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Staff of life

Posted by ESC on June 28, 2000

In Reply to: Staff of life posted by Betsy on June 27, 2000

: Can anyone tell me the origin and meaning of the phrase staff of life? Thanks.

Staff of life - It sounds Biblical to me. But I couldn't find that exact phrase in the Bible. Anyone else find it?

Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett, under Matthew Henry (1662-1714), "Commentaries (1708-1710) states: "Here is bread, which strengthens man's heart, and therefore called the staff of life. Ib. Psalm 104." But the phrase itself wasn't in Psalm 104. Or at least I couldn't find it.

A footnote to this item in Bartlett's refers to Isaiah 3:1: "For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water." Another footnote refers to "Bread is the staff of life. - Swift, 'Tale of a Tub' ."

"The Layman's Bible Encyclopedia" by William C. Martin (The Southwest Co., Nashville, Tenn., 1964) has a subheading "Staff of life" under "Bread." But again the verse under the subhead does not use that exact term. Ezekiel 4:16 "Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment."

The "Amplified" version of the Bible translates "astonishment" as "dismay (silent, speechless grief caused by the impending starvation)"

Mr. Martin says that "The Hebrew and the Greek words which are translated 'bread' in the Bible may refer not only to bread specifically, but to food in general. They are often used to refer to the basic necessities of life."