"Plough with the favorite heifer", 1749

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jun 7 00:42:00 UTC 2006

>I think an interesting question.  Did Samson
>merely mean that by inveigling his wife the
>Philistines got information from her?  Was there
>a sexual connotation at the time?  Complicated,
>of course, by translation--at Samson's time, or
>when written in the original language, or when translated into English?

and then there's the question of whether Samson's favorite heifer
cavorted with Adam's off ox...


>At 6/6/2006 01:19 PM, you wrote:
>>"And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer,
>>ye had not found out my riddle" (Judges 14:18).
>>Yes, Samson is speaking "metaphorically"--but in what way,
>>exactly, remains (to me) uncertain.  He rails against the
>>Philistines for their having obtaining, from his wife, the
>>solution to his riddle that she had inveigled him to tell
>>her as a spousal secret.  Perhaps he is using an idiomatic
>>reference to sexual intercourse as a metaphor for another
>>kind of marital infidelity?
>>---- Original message ----
>>>Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>>>Subject:      Re: "Plough with the favorite heifer", 1749
>>>I see I lack some resources :-)  Is this in
>>the "metaphorical" sense?
>>>At 6/6/2006 12:53 PM, you wrote:
>>>>Judges 14:18.
>>>>---- Original message ----
>>>>  >Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2006 12:42:38 -0400
>>>>  >From: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>>>>  >Subject: "Plough with the favorite heifer", 1749
>>>>  >
>>>>  >"We are informed that a certain Foreign . . . who
>>>>  >makes a very splendid Figure amongst us, has
>>>>  >already lern'd to pursue the old English Maxim of
>>>>  >ploughing with the favorite Heifer, which he
>>>>  >thoroughly understands in the metaphorical Sense;
>>>>  >and that a certain Naturaliz'd C-n-ss, in
>>>>  >Conformity to this Maxim, was lately entertain'd
>>>>  >by him with great Splendour and Expense."
>>>>  >
>>>>  >Northampton [England] Mercury, 23 October 1749
>>>>  >(G. A. Cranfield, "The Development of the
>>>>  >Provincial Newspaper, 1700-1760", page 70).
>>>>  >
>>>>  >What do you have, Fred?  With my limited
>>>>  >sources:  not found Googling; from OED2, this
>>>>  >sense of plough goes back to 1606,
>>>>  >Shakespeare:  Ant. & Cl. ii. ii. 233 Royall
>>>>  >Wench: She made great C├Žsar lay his sword to bed,
>>>>  >He ploughed her, and she cropt.
>>>>  >
>>>>  >Joel
>>>>The American Dialect Society -
>>>The American Dialect Society -
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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