Judges 15:8
And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.
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(8) Hip and thigh.—There is no doubt that the expression intensifies the words “with a great slaughter;” but the origin of the phrase is a matter of conjecture. It may be purely general, like the German expression “Arm und Bein,” or “er hieb den Feind in die Pfanne,” or “in Kochstücke” (“A blow strikes a fugitive on the hip, and that would be enough; another blow on the thigh ends him”). “Hence,” says Ewald, “it means thigh over and above”—i.e., besides the hip. It cannot possibly mean “cavalry and infantry,” as the Chaldee renders it, or be a reference to wrestling (Greek, huposkelizein); nor is it likely to have a sacrificial origin (“good and bad pieces”). It is hard to see what St. Jerome means by his gloss “ita ut slupentes suram femori imponerent.” Literally it is, thigh upon hip, or leg upon thigh (LXX., κνήμην ἐπὶ μηρὸν). May it not have had its origin in some such fierce custom as that known to the Greeks as akroteriasmos, or maschalismos, in which the extremities of a corpse were cut off and placed under the arm-pits? (Æsch. Cho. 439; Soph. El. 445.) Thus in Hesychius and Suidas maschalismata means “mutilated limbs,” and also “the flesh of the shoulders laid on the haunches at sacrifices.”

With a great slaughter.—It is not said, nor is it necessarily implied (any more than in the case of Shamgar), that Samson was absolutely alone in these raids. There is nothing either in the narrative or in the ordinary style of Hebrew prose which makes any such inference necessary, nor, indeed, is there any such inference drawn in many similar passages (e.g., Judgesi. 20, &c.).

In the top of the rock Etam.—It should undoubtedly be in a ravine (or cave) of the cliff Etam. For instance, in Judges 15:11 the men of Judah could not go down to the top of a rock, and the same word is rendered “cleft” in Isaiah 57:5, and should be so rendered for “top” in Isaiah 3:21 (LXX., “in a hole of the rock,” and “in the cave of Etam;” Vulg., in spelunca petrae). This explains the expression “went down” in this verse, and “brought him up” in Judges 15:13. Such cliff-caves are the natural refuge of oppressed peoples (Judges 6:2; 1Samuel 13:6; 1Kings 18:13). These caves, like the cave of Aduliam, are often supplied with water by natural springs, and one man may defend them against a multitude. The LXX. (Cod. A) add the words “by the torrent.” The site of Etam is uncertain; but it is in the tribe of Judah, which Samson only enters once, or, possibly (Judges 16:3), twice, and then only as a fugitive.

Jdg 15:8. He smote them hip and thigh — This seems to be merely a proverbial expression to denote a desperate attack and total overthrow. And he went down, or, rather, went and dwelt — For it is an idiom of the Hebrew language, to speak of going up, or going down, to a place without having any reference to the situation of it, whether it lay high or low. The place here spoken of, the top of the rock Etam, undoubtedly lay high, being, as Josephus informs us, a strong place in the tribe of Judah, to the summit of which only one man could ascend in front. Here Samson waited to see what steps the Philistines would take. It appears that Samson had no commission from God to raise an army and make open war, like Gideon, Jephthah, and others, for the deliverance of Israel from the yoke of the Philistines; but was only authorized to weaken them and keep them in awe, that their dread of him might cause them to lessen their cruelty.

15:1-8 When there are differences between relations, let those be reckoned the wisest and best, who are most forward to forgive or forget, and most willing to stoop and yield for the sake of peace. In the means which Samson employed, we must look at the power of God supplying them, and making them successful, to mortify the pride and punish the wickedness of the Philistines. The Philistines threatened Samson's wife that they would burn her and her father's house. She, to save herself and oblige her countrymen, betrayed her husband; and the very thing that she feared, and by sin sought to avoid, came upon her! She, and her father's house, were burnt with fire, and by her countrymen, whom she thought to oblige by the wrong she did to her husband. The mischief we seek to escape by any unlawful practices, we often pull down upon our own heads.Hip and thigh - A proverbial expression of doubtful origin, meaning all the "great" and "mighty," all the choice pieces like the thigh and shoulder.

In the top of the rock - Rather, "the cleft of the rock." These clefts of the rock were the natural fortresses and hiding places of the land. (Isaiah 2:21; Isaiah 57:5. Compare 1 Samuel 13:6; 1 Kings 18:13.)

Etam - Not the same as the place in the territory of Simeon 1 Chronicles 4:32. Its situation is uncertain, but a site near Eleutheropolis ("Beth-jibrin") is required; and there exist some extraordinary caverns in the soft limestone or chalky rock, fifteen or twenty feet deep, with perpendicular sides, opening into extensive excavations in the rock, about two hours from Eleutheropolis. (Conder conjectures it to be the same as Atab, a village 12 miles southwest of Jerusalem, in the ‛arkub or Ridge.)

