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David J.A. Clines
Philip R. Davies

Editorial Board
Richard J. Coggins , Alan Cooper, Tamara C. Eskenazi,
J. Chery l Exum, Robert P. Gordon, Norman K. Gottwald,
Andrew D.H. Mayes, Carol Meyers, Patrick D. Miller

JSOT Press
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Language, Image and Structure in
the Prophetic Writings

Edited by
Philip R. Davies
David J.A. Clines

Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

Supplement Series 144
Copyright © 1993 Sheffield Academi c Press

Published by JSOT Press

JSOT Press is an imprint of
Sheffield Academi c Press Ltd
343 Fulwood Roa d
Sheffield S1 0 3BP

Typeset by Sheffield Academi c Press

Printed on acid-free paper in Great Britain
by Biddies Ltd

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Dat a

Among the Prophets: Language , Image and

Structure in the Prophetic Writings. —
(JSOT Supplemen t Series, ISSN 0309-0787;
No. 144 )
I. Davies, Phili p R.
II. Clines, David J.A . III . Series

ISBN 1-85075-361- x

Preface 7
Abbreviations 8
List o f Contributor s 1 0

Part I

Hearing an d Seeing: Metamorphose s o f a Motif in Isaiah 1-3 9 1 2

On unfsos i n Isaiah 8. 6 4 2

Of Lions and Birds: A Note on Isaiah 31.4- 5 5 5

The Construction of the Subject and the Symbolic Order :
A Reading of the Last Three Suffering Servan t Songs 6 0

Radical Images o f Yahweh in Isaiah 63 7 2

Part I I

Ezekiel 16 : Abandoned Child, Brid e Adorne d
or Unfaithfu l Wife ? 8 4
6 Among the Prophets

Ezekiel 2 7 and the Cosmic Ship 10 5

Structure, Tradition an d Redaction in Ezekiel's
Death Valley Visio n 12 7

Part II I

In Praise o f Divine Caprice: Th e Significance of the
Book of Jonah 14 4

Jonah: A Battle of Shifting Alliance s 16 4

Jonah's Poe m ou t of and within its Context 18 3

The Redactiona l Shaping of Nahum 1 for the Boo k
of the Twelve 19 3

Index of References 20 3
Index o f Authors 21 6

The paper s presente d i n thi s volum e wer e originall y offere d t o th e

Journal for th e Study o f th e Old Testament and accepted b y its editor s
for publication . I n view of the growing pressure o n space in the Journal,
it wa s subsequentl y decided , wit h th e consen t of th e contributors , to
issue the m i n th e JSOT Supplemen t Series , i n th e belie f tha t suc h a
volume also affords a more convenient format for the reader intereste d
in th e themes an d directions o f current research int o the prophets .

The Editor s

AB Ancho r Bible
AnBib Analect a biblica
ANET J.B . Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts
BOB F . Brown, S.R. Driver an d C.A. Briggs , Hebrew an d English
Lexicon of the Old Testament
BETL Bibliothec a ephemeridum theologicarum lovaniensium
BHS Biblia hebraica stuttgartensia
Bib Biblica
BibOr Biblic a et orientalia
BKAT Biblische r Kommentar: Altes Testament
B N Biblische Notizen
flZ Biblische Zeitschrift
BZAW Beiheft e zur 7A W
CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly
CML J.C.L . Gibson, Canaanite Myths and Legends (Edinburgh :
T. & T. Clark, 2n d edn, 1978) .
GKC Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, ed. E. Kautszch, trans.
A.E. Cowle y
FRLANT Forschunge n zu r Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen
HAR Hebrew Annual Review
HAT Handbuc h zum Alten Testament
HDR Harvar d Dissertations i n Religion
H TR Harvard Theological Review
HUCA Hebrew Union College Annual
Int Interpretation
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
JETS Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
JQR Jewish Quarterly Review
JSOT Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
JSOTSup Journal for th e Study o f th e Old Testament, Supplement Series
NCB Ne w Century Bible
NEB Ne w English Bible
NJPSV Ne w Jewish Publication Society Version
OTL Ol d Testament Library
RHPR Revue d'historic et dephilosophic religieuses
SBL Societ y of Biblical Literatur e
SBLDS SB L Dissertation Serie s
SBT Studie s in Biblical Theology
Abbreviations 9

ST Studia theologica
TDNT G . Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds.) , Theological Dictionary o f th e
New Testament
TDOT G.J . Botterweck and H. Ringgren (eds.), Theological
Dictionary of the Old Testament
TSK Theologische Studien und Kritiken
UT C.H . Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (Rome, 1965)
UUA Uppsal a Universitetsarsskrif t
VT Vetus Testamentun
WBC Wor d Biblical Commentary
WMANT Wissenschaftlich e Monographien zum Alien und Neuen
ZA W Zeitschriftfur die alttestamentliche Wissenschqft

K.T. Aitke n
Department o f Hebrew & Semitic Languages, Aberdeen , Scotlan d

Leslie C. Allen
Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena , California , USA

Michael L . Barre
St Mary's Seminar y an d University, Baltimore, Maryland , US A

Athalya Brenne r
Oranim Colleg e of Education, Tiv'on , Israe l

Alan Cooper
Hebrew Unio n College, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
John B . Geye r
Dundee Congregational Church , Dundee , Scotlan d

Francis Land y
University of Alberta , Edmonton , Alberta , Canad a

James Nogalsk i
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary , Louisville, Kentucky, USA

John F.A . Sawye r

Department o f Religious Studies, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England

M.G. Swanepoe l
Lunnonroad 211 , Pretoria , Sout h Afric a

Marvin A. Sweene y
University o f Miami, Florida, US A

Timothy L . Wilt
United Bible Societies , Kinshasa, Zaire
Part I
K.T. Aitke n

The moti f *( °0 hear/see'/'(not) know/understand' occur s in four forms . Rhetorica l
and thematic connection s betwee n th e forms map out a series of transformations i n
the movement from judgment to salvation. A negative/negative (didactic ) for m pre -
sents Israel's lack of knowledge a s the result of a perverse refusal to hear Yahweh's
words an d see his works. Thi s i s transformed int o a positive/negative (theological )
form, whereby Israe l is disabled from attaining knowledge throug h hearing and seeing,
and its judgment is sealed. However, within th e context of salvation, the negative/
negative for m is transformed int o a positive/positive (didactic ) form , as Israel now
responds to Yahweh, while th e positive/negative for m i s likewise transforme d into a
negative/positive (theological) form a s the disabilities that had prevented knowledg e
are removed .

The words 'hear ' and 'see', together with 'know' and 'understand' , are
frequently use d in Firs t Isaia h (chs . 1-39 ) a s summarizing terms fo r
Israel's responsivenes s o r lac k o f responsivenes s to Yahwe h an d it s
consequences, and together they ma y be said to form on e of the central
motifs o f the book. Besides its frequency, th e centrality of the motif is
also suggested by the commission of Isaiah in 6.9-13, where the prophet
is told to go and say to the people, 'Hea r indeed, but do not understand,
and se e indeed, but d o not know' (v . 9). This formulation of the motif
clearly lay s great stres s o n the positive-negative relatio n in which the
terms stand to one another. Equally clearly, this is only one of a set of
four possibl e relations between the terms:
A. no t hear/see — no t know/understand [ ]
B. hear/se e — no t know/understand [ +-]
C. hear/se e — know/understan d[ + +]
D. no t hear/see — know/understan d[ -+]
AITKEN Hearing an d Seeing 1 3

Each o f these form s finds more o r less explici t expressio n in a number

of passage s i n th e book . I t is reasonable t o assum e tha t the y stan d in
some kin d of relation t o one another, and that these relations centr e on
the negativ e an d positiv e value s variousl y assigne d t o th e terms .
Accordingly, this set of potential relations between 'hear/see ' and 'know /
understand' ma y be taken t o form a structural matrix withi n which the
motif ha s significance , and within which its forms ar e transformed .
The matri x itsel f alread y point s towards a certain degre e o f organi -
zation an d patterning o f relations between th e individual forms o f th e
motif. First , fro m th e perspectiv e o f th e secon d term , th e form s
clearly fal l int o tw o contrastin g pairs : thos e whic h d o no t resul t i n
knowledge/understanding (A, B), and those which result in knowledge/
understanding (C , D). Secondly, betwee n the pairs ther e i s an inversio n
between a negative/negative (A ) and a positive/positive (C ) form, and
between a positive/negative (B ) and a negative/positive (D) form. Thi s
implies tha t 'C ' is a transformation of 'A', and 'D' is a transformation
It remain s t o b e see n whethe r an d i n wha t way thes e relation s an d
transformations suggeste d b y th e matri x a t thi s fairl y abstrac t leve l
are articulate d throug h th e expression s o f th e variou s form s o f th e
motif withi n the present literar y form of the book. 1

A. Not Hear/See —Not Know/Understand

I.Isaiah 1.2-20
These verse s for m a well-rounde d rhetorica l an d kerygmati c uni t
within th e chapter . The y compris e tw o panel s o f complain t followe d
by appeal : vv . 2-4, 5-8(9); vv . 10-15 , 16-20 . Bot h panel s ar e intro -
duced b y ]n« n //i?&tt j (vv . 2, 10) , and ar e linke d t o eac h othe r b y th e
repetition may //ano (vv . 9, 10) , and by the inclusion mr r CD ) -o n -o
(vv. 2, 20). There is also a close thematic correspondence betwee n th e
opening complain t an d the closing appea l concernin g Israel's si n and
rebellion. Thus , oy^sn i n an d inn i^i n (v . 16) pick u p o'lnn
(v. 4), D^nte m (v . 18 ) pick s u p «o n ^y (v . 4), an d th e verb s ]« & an d

1. O n connection s betwee n th e moti f i n chs . 1-39 an d chs . 40-55, se e

R.E. Clements, 'Beyon d Tradition-History: Deutero-Isaianic Developmen t o f Firs t
Isaiah's Themes', JSOT31 (1985) , pp . 101-104 ; R . Rendtorff, 'Jesaj a 6 im Rahmen
der Kompositio n de s Jesajabuches' , i n J . Vermeyle n (ed.) , Th e Book o f Isaiah
(Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1989) , pp . 73-82.
14 Among th e Prophets

m& (v . 20) ech o JHDB , 3ti ? an d p» (vv . 2, 4) .

The them e o f th e divin e complaint in vv . 2-3 i s Israel' s lac k o f
knowledge (pnn n ^ I I JJT «b ) resultin g from thei r rebellio n (IHDS )
against Yahweh . Th e perversit y o f Israel' s conditio n i s emphasize d
through th e contras t wit h th e o x an d ass . I n v . 4 th e complain t i s
expanded i n propheti c speec h i n term s o f Israel' s sinfulnes s (»o n / /
]ii?), having rejected (aw ) and despised (p« ) Yahweh.
The for m an d languag e o f v . 2 recall th e lega l charg e brough t by
parents against a rebellious so n (mini -m o p ) i n Deut. 21.18: 'h e will
not liste n (yiyti WK ) t o ou r voice' . Thoug h th e ver b use d i n v . 2 i s
urns, mn i s foun d i n 1.20 , 3. 8 an d 30. 9 (nn) . Thi s las t passag e i s
particularly significant , sinc e i t look s bac k t o vv . 2-4 an d explicitly
describes Israe l a s 'son s wh o ar e no t willin g to hea r th e instruction
(mm) o f Yahweh' (cf . tr-mo o^a , 30.1). 1 Furthermore , th e elabora -
tion o f th e charge i n v . 4 appears t o be equivalent to refusin g t o hea r
Yahweh's voice. This is suggested b y the parallel i n 5.24, where Israe l
have forsake n (OKQ ) th e instructio n (mm) o f Yahweh, 2 an d despise d
()*«]) his word . Israel's lac k o f knowledg e is therefor e roote d i n their
refusal t o hear Yahweh' s instruction.
Accordingly, th e secon d pane l begin s wit h a summon s t o Israel to
hear Yahweh's instruction (mm, v . 10), an d ends with the choice con -
fronting Israe l eithe r t o b e willin g t o hea r (UEW ) o r t o refus e (]Kft ) t o
hear and rebel (ma). The thematic correspondence between th e appea l
in vv . 16-2 0 an d th e complain t in vv . 2-4 implie s tha t throug h hear -
ing an d no t rebelling Israe l wil l know an d understand . This implica -
tion i s strengthene d b y th e lin k betwee n th e lan d bein g 'devoured '
C?DK) by th e enemy a s a consequence o f lack of knowledge and rebel -
lion i n v . 7 (cf . v . 20) an d 'eating ' O^N ) th e fruit s o f th e land—th e
one th e resul t o f lac k o f knowledg e an d rebellion , an d th e othe r o f
hearing an d no t rebellin g i n v . 19. The appea l i n vv . 19-2 0 therefor e
holds ou t th e possibilit y of a transformatio n of th e moti f fro m 'no t
hear-not know' to 'hear-know'.

2. Isaiah 5.8-24
This passag e contain s a serie s o f wo e sayings . The y appea r t o b e

1. J?to s i s collocate d wit h mo i n Lam. 3.42 , an d wit h antu K 1? i n Isa . 48.8 an d

Jer. 3.1 3 (cf. also Ezek. 2.3-5).
2. Cf . (wit h Dti? ) 'Vipa lynarvb //Tmrrn N oaw , Jer. 9.12.
AlTKEN Hearing an d Seeing 1 5

arranged i n a concentric pattern, though the symmetry is offse t by th e

elaboration o f the wo e sayings in the first half o f the pattern :
a. social evils (vv. 8-10)
b. drunkenness (vv. 11-17)
c. sin and iniquit y (v . 18-19 )
d. perversit y (v . 20)
c'. wise in own eyes (v. 21)
b'. drunkenness (v. 22), together with
a', social evils (v. 23-24)1
In vv . 12b-13 a Israel' s conditio n i s onc e agai n describe d a s lac k o f
knowledge (mm^D) , though now it is rooted i n the people's failure to
see (run K b //oran Kb ) th e activity of Yahwe h (v- r nfoi? a //mr r ^s) .
The contex t (vv . ll-12a) suggest s tha t thi s failur e arise s fro m th e
mindless pursui t of drunkenness and revelry .
According t o v . 19 , Israel conten d tha t th e faul t lie s no t i n thei r
failure to see but in Yahweh's failure to act—let Yahweh speed his work
(ntojjfc) an d carr y ou t hi s plan , an d the y woul d se e an d kno w (ru n / /
in*1). These words adumbrat e a transformation i n th e moti f fro m 'no t
see-not know ' (vv . 12-13 ) t o 'see-know ' a s perceive d fro m Israel' s
point o f view . The prophet , however , take s a differen t poin t of view .
The participl e annn n 'wh o say ' (v . 19) is syntacticall y dependent o n
••in 'woe ' i n v . 18 . Thereby no t onl y is Israe l condemne d fo r speakin g
such words , bu t th e word s ar e equate d wit h iniquit y (p» ) an d si n
(rmon, v . 18) . Furthermore , th e nex t sayin g highlight s th e perversit y
of Israel , wh o hav e inverte d goo d an d evil , ligh t an d darkness , th e
sweet an d th e bitter (v . 20). I t too i s introduced by trn&»n ^n , whic h
suggests i t i s a 'commentary ' o n Israel' s word s i n v . 19 . It migh t b e
noted tha t thi s commen t o n Israel's perversity lie s a t the centr e o f the
concentric pattern . Consequently , th e transformatio n adumbrate d b y
Israel i n v . 1 9 simpl y serve s t o reinforc e thei r failur e t o se e an d
know (vv . 12-13) . A t th e sam e time , i t als o serve s t o intensif y thi s
failure. I t arise s no t merel y fro m a mindles s pursui t o f drunkennes s
and revelry , bu t fro m a deep-seate d perversit y whic h wil l no t se e
what can be plainly seen .

1. Thi s them e i s sustaine d in th e wo e sayin g i n 10.1-4 , whic h probabl y

originally formed par t of the series.
16 Among th e Prophets

There i s thus a close connectio n between 1.2-2 0 an d 5.8-24 centred on

the relation betwee n hearing/seeing and knowing/understanding. This
correspondence i s reinforce d b y a numbe r o f verba l an d themati c
links between th e passages. Th e following key words are repeated: JT P
(1.3; 5.1 3 [nin]);'» » (1.3 ; 5.13) ; s in (e.g . 1.4 ; 5.8) ; [rwon ] Kca n //]i »
(1.4; 5.18 ; cf . 1.18) ; fK J (1.4 ; 5.24) ; m m (1.10 ; 5.24) , ^mfc r tin p
(1.4; 5.19 , 24) , acr n 7/jn n (1.16-1 7 [cf . D»mn, v. 4]; 5.20 [21 0 7/jn]. 1
The passages, therefore , ar e complementar y expression s o f the nega -
tive/negative for m o f th e motif , givin g a n assessmen t o f Israel' s
sinfulness agains t th e Hol y On e o f Israe l wit h respect t o hearin g th e
words of Yahweh (1.2-20) an d seeing the work of Yahweh (5.8-24).

3. Isaiah 22.8b-14
In thi s passage, th e self-relian t policies pursue d by Juda h during the
Assyrian crisi s ar e condemned. Se t against an oracle dealin g with the
Assyrian invasio n an d th e rap e o f Juda h (vv . l-8a) , i n vv . 8b-ll a
contrast is drawn between what Judah's response wa s and what it ought
to hav e been : the y 'looked ' (n« i //eron) t o thei r weapons , fortifica -
tions an d wate r supply , an d di d no t 'look ' (rm i «• ? / / eron N 1?) t o
Yahweh wh o ha d brough t i t abou t (rrifli?) . I n vv . 12-1 4 a furthe r
contrast i s draw n between th e mournin g t o whic h Yahweh had sum -
moned th e people an d th e drunkenness and revelry t o which they had
abandoned themselves.

