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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

 

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THIGH

thi (yarekh; Aramaic yarekhah (Dan 2:32); meros (Judith 9:2; Sirach 19:12; Rev 19:16); as part of a sacrificial animal (Ex 29:22, etc.) shoq, the King James Version, the Revised Version margin "shoulder"; in addition the King James Version has "thigh" for shoq in Isa 47:2 (the Revised Version (British and American) "leg")): The portion of the leg from the knee to the hip, against which a weapon hangs when suspended from the waist (Ex 32:27; Jdg 3:16,21; Ps 45:3, etc.). So the thigh of a rider on horseback would be covered by a loose girdle, on which his name might be embroidered (Rev 19:16). The "hollow of the thigh" (Gen 32:25 ff) is the hip-socket or the groin.
See also HIP.
The thighs were thought to play a part in procreation (Gen 46:26; Ex 1:5, English Versions of the Bible "loins"; Jdg 8:30, English Versions of the Bible "body"; compare Nu 5:21 ff), so that an oath taken with the hand under the thigh (Gen 24:2,9; 47:29) was taken by the life-power (the rabbis interpreted "by the seal of circumcision"). It is perhaps significant that this oath in both Gen 24 and 47 is said to have been exacted by persons in danger of death. Doubtless this association of the thigh with life (aided perhaps by its excellence as food (1 Sam 9:24; Ezek 24:4)) determined its choice as a sacrificial potion (Ex 29:22, etc.; on the "heave thigh" see SACRIFICE). Consequently, it is natural to find the thigh classed as forbidden ("sacred") food among certain peoples, and, probably, this sacred character of the part is the real basis of Gen 32:32: "The children of Israel eat not the sinew of the hip which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day." The origin of the prohibition, however, was unknown to the writer of the verse, and he sought an explanation from a story in which special attention was called to the thigh. Nothing else is heard about this precept in the Old Testament, but it receives elaborate attention in the Mishna (Chullin vii), where, for instance, all food cooked with meat containing the sinew (nervus ischiadicus) is rendered unclean if the sinew imparts a flavor to it, but not otherwise. (For further details see the comms., especially Skinner. (ICC) and RS2, 380.) One of the proofs of guilt in the jealousy trial (Nu 5:27) was the falling-away of the "thigh" (a euphemism; see JEALOUSY). To smite upon the thigh was a token of contrition (Jer 31:19) or of terror (Ezr 21:12).
Burton Scott Easton

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'THIGH'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE; 1915.

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