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gadarene (GAD-uh-reen) noun

A headlong rush.

[After the town of Gadara in a biblical story where two demon-possessed
men ask Christ to send them into a herd of swine. They dash into the
herd and all the animals rush violently over a cliff.]


potter's field (POT-uhrs feeld) noun

A burial place for poor or unidentified people.

[The term derives from the name of the area where Judas was buried
after he hanged himself. The land was bought with pieces of silver
he had received for betraying Christ.]

crown of thorns (kroun ov thornz) noun
1. An onerous burden or an affliction that causes intense suffering.

2. A thorny bush (Euphorbia milii) native to Madagascar, grown as a
houseplant. (picture: http://blankees.com/house/plants/crown.htm )

3. A starfish (Acanthaster planci) found in the Pacific that feeds on
live corals (picture: http://divegallery.com/crownofthorns.htm )

[After the biblical account of a mock crown made of thorny branches
that Roman soldiers placed on Jesus's head before his crucifixion.]

widow's cruse (WID-oz KROOZ) noun

An inexhaustible supply of something that appears meager.

[From the biblical story of the widow's jug of oil that miraculously
replenished itself to supply Elijah during a famine. A cruse is a small
earthen pot for holding liquids.]

A related biblical term is "widow's mite" indicating a small contribution
happily given by one who can hardly afford it. In the story, Jesus observes
people casting money into the treasury. While many rich gave much, a widow
contributed two mites, all she had. A mite is a coin of very small value.
The women in "widow's cruse" and "widow's mite" were two separate characters.

golden calf (GOL-den KAHF) noun

Something unworthy that is excessively esteemed, especially money.

[In the biblical story Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the stone
tablets with the Ten Commandments only to find Israelites worshiping a calf
made of gold.]

From wordsmith.org's Word A Day.

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