You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip

October 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Common Expressions | 8 Comments
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If you are trying to convince someone to give you something that he simply does not have, or does not have access to, the person you are entreating might respond, “You can’t get blood from a stone.” It’s a way of saying, “No matter how hard you ‘squeeze’ me, it won’t do any good.” It is unclear whether this expression came before or after the expression, “You can’t get blood from a turnip,” which means the same thing.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/squeezing_blood_out_of_a_turnip.gif?w=300

If the “turnip” expression came first, it might have originally been a reference to the Bible’s account of Cain and Abel.

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Genesis 4:1-5

https://i1.wp.com/www.live4god.org/Cain_and_Abel008.jpg

Abel’s offering was a “blood” offering. This is probably significant as a type or foreshadowing of the kind of sacrifice that God required for sin. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. The price of our redemption was the precious blood of Christ.

We may infer that Abel’s offering was a more “obedient” offering than Cain’s. Surely Cain and Abel would have been aware that God had slain animals in order to cover the sin of Adam and Eve. Abel’s offering was a “faith” offering.

I know that the typical teaching concerning the offerings is that Cain’s offering was a “works” offering, contrasted with Abel’s “faith” offering, but it seems to me that “the fruit of the ground” (which might have included a turnip or two for all we know) was no more a product of Cain’s “work” than Abel’s care of the sheep from which he obtained his offering. I can “grow” turnips or “raise” sheep, but neither one of them really prosper by my own power. God is the one who makes things grow and reproduce. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Abel and Cain had different “jobs.” Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the ground. If you grew up watching the television show, “The Rifleman,” then you might consider Abel to be a “rancher” and Cain to be a “farmer.” Lucas McCain, the main character of “The Rifleman,” used to take his fair share of grief from ranchers, who resented him for his perceived meekness and possibly for fencing off the land around his property.

the rifleman

Invariably one of these “tough” cowboys would call McCain a “sodbuster” and McCain would fill him full of lead with his modified repeating rifle. In the Biblical narrative Cain was the “sodbuster” but he is the villain rather than the hero of Genesis 4.

I would argue that what made Abel’s faith offering more righteous than Cain’s had more to do with the fact that Abel did it “God’s way” and Cain did it “Cain’s way.” Cain got his hands “dirty,” while Abel got his hands “bloody.”

Let us beware of trying to please God our “own way.” God is not impressed with our self-generated ideas. To try to achieve righteousness before God in any way other than the Way He has specifically ordained is like trying to get blood from a turnip: absolutely useless. The only place to find the blood that’s acceptable to God is from the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ – Whose blood has been shed for the remission of our sins.

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  1. […] how He covered them. He did it with a covering that He Himself provided. It was a covering that was bloody, so that it pointed to the covering of righteousness which would one day be provided by Jesus […]

  2. […] vocation. Abel was the first shepherd, and he was more righteous than his brother, Cain, who was a farmer. Moses spent 40 years caring for his father-in-law’s actual sheep and another 40 years caring for […]

  3. […] it was a blood offering, given as a sacrifice for sin. If so, then Cain’s offering, which was bloodless, could have been rectified. He could have made a second, proper, sacrifice. We do know that Cain […]

  4. […] Pitcher (factual summary) 5. Parallelism in Psalms 6. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket 7. You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip 8. Explaining the Meaning of Biblical “Authority” to Children 9. Different Types of […]

  5. […] First History Book 5. Where to Find Yourself 6. The Founding Father 7. A Fake in the Grass 8. You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip * 9. What Is Lying at Your Door? 10. How the Fallen Are Mighty 11. Beware the Foretaste of Fatality […]

  6. […] of Genesis. When he says, “Respect not Thou their offering,” we might wonder if he had Cain’s offering in […]

  7. […] Where are you? (Genesis 3:9) 2. Where is your brother? (Genesis 4:9) 3. Where is your wife? (Genesis […]

  8. […] Abel gave gifts to God by faith, and was martyred for his faith, but his actions still speak today. He was the first in a long line of God’s people who died for the faith. […]


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