There is the following passage in the contribution written by Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel under the title, “Iran Has Escaped a Noose.” in Time magazine April 2nd issue:

“The leaks over recent weeks from the negotiations to decide the fate of the Iranian nuclear program suggested more concessions from world powers than were announced in Switzerland on Thursday, but as always heaven and hell both reside in the details.”

I heard the saying, “God resides in the details,” but never heard of “Heaven and hell both reside in the details.” What does it mean?

I checked GoogleNgram, which responded as “Ngrams not found.” Is it a well-received English saying.

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    The most common saying (in the US) is "The devil is in the details." A little less common is "God is in the details." (Both oddly mean essentially the same thing.) "Heaven and hell both reside in the details" is just combining the two for further emphasis. – Hot Licks Apr 4 '15 at 2:57
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    @HotLicks that should really be put forth as the answer. – Chris Sunami Apr 4 '15 at 2:58
  • @Hot Licks. I was under impression that this (Heaven and hell both reside in the detail) is a twist of "God resides in the details," which is popular saying in Japan as well. We don't have the saying, "Devils reside in the details" in Japanese. – Yoichi Oishi Apr 4 '15 at 3:05
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    @Yoichi Note: the English expressions have Christian origins, and as such there is only one God and one Devil. So God is in the details, and the Devil is in the details; but ‘Gods’ and ‘Devils’ are not in the details. (Reside is not usually used in the established expressions; it's being used here as a synonym, which works because the writer is already changing the idiom—might as well change it a bit more.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 4 '15 at 9:52

"The devil is in the details" is a well received expression, at least in US English. "Hell" is a conceptual cognate of "the devil".

Barak's expression is a creative derivative from the common expression meant to point out that while the agreement may look like hell for Israel, its details may yet prove a heaven. It's a play on the common expression that communicates concern, patience and hope, rather than just caution.

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    Note that "The devil is in the details" is, in part, the favored form in the US because it is alliterative. – Hot Licks Apr 4 '15 at 12:08

X "reside in the details" means that the process, the problem, the difficulty in question is more complex than what it appears to be on the surface.

Replace X with "God", "Heaven and Hell", or another word or phrase. It does not change the meaning by much.

A phrase with a similar meaning is "The Proof is in The Pudding," which means that you don't know what you're getting until you dive in and find out, or until you complete the entire thing and see the result.

If you combine the two, you get "The proof resides in the details," which is self explanitory.

  • … or God is in the pudding, which I personally think is a much cooler thing to say! – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 4 '15 at 11:45
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - But "The proof is in the pudding" is alliterative. – Hot Licks Apr 4 '15 at 12:09

It is not a common saying but it is understandable.

It means: If you really understand a problem or literally read a document, there are both good and bad things in the details. It is not all good or all bad.

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