Job’s turkey, poor as

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12 comments on this post.
  1. Robert Sutherland:

    You might be interested in this online commentary “Putting God on Trial: The Biblical Book of Job” ( as supplementary or background material for your study of the Book of Job. It is not a sin to question God, to demand answers from God. There is a time and a place for such things. It is written by a Canadian criminal defense lawyer, now a Crown prosecutor, and it explores the legal and moral dynamics of the Book of Job with particular emphasis on the distinction between causal responsibility and moral blameworthiness embedded in Job’s Oath of Innocence. It is highly praised by Job scholars (Clines, Janzen, Habel) and the Review of Biblical Literature, all of whose reviews are on the website. The author is an evangelical Christian, denominationally Anglican. He is also the Canadian Director for the Mortimer J. Adler Centre for the Study of the Great Ideas, a Chicago-based think tank.

  2. Bill Brandon:

    Some expressions are not as dead as one might think. “Poor as Job’s turkey” was a common phrase in my father’s family. They were mostly from Tennessee (one great-grandmother was from Missouri) and moved to Texas after the Civil War. I still use the phrase today, and perhaps my children and grandchildren will as well.

  3. Rick Dostie:

    The expression is not limited to the South. I’ve heard it for years here in Maine, and have often used it myself. I did wonder where it came from, and figured it did refer to the Book of Job, a part of the Bible which many people don’t know from Adam’s off ass.

  4. j.r. fishburne:

    my family used the expression in ocean springs, mississippi in the 1880s.

  5. Bill White:

    Interesting to learn this. The expression is used in Tennessee Williams’ play Cat On a Hot Tin Roof – set in Mississippi in the 1950′s. I’m in a production of it right now and we have been wondering about that expression.

    Incidentally, I did know someone named Poe. A friend’s maternal grandparents had that name – they were from Charlotte, NC.

  6. Jason:

    @Rick Dostie same here, our family used it a lot here in Maine as well. I just used it at work today when a co-worker asked if I wanted to contribute to a pizza for lunch today, lol. I said, “I can’t today. I am poor as Job’s turkey until tomorrow.”

  7. Tom Christopher:

    My father, a Connecticut Yankee with a taste for colorful expressions, used to use that one too. I always wondered why a turkey? No turkeys in the ancient Middle East.

  8. MARY:

    Sunday, February, 17, 2013. I first heard the expression: “We were as poor as Job’s turkey” from my cousin Eloise Anderson who is 96 years of age in 2013. Her family has been Baptist for many generations and they have had two ministers in the family, and the expression was widely used by them. They lived in Waterdown, Ontario; Emerson, Manitoba; and Woodstock, Ontario; they were mostly in farming. Isn’t the INTERNET wonderful?

  9. Ken Hutchinson:

    In the Midwest during and after the “great depression” of the 1930′s the expression was very frequently used. It gave us some comfort to know that there was somewhere a person even more poor and hungry than we were. And to think that his turkey must be the living end of such misery made us feel more secure by comparison.

  10. Ben W Lesch:

    School teacher here reading “Just Juice” by Newberry Winner Karen Hesse with my Third Graders. Page 10 the main character uses the phrase, “Poor as Job’s Turkey, that’s what the church ladies say we are.” It was written in 1998 and takes place somewhere in mining country, Appalachia, Tennessee, Kentucky, , a town called Redemption. Easy lesson to pull out phrases like this and see their origins… And so the expression lingers in modern children’s lit too.

  11. Greg:

    The terrific little movie The Devil and Daniel Webster which is on Hulu uses that line: We were as poor as Job’s turkey, but we didn’t mind.

  12. steve:

    my ex-wife’s father was desendent of poe. some names just die out. many writers are angst filled which may limit time for children

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