Posted by R. Berg on July 08, 2001
In Reply to: Found phrase: fleecing the Lord posted by ESC on July 08, 2001
: FLEECING THE LORD - To "fleece" someone ordinarily means "to strip of money or belongings, to rob or cheat: 'The gamblers fleeced him of all his money." The term takes its meaning from fleece, "the wool that covers the skin of a sheep or similar animal: 'Spring clipping of sheep cleans the animals of their long fleece worn through the winter.'" (World Book Dictionary, 1988). But I found a different meaning of "fleece" in a book about the religious practice of handling snakes: "The Serpent Handlers: Three Families and Their Faith" by Fred Brown and Jeanne McDonald (John F. Blair, Publisher, Winston-Salem, N.C., 2000).
: Page 40. "From the very beginning, the Browns have 'fleeced the Lord' to advise them about what is best for the children. This means asking God to send them a sign. Peggy's son Mark explains what she means: 'That's like when they took the kids. My dad put a fleece before the Lord (to ask) if the Lord wanted them to fight for 'em, (and to) let them have the money (to hire a lawyer) on a certain day (if He did). Not by their money, but by His means. Come that certain day, they had the money they needed.'"
: Page 60. ".We had been praying about the Lord letting us take up serpents.What we did, we put what we call a fleece out. Let me give you an example. In the days of Gideon, the angel of the Lord come unto Gideon and said that God had chose him to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Midianites, their enemies. So Gideon fleeced the Lord. He put a piece of wool out on the ground and said, 'Now, Lord, if this is You, let all the ground around this wool be wet, but let the fleece of wool be dry.' So next morning, he got up. The ground was wet, and the wool was dry. .So he prayed again and said, 'Lord, don't be angry at me,' but he put it out there again and said, 'Now, let the wool be wet, and the ground be dry.' So the next morning, the wool was wet, and the ground was dry. So that is why we say a 'fleece.' We put it before the Lord, and if that comes to pass, we go ahead and mind the Lord. So that copperhead (that crawled in the door by itself) was a fleece."
That might interest the editors of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), who solicit examples of regional usage. They've already published the volume containing the Fs, though. Have you anything from P through Z?