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Source: The book of Jeremiah

Speaker: The Prophet Jeremiah

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?"

The greatness that thine iniquity space thy skirts discovered, and also thy heels do bare. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? (Jeremiah 13:22-23, KJV)


Jeremiah wasn"t the cheeriest prophet. In fact, that spent many of his time warning the people of Israel the they were going to be attacked, invaded, and also killed by the Babylonians due to the fact that they to be so sinful and awful. Yeah, he to be no fun at parties.

You are watching: Can the ethiopian change his skin

Here, Jeremiah is in the middle of one of his standard diatribes against the wicked world of Israel. Not just are these guys entirely awful, but, in truth there"s nothing they can do to adjust their evil ways. ~ all, can a person adjust the shade of their skin? deserve to an pet just move up the fur? Nope. These guys aren"t simply bad, they"re negative to the bone. Literally.

This idiom is actually a pretty popular and also interesting one. That hasn"t watched someone perform jerky points over and also over again and not assumed of this saying? sometimes it"s hard to imagine human being changing.

On the various other hand, it"s type of a discouraging idea. Is Jeremiah trying come say the these angry folks space born that way, like leopards room born through their spots? Why would Jeremiah warn people if he think they can"t change? There"s acquired to it is in hope because that those mean leopards somehow. Finger crossed.

Where you"ve heard it

The last fifty percent of this quote, i beg your pardon you"ll generally hear as "a leopard can"t readjust its spots," is method more well-known than the component about the man from Ethiopia. But, both typical the very same depressing thing: Some people never change.

Additional notable References

Pretentious Factor

If you to be to autumn this quote in ~ a dinner party, would you obtain an in-unison "awww" or would certainly everyone role their eyes and also never invite friend back? here it is, top top a range of 1-10.

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This folksy, down-home expression might never it seems to be ~ pretentious. You"ll probably also get some giving nods as soon as you point out this small phrase in referral to her ne"er-do-well cousin Darryl at the next family get together. Sorry, Darryl.