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salt of the earth, the

The best or noblest of their kind, as in These campers are the salt of the earth. This metaphoric term was used by Jesus for those who were persecuted for being loyal to him (Matthew 5:13) and has been repeated ever since.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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