July 7, 2006 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Ok. so what, exactly, does the expression "I will not take the thing from your hand" mean? I understand that it is a reference to shunning within the Amish community, but where does the expression come from?
posted by exlotuseater to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know the answer, but I found it interesting that MetaFilter is the only site returned by a google search for that phrase. Maybe the Amish don't really say it at all?
posted by timeistight at 4:03 PM on July 7, 2006

It means: "I am better than you so I don't have listen to what you say, neener neener neener."
posted by LarryC at 4:12 PM on July 7, 2006

It comes, apparently, from this verse of the Book of Malachi: " I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. "
posted by LarryC at 4:19 PM on July 7, 2006

More ideas:
  • ...since you will not take it from his hands, into whose hand the Father has given it, krinete, you do, in effect, pass this judgment upon yourselves, and out of your own mouth you shall be judged; you will not have it by Christ, by whom alone it is to be had, and so shall your doom be, you shall not have it at all. (cite)
  • "...an American friend said when he uses a local Moslem owned 7/11 that when paying for goods the owner will not take the money from his hand.... When he waits for his change it is again placed on the counter. This is all because these ultra religious types believe that as infidels we are just as contaminated with pork as pig meat for them." (quoted)

posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:28 PM on July 7, 2006

a cursory googling certainly makes it look like it is a mefi-birthed phrase. Maybe it's this "quotable quote" misremembered from the Witness?: "Eli Lapp: What you take into your hand, you take into your heart. "

Although I guess one must take into account that Amish people aren't really using the internet en masse, so possibly it just hasn't found its way into search engines yet.

maybe klangklangston can clear this up.
posted by fishfucker at 4:48 PM on July 7, 2006

It's pretty obvious from the initial context (your first link). It means that you refuse to be trolled. See also Mu.
posted by Plutor at 4:53 PM on July 7, 2006

This is probably related to interpretations of 2 Corinthians 6:17,
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
as worked into the the dialogue of the 1985 film Witness, largely shot in the areas around the Amish communities in the Lancaster, PA areas:
Eli Lapp: This gun of the hand is for the taking of human life. We believe it is wrong to take a life. That is only for God. Many times wars have come and people have said to us: you must fight, you must kill, it is the only way to preserve the good. But Samuel, there's never only one way. Remember that. Would you kill another man?
Samuel Lapp: I would only kill the bad man.
Eli Lapp: Only the bad man. I see. And you know these bad men by sight? You are able to look into their hearts and see this badness?
Samuel Lapp: I can see what they do. I have seen it.
Eli Lapp: And having seen you become one of them? Don't you understand? What you take into your hands, you take into your heart. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing. Go and finish your chores now.
Samuel Lapp: Yes Großvater.
posted by paulsc at 4:56 PM on July 7, 2006

It came from my father, and his (apparently bastardized) memory of Witness. While he swears that it's in there, I don't have the drive to watch that movie again to find out. Apparently, it's in the list of consequences for the chick if she sleeps with Harrison Ford.
Anyway, the way that I remember it being used primarily in my house was regarding a douchebag neighbor who's just too much of a coniving ass to deal with, even when he's being "polite" (when he wants something).
So, we were like, "I saw Brian and he wanted to talk, but I wouldn't take the thing from his hand."
posted by klangklangston at 5:04 PM on July 7, 2006

Here is the scene klangklangston's dad recalls:
(in the dialect)
How can this be? How can you do such a thing? Is this plain? Is this the ordnung?

I have done nothing against the ordnung.

(in the dialect)
Eh? Nothing? Rachel, you bring this man to our house. With his gun of the hand. You bring fear to this house. Fear of English with guns coming after. You bring blood and whispers of more blood. Now English music...and you are dancing to English music! And you call this nothing?

I have committed no sin.

(in English)
No sin? Maybe. Not yet. But, Rachel, it does not look.
(tone softening... in the dialect)
Don't you know there has been talk? Talk about you, not him. Talk about going to the Bishop. About having you...shunned!

That is idle talk.

(in English, pleading)
Do not make light of it, Rachel. They can do it...quick! Like that! And then...then I can not sit at table with you. I can not take a thing from your hand. I...I can not go with you to meeting!
(the old man almost breaks down as, in the dialect)
Rachel, good Rachel, you must not go too far! Dear child!
A cursory googling revealed that, in strict Amish communities, when an Amish person is shunned their family can't eat with them or talk to them but I didn't see anything about literally not being able to take anything from the shunnee's hand. So that may be true or it may be poetic licensce.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:06 PM on July 7, 2006

posted by exlotuseater at 6:10 PM on July 7, 2006

Thank you all for your responses; I was googling the exact phrase within quotes, and so only got the mefi hits. I didn't know that klangklangston was the original user here, and so I did not know what the source was. I appreciate everyone's interest and detective-abilities.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:13 AM on July 9, 2006

Here's the response from one of my friends, who is a conservative Mennonite:

So, I asked my father who was born Amish (his grandfather was an Amish bishop) and my brother-in-law Mike who was also born Amish and counts Amishers as close friends and both of them went “huh”? Mike said he’s heard the phrase but it’s not a commonly used phrase that is bantered back and forth. His guess was that the source had to do with shunning. Dad thought we should credit the script writer of Witness.

Perhaps MeFi has become more Amish than the Amish. (And THAT is a commonly used phrase used by both Amish and Mennonites to describe English converts who are rather zealous.)

posted by orange swan at 7:41 PM on July 9, 2006

I didn't realise ou could convert to Amish, I thought you had to be born into it.
posted by Mitheral at 11:57 AM on July 14, 2006

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