BAR 37:01, Jan/Feb 2011
The Bible In the News: Did Jehoshaphat Really Jump?
Quick question: Who was Jehoshaphat? Quick answer: A ninth-century B.C.E. king of Judah, popularly known also as Jehosaphat.
Follow-up question: Why has he often been described as jumping?
For a follow-up answer, we turn to London’s Daily Mail: “Around the middle of the 19th century, his name was used in the United States as a mild oath, a euphemism for Jehovah or Jesus. The expression ‘Jumping Jehoshaphat’ is first recorded in 1866 in Headless Horseman, an adventure tale set in Texas by British author Mayne Reid—but it is probably older.”
But was Jehoshaphat indeed known for his jumping ability? No, according to London’s Guardian newspaper: The phrase was “used for alliterative effect, rather than because there is any record of his leaping about the place.”