Wednesday, 14 August 2013


I've always thought it a curious phrase to say that 'you can't make bricks without straw' because of course - you can. In fact, to put it bluntly, bricks are not normally made with straw.

The meaning of the phrase is straightforward though. It means that you need the proper materials to be able to do a job properly. In this respect it's rather similar to Churchill's famous line, 'give us the tools and we'll finish the job'.

So why is it suggested that you need straw to make bricks? 

The answer is that back in Moses' time you did. His people were enslaved in Egypt and were forced to make bricks for their captors. Adding straw to the bricks, which were made from river clay, helped them to dry quicker.

When Moses appealed to the Egyptians to free his people, they obstinately refused and as a punishment, stopped giving them straw but still demanded the same production levels. In time of course, God helped them gain their freedom because quite simply, they couldn't make bricks without straw.

They might however, have been able to make hay while the sun shone.

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