I've always heard it said that "God helps those who help themselves."

From a Biblical perspective this doesn't make much sense to me (since I've also heard that we should rely on God for everything). However, it's a pretty popular phrase.

Where did the phrase originate? Is it a Biblical reference or is there no relation to Christianity?


2 Answers 2


The phrase originated in ancient Greece, as the moral of Hercules and the Waggoner, one of Aesop's fables.

A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong.

"O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress," quoth he.

But Hercules appeared to him, and said:

"Tut, man, don't sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel."

Moral of Aesops Fable: The gods help them that help themselves

However, it is often mistakenly attributed to Benjamin Franklin or believed to have biblical origin.

  • 4
    Brewer attributes it to Euripides (Fragment 435): 'Bestir yourself, and then call on the gods, For heaven assists the man that laboureth.' Oct 4, 2011 at 14:27
  • 3
    The attribution to Franklin is owing to the phrase's appearing in Poor Richard's Almanack of 1736 as "God helps them that help themselves." The huge influence of that book is suggested by a scene in George Eliot's Adam Bede (1859), set in 1799, in which Adam's mother says that Adam frequently repeats the Biblical proverb "God helps them as helps theirsens," to which her other son Seth replies, "Nay, mother, that's no text o' the Bible. It comes out of a book as Adam picked up at the stall at Treddles'on. It was wrote by a knowing man, but over-worldly, I doubt." That man wasn't Euripides.
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 10, 2013 at 1:48

It's actually a phrase passed down by Benjamin Franklin, it has no biblical precedent as a concept nor it the phrase in the bible.

  • 1
    Reference please?
    – Flimzy
    Oct 3, 2011 at 23:20
  • Can someone help me to understand why my post was shot down twice when it said what another post did that was well reviewed?
    – jchaffee
    Oct 4, 2011 at 1:19
  • 6
    @jchaffee - Because you're wrong and the link you just posted backs it up (it's from ancient Greece, not Benjamin Franklin). Oct 4, 2011 at 2:17
  • Sorry Brendon, the CONCEPT came from early Greece but the saying/phrase came from Mr. Franklin.
    – user39070
    Mar 8, 2013 at 15:43

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