Celui qui trouble sa maison héritera le vent…

Celui qui trouble sa maison héritera le vent…

Slwee kee troo-bluh sah may-zaw ay-ree-trahl VAH. Click below to hear this.*

Those who trouble their households will inherit the wind.

Proverbs are a popular way to impart wisdom, and some are as ancient as written history. Here’s one you may recognize from the book of Proverbs, in the Hebrew Bible, chapter 11, verse 29.

Does the phrase inherit the wind sound familiar? It’s the title of a 1955 play about the famous Scopes trial in Tennessee: creationism vs. evolution, Charles Darwin vs. William Jennings Bryan (thinly veiled), McCarthyism vs. freedom of speech. (The play has subsequently been made into several movies as well.) I had often wondered about the phrase and what it meant, without recognizing its source.

Does it mean that those who trouble their household will inherit nothing, as the wind is a matter of no substance? Or does it mean that they will themselves inherit trouble, as the wind forms storm and turbulence?

Note that the French word for inherit is hériter, sometimes followed by de: for example, il a hérité de la maison, he inherited the house. An inheritance is un héritage. There’s no in- prefix for either word.

*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file:

heritera_le_vent.mp3

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