Shakespeare used it in the 1590's, when he penned A Midsummer Night's Dream...
"Flower of this purple dye, / Hit with Cupid's archery, / Sink in apple of his eye".
Going further back, the psalmist wrote:
"Keep me as the apple of thine eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings." Psalms 17:8
and even the Lord Himself, speaking through the prophet Zechariah, declared:
"For thus saith the Lord of hosts: After the glory he hath sent me to the nations that have robbed you: for he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of my eye." Zechariah 2:8
So what do we mean when we say, the apple of my eye? I did a little research on this phrase last night, and I was fascinated to find this explanation...
apple of the eye, noun According to the Oxford English Dictionary, at least since the ninth century, English-speaking people have referred to the black dot in the middle of the iris at the center of the eye as the apple. Apple was a generic term for many fruits of similar shape, in much the same way that corn was the generic term for many types of edible grain. Apparently people thought that what we now call the pupil was a globular solid, like an apple. From a very early period, the apple of the eye also served as a metaphor identifying the person on whom the eye gazed with pleasure.
At about the time that people in England realized that the black center of the eye was not a solid but an opening, they began using the word pupil, from the Latin pupilla, meaning a little girl. (The word pupil indicating a student comes from the same Latin root, pupillus in the masculine, which could be used for an orphan who was a minor and consequently a ward.)
The roots of the Latin word for pupil are curiously similar to two of the Hebrew words for the pupil of the eye, ishown meaning little man and bat meaning daughter. These expressions probably came into the language as a result of people seeing a tiny mirror image of themselves when staring into the eyes of another person. A third Hebrew word for the pupil is babah, a hollowed out place. Perhaps the ancient Hebrew-speaking people understood that the pupil was actually an opening in the iris.
And finally, according to Wikipedia, the phrase apple of my eye means the following:
Something, but usually someone, that you cherish above all others.
I do know this: Lily is the apple of my eye. And as with all of my children, if you touch her, if you speak words to cause her harm, or speak evil of her, you have touched the apple of my eye.
I know someone else who holds this place.
He is a treasure, he has value, and he is of unmistakable worth. And more than anything he means to me, he is of value to the One who created Him, who breathed life into his soul, and who knew him before He formed him in his mother's womb...
Artem is the apple of God's eye.
There are many families adopting from Reece's Rainbow who have received hateful comments, similar to the one I received about Artem last night. Hurtful and hateful comments about the children they are adopting, as well as their own decision to rescue those children. I wish I could pretend that there isn't evil in the world, but the truth is, it is all around us, and we would be ignorant to think it does not exist.
Maybe I can't stop every ugly comment from finding its way here, and maybe my little blog is only one little point of light in a world full of darkness. But I do know this: when you touch the apple of God's eye, He takes note.
"For thus saith the Lord of hosts: After the glory he hath sent me to the nations that have robbed you: for he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of my eye. I will surely raise my hand against them ..... Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me."
And a note to those who hate: I am praying for you, that your heart will be softened and that your eyes will be opened to the least of these, to the apple of His eye.