“Shibboleth Living” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–March 27, 2012


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If you've never heard this funny sounding word, "shibboleth," you aren't alone. It means a slogan like--"Got Milk?" or "Just Do It!" Or the SOS slogans on frugal living below. Shibboleth can also mean a belief held strongly by members of a group such as the Catholics belief in The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And many centuries ago, if you couldn't say the word correctly, you were a goner. According to the Bible, the people of Gilead used the word as a password because their enemies, the Ephraimites, couldn't pronounce the "sh" properly. Here's the story.


Judges 12:5-6 says, “The Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan toward Ephraim.  When any of the fleeing Ephraimites said, ‘ Let me pass,’ the men of Gilead would say to him, ‘ Are you an Ephraimite?’  If he answered, ‘ No!’ they would ask him to say ‘Shibboleth.’  If he said ‘ Sibboleth,’ not being able to give the proper pronunciation, they would seize him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell at that time.”


The concept of SOS Shibboleths came to me years ago as a 'catch-word' to help me spend and save more wisely. Now initially “SOS” was a maritime international distress signal which in years past was tapped out  Morse Code–dot,dot,dot,dash,dash,dash,dot,dot,dot. (That piece of information was added by my retired submarine Captain husband).  But these letters can also help us focus on  frugal shibboleth living. See below.


  1. SOS: Set Our Spending (create a family budget)

  2. SOS: Safeguard Our Savings (learn how to shop)

  3. SOS: Stop Over Spending (figure out ways NOT to use the credit cards)

  4. SOS: Stay Out of Stores (hummmm, that sounds interesting)

  5. SOS: Salvage Old Stuff (seldom say die to anything you own)

  6. SOS: Spot Opportunities to Slash (cleverly cut your spending)

  7. SOS: Support Others Spiritually (tithe, bestow, volunteer)

  8. SOS: Strive Only to Simplify (keep life simple and organized, Sweetie)

  9. SOS: Share Our Selves (give and it will be given unto you)

  10. SOS: Sup On the Spirit (get that soul food into your diet)


There are my top ten SOS’s.  They are economical in the amount of brain space they require, but rich in what they can do for your life.  Try them on, for an  SOS Shibboleth a day will keep the creditor away.


Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less

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