These verse s ar e ver y closel y relate d t o 5.8-24 . Her e to o ther e i s a

failure t o 'see ' (m o NW/er'D n «*? , 22.11 ; 5.12 ) Yahweh' s activit y
(rrtoJJ, 22.11; VT ntoi?Q , 5.12). The associatio n between thi s failure and
drunkenness recall s thei r connectio n in 5.11-12 . Bot h passage s hav e
banquet scenes in view, and vividl y portra y revelry an d excess through
pairs of words linked by waw (22.13 ; 5.12a). In addition, th e descrip-
tion o f Israel' s offenc e a s 'thi s iniquity' (ru n )ii?n , 22.14 ) echoes th e
equation o f Israel' s pervers e refusa l t o se e Yahweh' s wor k wit h
iniquity (yu O in 5.18-1 9 (cf . also 1.4) . Finally , ninax mr r MN O rfra n i n
v. 1 4 recalls m«3 S mr r ^TI O in 5.9. 2 I n th e ligh t of thes e connection s
with 5.8-24 , lac k o f knowledg e (cf . 5.12-13 ) ma y b e assume d t o b e
implicit in the failure to 'see'.

1. O f these key words , f«D , yii? , and biosr on p d o not recur i n chs. 1-5 , whil e
the root ITP otherwise has a quite differen t sense (5.5).
2. Thi s expression is found only in these two passages.
AlTKEN Hearing and Seeing 1 7

4. Isaiah 30.8-17
These verse s ar e se t withi n th e context o f a condemnation o f Judah's
policy o f allianc e wit h Egyp t during th e Assyria n crisis (vv. 1 -7). A
in 22.8b-14 , a contras t is drawn (nX 22.11 ; 30.1 ) between wha t the
people di d an d wha t the y ough t t o hav e done : the y courte d Egyp t
instead of consulting Yahweh (vv. 1-2). Bu t Egypt's help is futile an
will redound t o their sham e (vv. 3-7).
The condemnation take s the form of a woe saying against 'rebelliou s
sons' (an-n o o^n , v . 1). The them e of Israel' s rebelliousnes s i s then
picked u p an d develope d i n vv . 8-14 a s th e reaso n fo r writin g down
the prophet's words a s a witness (v . 8). Its expression i n v. 9 closely
echoes the language of 1.2-20 : Israel ar e a 'rebelliou s people / / lying
sons' (D-W O D^ a //ntt DJJ ; cf. Dvrnttjf c c^ n + D:J, 1.4; nrvw, 1.20 ) who
are 'unwillin g t o hear ' (inQt i n«-«b ; cf. anuBtii irmrrDN , 1.19 ) th e
'instruction' (mm ; cf. 1.10 [also 5.24]) of Yahweh.
In vv . 10-14 Israel's rebellio n against Yahweh's torah i s spelled ou t
in terms o f thei r oppositio n t o their seer s an d prophets, commandin g
them no t t o communicat e divine torah i n wor d an d visio n bu t t o
prophesy falsehoo d (vv . 10-11). I n particular , Israe l hav e despise d
Yahweh's wor d ('thi s word') concernin g relianc e o n Yahweh alon e
(cf. v . 15 ) and have relied on oppression and perverseness (v . 12) , but
they wil l pa y th e pric e fo r 'thi s iniquity ' (m n pi?n , vv . 13-14) . Her e
again ther e ar e close echoes o f 1.2-20 , especially a t the points wher e
1.2-20 is related t o 5.8-24. Thus , the charge that Israel have 'despised
(OKQ) this wor d (n:n)' recall s 1. 4 (po // mi?) an d 5.24 (m&» + y«3 //
mm + ONE), whil e th e prominence give n to the epithet 'th e Holy One
of Israel' , whos e wor d the y hav e rejecte d (30.11 , 12 ; cf . v . 15),
echoes th e rejection o f the [wor d of] the Holy One of Israel i n 1. 4 and
5.24 (cf . also 5.19) . Further , th e definitio n o f Israel' s rejectio n o f
Yahweh's wor d a s m n pj?n (v . 13 ) recalls pi ? in 1.4 , and correspond s
to th e refusa l t o se e Yahweh's work as yii ? i n 5.18-19 . The expressio n
itself recur s agai n onl y in 22.14, wher e it similarl y provide s th e basi s
for a n announcemen t of judgment on Israe l fo r thei r refusal t o 'see' .
The conclusio n t o th e passag e (vv . 15-17) return s t o th e them e o f
Israel's respons e i n th e fac e o f th e Assyria n threat . Israe l hav e
rejected Yahweh' s cal l to trus t and rel y on him alon e as a means of
security, an d hav e relie d o n militar y strength . These verse s see m t o
expand o n the divine instruction Israe l were unwillin g to hear i n v. 9.
This i s suggeste d b y th e repetitio n betwee n m»ff l i3H-« b (v . 9) an d «b
18 Among th e Prophets

nrroN (v . 15) . Significantly , i t als o presuppose s Israel' s rejectio n o f

the grounds for th e transformation of the motif adumbrated by Yahweh
in 1.19 : nnjJEtt h IDHH-DK . Interestingly , therefore , th e judgmen t
announced i n v . 1 7 echoes 1. 8 throug h th e repetitio n o f n ~ir m i n a
poetic image o f solitariness .

Thus, 30.8-1 7 an d 22.8b-1 4 ar e ver y closel y relate d t o 1.2-2 0 an d

5.8-24 respectively. I n them the motif is applied t o the Assyrian crisis ,
once agai n fro m th e complementar y viewpoint s o f a failur e t o hea r
and a failure to see .
Within thes e passages , Israel's lack o f knowledge/understandin g i s
rooted, explicitl y or implicitly, in a failure to hear the word of Yahweh
and t o se e th e wor k o f Yahweh . Hence , 'no t know/understand ' i s
implied b y 'no t hear/see' , whil e conversel y 'know/understand ' i s
implied b y 'hear/see' . The transformation o f 'no t know/understand' t o
'know/understand' i s therefor e possibl e onl y throug h th e prior trans -
formation o f 'no t hear/see' t o 'hear/see' . In their very differen t ways ,
both 1.2-2 0 an d 5.8-2 4 rais e th e possibilit y o f thi s transformation ,
though i t remains unrealize d (cf . 30.9). The relation betwee n hearing /
seeing and knowing/understanding upo n which th e negative-negative
form o f th e moti f rest s i s therefor e essentiall y empirica l an d didacti c
in character . It is clea r tha t thi s for m ha s it s plac e withi n the genera l
context of Israel's judgment.

B. Hear/See—Not Know/Understand
I . Isaiah 6.1-13
In v . 9 Isaiah i s instructe d t o g o an d sa y t o th e people : 'Hea r (i)ftti )
indeed, bu t d o no t understan d Cpa) , an d se e (n«-i ) indeed , bu t d o no t
know (in 11)'. By way of explanation, h e is told hi s prophetic task i s to
dull th e people's organ s o f perception: t o mak e thei r heart s fat , thei r
ears heavy, an d to coat their eyes. The purpose o f this i s to make th e
people deaf , blin d an d ignoran t s o that the y migh t no t repen t an d b e
healed (v . 10) , thereb y makin g judgment certai n (vv . 11-13).
Whereas th e formulation o f th e motif i n v . 9 expresses the relatio n
'hear/see—not know/understand' , v . 1 0 interpret s thi s rathe r mor e
prosaically i n term s o f the dullin g of th e organs o f perception t o pre -
vent seeing , hearin g an d understanding. Thus, fo r example, th e failure
AlTKEN Hearing an d Seeing 1 9

of th e ear s t o hea r i n v . 1 0 is equivalen t t o th e failur e of hearin g t o

bring understandin g i n v . 9.
The moti f is set within the context of the vision of Isaiah i n vv. 1-7 ,
in whic h hearing and seeing likewis e play a central role . Isaia h 'sees '
(rim) wit h his 'eyes ' th e divin e king (vv . 1 , 5), an d 'hears ' th e pro -
clamation o f hi s divin e glor y an d holines s (v . 3; cf . unfflN , v . 8). Thi s
results i n Isaiah's awareness o f his own sinfulness an d the sinfulness of
the people. However , hi s lip s ar e touche d b y coal s fro m of f th e alta r
and hi s iniquit y is removed an d his si n is forgiven. It therefore seem s
that the experience o f Isaiah stand s i n part a s a model o f what is to be
denied t o th e peopl e throug h hi s preaching : Isaia h ha s 'seen ' an d
'heard'—and, by implication, he 'understands' ; the people wil l also see
and hear, bu t they will not understand.

2. Isaiah 28.1-29
This chapte r ca n b e divide d int o fou r mai n sections : vv . 1-8 , 9-13 ,
14-22 an d 23-29. The sections ar e linked together t o form a rhetorica l
and kerygmati c unit . Th e firs t section , wit h it s announcemen t o f
judgment i n vv . 2-4, i s closely boun d with the announcement tha t th e
agreement wit h Sheol wil l be annulle d in vv. 14-2 2 throug h repetitio n
of the key words OsM < 7)o <> QCDi2j...o <) B //I-D (vv . 2, 17; cf. v. 15) , and
forms o f th e roo t Dtt~ i (vv . 3, 18) . Verse s 1- 8 an d 14-2 2 thu s for m a
framework aroun d vv . 9-13. Verse s 9-1 3 ar e furthe r linke d wit h
vv. 14-2 2 throug h th e repetitio n o f th e expressio n m n Di? n (vv . 11 ,
14) an d njjint i •pnrt/ 1' (vv . 9, 19) , an d wit h vv . 23-2 9 throug h th e
repetition o f th e ke y wor d m v (vv . 9 , 26) , whil e vv . 14-2 2 ar e
linked wit h vv . 23-29 throug h th e repetitio n betwee n m m TI N n« Q
mios (v . 22) an d mias m m GJJ G (v . 29) .
Verses 1 -8 centr e o n th e drunkennes s o f th e leader s o f th e people :
the rulers an d their fading majest y an d pride, togethe r wit h the priest s
and prophet s an d thei r blurre d visio n (riK- D TO).
Verses 9-1 3 begin with the question o f who can be taught the mess -
age (v . 9a). I n th e ligh t of v . 12 , this messag e concern s wherei n th e
true sourc e o f safet y an d securit y lies . Th e meanin g o f vv . 9b-10 i s
obscured b y th e enigmati c an d repeate d Dt u m m ip b i p ix 1? \x. Thi s
may b e a n allusio n t o th e teachin g o f th e alphabet , i n whic h cas e
the referenc e ma y b e t o th e people' s ridiculin g of th e messag e a s
20 Among th e Prophets

'elementary' an d beneat h them. 1 However , i n v . 1 3 the sam e expres -

sion ha s i n vie w the unintelligibl e sound s o f a foreig n languag e (cf.
33.19). Th e allusio n in vv . 9b-10 migh t therefore b e t o 'bab y talk', 2
the sense bein g that the message appeare d t o be no more intelligible to
the peopl e tha n that . A t al l events , vv . 9-10 appea r t o impl y th e
teaching of the message i n clear terms , togethe r wit h the failure of the
people t o understan d it, an d therefor e t o presuppos e th e for m o f th e
motif 'hear-no t understand'.
Set agains t this , vv . 11-1 3 affir m tha t Israe l wil l hea r Yahwe h
speaking to them in what will indeed be an unintelligible language: no
longer a wor d o f securit y (v . 12) , bu t a wor d o f judgmen t spoke n
through th e foreig n tongu e o f th e invader . A contras t i s thereb y
drawn betwee n Yahweh' s wor d o f appea l i n th e past , an d Yahweh' s
word o f judgment for th e future . I n th e retrospect t o th e pas t (v . 12) ,
the unintelligibilit y o f Yahweh' s wor d (i.e . 'hear-no t understand' ,
vv. 9-10) i s explained i n terms of Israel's unwillingness to hear i t (i.e .
'not hear-no t understand') . In th e prospec t fo r th e future , 'hear-no t
understand' i s the n 're-deployed ' i n a n intensifie d for m throug h th e
shift i n it s contex t fro m appea l t o th e announcemen t of judgment: a
hearing o f Yahweh' s wor d tha t lead s t o knowledg e (vv . 9a, 12 ) will
now b e denie d t o Israel , t o be replace d b y a hearin g tha t harbinger s
destruction. Vers e 1 9 reinforce s thi s b y lookin g bac k t o v . 9 an d
making th e ironi c commen t tha t thi s i s a messag e tha t Israe l woul d
understand (njn&r a pn ; cf. njJVM ? p % v . 9), bu t tha t it woul d conve y
nothing bu t shee r terror .
This lin k betwee n v . 9 an d v . 1 9 suggests tha t vv . 14-2 2 serv e a s
an elaboratio n o f th e judgment announced in vv . 11-13 . I t i s signifi -
cant, therefore, tha t whereas i n vv. 9-11 th e judgment wa s se t agains t
rejection o f th e tru e sourc e o f securit y (v. 12) , her e i t i s se t agains t
reliance o n a fals e sourc e o f security , an agreemen t wit h Sheol—an
allusion to Judah's alliance with Egypt. Verses 14-2 2 als o lin k up with
the them e o f judgment in vv . 2-4, thereb y providin g a thematic con -
nection between the three units. Through the 'stron g one', like a storm
of hai l (~ns) an d lik e a stor m o f overwhelmin g water s (n''SOtt?...D < '&,
v. 2), Yahwe h wil l spea k t o Israe l (v . 11 ) a messag e o f shee r terro r

1. Cf . O. Kaiser , Isaiah 13-39: A Commentary (London : SC M Press , 1974) ,

pp. 244-46.
2. Cf . J. Lindblom, Prophecy i n Ancient Israel (Oxford : Basi l Blackwell , 1962) ,
p. 201 .
AlTKEN Hearing an d Seeing 2 1

(v. 19) , an d th e hai l (TO ) an d water s (D^ ) wil l overwhel m

and swee p awa y the people's fals e source o f security and them wit h i t
(vv. 17b-19) . Appropriately , therefore , correspondin g t o th e foreig n
tongue o f th e invade r throug h whic h Yahwe h wil l no w spea k i s th e
strange wor k tha t h e wil l no w perfor m (v . 21)
The chapte r concludes wit h th e parabl e abou t th e farme r (vv . 23-
29). I t contain s tw o appraisals , th e first of which echoes v . 9 and th e
other v . 22, tha t is , th e beginnin g an d th e en d o f th e tw o centra l
sections in the chapter respectively . Th e first appraisal (v . 26) observes
that th e farme r derive s hi s agricultura l skill s fro m divin e instructio n
(mv vnb«) . This echoe s the question who can be taught (mv) knowl -
edge in v. 9. Israel's refusal t o listen t o divine instruction thu s stand s
in marke d contras t wit h th e farmer , whos e knowledg e o f agricultur e
demonstrates hi s acceptanc e o f divin e instruction. The firs t appraisa l
thus serve s a s a commen t o n th e perversit y o f Israe l i n refusin g t o
accept divine instructio n alon g muc h the sam e line s a s the parable o f
the ox and the ass in 1.2 .
In th e secon d appraisa l (v . 29), th e word s 'als o thi s come s fro m
Yahweh o f hosts ' i s generall y take n t o refe r t o th e agricultura l pro -
cesses outlined i n vv. 27-28, bu t tha t is to make i t a weak restatemen t
of v . 26 an d t o depriv e i t o f much o f it s eviden t climacti c force . Th e
echo betwee n m*o x mr r DJJ B in v . 29 an d mios mr r TI N n« Q i n v . 2 2
suggests rathe r tha t n«rD) looks back t o the decree of utter destructio n
that th e prophe t ha s heard . Strang e an d foreig n thoug h Yahweh' s
work o f judgment wil l b e (v . 21), i t i s n o les s a n expressio n o f th e
marvellousness o f his pla n an d th e greatnes s o f his wisdo m tha n that
reflected i n th e skill s o f th e farme r — much a s a perverse Israe l migh t
scoff (v . 22a) .

The formulatio n o f the moti f i n vv. 9-13 contains several expression s

which recal l th e cal l an d commissio n o f Isaia h i n 6.1-13 . Thus ,
(a) • > Q~nKi... 1> Q"n« concernin g th e understandin g of the messag e (v . 9)
echoes ^i...vrnK concernin g its deliver y i n 6.8 ; (b ) ninfct i p- 1 (v . 9)
echoes irarr^N i rvat i w&r c i n 6.9 ; (c ) th e designatio n o f Israe l a s m n
Dim (v . 11 ; cf. 6.9) ; (d ) a contrast is perhaps als o implie d betwee n th e
foreign 'lip ' (nato ) o f th e invade r throug h who m Yahwe h wil l no w
speak t o 'thi s people ' (v . 11 ) an d th e cleanse d 'lips ' (DTise? ) o f th e
prophet (6.5 , 7) .
In addition , vv . 9-13 ar e juxtapose d t o a passag e (vv . 1-8 ) tha t
22 Among the Prophets

stands in stark contrast to the context for Isaiah's commission i n 6.1-7.

Juxtaposed against the glory and exaltation of the divine king stand the
fading majest y an d prid e o f th e drunkard s o f Ephrai m (vv . 1-4) ;
against th e templ e an d eart h fille d wit h Yahweh's glor y (K^E , a ke y
word, 6.1 , 3 , 4) , stan d tables fille d (N^B ) wit h vomit an d filt h (v . 8);
and agains t Isaia h wh o 'saw ' (n*n , 6.1, 5 ) Yahweh, stan d priests an d
prophets wh o err 'i n seeing ' (nton) . Ther e ar e probabl y als o echoe s
of 6.1-1 3 i n th e decre e o f destructio n whic h th e prophe t ha s hear d
Onrntti, v . 22; cf . r&ciN , 6.8 ) an d i n th e us e o f th e ver b ~IE O o f th e
annulment o f th e people' s agreemen t wit h Sheo l upo n whic h the y
falsely rel y (v . 18 [cf. 'this iniquity', 30.13]; 6.7) .

