Judges 15:8: Hip and Thigh Slaughter

Verse 8:[1] And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.



[And he smote them with such a great blow that, being astonished, they laid the calf upon the thigh] Namely, because of astonishment and wonder (Estius). This is a sign of intense and anxious cogitation: for then, as be astonished, we are wont to place the calf of one foot upon the other thigh (Lapide out of Augustine, Lyra, Bonfrerius). To this sentence of Our Translation [that is, the Vulgate] the Hebrew words are easily able to be drawn; he smote them with a great blow with the shin upon the thigh, that is, with the shin placed over the thigh, namely, because of astonishment: or, by the accusative case, as it is in the Septuagint, having the shin upon the thigh (Bonfrerius).


[Hebrew: and he smote them שׁ֛וֹק עַל־יָרֵ֖ךְ[2]] [They render it variously.] With hip upon thigh (Montanus); in the hip together with the thigh (Pagnine). The calf with the thigh; for עַל/upon also signifies with (Drusius): that is, as much in the calves as in the thighs; that is, vehemently, and fiercely. In French, illes batit dos et ventre, he changes direction, back and front, which is to say, he made a great slaughter upon them (Vatablus). Shin upon thigh (Septuagint); from the calves unto the thighs (Syriac); from the feet unto the hips (Arabic); from the shoulder/ flank to the hip (Tigurinus, Osiander, certain interpreters in Munster), that is, he beat them egregiously from their upper to their lower parts; for they, fleeing, had turned their backs to him (Osiander). He smote them so that their calves might be joined to their thighs (Munster). Verbatim: He smote them hip over thigh. I, since hence I am able to elicit no suitable sense, follow Josephus, who translates it, since he had killed many in the plain of the Philistines. For יֶרֶךְ indicates, not only the thigh, but also a region (Castalio). Others take it metaphorically, he smote them, horsemen with footmen (Jonathan), that is, making an allusion, that in war footmen depend upon their calves, but horsemen settle upon the thigh (Estius), and are supported by their thighs on the horse, and, in addition, divide their thighs. Others by calf understand horsemen, because these spread their calves on the horse; by thigh, footmen, because footmen go about relying on their thighs (Bonfrerius). Others thus: He smote them with the shin propelled against their thighs (Junius and Tremellius), that is, he, attacking them with no other arms than the foot, with his foot beet them as spiritless soldiers (Junius). Thus by kicking, he laid them low. Thus Brugensis,[3] who saiys that this is the explanation of the ancient Hebrews (Bonfrerius).


Hip and thigh; upon their hips and thighs, peradventure not designing to kill them, but to make them incapable of military employment, or of doing hurt to the Israelites. Or, He smote them with his leg upon their thigh, that is, without any other weapon but his leg and foot he kicked them, and made them lame and useless for war. With a great slaughter; Hebrew, with a great stroke;[4] for so it was, even to them whom it did not kill.


[He dwelt in the cave of the rock of Etam, וַיֵּ֔שֶׁב בִּסְעִ֖יף סֶ֥לַע עֵיטָֽם׃[5]] He remained, or sat, or dwelt, on the summit (cave [Septuagint], eminence [or, fissure, as it is translated by Munster in Drusius] [Jonathan], promontory [Vatablus], boulder [Junius and Tremellius]) of the rock of Etam (Pagnine, Montanus). On the steep rock (Tigurinus, Munster). It signifies the part of a cliff that extends farther after the manner of branches: for he was dwelling in a more elevated area (Munster). In the cave of Etam, where, because of the defiles of the places, one might be able to be equal to many warriors. Yet he did not withdraw there in fear, but so that he might have greater quiet and freedom to devote himself to God; and lest by his approach a Hebrew city might be endangered for his sake (Lapide out of Salianus). To other סָעִיף/Saiph is a proper name: In Saiph, which is on the cliff of Etam (Syriac, similarly the Arabic). This rock was somewhat more removed from the Philistines, namely, in the tribe of Judah, as it is evident from this chapter, and from 2 Chronicles 11:6 (Bonfrerius).


He dwelt in the top of the rock Etam; partly because there he could better defend himself from his enemies; and partly because he would not involve his brethren in the same danger with himself, but, like a worthy magistrate, would secure them even with his own greater hazard.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּ֙ךְ אוֹתָ֥ם שׁ֛וֹק עַל־יָרֵ֖ךְ מַכָּ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֑ה וַיֵּ֣רֶד וַיֵּ֔שֶׁב בִּסְעִ֖יף סֶ֥לַע עֵיטָֽם׃


[2] שׁוֹק is able to signify the hip or the calf.


[3] Francis Lucas Brugensis (1552-1619) was a Jesuit scholar, who labored in the collation of manuscripts. He was skilled, not only in Greek and Hebrew, but also in Syriac and Chaldean.


[4] Hebrew: מַכָּ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֑ה.


[5] סָעִיף/cleft is related to the verbal root סעף, to cleave or divide.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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