8. smote them hip and thigh—a proverbial expression for a merciless slaughter.

he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam—rather went down and dwelt in the cleft—that is, the cave or cavern of the cliff Etam.

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, i.e. without any other weapon but his leg and foot he kicked them, and made them lame and useless for war.

With a great slaughter, Heb. with a great stroke; for so it was, even to them whom it did not kill.

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.

And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter,.... Either smote them on their hips and thighs with his hands (for it does not appear he had any weapon of war), so that they were sadly bruised, and maimed, and lamed, that they could not stir, and of which blows and bruises multitudes died: or he smote them with his legs on their thighs, kicked them about at pleasure, which kicks numbers of them never got over; or the meaning of the proverbial expression is, he laid on them at a great rate, and smote them here and there, and any where, which issued in the death of many of them: the Targum is,"he smote them horse and foot,''their cavalry and infantry, destroyed them both; but it does not appear that they came out in an hostile manner unto him, and much less in the form of a regular army:

and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam. Josephus says (e), that Samson having slain many in the fields of the Philistines, went and dwelt at Etam, a strong rock in the tribe of Judah; and which agrees with 2 Chronicles 11:6, where mention is made of the city Etam, along with Bethlehem and Tekoah, cities in that tribe, which had its name either from this rock, or the rock from that. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions read,"in a cave of the rock of Etam;''and the Syriac and Arabic versions, in Sahaph, which is on the rock of Etam, as if Sahaph was the name of a city there; hither Samson went, not through fear, or for safety, but to wait for another opportunity of further avenging the injuries of Israel on the Philistines.

(e) Ibid. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 8.) sect. 8.

And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.
8. hip and thigh] lit. leg upon thigh, so that the limbs of the slain fall one upon another: such seems to be the force of the prep, upon, cf. Amos 3:15 ‘the winter house upon the summer house,’ i.e. so that the one falls upon the other, and Genesis 32:11, Hosea 10:14. At any rate it is a proverbial expression for with a great slaughter.

the rock of Etam] The Etam between Beth-lehem and Tekoa, 2 Chronicles 11:6, is too high up and too far away. Schick, who finds the scenes of Samson’s exploits in the neighbourhood of ‘Artuf a little S.E. of Zorah, identifies Etam with ‘Araḳ Isma ‘în, near Marmita, remarkable for a perpendicular rock with a cave which can only be reached by going down to it (ZDPV. x. 143 ff.). Perhaps this was almost within the Danite territory; Jdg 15:9 ff. imply that the rock of Etam was in Judah.

Verse 8. - He smote them hip and thigh, etc. A proverbial expression, the origin of which is uncertain; it means, he smote them with a great and complete slaughter. It is reasonable to suppose that he had gathered a few Hebrews round him to help him. He went down, etc. This shows that Etam must have been situated lower than Tinmath, and seems to preclude its identification with Urtas, in the hill country of Judah, between Bethlehem and Tekoah, which apparently represents the Etam of 2 Chronicles 11:6. But there is another Etam in the tribe of Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:32), which may possibly be the Etam of our text. In the top of the rock. Rather, the cleft or fissure of the rock - some narrow and inaccessible ravine. The site has not been identified.

CHAPTER 15:9-20 Judges 15:8"Then he smote them hip and thigh (lit. 'thigh upon hip;' על as in Genesis 32:12), a great slaughter." שׁוק, thigh, strengthened by על־ירך, is a second accusative governed by the verb, and added to define the word אותם more minutely, in the sense of "on hip and thigh;" whilst the expression which follows, גדולה מכּה, is added as an adverbial accusative to strengthen the verb ויּך. Smiting hip and thigh is a proverbial expression for a cruel, unsparing slaughter, like the German "cutting arm and leg in two," or the Arabic "war in thigh fashion" (see Bertheau in loc.). After smiting the Philistines, Samson went down and dwelt in the cleft of the rock Etam. There is a town of Etam mentioned in 2 Chronicles 11:6, between Bethlehem and Tekoah, which was fortified by Rehoboam, and stood in all probability to the south of Jerusalem, upon the mountains of Judah. But this Etam, which Robinson (Pal. ii. 168) supposes to be the village of Urtas, a place still inhabited, though lying in ruins, is not to be thought of here, as the Philistines did not go up to the mountains of Judah (Judges 15:9), as Bertheau imagines, but simply came forward and encamped in Judah. The Etam of this verse is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:32, along with Ain Rimmon and other Simeonitish towns, and is to be sought for on the border of the Negeb and of the mountains of Judah, in the neighbourhood of Khuweilifeh (see V. de Velde, Mem. p. 311). The expression "he went down" suits this place very well, but not the Etam on the mountains of Judah, to which he would have had to go up, and not down, from Timnath.
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