3. Isaiah 29.9-16
This passag e i s comprise d o f thre e mai n units : vv . 9-12, 13-1 4 an d
15-16. Verses 9-1 2 centre on the inability of the prophets an d seers to
discern Yahweh' s work. There i s indeed a 'seeing ' Ow n mm , v . 11) ,
but wha t i s see n i s lik e a seale d boo k t o on e wh o can rea d an d an
unsealed boo k t o on e wh o canno t read—it bring s n o knowledg e o r
understanding. Th e explanatio n give n fo r thi s i s tha t Yahwe h ha s
blinded thei r eye s an d poure d ou t a spiri t of dee p slee p upo n them .
These verse s thu s likewis e impl y th e moti f i n th e for m 'see-no t
The nex t two units seem t o be more closel y related t o on e anothe r
than t o vv . 9-12. I n the firs t (vv . 13-14), judgment i s pronounced o n
the wisdom of the wise. In the second, a woe saying against those wh o
make plans without reference t o Yahweh is elaborated b y a parable o f
the potter an d the clay . The unit s are linke d together by repetition o f
the root s nn o (vv . 14, 15) , an d y n (vv . 14, 16) . O n th e othe r hand ,
the positio n o f vv . 13-1 6 followin g vv . 9-12 i s closel y parallele d b y
the movement in the preceding passage fro m reflectio n on hearing and
understanding th e message (28.9-13 ) to an announcement of judgment
(28.14-22) an d a concluding parable (28.23-29) . Thi s correspondenc e
is reinforce d b y th e repetitio n o f nfajjfc , nsj ; an d the root »bs a s ke y
words (vv . 14-16; cf . 28.21 , 29) . Th e thre e unit s are thu s evidentl y
held togethe r b y th e sam e themati c association s whic h manifes t
themselves i n 28.9-29 . A further indicatio n of thi s is th e reference t o
Israel a s m n ow n i n 29.13 , 1 4 (cf. 28.11, 14) .
In vv. 13-16 a wisdom and understanding which disregard Yahweh' s
word (cf . D^J K msn , v . 13 ) and his wor k (cf . v . 16 ) are condemne d
AITKEN Hearing an d Seeing 2 3

as the root both of the people's false worship and of their self-relianc e
in pursui t o f thei r plans . The proverbia l sayin g on the potte r an d th e
clay emphasizes th e utter perversity an d absurdity of this.

This passage als o contains a number of close links wit h th e formula -

tion o f the motif i n 6.9-10: (a) the repetition in tandem o f imperatives
of differen t verba l form s o f the roots nan 1 and uuti (29.9a ) recalls th e
collocation o f th e imperativ e an d infinitiv e absolut e o f th e verb s iJEtt i
and ntn i n 6.9; (b ) this link is reinforced b y the use of the root vvti i n
6.10; (c ) the sequence 'be 2 drunk but not // totter but not' (« X v . 9b)
recalls 'hea r + but do not // see + but do not' (^NI ) in 6.9, wit h a simi-
lar negatio n o f norma l expectations : hearin g an d seein g normall y
result i n knowledge an d understanding; drunkenness and unsteadines s
are normall y th e result of drinkin g wine and beer; (d ) wrirri K OSJT I
(v. 10 ) echoes iron vn n in 6.10.

These thre e passage s therefor e likewis e contai n closel y relate d

expression o f the moti f i n it s positive-negative form. I t i s clea r tha t
the relation between the terms i n this form is quite different fro m th e
empirical an d didactic relation betwee n the m in the negative-negativ e
form. Th e ter m 'no t hear/see ' ha s been transforme d t o 'hear/see'— a
transformation alread y contemplated , a s w e hav e seen , i n 1.1 9 an d
5.19. On the other hand , according t o the didactic relatio n betwee n th e
terms, thi s necessaril y implie s a correspondin g transformatio n fro m
'not know/understand ' t o 'know/understand' , wherea s thi s ter m ha s
remained unchanged . Th e relation betwee n th e terms i n the positive-
negative for m is essentially theological rathe r than didactic i n charac -
ter, insofa r a s i t rest s o n Yahweh' s declare d intention s and actions .
Like the negative-negative form, however, i t too finds its place within
the context of Israel's judgment.

The First Transformation

The firs t transformatio n therefor e centre s o n th e shif t fro m 'no t
hear/see' i n th e 'A ' for m o f th e moti f t o 'hear/see ' i n th e 'B ' for m
without a correspondin g transformatio n i n 'no t know/understand' .
The relation betwee n thes e form s o f the motif must now be examined .

2. Cf . BHS.
24 Among th e Prophets

The passage s whic h expres s th e 'A ' for m fal l int o tw o closel y
related pairs , th e on e primaril y focuse d o n Israel' s failur e t o hea r
(1.2-20; 30.8-17) , and the other on their failure to see (5.8-24; 22.8b -
14). Ther e i s als o a paralle l movemen t withi n eac h pai r fro m tha t
failure withi n the context of Israel's moral, socia l an d religious lif e i n
general (1.2-20 ; 5.8-24) , t o it s failur e withi n the contex t o f politica l
life durin g th e Assyria n crisi s (22.8b-14 ; 30.8-17 ; cf . als o 31.1-3) .
The passage s whic h expres s th e 'B ' for m reflec t muc h th e sam e
pattern. Thus , 6.1-1 3 combines hearin g an d seeing, whereas 28.1-29 is
primarily concerne d wit h hearing and 29.9-1 6 wit h seeing . Similarly ,
in 6.1-1 3 th e moti f i s connecte d i n a genera l o r programmati c wa y
with Isaiah' s propheti c ministr y a s a whole , wherea s i n 28.1-2 9 and
29.9-16 it is applied to the Assyrian crisis. Taking both forms together ,
therefore, i t is clear tha t 6.1-13 occupies a central and pivotal position,
since i t i s th e onl y passag e whic h explicitly correlate s hearin g an d
seeing, an d sinc e i t form s the clima x of the mor e comprehensiv e an d
programmatic formulation s o f th e moti f i n th e firs t sectio n o f th e
book. I n th e ligh t o f thes e considerations , th e relatio n betwee n th e
forms ma y be examined a t two levels: (1 ) the relation between 6.1-1 3
and 1.2-20 , 5.8-2 4 a s formin g a paradigm ; (2 ) th e relatio n betwee n
28.1-29, 29.9-16 an d 1.2-2 0 + 30.8-17 , wit h 5.8-24 + 22.8b-1 4 a s an
application of this paradigm to the circumstances of the Assyrian crisis.

1. The Paradigm
I hav e alread y remarke d tha t Isaiah's experienc e i n 6.1- 7 serve s a s a
model o f wha t is t o b e denie d t o th e peopl e throug h his preaching ,
namely a 'seeing' an d 'hearing ' whic h leads t o knowledge an d under-
standing (6.9-13). There ar e a number of verbal and thematic links bet-
ween 6.1-13 and 1.2-20,5.8-24 that serve t o complemen t an d enhanc e
this paradigmati c aspec t o f th e accoun t by drawin g a correspondin g
contrast between the prophet's experience and Israel's condition.
The settin g of Isaiah's vision (ron, 6.1, 5 ) of Yahweh in the templ e
already evoke s a contras t wit h Israel' s tramplin g o f Yahweh' s cour t
when the y com e 't o see' 1 Yahweh' s fac e (1.12) . Thi s i s strengthened
by th e echo between mir a (6.6 ) and WTQT (1.11) , and by the use of th e
language of 'un/cleanness ' (KM , 6.5; ror [hithp.] , 1.16) .
Most significan t in thi s regard , however , are the closel y relate d

1. Reading nitn 1? for niio1?; cf. BHS.

AITKEN Hearing and Seeing 2 5

themes of the sinfulnes s o f Isaiah/Israel and the holiness of Yahweh in

association with hearing/seeing, which ar e found i n all three passages .
In 1.2-2 0 an d 5.8-24 , Israel' s sinfulnes s Cp u //«an , 1.4 ; rmo n //-pi) ,
5.18) i s manifeste d i n thei r unwillingnes s to hea r (yrati ; cf . 1.19 ) th e
word an d t o se e (run, 5.12 , 19 ) the wor k of th e Hol y On e (tinp) of
Israel (1.4 ; 5.19 , 24) ; in 6.1-7 Isaia h sees (n«n) Yahweh and hears (cf .
!?&&«, v . 8) th e proclamatio n o f his holines s (tartp) , an d hi s si n (y w / /
nNon) is forgiven (HED) . Isaiah' s explici t identification o f himsel f with
Israel a s alik e havin g 'unclea n lips ' (6.5) , togethe r wit h th e ech o
between ^ 'M H (6.5 ) an d the repeated •'in (1.4 ; 5.8 ; etc.) , helps t o bring
into focus an d to heighten the contrast which these thematic element s
draw between a sinfu l bu t responsive prophet ('hear/see') and a sinfu l
but unresponsiv e Israe l ('no t hear/see') . I t i s als o reflecte d i n th e
condemnation o f Israel' s refusa l t o 'look ' (rm- i ^//cra n N 1?) t o
Yahweh durin g the Assyrian crisis i n 22.8b-14 through th e summar y
statement that 'thi s iniquity' (m n yu?n ) would not b e forgiven (~IEO).
Isaiah's experienc e in 6.1-7 thu s serves no t only as a model o f what
will b e denie d t o Israe l throug h his preachin g (6.9-13), but als o a s a
model o f the kind of responsiveness to Yahweh which Israel s o singu-
larly lacke d (1.2-20 ; 5.8-24), an d thereb y serve s t o connec t th e 'B '
form o f th e motif i n 6.9-1 3 wit h th e 'A ' for m i n 1.2-2 0 an d 5.8-24 .
These passages therefor e serve as an exposition o f the sinfu l conditio n
of Israe l upon which 6.9-13 is predicated. Appropriately, therefore, th e
announcement o f judgment i n 6.9-1 3 recalls an d confirm s th e judg-
ment announce d in 1.2-2 0 an d 5.8-24. Th e healin g (»s~i ) denied t o
Israel in 6.10 look s bac k t o the description o f Israel's chastisement i n
terms o f sicknes s an d wounding s in 1.5b- 6 (cf . 30.26) , while 6.11-12
picks u p 1. 7 through repetition o f the key words n s ny, nmx , pN an d
nD&ra, an d 5. 9 throug h the repetitio n of DTD, nw v y^ n an d noti .
In 1.2-2 0 and 5.8-24, Israel's condition i s described fro m th e com -
plementary viewpoint s of a failure to hear an d a failure t o see . A t th e
same time , ther e ar e importan t differences o f emphasi s betwee n th e
two passages. First , although both adumbrate the possibility that Israe l
might hear/see, i n the first it is adumbrate d by Yahwe h by way o f an
appeal t o Israe l (1.19) , an d i n th e secon d b y Israe l b y wa y o f a
challenge t o Yahwe h (5.19). I n 1.2-2 0 i t i s therefor e a genuin e pos -
sibility, wherea s i n 5.8-2 4 i t simpl y reinforces the depth s o f Israel' s
failure. Secondly , i n 5.8-24 muc h greater emphasi s is lai d o n Israel's
perversity. Th e homely parable of the ox and ass (1.3) give s way t o a
26 Among th e Prophets

vivid characterizatio n o f th e complet e inversio n o f th e mora l orde r

(5.20). Thirdly , whil e in 1.2-2 0 judgmen t and reconciliation are pre -
sented a s alternative s (vv . 19-20), i n 5.8-2 4 judgmen t appear s t o b e
irrevocable: Israe l ar e heading for exile for lac k of knowledge (5.13) .
These shifts in emphasis betwee n 1.2-2 0 and 5.8-24 reflect a certai n
'hardening' in Israel's perverse attitud e and a diminution in the poten-
tial o f their responsivenes s t o Yahweh resulting i n the inevitability of
judgment. The 'B ' for m o f th e motif i n 6.1-1 3 take s thi s a ste p fur -
ther. Throug h a n increasingl y stubbor n an d pervers e attitude , Israe l
have severed themselve s fro m hearing and seeing. Yahweh will there -
fore seve r Israe l fro m th e knowledg e an d understandin g t o whic h
hearing and seeing should lead, so that even the most attentive hearing
of Yahweh' s wor d an d carefu l seein g o f Yahweh' s wor k wil l no t
result i n knowledg e an d understanding . Hearing, n o mor e tha n no t
hearing, an d seeing , n o mor e tha n not seeing , ar e path s fo r Israe l t o
knowledge and understanding.
The transformation of 'no t hear/see' t o 'hear/see ' i n 6.1-13 is there -
fore predicate d o n the sinfu l conditio n of Israel's as described i n 1.2 -
20 an d 5.8-24—on thei r perverse refusa l t o hear Yahweh' s wor d and
to see Yahweh's work , nurtured b y drunkennes s an d concei t (5.21 )
and manifeste d i n thei r moral , socia l an d religiou s life . I t consist s
essentially i n th e exclusion o f the possibility o f th e alternativ e trans -
formation o f th e motif t o 'hear/see-know/understand' , thereb y con -
firming th e peopl e i n th e blindnes s an d ignoranc e o f thei r ow n
perversion, an d making judgment certain.

2. The Application o f th e Paradigm to the Assyrian Crisis

There ar e a numbe r o f clos e connection s betwee n 28.1-2 9 an d th e
passages whic h expres s th e 'A ' for m o f th e motif . The y ca n b e
grouped under three headings :
(a) Hearing. JJT&B J mn n xb in 28.12 is connected wit h orwfcwi •Q«n-o «
in 1.19 , mnt i UK-H* ? i n 30. 9 an d DrraK vh in 30.15. In th e ligh t of mv
in 28.9 , 26 , what Israel hav e refuse d t o hear i s Yahweh's instructio n
(cf. 28.12) , a s explicitly in 30.9 (mm ) and implicitly in 1.1 9 (cf. mm ,
1.10; 5.24) . Further , it s applicatio n t o instructio n on th e tru e sourc e
of securit y and rest (nmm , mn , 28.12) i s also reflected in 30.15 (rim) .
In bot h thes e passage s th e divin e wor d o f instructio n (ia», 28.12 ;
AITKEN Hearing and Seeing 2 7

30.15) i s contraste d wit h Israel' s ow n word s (omn« , 28.15 ; no»m ,

30.16) i n whic h the y affir m relianc e o n a fals e sourc e o f security .
Finally, th e parabl e o f th e farme r i n 28.23-2 9 recall s th e parabl e o f
the o x an d th e as s i n 1.3 . Both underlin e the unnatura l perversity o f
Israel's refusal to hear Yahweh's instruction.
(b) Seeing. Th e descriptio n of the drunkenness of the rulers, priest s
and prophet s i n 28.1- 8 complement s th e descriptio n o f th e drunken-
ness o f Israe l i n 5.11-12 , 2 2 an d 22.13 , wit h a repetitio n o f th e ke y
words )" //-otti (28.1 [natf], 7) . It too is introduced by in (28.1 ; 5.11 ,
22). I n 28.7- 8 drunkennes s i s associate d wit h th e prophet s errin g i n
'seeing' (riN- n uo) , while in 5.11-12 and 22.13 i t is similarl y associa -
ted wit h Israel's failur e t o se e (nt n «b ) Yahweh' s work . Thi s con-
nection wit h Yahweh' s wor k (nfow a //^rs , 5.12; nxj? //ntoi?o , 5.19;
mir //rrfcu , 22.11 ) i s picke d u p in 28.1-2 9 throug h th e referenc e t o
Yahweh's wor k (rror //nforo , 28.21 ) a s a manifestation of his counse l
(nxa, 28.29) .
(c) Judgment. Th e reference t o Isaiah's hearin g (cf. 6.8) a decree o f
total judgmen t upo n Israe l i n 28.2 2 recall s <> r«D i n 22.1 4 (cf. 5.9),
where i t likewis e conclude s a condemnatio n of relianc e o n a fals e
security. Further, th e announcement that Israel's covenant with Death
(mo) wil l be broke n (-132 , 28.18 ) i s a n ironi c ech o o f th e statemen t
that 'thi s iniquity will not b e forgive n (is:> ) unti l yo u di e CjinorniO '
in 22.14. The expression n^m DV3...ip3 3 (28.19) recalls *]ti» // np 33
in 5.11—th e on e emphasizing the relentlessness o f Israel' s pursuit of
drunkenness an d revelry , th e othe r emphasizin g th e relentlessnes s o f
Yahweh's judgment.

The verba l an d themati c link s centred o n 'hearing ' connec t 28.1-2 9

with 1.2-2 0 an d 30.8-17 . Her e to o Israe l hav e been unwillin g t o hea r
Yahweh's instruction , specifically now o n the tru e source o f security ,
an unwillingnes s whic h i s likewis e show n t o b e quit e perverse .
Moreover, thi s is stated withi n th e context of an appeal mad e t o Israel
in th e past whic h has been rejected b y them (v. 12). This presuppose s
that Israe l ha d th e opportunit y to hea r (cf . 1.19). A t th e sam e time ,
since tha t appeal i s no w past , i t i s clea r tha t throug h thei r unrespon -
siveness Israe l hav e demonstrate d it s futilit y an d have deprive d them -
selves o f th e opportunit y to hea r i t (cf . 30.15). Thi s seem s t o reflec t
much th e sam e kin d of 'hardening ' i n Israel's unresponsive condition
found betwee n th e invitatio n to respon d i n 1.2-2 0 an d th e confirma -
28 Among th e Prophets

tion o f Israel' s tota l lac k o f response an d the consequen t inevitability

of thei r judgment in 5.8-24 . Th e 'B ' for m o f th e moti f i n 28.11 , 1 3
likewise take s thi s a stage furthe r i n that Yahweh no w remove s fro m
Israel th e possibilit y o f th e knowledg e an d understandin g of th e tru e
source o f securit y t o whic h hearin g woul d hav e led , b y hencefort h
speaking to them through the foreign tongue of the invader.
The correspondences centre d o n 'seeing' connec t 28.1-2 9 with 5.8 -
24 and 22.8b-14, thoug h it i s no w Israel's leader s wh o are expressl y
in view . W e hav e alread y see n tha t th e descriptio n o f th e drunke n
leaders o f Israel, particularl y of their priests an d prophets wh o 'er r in
vision', stand s i n marke d contras t wit h th e descriptio n o f Isaiah' s
vision o f Yahwe h i n th e templ e (6.1-7) . Equally , however , the y ar e
described i n term s whic h identify the m wit h th e sinfu l conditio n of
Israel a s foun d i n 5.11-12 , 22 and 22.13. Hence , th e contras t betwee n
a responsiv e prophe t (6.1-7 ) an d a n unresponsive peopl e (5.8-24 ) is
now extende d t o embrace Israel' s leader s i n genera l an d thei r priest s
and prophet s i n particular . I n 30.9-1 1 Israel' s unwillingnes s to hea r
Yahweh's word is elaborated i n terms of their command t o their seer s
and prophet s no t t o se e (n m N 1? / / n« n «•?) , bu t t o prophes y fals e
things. Accordingly , the drunke n prophets wh o 'er r i n vision ' (n«~D ,
v. 7) stan d together wit h a drunken people wh o do not 'see ' (ru n K^ )
as thei r preferre d spokesme n o f propheti c 'vision' , an d i n particula r
as the exponents o f the agreement wit h Sheol (vv. 15, 18) upon which
Israel an d their political leader s hav e chosen t o rely.

