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A Reconsideration of the Problematic Image of Yahweh and the Metaphor in Ezekiel 16

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2019, 25(2), pp.91-117
  • DOI : 10.24333/jkots.2019.25.2.91
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology
  • Received : April 6, 2019
  • Accepted : May 10, 2019

Hyo Myong Lim 1

1감리교신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Many recent readers have been troubled by the violence and lewdness of the language in Ezekiel 16. The husband Yahweh's horrific treatment of his wife Jerusalem is offensive to many. In this article I will closely read the text with the tools of feminist literary criticism to explore the problematic image of Yahweh. Then I will examine how the context of the prophet and his audiences/readers functions in the construction and interpretation of an image of Yahweh. My aim is to show the validity of the metaphoric language of the prophet. A close reading of the story in Ezekiel 16 reveals that the marital relationship between Yahweh and Jerusalem is similar to that of a domestic violence. The prophet Ezekiel utilizes the marriage metaphor to effectively indict Judah and deliver a shocking verdict of imminent disasters. To make the judgment proportionate to the sins of Judah the prophet portrays Jerusalem as a ungrateful lewd woman and Yahweh as a husband who harshly punishes his wife for her infidelity. I argue that the offensiveness of the narrative originates from the marriage metaphor itself. Since a metaphor operates in shared experiences, Ezekiel's marriage metaphor is necessarily derives from a patriarchal society which is of the prophet and his intended audiences. Some metaphors are timeless (e.g. "The Road Not Taken"), while some are not. Marriage metaphor in which men are privileged to control and even abuse women, has lost its validity among many readers. The kind of Yahweh's image molded by the figurative language as seen in Ezekiel 16 is culturally bound. Such an image is destined to be broken and remolded in order to carry the message into a changed context. Otherwise it becomes an (literary) idol.

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