"He Smote Them Hip And Thigh"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 184

Context: Samson, endowed by God with unusual strength for his struggle with the Philistine oppressors, has chosen a Philistine woman for his wife. At the wedding feast, when Samson poses to his Philistine companions the riddle of the lion's carcass filled with honey and suggests a prize or forfeit of thirty sheets and thirty changes of garments, his wife, on threat of having her father's house burned, persuades Samson to reveal the answer, which she immediately tells her people. Raiding Ashkelon to pay his debt, Samson then returns to his father's house. Later, at his attempt to claim his wife, he finds that she has been given to one of his Philistine companions. For revenge, he catches three hundred foxes, ties them tail-to-tail, puts a firebrand between, and turns them loose to burn the corn and vineyards of the Philistines, who, in retaliation, burn his wife and father-in-law. Samson speaks in wrath and then acts:

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. . . Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.
And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter. . . .

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