2. Isaiah 29.9-16
These verses are also closely relate d t o passages i n which the 'A' form
of the motif is expressed .
(a) In 29.9-12 th e language of drunkenness in 5.11-12, 22 and 22.13
is agai n picked u p and applie d t o Israel's prophet s an d seers . In com -
parison wit h 28.7-8, however, i t i s no w develope d i n tw o directions .
First, th e condition of 'drunkenness ' result s not simply in the prophet s
'erring i n seeing' , bu t mor e deepl y i n thei r inabilit y t o understan d
what the y ca n se e (cf . bo n mm , v . 11) . Secondly , the y ar e i n thi s
condition no t becaus e the y hav e drun k win e an d beer , bu t becaus e
Yahweh ha s shu t thei r eye s an d veile d thei r minds . Thes e develop -
ments reflec t th e relatio n betwee n Israel' s failur e t o se e becaus e o f
drunkenness i n 5.11-1 2 an d thei r inabilit y t o se e throug h Yahweh' s
sealing o f thei r eye s an d mind s i n 6.9-10 . Yahweh' s shuttin g of th e
AITKEN Hearing and Seeing 29

eyes o f th e prophet s an d seer s i s thu s similarl y predicate d o n a

drunken conditio n tha t ha d alread y diminishe d thei r abilit y to se e
(b) Th e condemnatio n of Israel' s worshi p in 29.1 3 recall s it s con -
demnation i n 1.11-15 . W e have alread y note d ma t Israel' s tramplin g
of Yahweh's courts when they come 't o see' Yahweh's face in 1.11-1 5
stands in contrast with Isaiah's visio n of Yahweh in the temple i n 6.1-
7. Ther e ar e reminiscence s o f thi s contras t i n th e referenc e t o th e
people's 'mouth ' and 'lips' (DTiBt o //ns; cf. 6.7) .
(c) The saying against the wisdom of the wise (va3 nrn //VDD H rrasn )
in 29.1 4 recall s th e woe saying against those wh o are wise (o^a n / /
n^aj) in their ow n eyes i n 5.21 .
(d) The 'woe ' sayin g in 29.15 condemnin g Israel's pursui t of their
plans (nfaij n //niijj ) i s closel y echoe d i n 30.1 , wher e Israel' s polic y
(nuiJ mfoj; 1?) o f allianc e wit h Egypt is a manifestation of rebellio n an d
sinfulness agains t Yahweh. But whereas in 30.9-16 this is developed i n
terms o f Israel' s unwillingnes s to hear , lookin g bac k t o 1.2-20 , i n
29.15-16 it is elaborate d i n terms o f Israel's perversity , lookin g bac k
to 5.8-24 . Israel' s pursui t of thei r ow n plan s (ntoy o //nsi?) , togethe r
with thei r assertio n tha t Yahwe h i s blin d (UN I •*& ) an d ignoran t O B
umv) of their actions, goe s togethe r wit h their failure to see Yahweh' s
work (nfai?n , njji? , 5.12 , 19 ) an d thei r consequen t lac k o f knowledg e
(run, 5.13 ; cf . JT P //mn , 5.19) . Israel' s words , 'wh o see s us ' an d
'who know s us' , ar e the ultimat e commen t o n thei r pervers e turning
of thing s upside dow n (cf. Diosn, v. 16, and 5.20): the rightfu l objec t
(Yahweh) o f th e verb s 'see ' an d 'know ' ha s bee n turne d int o th e
subject, and the rightful subjec t (Israel) has been turne d into the object .
The ver y languag e o f response t o Yahwe h ha s bee n s o twiste d a s t o
eliminate i t altogether .
(e) I n 29.1 6 th e absurdit y of Israel' s pervers e pursui t of thei r ow n
plans an d activities is emphasized throug h the sayin g about the potte r
and the clay. Israel's conduct is as absurd as a clay pot denying that it
is th e wor k of the potte r (~\v I I nfoi?). Th e poin t could b e tha t Yahweh
is the creator o f Israel, an d therefore Israe l canno t hid e anythin g from
him. O n the other hand, in 22.11 the same participles refe r to Yahweh
as th e creato r o f events , event s tha t Israe l hav e i n effec t denie d a s
being th e wor k o f Yahwe h b y pursuin g their ow n cours e o f actio n
instead o f lookin g (nto ) t o Yahweh . Th e poin t o f th e sayin g ma y
therefore b e tha t Israel's pervers e self-relianc e i s a n absurd denia l o f
30 Among th e Prophets

and challenge to Yahweh's sovereignty in matters o f nsr an d niaj?« .

In 28.1-2 9 an d 29.9-1 6 th e drunke n prophets (literall y an d meta -
phorically) ar e placed alongsid e an unresponsive and perverse peopl e
as equal partner s t o the failur e of knowledge an d understanding mani-
fested throug h reliance on a false sourc e o f security (28.15 ; 29.15). In
28.1-29 Israel' s unresponsivenes s i s describe d i n term s recallin g th e
expression o f th e 'A ' for m of the moti f i n 1.2-2 0 an d 30.8-17 , whil e
in 29.9-1 6 Israel' s perversit y i s describe d i n term s whic h recal l it s
expression i n 5.8-24 an d 22.8b-14. Further , in 28.1-29 the 'B ' for m is
applied to Israe l in term s of 'hearing' , wherea s in 29.9-1 6 it is the n
applied t o the prophets i n terms o f 'seeing' . In these respect s 28.1-2 9
and 29.9-16 stand together an d complement one another as an applica-
tion t o th e Assyria n crisis of th e paradigm constituted by th e relation
between 6.1-1 3 and 1.2-2 0 an d 5.8-24, firs t t o the people themselve s
and then to their false prophets .
Taken together , therefore , th e transformatio n of th e motif i n thes e
passages i s similarl y predicate d o n Israel' s pervers e refusa l t o hear ,
together wit h th e erroneou s 'seeing ' o f prophet s an d seers—onc e
again fuelle d by concei t (29.14 ) and manifested i n their religiou s lif e
(29.13), bu t no w mos t especiall y i n thei r politica l life . Her e to o th e
transformation consist s essentially i n th e severin g of Israe l an d thei r
false prophet s from the possibility of knowledge and understanding to
make judgmen t certain , no w throug h Yahweh' s 'blinding ' o f th e
prophets an d his speaking to the people i n an unintelligible language.

C. Hear/See —Know/Understand
This for m of th e moti f finds more o r les s explici t expression i n thre e
(1) Isaia h 17.7-8 : Israe l wil l 'look ' (ru n //rmj ) t o the Holy On e of
Israel an d wil l n o longe r 'look ' (m o K 4? / / n»ti «*? ) to th e altar s an d
idols their hands have made.
(2) Isaia h 29.22-24 : Israe l wil l never again be pu t t o shame . The y
will 'see ' (nto ) the redemptive work of Yahweh's hand in their midst.
They wil l the n acknowledg e Yahweh' s holiness , th e erring wil l gai n
understanding (nra ) and murmurers wil l lear n what is taught.
(3) Isaia h 30.18-26 : Yahwe h wil l b e graciou s t o his people . Thei r
eyes wil l se e (ntn ) thei r teacher , an d thei r ear s wil l hea r (j?&tt? ) hi s
word which directs them along the right path. They wil l rid themselves
AlTKEN Hearing an d Seeing 3 1

of their idols and Yahweh wil l bless thei r land wit h fertility . Th e light
of th e su n an d moon wil l b e increased i n the day whe n Yahweh heal s
his people .
These expressions o f the motif ar e also closel y connected . Th e first
two centre o n 'seeing' . In 17.7- 8 Israel 'look ' (n* n //nuti ) to Yahwe h
as thei r Make r (infojj ) an d no t t o th e wor k o f it s thei r hand s (niBi? &
VT), while in 29.22-24 Israe l 'see ' (n«-i ) the work of Yahweh's hand s
(•>-r nfcttJfc) . Further , i n 29.22-2 4 th e redemptiv e contex t (cf . ms ,
v. 22) o f Israel' s 'seeing ' i s now made explicit , an d it s consequence s
for th e attainment of knowledge and understanding are spelled out . The
third passag e (30.18-26 ) bring s togethe r 'seeing ' an d 'hearing' , bu t
'seeing' no w has its object Yahweh as mm 'teacher' , so that its empha-
sis falls on hearing Yahweh's teaching . This picks up and develops th e
reference t o th e acceptanc e o f teachin g (npVn&'r ) i n 29.24 . It s
redemptive contex t is als o further elaborated , bot h in th e more imme -
diate an d emotiv e term s o f divin e respons e t o th e people' s lamen t
(vv. 18-19 ) an d i n term s o f th e attendan t transformation o f natur e
(vv. 23-26) .
The attainmen t o f knowledg e an d understandin g expresse d o r
implied in these passages i s the result of looking to Yahweh, seeing hi s
work an d hearin g hi s words . Hence , a s i n th e 'A ' for m o f th e moti f
connected wit h Israel's judgment, the relation between th e terms i n the
positive-positive for m is also empirical an d didactic in character. Thi s
form, however , belong s rathe r within the context of Israel's salvation .

The Second Transformation

The didacti c characte r o f the 'C for m o f th e motif i n 17.7-8 , 29.22 -
24 and 30.18-26 suggests tha t it is a transformation of the 'A ' for m in
1.2-20 + 30.8-17 an d 5.8-24 + 22.8b-1 4 an d tha t it i s bound up wit h
the large r transformatio n from judgment to salvation.

I . Isaiah 17.7-8
In thei r structur e an d language , thes e verse s ru n closel y paralle l t o
22.8b-14. The y hav e i n common : (a ) a n introductor y 'i n tha t day '
(«inn ovD , 17.7 ; 22.8b); (b ) a contrast between 'looking ' t o X and 'no t
looking' t o Y (n* n [«^ ] // ni?t i [K 1?], 17.7-8 ; n* n [«b ] //con [n 1?],
22.8b, lib) ; (c ) looking/no t lookin g t o Yahwe h a s a 'maker ' (new ,
v. 7 [o f Israel]; 22.1 1 [o f events]), se t agains t wha t Israe l themselve s
32 Among th e Prophets

have 'made ' (V P rrayra , v. 8; arrfai?, 22.11) ; (d ) th e theme s o f depen -

dence on military strength (22.8b-14 ) and idolatry (17.7-8) are closel y
connected a s complementar y expression s o f Israel's self-relianc e (cf .
2.7-8). Thes e correspondences hel p to underline the critical differenc e
between th e tw o passages , namel y th e inversio n betwee n militar y
strength/idols an d Yahwe h a s th e objec t o f 'looking' , an d betwee n
Yahweh an d militar y strength/idol s a s th e objec t o f 'no t looking' .
Hence, th e 'C' form of the motif in 17.7-8 is expressly formulate d a s a
reversal o f the 'A ' for m in 22.8b-14 .

2. Isaiah 29.22-24
These verses ar e closely linke d with 5.8-24. Most notably, 'whe n they
see th e wor k o f m y hands ' O T nfoiJ B imna , v . 23) 1 stand s i n direct
contrast wit h Israel's failur e to se e (n«" i K 1?) th e wor k o f Yahweh' s
hand (V~ P ntzjiJD ) i n 5.1 2 (cf . 5.19) . A correspondin g contras t i s als o
drawn wit h regard t o th e holines s o f Yahweh . Thus , i n concer t wit h
the recurrenc e o f th e epithe t th e Hol y One o f Israel/Jaco b (5.19 , 24 ;
29.23), i n 5.1 6 Yahwe h demonstrates hi s holines s (tthp j onp n *7«n )
through his judgment o f a people wh o have faile d t o se e the work of
his hand ; havin g see n th e wor k o f hi s han d i n thei r redemption , i n
29.23 the people wil l acknowledge Yahweh's holiness CKtfnpm... <HDinp'').
Further, th e gaining of understanding by those wh o 'er r in spirit' (^ n
rrn) in v . 24 evokes a contrast with the drunken priests an d prophet s
and thei r errant 'vision ' i n 28. 7 (ma n lat i / / -nrarrp ii?n ) an d thereby ,
more remotely , wit h th e failur e o f a drunke n peopl e t o se e (rim ) in
5.11-12. O n th e othe r hand , th e wor d aru m i n v . 24 i s related t o
Israel's unwillingness to hear.2 These verse s therefor e stan d primarily
and mos t explicitl y a s a reversa l o f th e 'A ' for m o f th e moti f a s
expressed i n 5.8-24 , thoug h in mor e obliqu e term s a reversa l o f th e
'A' form in 1.2-2 0 + 30.8-17 i s also implied.

3. Isaiah 30. 18-26

The emphasis o n hearing Yahweh's wor d connects thes e verse s most
closely wit h th e expressio n o f th e moti f i n 1.2-2 0 an d 30.8-17 . I n
30.9-11 Israel wer e unwillin g to hear Yahweh' s 'teaching ' (mm ; cf .
1.10, 5.24), and commanded thei r prophets t o prophesy fals e words so
as t o tur n the m fro m th e righ t wa y ("pi) an d t o 'mak e ceas e fro m

1 .Omittin g r^y> as a gloss; cf. BHS.

2. Cf . Deut. 1.26-2 7 (with mn / / nan &); Ps. 106.2 5 (// votf *•?) .
AlTKEN Hearing an d Seeing 3 3

their faces/before them ' th e Hol y One o f Israel . Thi s i s mor e o r les s
directly picke d up and reverse d throug h the formulatio n of the moti f
in 30.20-21 : Israel's eyes wil l see their 'teacher ' (mia ) and they wil l
hear a wor d (behin d them! ) guidin g them alon g th e righ t way (~p"i) .
Moreover, it s introductio n a s a respons e t o a lamen t (vv . 18-19 ) i s
reminiscent o f 1.15 . Ther e Yahwe h declare s tha t he will shut his eye s
and no t liste n (iJ&tt i ^rw ) t o Israel ; bu t no w Yahwe h wil l hea r (J?E&? )
and answe r them . Possibl y th e expressio n 'n o longe r hid e himsel f
(TUJ "p-'-N 1?, v . 20) ha s 1.1 5 partl y in vie w (cf . als o 8.17) . Th e occa -
sion fo r Israel' s responsivenes s t o Yahweh' s teaching , an d fo r th e
renunciation o f idolatr y an d th e transformatio n o f nature , i s als o
described i n term s whic h recall th e judgment brought about b y thei r
failure t o hea r i n 1.2-2 0 an d 30.8-17 ; i t i s th e da y whe n Yahwe h
'binds up ' (cnn ; cf. ittb n N 1?, 1.6 ) th e 'shattering ' (-120 ; cf . 30.14 ) o f
his people , an d heal s (HS~I ; cf . 6.10 ) th e bruising caused b y hi s blo w
(ma; cf . 1.6) .

In 17.7-8 , Kin n av s serve s t o define th e contex t o f the reversa l a s th e

judgment describe d i n vv . 4-5. Her e th e emphasi s o n th e decimation
of th e peopl e an d th e solitarines s o f thos e wh o remai n (3...iKtttt )
echoes 1. 8 (3...mrm), an d 30.1 7 Cj...ammj) . I n 30.18-2 6 th e sam e
connection i s equall y reflected i n it s positio n immediatel y followin g
v. 17 . Hence, th e contexts o f 17.7- 8 and 30.18-26, as well a s the con -
clusion o f th e latte r (v . 26), serv e t o connec t th e transformatio n o f
the moti f wit h th e judgment brought about by Israel' s failur e to hea r
in 1.2-2 0 and 30.8-17 . Although 29.22-24 follows another promise o f
salvation, v . 22 likewis e set s th e reversa l agains t Israel' s judgment
through a reference to their earlier sham e (spy oh:r) . Thi s may wel l
be an echo of the consequences of Israel's unresponsivenes s to Yahweh
by seekin g allianc e wit h Egypt in 30.3- 5 (nan , vv. 3, 5; ra^n, 1 v . 5).

The expression s o f the 'C ' for m o f the motif in these passage s there -
fore stan d togethe r almos t a s a poin t b y poin t reversa l o f Israel' s
unresponsiveness as set out by the variou s expression s of the 'A '
motif, wit h 17.7- 8 reversin g 22.8b-14 , 29.22-2 4 reversin g 5.8-24 ,
and 30.18-2 6 reversin g 1.2-2 0 an d especiall y 30.8-17 . Th e trans -
formation i s primaril y predicated o n th e realizatio n o f th e judgmen t

1. Readin g th e qere.
34 Among th e Prophets

visited upon Israel in all its severity a s the consequence o f their failure
to see and to hear, togethe r wit h the change in Israel's attitude that this
brings about and to which Yahweh responds (30.18-19) .

