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Words, Jan. 10 

In the Dec. 20 issue, we discussed the meaning of “the skin of my teeth,” a phrase used by Job, but failed to reach a substantive conclusion. We called for theological assistance. Judge Wendell Griffen of Little Rock has provided it. The judge, who is also a minister, writes:

“The passage from Job 19:20 has been interpreted in various ways … Albert Barnes, whose commentary is one I find especially helpful, has reported four different interpretations to the phrase, adding that ‘none … seems to be perfectly satisfactory.'

“1. That the phrase means that the skin about Job's teeth alone was preserved (the gums and lips), though every other part was wasted away, suggesting that the faculty of speech had been preserved by Satan in order that Job might be able to utter the language of complaint and blasphemy against God.

“2. That Job was emaciated and completely exhausted, except the skin about his teeth, meaning his lips.

“3. That the teeth themselves had fallen out by the force of disease, and that nothing was left but the gums.

“4. That the reference is to the enamel of the teeth, with the meaning being that the force and extent of Job's afflictions was such that all his teeth became hollow and were decayed, leaving only the enamel.”

Ken Parker sees a flaw in a Reuters report on the Internet:

“But the money represents much less than half of the nearly $190 billion Bush had requested for the wars, most of it to be dedicated to Iraq. This was what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called putting Bush on a short lease.”

Parker writes, “His lease expires in January 2009, does it not?” Yes, unless his friends on the Supreme Court find a way to extend it. I hear they're looking.

A TV football announcer apparently intended to compliment a coach, but it didn't come out that way: “He has an imaginary mind, offensively.”

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