The Writing is on the Wall

Danger is Imminent

This saying is used throughout literature and songs, and sometimes can be misunderstood.  My informant, my brother, first heard this saying when he was in high school in a song that he liked very much.  He thought that this saying was referring to the writing in a bathroom wall, stating some kind of sexual reference.  He connected two songs together, “Jenny, I Got Your Number” and Bad Religion’s song “Tomorrow”.  It wasn’t until his senior year that he took a biblical studies course, that he learned the idiom “writing is on the wall” was a reference directly from The Bible.

It is found in the Bible, Daniel 5:5/6.  “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.”

This is interesting because in the book of Daniel, nothing has yet happened yet the man’s hands wrote on the wall without the act of something bad has happened, yet it was bound to happen.

My informant uses this phrase or idiom often when he knows something is obviously going to go bad.  When he and his friends go out for a night of drinking, he knows that bad things will often happen when one specific buddy will drink too much and begins partaking in unfortunate events.  Once something inevitably happens, he can simply respond, “come on guys, the writing was on the wall.”