D. Not Hear/See —Know/Understand

Although thi s for m o f th e moti f i s no t clearl y articulated , i t ma y b e
seen t o be presupposed b y a number of passages. The passages whic h
fall int o this categor y ar e as follows:
(1) Isaia h 29.17-21 . A n increas e i n fertilit y (v . 17), together wit h
the judgmen t o f th e wicke d (vv . 20-21), wil l creat e condition s i n
which th e dea f wil l hear (i>&2? ) an d th e blin d wil l se e (n«i) , an d th e
humble an d poor wil l rejoice i n the Holy One of Israel (vv . 18-19).
(2) Isaia h 32.1-8 . Unde r th e just rul e o f a futur e kin g an d roya l
princes (vv. 1-2), the eyes o f those wh o see (D'«-I ) will not be coated, 1
and th e ear s o f thos e wh o hear (o^ati ) wil l hearke n (v . 3), th e ras h
will discer n knowledg e an d th e stammere r wil l spea k clearly , whil e
fools wil l no longe r b e calle d honourabl e (vv. 4-8).
(3) Isaia h 33.17-24 . Israe l wil l see (n«- i / / nm) th e divin e king an d
the lan d i n al l it s exten t an d wil l no t se e (n« n «b ) a peopl e whos e
obscure speec h the y canno t understan d (nrs •pn , vv . 17-19) . Thei r
eyes wil l also se e (n«n) Jerusalem, whos e foundations will be foreve r
secure (vv . 20-21), fo r Yahwe h i s thei r kin g an d wil l sav e the m
(v. 22). At that time , non e will be sic k an d the iniquit y o f th e people
will b e forgive n (v . 24).
(4) Isaia h 35.5-6 . Th e transformatio n o f th e deser t int o a fruitfu l
garden lan d (vv. 1-2, 6b-7) and th e comin g o f Yahwe h i n vengeanc e
to delive r hi s peopl e (vv . 3-4) will lea d t o th e eye s o f th e blin d an d
the ear s o f th e dea f bein g opened , th e lam e jumpin g an d th e dum b
singing fo r jo y (vv . 5-6a) , an d t o th e retur n o f th e peopl e t o Zio n
(vv. 8-10) .

A negative-positiv e polarit y i s mos t clearl y expresse d throug h th e

contrast 'no t see-see' i n 33.17-24 . The statemen t tha t Israel wil l 'no t
see' th e invade r speakin g i n a n unintelligibl e language (nst o ""pa r o r
nro •p N ]^ in? 1?] uiatia , v . 19 ) seems clearl y intende d t o revers e th e
statement i n 28.1 1 that Yahwe h wil l spea k t o Israe l a messag e o f

1. Cf.BHS.
AITKEN Hearing an d Seeing 3 5

judgment throug h the unintelligible speech (mn N p^r n nst o ^D) of

the invader , whic h presupposed th e contras t 'hear-no t understand' .
Further, her e Israel' s 'seeing ' i s les s a matte r o f responsivenes s t o
Yahweh than of their understanding and appropriation o f the salvatio n
and securit y brough t about by Yahweh —an understanding fostered b y
reflection (rwr r -p 1?, v. 18 ) on what they can n o longer see . In relatio n
to 28.1-29 , therefore , 'no t see-see ' i n thes e verse s appear s t o b e
equivalent t o 'not see-understand'.
In 6.9-10 , th e failur e o f hearin g an d seein g t o lea d t o knowledg e
and understandin g (v. 9) was interpreted a s the failur e of ears t o hea r
and o f eye s t o se e throug h a conditio n equatin g wit h deafnes s an d
blindness (v . 10). It is, of course, no t surprising tha t the deaf an d blind
are unabl e t o hea r an d se e (v . 10), but i t i s anomalou s tha t hearin g
and seein g shoul d no t resul t i n knowledg e an d understandin g (v. 9).
Hence, thoug h the statement in 29.18 that the deaf wil l hear an d blind
eyes se e recalls the imagery o f 6.10 (cf. also 29.10) , its collocatio n o f
contradictory term s directl y evokes th e anomaly of 6.9. In relation t o
6.9-10, therefore , th e underlyin g form i n thi s passag e i s likewis e
equivalent to 'not hear/see-know/understand'.
The description of the rash an d stammerers i n 32.4 and of the lame
and dum b i n 35. 6 have th e sam e anomalou s characte r a s th e blin d
seeing an d th e dea f hearin g in 29.18 . Indeed , thi s formulation would
have fitte d wel l into both thes e passages . However , i n 32. 3 and 35.5
the anomal y betwee n th e performance (hear/see ) of what one is inca -
pable o f performin g (deaf/blind ) ha s bee n resolve d i n term s o f th e
removal o f th e disabilit y tha t th e dea f hearin g an d th e blin d seein g
implies — 35.5 stressin g it s remova l an d 32. 3 stressing tha t i t wil l
never agai n afflic t th e people . I n 32. 3 the disabilit y i s referre d t o i n
terms tha t recal l th e 'B ' for m o f th e moti f i n 6.1-1 3 an d 29.9-1 6
(nno TV nrrffl n «b , v. 3; cf . j?ti n TB , 6.10; ii?tt h wtirnffln , 29.9) .
The clos e relatio n betwee n th e three passage s dealin g wit h Israel's
'blindness' is further strengthene d b y a number o f othe r links . Thus ,
29.17-21 an d 32.1- 8 shar e a concer n fo r th e pligh t of th e poo r a t th e
hands of their oppressors, especiall y throug h the perversion o f justice.
This is reinforced b y the repetition o f D^VD N / / D^U an d o f ]i«, an d by
the ech o betwee n -012 and ~ip5£r <i~WN3 used o f false accusation o r evi-
dence (29.19-21 ; 32.6-7) . Similarly , ch . 3 5 i s connecte d bot h wit h
29.17-21 an d 32.1- 8 throug h th e repetition s ^a-i a //pa 1 ? (v . 2 ;
29.17), nnaf c (v . 10; 29.19) , 'r a (vv . 1-2; 29.19); a^-nnn i (v.4 ;
36 Among th e Prophets

32.4), th e roo t nu n i n connectio n wit h 'fool(s) ' (cr'riK , v . 8; 32. 6

Oaj]), an d through the echo betwee n rmm o^m // D^D i3if2 3 (v . 6)
and frca o" 0 tf? s (32.2) .
All fou r passage s presuppos e th e removal of a debilitating circum-
stance o r condition—th e presenc e o f th e invade r i n th e land , o r th e
people's deafness and blindness. The foreign invader is clearly removed
as th e resul t o f Yahweh' s savin g activit y (cf . 33.22) . Tha t Israel' s
condition of blindness and deafness is also removed throug h Yahweh's
saving action is implied b y the use of »»< D i n 32.3 (cf . 6.9-10; 29.9-10)
and by the close association betwee n th e motif an d the transformatio n
of th e natura l orde r i n 35.1- 7 an d 29.17-18 . Hence , th e relatio n
between 'hear/see ' and 'know/understand ' underlying these passages is
theological rathe r tha n didacti c i n character . I n thi s respec t i t con -
forms t o 'B ' for m o f th e motif . Lik e th e 'C ' motif , however , i t
belongs withi n the context o f Israel's salvation .

The Third Transformation

Once again, the theological characte r of the relation between the term s
in th e 'D ' for m of the motif in 29.17-21, 32.1-8 , 33.17-24 an d 35.5-6
suggests that it is a transformation of the 'B' form in 6.1-13, 28.1-29
and 29.9-16 , an d tha t onc e agai n i t form s par t o f th e large r trans -
formation fro m judgmen t t o salvation . Th e parallel s tha t hav e jus t
been observe d betwee n these forms of the motif serve t o confirm this ,
in particula r th e reversal o f the motif i n 6.9-10 (cf . 29.9-11 ) through
the removal o f Israel's deafness and blindness, and in 28.9-13 through
the removal o f the foreig n invade r from th e land.
Alongside an d reinforcin g these reversals , ther e ar e a numbe r of
verbal and thematic element s in these passages that reflect th e predi -
cation of the 'B' for m of the motif on the 'A' form, both as a paradigm
(6.1-13) and as a n application o f thi s paradigm t o th e Assyrian crisi s
(28.1-29; 29.9-16) .

A. Reversal of the Paradigm

(1) The statemen t i n 33.1 7 tha t Israel's eye s wil l se e (n« n //mn ) th e
king echoe s Isaiah' s visio n (ntn) of the divin e king in 6.1-7. Just as
Isaiah's vision le d to the forgiveness (IEO ) of his iniquity (pi?) , so too
Israel's iniquity (pi?) will now b e forgiven (KJBJ , v . 24). Thi s referenc e
to Israel's iniquity, however, also directly recalls th e statements o f the
AITKEN Hearing and Seeing 3 7

people's sinfulnes s (}w) i n 1. 4 an d 5.18 . Similarly, th e paralle l

expression TP^n..."IEN^ D i n v . 24 recalls th e afflictio n C^n ) of Israe l
in 1.5- 6 as a consequence o f thei r iniquity , togethe r wit h the healin g
(«D~I) denie d t o Israe l i n 6.10 . Verses 1 7 an d 2 4 therefor e for m
something o f a thematic inclusio, together evoking th e earlier contrast
between a sinful an d unresponsive people (1.2-20 ; 5.8-24 ) an d a sinfu l
but responsiv e prophe t (6.1-7) , but as one which wil l no longer exist .
Thereby Isaiah' s visio n also becomes th e model of what Israel wil l no
longer lac k an d what will therefore n o longer be denied t o them.
(2) This paradigmatic aspect o f Isaiah's visio n in relation to Israel's
salvation i s furthe r reflecte d i n th e descriptio n o f th e wa y t o Zio n
(35.8) a s a 'wa y of holiness' (tonp ) along which none who are unclean
(KSE) will pass.1 As we have seen, Isaiah' s confessio n o f his own an d
Israel's uncleannes s (KM ) i n 6. 5 i n respons e t o th e declaratio n o f
Yahweh's holiness (ffinp , 6.3 ) serves t o reinforce th e contrast betwee n
the prophet wh o see s an d hears an d i s cleansed fro m hi s sin , and th e
people wh o refus e t o se e an d hea r th e wor d an d wor k o f th e Hol y
(wnp) On e of Israe l (1.4 ; 5.19, 24), and wh o remai n unclea n (cf.
1.16). Thi s contras t too will exist no longer .
(3) A reversa l o f Israel' s sinfu l conditio n a s manifeste d i n thei r
religious lif e i s implie d throug h th e descriptio n o f Zio n i n 33.2 0 a s
the cit y of 'ou r appointe d feasts' (ininQ) . This recall s th e condemna-
tion o f Israel's worship in 1.11-1 5 (cf. oaniJio, v. 14). 2
(4) Similarly, a reversal i n the sinfu l characte r o f Israel's socia l lif e
is implie d throug h th e annihilatio n of thos e wh o perver t justic e i n
29.21 (cf . 33.7). Thi s echoe s th e condemnatio n o f th e perversio n o f
justice i n 5.23 (cf. 1.17) through the repetition o f pnx an d the ech o
between m« nocDnf a (29.21 ) an d iron 'p'-re a (5.23) .

B. Reversal o f it s Application t o the Assyrian Crisis

(1) The expectation o f a king and princes who would rale justly (32.1-
8) stands i n contras t to th e condemnatio n of Israel's rulers i n 28.1-4 ,
14-22. Thi s contras t i s alread y anticipate d b y 28.5 , which momen -
tarily look s forwar d to the tim e whe n Yahweh woul d be a 'spiri t of
justice' t o those responsibl e for discharging it . As against the present

1. Withi n chs . 1-39 th e root Kno is otherwise found only in 30.22, where it is
used of Israel defiling their idols.
2. Withi n chs . 1-3 9 th e word i s found onl y i n 14.13 , referring t o the divine
38 Among the Prophets

rulers wh o falsely claimed t o have a protective shelte r (ino ) from the

destructive stor m water s (D't a //ma , 28.17 ; cf . T O DIT , v . 2), th e
future kin g an d prince s wil l b e a shelte r fro m th e stor m (D~I T ~ino) ,
and wil l be lik e life-givin g waters (ova , v . 2). Henc e th e reversa l o f
the motif i n 32. 3 goe s togethe r wit h a reversal in th e corrupt charac -
ter o f Israel' s leaders , an d a reversal i n th e prospects fo r th e securit y
of th e people .
(2) Th e reversa l i n th e prospect s fo r Zion' s securit y i s als o se t
alongside th e reversa l o f th e moti f i n 33.17-2 4 i n term s whic h recal l
the fat e o f Zio n unde r Israel' s ruler s i n 28.17b-18 . Thus , i n 33.2 1
Zion's securit y is described throug h the metaphorica l expressio n tha t
no galle y shi p (^ / / C^UT^N ) woul d pas s ove r (nai ? / / -j^n) it s broa d
rivers, whic h contrasts wit h the 'overwhelmin g whip ' (epir c aira ) that
would pas s ove r ("Oi O th e natio n in judgment, and tha t would swee p
away thei r false refuge (28.15, 17b-18) .
(3) Th e characterizatio n o f th e wicke d foo l i n 32.6- 8 reflect s th e
dual concern o f vv. 1- 2 with the establishment of socia l justice an d of
national securit y unde r th e ne w rulers . Th e firs t o f thes e theme s i s
dealt wit h i n vv . 7-8 (cf . above ) an d th e secon d i n v . 6. Her e th e
expressions 'd o what is ungodly' (*p n mfoi? 1?) an d 'spea k error (nmn )
concerning Yahweh ' ech o th e implementation of th e pla n (nxv mfcr 1?)
of allianc e wit h Egypt without reference to Go d (30.1) , togethe r wit h
the drunke n priests an d prophet s (-lOtarr p ii?n ) who 'er r in vision ' (1)0
nico, 28.7) , an d who were spokesmen fo r the alliance. That th e fool s
will be recognized fo r what they are implies that they will be punished
accordingly. Similarly , althoug h primaril y concerne d wit h th e per -
version o f justice, the parallel referenc e i n 29.20 to the annihilation of
scoffers ( ^ n 1^) recalls th e description of Israel's rulers a s yiJr t ^N
in 28.1 4 an d th e correspondin g threa t nb:r <>:)...i^iit?nrr'7« i n 28.22 .
Taken together , thes e passage s impl y in their differen t way s that thos e
who promot e suc h politica l course s o f actio n a s thos e pursue d b y
Israel's ruler s an d encourage d b y thei r priest s an d prophet s wil l b e
rooted out . Thu s no t onl y is th e wa y i n 35. 8 a 'hol y way ' whic h th e
unclean wil l not pas s over , bu t i t i s als o on e i n whic h fools wil l no t
err (liJrr) .
(4) Finally, as against the abandonmen t of the people t o the revelr y
(nnraiai poto ) o f thei r drunke n feasts instea d o f th e lamen t t o whic h
Yahweh ha d bee n summonin g the m throug h th e Assyria n threa t
(22.12-13), those wh o pass ove r t o Zion wil l do so with 'gladnes s and
AITKEN Hearing an d Seeing 3 9

joy' (nnnio i pfafo , 35.9), 1 fear and sighin g having passed away.

With th e exceptio n o f 29.17-21 , thes e reversal s ar e se t withi n th e

context of Yahweh' s vindication of Zion throug h his judgment o n th e
foreign nation(s) . Thus , 32.1- 8 follow s a n oracl e o f doo m upo n th e
Assyrians (31.8-9) ; 33.17-2 4 centre s o n th e absenc e o f th e invade r
from th e land, and falls within the general contex t o f Yahweh's salva -
tion o f Zio n throug h th e destructio n o f th e destroyer , whil e ch . 3 5
follows a n oracle o f doom agains t the nations in general an d Edom in
particular (ch . 34) , describe d a s the day of Yahweh's vengeanc e (opi ,
v. 8 ) fo r th e caus e o f Zion . Thi s connectio n i s reinforce d b y th e
reference t o Yahwe h comin g wit h vengeanc e (op3 ) i n 35.4 , whic h
forms th e immediate contex t for the removal o f the people's blindness
and deafnes s i n v . 5. I n 29.17-2 1 th e transformatio n of Lebano n pro -
vides th e occasion fo r th e removal o f Israel's disabilities. I n th e light
of th e witherin g o f Lebano n i n 33.9 , however , thi s to o ma y pre -
suppose Yahweh's vindication of Zion.

These expression s o f th e 'D ' for m o f th e moti f therefor e stan d

together no t only as a reversal o f the 'B ' form , but also a s a reversa l
of th e sinfu l conditio n o f Israe l an d it s politica l an d religious leader -
ship through which Israel's failure t o hear and see was manifested and
The *D ' an d th e 'C ' form s of th e motif therefore vie w Israel' s res -
ponsiveness t o Yahwe h fro m tw o different , bu t largel y complemen -
tary, perspectives . A s a transformatio n o f th e 'A ' for m wit h it s
didactic character , th e passages whic h express th e 'C' for m appropri -
ately centr e o n th e chang e i n Israel' s attitud e which results fro m th e
extremity o f th e judgmen t an d whic h lead s th e peopl e t o tur n t o
Yahweh an d t o accept instruction . In these passages the emphasis fall s
on the fact o f Israel's responsiveness, wit h th e motif formin g the main
subject matte r o f th e passage. 2 B y contrast, as a transformation of th e
'B' for m wit h it s theologica l characte r an d it s sealin g o f Israel' s
judgment, th e passage s whic h expres s th e 5 D' for m appropriatel y
centre o n th e chang e i n th e condition s which ha d i n par t manifested
and i n part encourage d Israel' s failur e to hear an d see , togethe r wit h

1. Thes e ar e the only two occurrences of the phrase in chs. 1-39 .

2. Eve n in 30.18-26, where its redemptive context is most elaborated, the motif
itself is detailed at some length.
40 Among the Prophets
the consequences of these changes for the futur e prospect s o f Zion. In
these passages th e motif invariably appears as one among a variety of
thematic element s tha t describ e th e transformatio n of Zio n an d it s
inhabitants, with the emphasis no w falling on the miracle of the trans-
formation o f which Israel's responsiveness is part.

