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Nelson Mandela just passed away today. Many of my friends are writing tributes on their Facebook pages. One goes like this:

I typically have an aversion to joining the masses on these matters, but far be it from me not to add to honouring of such a history-making, extraordinary man. If anyone deserves peaceful rest, it's you, Mr. Mandela. A job well done.

(Emphasis mine)

I've never seen such sentence structure as far be it from me.... Can someone please help me analyse it?

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It's a 17th-century rendering of what we might say as "I would never do that!" The person is saying that they are far from the position of espousing a certain view. the origin appears to be in the King James Bible (Authorised Version), 1 Samuel 20:20 - "far be it from me that I should swallow up or destroy".

  • So: I wonder if it was a common phrase in English in 1600, or if this is a way of rendering something in the Hebrew text? – GEdgar Dec 6 '13 at 14:55

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