Arizona and California to describe the situation of bankruptcy, or the situation leading to it. It has been used since then the way it is used nowadays, that is, to express a difficulty to which there are only two solutions, both really bad.