This examination o f the motif took as its starting-point th e assumptio n
that th e various forms of the motif in Isaia h 1-3 9 togethe r forme d an
integrated structur e centred on the se t of four possibl e relation s when
positive and negative values are given to the terms hearing/seeing an d
knowing/understanding. The rhetorical an d thematic interconnections
that hav e been observe d betwee n passage s whic h express th e sam e
form o f th e motif , an d betwee n passage s whic h expres s differen t
forms o f th e motif , serv e t o realiz e thi s structur e an d t o specif y th e
relations an d th e transformation s between th e differen t form s of th e
motif. Thus:
1. Th e forms fall int o two contrasting pairs, one concerned wit h
Israel's lack of knowledge within the context of judgment (A,
B), an d th e othe r concerne d wit h Israel' s attainmen t o f
knowledge within the context of salvation (C, D).
2. Withi n th e firs t pair , a didacti c for m o f th e moti f (A )
presents Israel' s lac k o f knowledg e a s th e consequenc e o f
their pervers e failur e t o hea r (1.2-20 ; 30.8-17 ) an d t o se e
(5.8-24; 22.8b-14) , a failure manifested in the people's moral ,
social an d religious lif e (1.2-20 ; 5.8-24 ) a s wel l a s i n thei r
political lif e durin g the period o f the Assyrian crisis (22.8b -
14; 30.8-17).
3. Predicate d on this failure an d its manifestations, this didactic
form i s transformed int o a theological form (B) whereby, i n
accordance wit h the divine purpose of securing Israel's judg-
ment, hearing and seeing wil l now no longer result in knowl-
edge. Thi s transformatio n is likewis e expressed a t a mor e
programmatic leve l (6.1-13 ) an d i n relation t o th e Assyrian
crisis (28.1-29 ; 29.9-16).
4. Withi n the second pair , Israel's lack of responsiveness (A ) is
transformed throug h a corresponding didactic for m (C ) with
respect bot h t o thei r failur e to hea r (30.18-26 ) an d t o thei r
AlTKEN Hearing and Seeing 4 1

failure t o se e (17.7-8 ; 29.22-24) , thereb y resultin g i n th e

attainment of understanding.
5. Israel' s inabilit y t o attai n knowledg e an d understanding
through hearin g an d seein g (B ) i s likewis e transforme d b y
means o f a corresponding theologica l for m (D ) whereby , in
accordance no w wit h th e divin e purpos e fo r Israel' s salva -
tion, th e disabilitie s whic h had prevente d knowledg e an d
sealed Israel's judgment are removed, and the sinful conditio n
of Israel and its political an d religious leadershi p upo n which
these disabilitie s were predicated is reversed (29.17-21 ; 32.1-
8; 33.17-24; 35.5-6).
ON um esdsiN ISAIA H 8.6*

Marvin A. Sweeney

Based o n a discussio n o f its grammatica l problems , its textua l witnesse s an d it s
relationship t o Isa. 66.10-14, this pape r argues tha t unfsos i n Isa. 8.6 must no t be
emended. Whe n rea d i n th e contex t o f th e sexua l imager y of Isa. 8.5-8, um esos
expresses Judah's willingnes s t o submi t to the Syro-Ephraimiti c coalition . I t also
establishes a link between Proto - and Trito-Isaiah.

The appearanc e o f th e Hebre w ter m um esos i n Isa . 8.6 ha s lon g

constituted a difficul t exegetica l crux . In its present form, the ter m is
a combinatio n of a conjunctiv e waw wit h th e construc t form o f th e
mem-preformative nou n masos, which means 'exultation' or 'rejoicing' .
Unfortunately, a nou n makes little sense in th e present context in tha t
the following clause , 'et-i^sin uben-^malydhu, 'Rezi n and th e so n of
Remaliah', begins with th e direct object particl e 'et-, whic h normally
requires a n anteceden t verb . Th e fac t tha t masos appears i n it s con-
struct for m onl y complicates the issue, since a genitive noun does no t
appear afte r um esos. Consequently , a verba l for m paralle l t o ma'as
ha'am hazzeh, 'thi s people ha s rejected', woul d bes t fi t thi s passage .
Because o f th e problem s pose d b y th e vers e i n it s presen t form ,
umesos i s frequentl y understoo d a s a verba l nou n an d 'et- a s th e
preposition 'with ' s o that the verse literally means 'and rejoicin g wit h
Rezin an d th e so n o f Remaliah ' (cf . Irvine 1990 : 185). But thi s

* Thi s is a slightly revised versio n o f a paper rea d at the Southeastern Regiona l

Meeting o f the Society of Biblical Literature , Atlanta , March 15-17,1991. 1 would
like to thank the Yad Hanadiv/Barecha Foundation which provided th e funds for my
1989-90 sabbatical a t the Hebrew Universit y of Jerusalem wher e th e research fo r
this paper was completed.
SWEENEY O n um eso^ in Isaiah 8.6 4 3

rendering is awkward and continues to provoke attempts to explain or

emend the unusual form of the verse.
On th e othe r hand , prio r attempt s t o resolv e th e proble m b y
explaining th e grammatica l form of um esos a s a verba l nou n o r b y
emending th e passage have hardly proved satisfactory. Afte r surveyin g
these attempts and the readings of the ancien t versions, this paper wil l
propose a new solutio n t o the problem base d o n th e results o f recen t
research concernin g th e emergenc e o f th e fina l for m o f th e boo k o f
Isaiah i n th e lat e fift h century . It wil l argue tha t Isa . 8. 6 originally
contained th e reading unfsos 'et-, on the basis of the interpretation o f
the passag e presuppose d i n Isa . 66.10-14 , whic h employs simila r
vocabulary an d theme s t o describe th e rejoicing of Jerusalem and th e
inflowing glory of the nations following the defeat of YHWH's enemies .

An attemp t to interpret unfsos a s a verbal noun appears as early as the
late thirteenth/earl y fourteent h centur y i n th e commentar y o f
R. David Kimhi . Commenting on the phrase um esos 'et-r^sin, he say s
that 'the y (i.e . man y i n Juda h an d Jerusalem ) wil l b e exultin g an d
rejoicing wit h the m (i.e . Rezi n an d be n Remaliah ) i f the y wil l b e
ruling i n Jerusalem ' (Finkelstei n 1926 : 55) . H e furthe r state s tha t
nfsos i s in th e construct state wit h 'et-, but h e does no t explai n ho w
'et- i s t o b e understood . Kimh i was followe d by W . Gesenius, wh o
argues tha t m esos i s a verba l nou n use d poeticall y a s a finit e ver b
(1821: 332) . Geseniu s claim s tha t th e ver b su s stand s her e wit h th e
accusative as in Isa. 35.1. He further say s that m'sos i s in the construct
state becaus e o f the following prepositio n and cites tfsimha t baqqasir
in Isa. 9. 2 as a supporting example (1821: 333). Bu t this interpretation
must be rejected. Althoug h the verb sus is commonly followe d b y th e
preposition 'al (Deut . 28.63 ; 30.9 ; Isa . 62.5 ; Jer . 32.41 ; Zeph . 3.17 ;
Ps. 119.162 ) o r be (Isa . 61.10 ; 65.19 ; Pss . 19.6 ; 35.9 ; 40.17 ; 68.4 ;
70.5; 119.14 ; Jo b 39.21) , i t neve r appear s wit h th e direc t objec t
preposition 'et. The onl y other exampl e o f a construct for m followe d
by a direct objec t pronou n appear s i n Jer. 33.22 , m esarete 'oti, 'those
who minister t o me', but this reading is problematic an d frequently is
emended (cf . BBS note; Rudolph 1968: 218 ; Holladay 1989: 227) .
Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar attempts a different approac h by iden-
tifying this phrase as an example of the use of the construct state before
44 Among the Prophets

the preposition 'et, 'with ' (1983 : §130a), but such a construction doe s
not appear elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. Barthelemy et al. (1986: 50)
attempt to revive this understanding by pointing to the use of the sam e
root wit h the preposition 'et, 'with' , in Isa. 66.10. Unfortunately, the
phrase reads , sisu 'ittah masos, 'exul t wit h her (in ) exultation' . Thi s
indicates the use o f th e preposition following the verba l form , bu t i t
also indicate s tha t a nomina l constructio n woul d b e unusual .
Furthermore, th e us e o f th e direc t objec t prepositio n 'et i n paralle l
statements in Isa. 8.6 a an d twice in Isa. 8.7 a suggest s tha t 'et shoul d
not be understood as 'with' in Isa. 8.6b, but as the direct objec t marker .
The most commonly accepted solutio n to this problem is t o emend
the tex t fro m um esos t o umasds (cf . Procksc h 1930 : 131 , 133 ;
Wildberger 1972 : 321 ; Clement s 1980 : 96 ; Kaise r 1983 : 183) . Thi s
proposal wa s originally made by Hitzig (1833: 98-99), who notes th e
difficulties pertainin g to the phrase um esds 'et and argues that a scriba l
misreading o f si n fo r samek resulte d i n th e chang e o f um esos t o
umesos, 'and dissolving'. This emendation presupposes th e appearanc e
of the term kimsos in Isa. 10.1 8 and combines a conjunctive waw with
the infinitive absolut e form of the verb mss, 'to dissolve, melt'. Hitzig
argues that the accusative 'et appears i n place of the expected mipp ene,
'because of, and cites the use of 'rs in Job 31.34 as an example o f this
implicit us e o f an accusative construction. In th e present context , th e
phrase i s interprete d a s a referenc e t o th e people' s 'dissolving ' o r
'melting' i n fear o f Rezin and the so n of Remaliah as in the RS V trans-
lation, 'Becaus e thi s peopl e hav e refuse d th e water s o f Shiloa h tha t
flow gently and melt in fear before Rezin and the son of Remaliah'.
Bredenkamp (1887:49) likewise emends unfsos t o umesds, but main-
tains tha t the infinitiv e absolut e form function s i n a n adverbia l sens e
(e.g. 'an d gently' ) tha t modifie s 'th e water s tha t flo w slowl y (and
gently)'. He argues that 'et means 'coram,praesente\ indicatin g that
'thispeople rejected th e th e face of (i.e . becaus e of ) Rezin
and ben Remaliah'. Giesebrecht (1888: 225-29) follow s Bredenkamp's
infinitive absolut e rendering but retains the consonantal text as umasds
(i.e. 'th e water s tha t flo w slowl y and exultantly') . H e consequently
deletes th e las t fou r word s of v. 6b as a gloss. Finally, Duh m (1892;
cf. 1914 : 57 ) combine s th e solution s of Hitzi g and Bredenkam p b y
emending um esos to the perfect verbal form masas and arguing that 'et
entered th e tex t i n place o f the original min a s a result o f the scriba l
SWEENEY O n um cs'6s in Isaiah 8.6 4 5

error tha t produced unfsos (cf . Marti 1900 : 84). l

But the emendation of unfsos t o various forms of ms s als o present s
problems (Fullerto n 1924 : 265-67) . Chief amon g the m i s tha t i t does
not properl y account for the following 'et. The ver b masos in the sense
of 'despair ' commonl y requires the cause o f despair t o be introduced
by millipne (Ps . 97.5), mipp ene (Josh . 5.1; Mic. 1.4 ; Ps. 68.3) o r mm
(Isa. 34.3). Attempts to emend 'et- to mipp ene or millipne (Mart i 1900 :
84), min (Duh m 1914: 57 ) or miss'et (Budd e 1926 : 65-67 ; Wildberger
1972: 321 ) lac k a firm textual basi s an d mus t be rejected . Likewise ,
Hitzig's an d Bredenkamp' s attempt s t o rende r 'et- i n thi s sens e ar e
somewhat forced . Furthermore , th e suggestio n tha t umasos ca n be
understood in an adverbial sense parallel to le'at and that the clause 'et-
r*sin uben-^malyahu i s a glos s (Giesebrech t 1888 : 227-29 ; cf . BHS
note; Procksc h 1930 : 131 , 133 ; Clement s 1980 : 96 ) i s als o unsatis -
factory fo r a numbe r o f reasons . Thes e includ e th e grammatica l
difficulties o f reading th e infinitiv e umasos i n a n adverbia l sens e an d
the unlikel y hypothesi s tha t th e glossato r woul d hav e equate d th e
waters of Shiloah with Rezin and the son of Remaliah (Fullerton 1924 :
267-68). Likewise , Fullerton' s suggestion to rejec t al l o f v . 6b a s a
gloss doe s no t satisfactoril y accoun t fo r th e suppose d glossator' s
choice o f th e peculia r for m um es'os o r eve n th e emende d umasos
(Fullerton 1924 : 269-70) .
Finally, Schroeder's attempt to claim that um esos is a gloss o n fsm
merely avoid s th e issu e (Schroede r 1912 : 301-302 ) an d result s i n a
statement that condemns the people fo r rejecting Rezin and the so n of
Remaliah, which makes little sense in vie w o f Isaiah' s condemnation
of thes e ruler s (Isa. 7.1-9 ; cf . 17.1-6) . Likewise , Klein's explanation
that the grammatica l difficultie s o f this verse represent Isaiah' s poeti c
license sidestep s th e problem , despit e hi s attractiv e interpretatio n o f
the vers e i n relatio n t o v . 7 an d hi s cogen t observation s abou t th e
parallel o f m a 'as e t and unfsos 'et (Klei n 1980) .

1. Cf . Lindblom (1958: 44), wh o emends utrfsos t o umasos an d renders 'et a s

the prepositio n 'with' , so tha t the passage refer s to 'thi s people ' whic h 'dissolves
together wit h Rezi n an d th e so n o f Remaliah' . Althoug h Lindblom' s suggestio n
accounts fo r 'et, the emendation of unfsos t o umasos present s problem s i n that
textual evidence for the emendation is entirely lacking. For an analysis of the textual
versions, see below.
46 Among the Prophets

Any attemp t t o resolv e th e problem s pose d b y Isa . 8. 6 mus t tak e
account o f th e ancien t textual versions o f thi s passage. A surve y of
these text s indicate s tha t ther e i s n o suppor t fo r a n emendatio n o f
umesos to umdsos o r any other expression base d o n the roo t mss. Nor
is there evidenc e for th e deletion o f v. 6b as a gloss. It does indicate ,
however, that each versio n employs a verbal for m in place o f unfsos.
The fac t tha t each ver b i s based o n the Hebre w roo t sws/sys an d tha t
the verba l form s var y amon g th e translation s suggest s tha t eac h
version presuppose s th e reading um esos an d attempt s t o rende r i t i n a
verbal sense .
The text of IQIsa 3 reads Isa. 8.6 as y'n ky' m's h'm hzh ' t my hswlh
hhwlkym I'wt wmsys 't rsyn w't bn (rm)l(y)h (Treve r 1972 : 28-29) ,
'Because this people ha s rejected th e waters of the one who sends (i.e .
YHWH) which run gently and causes Rezin and the son of Remaliah t o
rejoice'. Althoug h the original editors o f this manuscript read wmsws
(Burrows, Treve r an d Brownle e 1950 : pi . vii) , a close r examinatio n
of th e photograph indicates that the correct reading is wmsys, a hiphi l
masculine singula r participle based o n th e ver b roo t s'ws, 't o exult ,
rejoice', combine d with conjunctiv e waw. 1 The use of the hiphil form
of this verb accords well with the following 'et. In the present context,
it refer s t o th e people' s rejectio n o f th e water s o f Shiloa h (o r i n
accordance wit h lQIsa a, hassoleah, 'the one who sends', i.e YHWH) as
the cause for Rezin's and the son of Remaliah's rejoicing. Nevertheless ,
this reading does no t appear t o reflect th e 'original ' tex t of Isa. 8. 6 but
the Qumran scribe' s attemp t to interpret the passage. Th e introduction
of th e extr a direc t objec t particl e w' t befor e b n (rm}l(y}h (cf . MT :
uben-^malyahu) suggest s th e scribe' s attemp t to suppor t th e verba l
rendering o f a n original wmsws as wmsys. That the scribe wa s willing
to take liberties wit h this text is evident from th e rendering of 'et m e
hassildah, 'th e waters o f Shiloah', a s 't my hswlh, 'th e water s o f th e
one who sends'. This is a reference t o YHWH who elsewhere i n Isaia h

