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A refugee American Loyalist, around 1800 or so, hits his thumb with a hammer and says ''Jee-hossey-fat'' or something like that (my Great Grandfather) Where does this expression come from please?

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    How much research have you done on this? Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of Judah. Americans around 1800 knew their bibles. For many it was the only book they would ever possess. Look in 2 Chronicles 17. – WS2 Dec 17 '15 at 19:03
  • In old time people avoided using real holy terms when cursing (Jesus, Mary etc.) a bit like people saying "Sugar!" instead of "shit". A lot of cursing are deformation of sacred words. In this case your ancestor probably meant "Jesus' faith!" – P. O. Dec 17 '15 at 19:03
  • @JEL I was doing the same thing for the question to put it back. – user140086 Dec 17 '15 at 19:22
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  • @WS2 - I think the edits changed the character of this question a little. As shown in the question body (but corrected in the title) the OP was not aware of the actual name, and just rendered it phonetically. I have changed it back --if you already know what the name is, the question reduces to general reference. – Chris Sunami Dec 17 '15 at 22:01
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Jehoshaphat is the name of a King of Judah. As an exclamation has probably become popular as a euphemism for Jesus:

  • A king of Judah in the mid 9th century bc.

  • As exclamation (also jumping Jehoshaphat) A mild expletive: Jehoshaphat! That would be ghastly (Probably a euphemism for Jesus)

(ODO)

The biblical king Jehoshaphat:

  • is the inspiration for the exclamation “jumpin’ Jehosaphat!” This alliterative idiom probably arose in the 19th century but was popularized by the cartoon character Yosemite Sam in the 20th century.

(www.waywordradio.org)

Why is Jehoshaphat described as jumping?

  • It goes back to a prophecy which Israel’s king David uttered, explaining about how God works with people:

    • With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With the blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. You will save the humble [afflicted] people; But Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down.

(2 Samuel 22:26-28)

  • That scripture is being fulfilled once again in our day in Iraq! But the above prophecy goes on:

    • For You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord shall enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall.

(2 Samuel 22:29-30)

  • And that’s what Jehoshaphat did, metaphorically speaking. He ‘jumped’ on that occasion because of the supernatural help of God.

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