1. Thi s is indicated by the sharply angled hook shape of the letter in question,
similar to the yotfs o f my, hhwlkym, an d rsyn fro m th e same line in the manuscript.
Like these yocTs, the letter is much shorter than the waw that appears at the begin-
ning of the word as well as those of hswlh, hhwlkym, I'wt, and w 't (cf . Barthdlemy
etal. 1986:49).
SWEENEY O n um esos in Isaiah 8.6 4 7

is portrayed a s the one who sends ' a word' against Jacob (Isa, 9.7) and
sends Assyri a against Israel (Isa . 10.6) .
Targum Jonatha n read s h e lap degas 'ama' haden b emalkuta' d*bet
dawid dimdab era' l ehon bindh k eme siloha' d enagedm binah yf'itfi'u
birsin ubar fmalja (Sperbe r 1962 : 16) , 'Becaus e this people loathed
the kingdo m o f th e hous e o f Davi d whic h le d the m gentl y lik e th e
waters o f Shiloa h whic h flow gently and preferred Rezi n an d th e so n
of Remaliah' . Again, the choice o f the verb w e'itre'i'u, 'and they pre -
ferred', demonstrate s tha t um esos stands behind this text. The Aramaic
verb r' y mean s 't o desire, tak e deligh t in' . I n its present ithpea l per -
fect form , it means 'an d they delighted in ' o r 'an d the y chose', which
demonstrates th e translator's attemp t to render th e disputed expressio n
as a verba l for m i n reference t o th e people's preferenc e o f Rezin and
the son of Remaliah ove r th e Davidic dynasty.
The LX X reads di a t o m e boulesthai to n laon touton t o hudor tou
siloam to poreuomenon hesuchei alia boulesthai echein ton Raasson kai
ton huion Romeliou basilea eph' humon (Ziegle r 1967 : 150) , 'Becaus e
this peopl e di d no t wan t th e wate r o f Siloa m whic h goe s gentl y bu t
wanted t o have Rezin and the son of Remaliah as king over you' . Th e
use of the expression boulesthai echein... basilea eph' humon, 'wante d
to king over you', corresponds t o a verbal understanding of
umesos, bu t th e translator' s understandin g o f th e conjugatio n i s
ambiguous. I t could be hiphil in that the people's choice o f Rezin and
the so n o f Remalia h a s thei r ruler s woul d certainl y caus e Rezi n an d
the so n o f Remalia h t o rejoice . Afte r all , thei r attac k agains t Juda h
during th e Syro-Ephraimiti c Wa r wa s designe d t o gai n the m contro l
of th e Davidi c throne , insofa r a s i t wa s a n attemp t t o remov e th e
ruling Davidi c monarc h an d replac e hi m wit h a certai n be n Tabee l
(Isa. 7.1-6) . O n th e othe r hand , the Gree k expression ma y reflec t a n
understanding o f um esos as 'deligh t in' o r 'choose ' a s represented b y
Targum Jonathan . Unfortunately, th e us e o f th e infinitiv e boulesthai
gives n o indicatio n o f th e conjugatio n o f th e verb s i n th e Hebre w
Vorlage, bu t th e us e o f m e boulesthai/boulesthai, 'di d no t want /
wanted', indicate s th e translator' s attemp t t o associat e ma'as and
umesds a s paralle l verba l form s tha t wer e relate d b y assonance . Th e
appearance o f eph' humon, 'over you' , merely reflect s th e translator' s
attempt t o harmoniz e th e third-perso n pronoun s referrin g t o th e
people in the Hebrew tex t o f vv. 6- 8 with the second-person pronou n
applied t o Emmanuel a t the end o f v. 8.
48 Among the Prophets

The Vulgat e read s pr o e o quod abiecit populus iste aquas Siloae

quae vadunt cum silentio et adsumpsit magis Rasin etfilium Romeliae
(Weber 1975 : 1104) , 'i n vie w o f th e fac t tha t thi s peopl e lef t th e
waters of Shiloah which run silently and stood by Resin and the son of
Remaliah instead'. Like LXX , the use of adsumpsit magis, 'stoo d by...
instead', indicate s the translator' s attemp t to render a verba l expres -
sion based o n um esos, but i t give s n o clu e a s t o ho w th e translato r
would have conceived the conjugation of this expression.
Finally, th e Peshitta read s 7 d'slyw 'm' hn ' my' dsylwh' drdyn
bsly' whdyw brsn wbbr rwmly' (Broc k 1987 : 14) , 'Becaus e thi s
people rejecte d th e water s o f Shiloa h whic h ru n securel y an d hav e
rejoiced i n Rezi n and th e so n o f Remaliah'. The us e o f whdyw indi -
cates a n attemp t t o rende r th e dispute d expression as a verba l state -
ment, bu t th e us e o f th e pea l perfec t for m o f th e ver b instea d o f th e
aphal participle indicate s that the translator had unfsds'm th e Vorlage.

The preceding survey s of prior scholarship on Isa. 8.6 and the ancient
textual version s establis h tw o basi c points . First , th e presenc e o f
umesos i n thi s vers e present s difficul t grammatica l an d syntactical
problems tha t prior attempts to explain the form or t o emen d i t hav e
failed t o resolve. Secondly , the ancient textual versions uniformly pre -
suppose th e term um esos, but render it as a verbal expression base d o n
the roo t s'ws/sys fro m whic h um esos i s derived . Obviously , thes e
points indicat e the need t o present a new solutio n for th e problem o f
the appearance o f um esos i n Isa . 8.6 . Furthermore , the y demonstrat e
that any proposed solution must explain th e presence o f um esos i n th e
present for m o f the verse .
The versions poin t t o a potential solutio n by positing a hiphil form
of th e ver b s'ws/sys. Thi s i s especiall y clea r i n lQIsa a, whic h read s
umesis, and Targum Jonathan and Peshitta which employ reading s tha t
would bes t b e rendere d i n Hebre w b y th e waw-consecutiv e hiphil
imperfect wayyasisu (cf . LXX and Vulgate) . Nevertheless , althoug h
each o f thes e reading s offer s certai n advantages , neithe r i s entirel y
The readin g um esos take s ha'dm hazieh, 'thi s people' , fro m th e
beginning of the verse a s its subject and provides a parallel base d on
assonance fo r th e initia l ver b m's, 'reject' . I t als o form s a n appro -
SWEENEY O n um esos in Isaiah 8.6 4 9

priate antecedent fo r the following direct objec t particl e an d provide s

a syntactica l parallel wit h v . 7, whic h employs th e participia l for m
ma'aleh, 'raise s up' , a s th e anteceden t fo r tw o objec t clause s intro -
duced by 'et. But the participial form of umesis presents a problem i n
that i t i s a n unlikel y syntactica l parallel fo r th e perfec t ver b ma'as,
which introduce s the verse . Rather , the participia l for m o f umesis i n
IQIsa3 appears t o be derived fro m th e following ma' aleh i n v . 7 an d
the preceding hahol ekim i n v . 6a.
The reading s w e'itr£'i'u i n Targu m Jonatha n an d whdyw i n th e
Peshitta both appear t o presuppose th e waw-consecutive hiphil imper -
fect plura l form wayyasisu, althoug h the verb does no t appear t o be in
the Vorlage o f either version . Suc h a form would provide a n appro -
priate antecedent for the direct object particle in v . 6b, but th e change
in numbe r conflict s with the singula r formation of th e ver b ma'as in
v. 6a an d it s grammaticall y singular subject ha'dm. Th e proble m
could b e solve d by positing th e singula r for m wayyasis fo r Isa . 8.6 ,
but th e form yasis appears elsewher e in th e Hebrew Bible only in th e
qal conjugatio n (Deut . 28.63 ; Isa . 62.5; Zeph. 3.17 ; Ps. 19.6 ; Job
39.21). Th e 3m s imperfec t hiphil form o f s'ws/sys i s identica l t o th e
3ms imperfec t qa l form , bu t th e hiphi l form o f th e ver b i s atteste d
only i n Rabbini c and Qumra n Hebrew , and ther e onl y occasionally
(cf. Jastrow 1967:1542-43). Consequently, wayyasis woul d be the only
hiphil for m o f th e ver b in th e entir e Hebrew Bible . Althoug h such a
solution is not impossible, the absence o f other hiphil forms of sws/sys
undermines its credibility.
This mean s that there i s no secure alternativ e to the reading um esos
in Isa . 8.6. But a solutio n to th e proble m ma y appea r i n relatio n t o
recent researc h concernin g the emergence of the final form of the boo k
of Isaiah , especiall y insofa r a s man y text s i n Trito-Isaia h appea r t o
develop theme s and readings that are present in First or Second Isaia h
(Odeberg 1931 : 62-74, 94 ; Lac k 1973 ; Childs 1979 ; Brueggemann
1984; Rendtorf f 1984 ; Rendtorff 1989 ; Beuken 1986 ; Beuken 1989;
Sweeney 1988 ; Vermeylen 1989 ; Steck 1989 ; cf. Clement s 1982;
Clements 1985) . Isa . 66.10-14 is particularly significant in this regar d
in tha t it contain s several importan t lexical an d thematic association s
with Isa . 8.6-8. Isa . 66.10-11 call s fo r rejoicin g wit h th e restore d
Jerusalem, her e portraye d a s a mothe r wit h sucklin g infant s a t he r
breast. Verse s 12-1 4 convey YHWH's promise t o extend the 'glor y of
the nations ' (If bo d goyim; cf. w e'et-kol-kebodo i n Isa . 8.7) over he r
50 Among th e Prophets

'like a river of peace and like an overflowing stream' (Jfnahar salom

ulfnahal sotep', cf . Isa. 8.8 on satap). I t woul d appea r tha t th e autho r
of Isa . 66.10-14 intended t o present thi s text a s the ultimate fulfilmen t
for YHWH' s pledge t o inundate th e people wit h the 'river ' (nahar) o f
the king of Assyria 'an d all his glory' (w e'et-kol-ffbodd) i n Isa. 8.6-8 .
Not onl y doe s Isa . 66.10-1 4 present a thematic an d lexica l corres -
pondence t o Isa. 8.6-8 , it also ha s a bearing o n the reading um esos in
Isa. 8.6 . Isa . 66.10b a read s sisu 'ittah masos, 'rejoic e wit h he r (in )
exultation'. Thi s readin g i s especiall y significan t fo r understandin g
unfsos i n Isa. 8.6 . No t onl y does Isa. 66. 1 Ob contain th e noun masos,
but i t als o include s th e phras e sisu 'ittah, 'rejoic e wit h her' . Thi s
phrase represent s th e onl y text in the Hebrew Bibl e in whic h the ver b
sws/sys take s 'et, 'with' , indicatin g an indirec t object. Th e readin g i s
all th e more remarkabl e i n tha t the preceding phras e i n v. lOa , simhu
'et-yerusalayim w egilu bah, 'rejoic e wit h Jerusalem an d celebrate with
her', likewise contains the only instance in the Hebrew Bibl e in which
the qa l for m o f th e ver b smh i s followe d b y 'et. Inasmuc h a s Isa .
66.10-14 appears t o be derived fro m Isa . 8.6-8 , this indicate s tha t the
author o f Isa . 66.10-1 4 rea d um esds i n Isa . 8.6 . I t furthe r indicate s
that thi s autho r understood um esos 'et-fsm uben-i^malyahu t o mean ,
'and rejoicing with Rezin and ben Remaliah' , in that masos is associ -
ated wit h th e unusua l form s sisu 'et an d s'imhu 'et i n Isa . 66.10 ,
thereby clarifyin g the meaning of um esds 'et in Isa. 8.6 .
The reading ma y appear awkward , but it must stand. Th e reason fo r
its awkwar d natur e becomes clear, however, whe n i t is considere d i n
relation t o th e sexua l imager y tha t stand s behin d bot h Isa . 66.10-1 4
and Isa . 8.6-8 . Isa. 66.7- 9 presents th e imagery o f Zion's givin g birth
to childre n prio r t o th e command s t o rejoic e wit h Jerusale m i n Isa .
66.10-14. Isa . 8.6-8 , o n th e othe r hand , ends wit h a referenc e t o th e
Assyrian king' s 'stretchin g ou t his wings ' (w ehaya muttot kfnapayw,
'and the extending of his wings'), thereb y filling the land of Emmanue l
(i.e. Judah ) with the overflowing waters o f the great an d mighty rive r
mentioned in vv. 7-8. The spreading of wings or skirts frequently serves
as an idiomatic referenc e t o marriage o r sexual relation s (Ezek . 16.8 ;
Ruth 3.9; cf . Deut. 23.1 ; 27.20), a s does th e imagery o f flowing waters
(Song 4.15; Prov. 5.15-20; 9.13-18). Although the sexua l imager y i s
not explici t unti l v . 8, i t i s clea r tha t i n rejectin g th e water s o f
Shiloah, Judah opens itsel f t o another lover, o r rapist a s the case ma y
SWEENEY O n um esos in Isaiah 8.6 5 1

be, i n th e for m o f th e Assyria n king. 1 Certainly , thi s associate s

Isa. 8.5- 8 wit h Isa . 8.1-4 , wher e Isaia h report s hi s sexua l relation s
with th e prophetes s tha t resulte d i n th e birt h o f Maher-Shalal-Hash -
Baz.2 I n this respect, th e awkwar d nature of the reading o f um esos 'et
in Isa . 8. 6 become s significant . Althoug h masos usuall y refer s t o
general rejoicing , it s appearanc e i n th e contex t o f Jerusalem's giving
birth i n Isa. 66.1 0 and the rejoicing o f a bridegroom over his bride in
Isa. 62. 5 indicate s tha t the ter m ca n be used i n reference t o marriage .
Like th e general imager y o f water in Isa. 8.6-7 , the lexical meaning of
masos i n v . 6 i s non-specific , bu t th e awkwar d natur e o f th e readin g
disrupts th e synta x of vv. 6-7 and calls attentio n t o itself. Inasmuc h a s
the ter m masos an d th e imager y o f water s suggests the possibilit y of
sexual connotations , th e ter m convey s a double entendre tha t is only
realized i n v . 8 when th e extende d skirts of th e Assyria n monarch fill
the land . I n thi s respect , th e awkwar d phrasin g o f um esos 'et-^sin

1. Scholar s frequently argue tha t 'thi s people' i n v. 6a refers t o the norther n

kingdom of Israel in that they rejected th e Davidic dynasty by following Rezin and
Pekah (e.g. Rignell 1957: 41-42) . But there are several reason s for maintaining th
'this people' refer s t o Judah: (1) the northern kingdo m ha d rejected th e house of
David lon g before thei r decisio n t o follow Rezin and Pekah ; (2 ) th e referenc e t o
Emmanuel i n v . 8 indicates tha t Judah is threatene d i n this passage ; an d (3 ) th e
'waters of Shiloah' ar e frequently take n a s a reference t o the Davidic dynasty (s o
Kimhi an d Targu m Jonathan) or as a symbol of YHWH' s guarantee o f security t o
Jerusalem. Not e that Isa. 7.3 locates Isaiah's encounter with Ahaz at 'the end of the
conduit of the upper pool o n the highway to the Fuller's Field' (RSV) . Inasmuch as
Ahaz appears t o be inspecting his water system in anticipation o f a siege by Israel and
Aram, Isaiah's reference to the people's rejection of 'the waters of Shiloah' suggest s
their lac k o f confidenc e i n th e city' s defenses . Th e fac t tha t Aha z eventuall y
summoned Assyrian assistanc e i n the Syro-Ephraimitic War (2 Kgs 16.7-9) indicates
that he likewise lacke d confidence in the city's ability to resist a siege. Insofar as the
Syro-Ephraimitic coalition woul d be concerned t o augment their forces by bringing
Judah inio its camp against the Assyrians, their attack would be designed t o remove
Ahaz and convince the Judaean population to join the coalition rathe r than destroy the
country. Isa. 8.6 suggests tha t such a strategy wa s working. Cf. Irvine (1990: 189-
91), wh o relates the imagery o f 'th e waters o f Shiloah' t o the role tha t th e Giho n
spring plays in guaranteeing the security of the Davidic dynasty.
2. I t also has implications for understanding qeser, 'conspiracy' , in Isa . 8.12
and th e genera l concern with the people's need to fear YHW H in Isa. 8.11-15. The
root o f qeser literall y mean s 't o bind, join', which may suggest a further sexua l
double entendre insofar as the people ha d rejected YHWH' s promises o f security in
favor of an alliance wit h the Syro-Ephraimitic coalition.
52 Among the Prophets

uben-^malyahu i s a deliberat e attemp t t o prepar e th e unsuspecting

reader fo r th e sexua l metaphor of v . 8.
Just as the book of Isaiah as a whole sees the Assyrian invasions and
later th e Babylonian captivity a s divine punishments that precede th e
restoration o f th e people , s o als o th e associate d sexua l an d rive r
imagery o f Isa . 8.6- 7 an d 66.10-1 4 presen t paralle l bu t contrasting
descriptions o f th e circumstance s that le d t o th e punishmen t and th e
results o f th e restoration . I n conclusion , it shoul d b e note d tha t
inasmuch a s Isa. 66.10-14 appears as part of the climax of the book of
Isaiah, it corresponds to the imagery at the beginning of the book (Isa.
2.2-4) o f the nations 'flowing ' (w enaharu, Isa . 2.2 ) to Zio n to receiv e
YHWH's Torah. By basing the description of rejoicing i n Isa. 66.10-14
on th e language and imagery of Isa. 8.6-8, th e author of Isa . 66.10-14
presents evidence that umesos appears in the text of Isa. 8.6 in the time
of Trito-Isaiah , generall y ascribed to th e fifth century, an d establishes
a majo r lin k in the overall structure of the final form o f the book.

Barthc'lcmy, D. , et al.
1986 Critique textuelle de I'ancien testament. II. Isdie, Jeremie, Lamentations
(Freiburg: Editions Universitaires; Gottingen: Vandenhoec k & Ruprecht) .
Beuken, W.A.M .
1986 'Isa . 56.9-57.13—A n Exampl e o f th e Isaiani c Legac y o f Trito-Isaiah 1,
in J.W . Va n Henten , e t al . (eds.) . Tradition an d Re-Interpretation i n
Jewish and Early Christian Literature: Essays in Honour of Jiirgen
C.H. Lebram (Leiden : Brill) : 48-64.
Beuken, W.A.M.
1989 'Servan t an d Heral d o f Goo d Tidings : Isaia h 6 1 a s a n Interpretatio n of
Isaiah 40-55' , i n Vermeyle n 1989a : 411-42 .
Bredenkamp, C.J .
1887 De r Prophet Jesaia (Erlangen : Deichert) .
Brueggemann, W .
1984 'Unit y an d Dynamic i n the Isaia h Tradition' , JSOT 29 : 89-107.
Brock, S . (ed. )
1987 Th e Ol d Testament i n Syriac according t o th e Peshitta Version. Par t HI/1 .
Isaiah (Leiden : Brill).
Budde, K .
1926 'Je s 8 , 6b', ZAW 44 : 65-67 .
Burrows, M. , J.C. Treve r an d W.H. Brownlee
1950 Th e Dead Se a Scrolls o f S t Mark's Monastery. I . Th e Isaiah Manuscript
and th e Habakkuk Commentary (Ne w Haven : America n School s o f
Oriental Research) .
SWEENEY O n um cs'6s in Isaiah 8. 6 5 3
Childs, B.S.
1979 Introduction t o th e Ol d Testament a s Scripture (Philadelphia : Fortres s
Clements, R.E.
1980 Isaiah 1-39 (NCB ; Gran d Rapids : Eerdmans ; London : Marshall , Morga n
& Scott).
1982 'Th e Unit y of the Boo k o f Isaiah' , Int 36 : 117-29 .
1985 'Beyon d Traditio n History : Deutero-Isaiani c Developmen t o f Firs t
Isaiah's Themes' , JSOT 31 : 95-113.
Duhm, B.
1914 Da s Buch Jesaia (Go'ttingen : Vandenhoec k & Ruprecht , 3r d edn) .
Finkelstein, L. (ed. )
1926 Th e Commentary of David Kimhi on Isaiah (Columbi a University Oriental
Series, 19 ; New York: Columbia University).
Fullerton, K .
1924 "Th e Interpretatio n o f Isaia h 8 , 5-10', JBL 43 : 253-89 .
Gesenius, W.
1821 Philologisch-kritischer und historiker Commentar iiber de n Jesaia
(Leipzig: F.C.W . Vogel) .
Gesenius, W., E. Kautzsch and A.E. Cowley
1983 Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar (Oxford: Clarendon Press ; 2nd English edn) .
Giesebrecht, F .
1888 'Di e Immanuelweissagung' , TSK 61 : 217-64.
Hitzig, F.
1833 De r Prophet Jesaja (Heidelberg : C.F . Winter) .
Holladay, W.L.
1989 Jeremiah, I I (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress Press) ,
Irvine, S.
1990 Isaiah, Ahaz, an d th e Syro-Ephraimitic Crisis (SBLDS , 123 ; Atlanta:
Scholars Press).
Jastrow, M.
1967 A Dictionary o f th e Targumim, th e Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, an d th e
Midrashic Literature (Brooklyn : P. Shalom).
Kaiser, O.
1983 Isaiah 1-12: A Commentary (trans. J. Bowden; Philadelphia: Westminster
Press, 2nd edn) .
Klein, H.
1980 'Freud e a n Rezin' , V T 30 : 229-34.
Lack, R.
1973 L a Symbolique du livre d'lsate: Essai sur I'image litteraire comme
element d e stmctitration (AnBib, 59; Rome: Biblical Institut e Press).
Lindblom, J .
1958 A Study o n th e Immanuel Section i n Isaiah: Isa. vii,l-ix, 6 (Lund :
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1900 Da s Buch Jesaja (Tubingen : Mohr) .
54 Among th e Prophets
Odeberg, H .
1931 Trito-Isaiah (Isaiah 56-66): A Literary an d Linguistic Analysis (UUA ,
Theologi, 1 ; Uppsala: Almqvis t & Wiksell).
Rendtorff, R .
1984 'Zu r Kompositio n des Buche s Jesaja', VT 34 : 295-320.
1989 'Jesaj a 6 i m Rahme n de r Kompositio n de s Jesajabuches' , i n Vermeyle n
1989a: 73-82 .
Rignell, L.C.
1957 'Da s Orake l "Maher-sala l Has-bas" . Jesaj a 8' , ST 10 : 40-52.
Rudolph, W.
1968 Jeremia (HAT , 12 ; Tubingen: Moh r [Pau l Siebeck] , 3r d edn) .
Schrocder, O .
1912 "umesoS eine Glosse zu rason', ZA W 32 : 301-302 .
Sperber, A .
1962 Th e Bible i n Aramaic. III. Th e Latter Prophets according t o Targum
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Steck, O.H .
1989 Trito-Jesaj a i m Jesajabuch" , i n Vermeyle n 1989a: 361-406 .
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1988 Isaiah 1-4 an d th e Post-Exilic Understanding o f th e Isaianic Tradition
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Trever, J.C .
1972 Scrolls from Qnmran Cave 1 : The Great Isaiah Scroll; Th e Order o f th e
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Wildbergcr, H,
1972 Jesaja 1-12 (Neukirchen-Vluyn : Neukirchene r Verlag) .
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Litterarum Gottingensis Editum. XIV. Isaias (Gottingen : Vandenhoeck &

Michael L . Barre

Isa. 31.4-5 is a problematic text: it is difficult t o decide whether it is an oracle of
doom or salvation with regard to Jerusalem. The lion simile appears to be negative,
the birds simile positive. There is some evidence to indicate that the passage is a unity
and thu s tha t th e tw o simile s belon g together . I n thei r origina l inten t bot h ar e
negative, a fact obscure d by the standard mistranslatio n ofyagen.., 'al i n v . 5 a s
'protect'. But by the addition of four words at the end of v. 5 later editors have given
a positive cast to the oracle as a whole.

In his commentary o n Isaiah R.E. Clements makes th e observation that

Isa. 31.4- 5 ha s 'occasione d no t a littl e difficult y t o commentators'. 1
This oracle consists of two similes: on e relating t o a lion (v. 4) and the
other t o bird s (v . 5) . Th e mai n poin t of controvers y has t o d o wit h
whether th e oracl e i s positiv e o r negativ e vis-a-vi s Zion . A t firs t
glance, at least, th e first simile (v. 4) strikes one as negative, whil e the
second (v . 5 ) give s ever y indicatio n o f bein g positive . Anothe r dis-
puted issu e i s tha t o f interpolation: to wha t extent hav e thes e verse s
undergone editorial expansion?
In thi s pape r I shal l argu e tha t th e correc t understandin g o f th e
earliest for m o f this passage ha s been hampered both by th e failur e to
recognize th e OT parallels t o the 'lion...birds ' imager y i n th e oracle ,
and by the erroneous interpretation of one word by virtually all trans-
lations an d commentator s u p t o th e present . Onc e thes e thing s ar e
recognized, th e harmon y betwee n th e simile s (i n th e origina l text )
becomes evident, and determining the editorial addition s to the passag e
becomes a simple matter.
It is obvious that at least i n v. 5b and the subsequent verses th e tone
becomes mor e positive , i n contras t to th e oracl e i n vv . 1-3 . Fo r thi s

1. R.E . Clements, Isaiah 1-39 (NCB; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 256.
56 Among th e Prophets

reason som e wh o tak e v . 4 i n a negativ e sens e understan d v. 5 a s a

later addition. 1
But a strong case can be made for the unity of the two similes. First ,
there is the repetition o f the preposition 'al between th e two; the poe t
is evidently playin g on its ambiguity. 2 Another bit of evidence i s the
distribution of the formulaic pair 'Zion ' // 'Jerusalem ' between them. 3
This pai r i s foun d 4 4 time s i n th e MT , mos t frequentl y i n thi s
sequence.4 Ove r a thir d of th e occurrence s (16x ) are in th e Boo k of
Isaiah, more than in any other OT book.
More significantly , th e term s '(wild ) beasts ' an d 'birds ' occu r
together about 35 times in the MT ('lion'... 'birds' woul d appear t o be
a variatio n o n thi s topos). 5 I n 1 6 of thes e occurrence s th e imag e i s
neutral.5 Bu t in th e majority o f cases (19x ) i t appear s i n a negative
context, concerned wit h human bodies (usuall y of God's people) given
to the birds and beasts a s prey. 7 A number of these 1 9 passages sho w
similarities to Isa. 31.4-5 . Lik e th e two simile s i n Isa. 31.4-5 , five of
them hav e th e prepositio n 'al wit h th e prey upo n who m the animal s
act ( 2 Sam . 21.10 ; Isa . 18.6 ; Jer . 12.9 ; Ezek . 31.13 ; 32.4) . Thre e
(2 Sam. 21.10 ; Deut. 28.26 ; Jer . 7.33) mentio n the attempt to chase off
or frighten awa y the predators. On e of the most enlightening passages

1. S o B.S. Childs, Isaiah an d th e Assyrian Crisis (SET , 2/3 ; London : SCM

Press, 1967) , p . 59. Hi s positio n seem s somewha t inconsistent , however . H e
states, '[v. 5] could hardly be an independent oracl e which was only latter attached',
but on the same page goes on to remark, 'v . 5 is of younger origin tha n v. 4' (ibid.).
2. Se e J.C. Exum , 'Of Broken Pots , Fluttering Birds, an d Visions in the Night :
Extended Simil e an d Poetic Technique i n Isaiah', CBQ 43 (1981), p. 338 .
3. Occasionall y 'Moun t Zion' replace s 'Zion ' i n th e pair , a s in our passage:
2 Kgs 19.31 ; Isa. 10.12 , 32; 24.23; 37.32; Joel 3.5 [Eng. 2.32] ; 4.17 [Eng . 3.17] .
4. 'Zion. . .Jerusalem': 2 Kgs 19.21; Isa. 2.3 ; 4.3 , 4 ; 10.12 , 32; 24.23; 30.19;
31.9; 33.20 ; 37.22; 40.9; 41.27 ; 52.1; 64. 9 [Eng . 10] ; Jer. 26.18 ; 51.35; Joel 3. 5
[Eng. 2.32] ; 4.16,17 [Eng. 3.16 , 17] ; Amos 1.2 ; Mic . 3.10 , 12 ; 4.2, 8 ; Zeph. 3.14 ;
Zech. 1.17 ; 8.3 ; 9.9 ; Pss . 51.2 0 [Eng . 18] ; 102.2 2 [Eng . 21] ; 128.5 ; 135.21 ;
Lam. 1.17 ; 2.10 ; 'Jerusalem...Zion' : 2 Kgs 19.31 ; Ps. 147.12 ; Isa . 37.32 ; 52.2 ;
Zech. 1.14 ; Lam. 2.13 .
5. Lion s and birds ar e mentioned togethe r in the followin g passages : 2 Sam .
1.23; Isa . 38.13-14 ; Jer. 12.8-9 ; Amos 3.4-5 ; Job 28.7-8; 38.39-41.
6. 1 Kgs 5.13 [Eng . 4.33] ; Jer. 9. 9 [Eng . 10] ; 12.4 ; Ezek . 17.2 3 [LXX] ; 31.6 ,
13; 38.20; Hos . 2.18 ; 4.3 ; Ps . 148.10 ; Jo b 12.7 ; 35.11 ; Dan . 2.38 ; 4.12 , 14 , 21
[Eng. 9 , 11 , 18] .
7. Deut . 28.26 ; 1 Sam. 17.44 , 46; 2 Sam . 21.10 ; Isa . 18. 6 [2x] ; Jer . 7.33 ;
12.9; 15.3 ; 16.4 ; 19.7 ; 34.20 ; Ezek. 29.5; 31.13 ; 32.4; 39.4 , 17 ; Ps. 79.2 .
BARRE O f Lions and Birds 5 7

in this connection is 2 Sarn. 21.10. David too k the two sons of Rizpah,
Saul's concubine, an d had them hanged o n a mountain. Sh e statione d
herself ther e t o guar d he r sons ' bodie s fro m th e predations o f wil d
animals an d 'di d no t allow th e birds o f the air t o light upon them by
day or the beasts of the field by night'.
These last thre e text s provid e the setting fro m whic h to explain th e
detail abou t th e shepherd s i n th e lio n simile . Lik e Rizpah , the y ar e
attempting t o scare the wild beast awa y fro m hi s prey . Bu t when th e
lion roar s ove r ('a/ ) hi s victim , no on e ca n distrac t hi m fro m con -
suming it. By the use of simile th e poet is saying that Yahweh canno t
be distracte d o r dissuade d fro m hi s fatefu l purpos e b y th e action s of
human beings. The image does no t portray th e lion as 'protecting ' hi s
kill.1 Nor i s the identity of the shepherds significan t here . They serv e
merely t o flesh out the expression i n Deut. 28.2 6 and Jer . 7.33 : 'An d
there shall be no one [able] to drive them [the birds and beasts] away'.2
Clearly, the lion simil e i s negative. 3 The point of the simile a s a whole
is that Yahweh will come down to fight against ('a/ ) Mount Zion. Here
the prepositio n bear s tw o meanings , eac h connecte d t o a precedin g
verb: (1 ) i t complete s th e meanin g of yerjed, 'h e wil l com e down' ;
(2) i t complete s th e meanin g of lisbo', 'urfight , war' ; outsid e thi s
passage^' 'al alway s mean s 'to fight against' (Num . 31.7; Isa . 29.7 ,
8; Zech. 14.12) .
But i f th e lio n an d th e birds simile s ar e connected , ho w doe s on e
explain th e fact tha t th e former i s negativ e an d the latter is positiv e
vis-a-vis Zion ? The question is , is v. 5 really positive? Mor e than one
commentator ha s observe d tha t 'flyin g birds ' i s hardl y a transparen t
figure of protection. 4 As originally written, this simile is also negative .
This ha s been obscure d by the mistranslation of the expression yagen

1. So , for example, O. Kaiser, Isaiah 13-39: A Commentary (OTL ; Philadelphia:

Westminster Press , 1974) , p . 316; H . Wildberger, Jesaja 28-39 (BKAT , 10/3 ;
Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchene r Verlag , 1982) , pp . 1240-42; G . Fohrer, Da s
Buck Jesaja ( 3 vols.; Zurich: Zwingli Verlag, 2nd edn, 1974), pp. 120-21; A. Schoors,
Jesaja (Roermond : Romen & Zonen, 1972) , pp . 188-89; R. Fey, Amos un d Jesaja
(WMANT, 12; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1963) , pp. 134-36 .
2. Cf . Isa. 5.29-3 0 in a similar context.
3. Se e Childs, Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis, pp. 58-59: 'The evidence point s
conclusively t o taking v. 4 as a threat against Jerusalem'.
4. E.g . Kaiser , Isaiah 13-39, p. 317; Exum , 'Broke n Pots' , p . 338. Kaise r
(ibid.) cite s as a parallel t o the protective interpretatio n o f the flying birds image
Deut. 32.11, but the verb in this case is rhp, not 'wp.
58 Among the Prophets

...'al i n v. 5. Now Hebrew lexica give only one meaning for gnn 'al,
namely, 't o protect' . However , th e sam e ver b als o occur s i n th e
Aramaic dialects. I n Syriac (where it is attested i n the aphel) it has at
least thre e meanings: (1 ) 'to protect' (wit h 'al), (2 ) 'to descend, com e
to rest upon ' (wit h 'al), an d (3) 't o res t upon , reside in ' (wit h b e- or
'al).1 I f the verb is multivalent in another West Semitic language, it is
possible tha t th e semanti c fiel d o f it s Hebre w cognat e ma y no t b e
restricted to one meaning.
Given yered.,. 'al i n th e lion simile, th e meaning o f yagen... 'al in
Isa. 31.5 i s evident. It means 't o (descend and ) light upon'. The idiom
resembles nwh and sk n wit h 'al, whic h can likewis e denote 't o ligh t
upon'.2 nwh 'al ca n also have a hostile sense, a s in 2 Sam. 17.1 2 and
21.10. The latter passage, a s we have seen, tells how Rizpah would not
let the birds 'ligh t on' [lanuah 'al-] th e corpse s o f her sons . Fa r fro m
being an image of protection, then , the 'flyin g birds' simil e evokes th e
picture of carrio n birds swooping down and lighting upon their prey.
Although Yahweh is elsewhere likened to a marauding lion,3 only here
is he presented i n the bold and gruesome image of a predatory bird. 4
In ligh t o f th e foregoin g considerations , the earlies t for m o f th e
oracle ma y be translated as follows:
Thus says Yahweh my God:
As a lion or a young lion
roars over his prey—
(And) when a band of shepherds
is called out against him
He is not afraid o f their sound
nor daunted by their noise—
So will Yahweh of Hosts come down
upon Mount Zion to fight against it and its hill.
Like flying birds (of prey),
so will Yahweh of Hosts (descen d and ) light upon Jerusalem .

1. R.P . Smith , A Compendious Syriac Dictionary (Oxford : Clarendon Press ,

1903), p . 73.
2. nwh: 2 Sam. 21.10; skn: Ezek. 31.13; 32.4 .
3. Isa . 38.13; Jer. 25.38 ; 49.19; 50.44; Hos. 5.14 ; 11.10 ; 13.7 , 8 ; Job 10.16 ;
Lam. 3.10 .
4. I n this connectio n w e might recall tha t in the OT Yahweh i s occasionally
pictured a s winged, like certain deities of the ancient Near East, although such langu-
age may be merely figurativ e (Exod . 19.4 ; Deut . 32.1 1 [ a simile]; Pss. 17.8 ; 36. 8
[Eng. 7]; 57.2 [Eng . 1] ; 61.5 [Eng . 4]; 63.8 [Eng . 7]; 91.4; Rut h 2.12). But in these
cases the image is always positive.
BARRE O f Lions an d Birds 5 9

The las t fou r word s o f v . 5 (gdnon w ehissil pasoah rfhimlif ) ar e a n

editorial addition . One of the meanings o f gnn is 'protect' , as we have
seen. B y repeatin g thi s ver b an d associatin g i t wit h three word s tha t
mean 'deliver ' o r th e like , th e editor s hav e reinterprete d yagen... 'al
so that i t migh t b e read i n a positive light. 1 Thei r effort s hav e been
eminently successful , sinc e unti l now no one has questioned th e posi-
tive meaning of th e verb . Thu s onl y th e en d o f v . 5 show s editoria l
activity, whic h B.S . Child s aptl y term s ' a correctiv e commentary'. 2
One is reminded o f Babylonian sata-commentaries o n literar y works ,
in whic h the wor d excerpte d fo r commen t i s followed by on e o r mor e
Oddly enough , then , both school s o f though t about Isa. 31.4-5 turn
out t o b e correc t t o on e exten t o r another . I n it s original form , a s I
have attempte d t o demonstrate , th e two simile s withi n the oracle are
negative an d constitut e a prophec y o f doo m agains t Jerusalem .
However, i n the present o r canonical for m (i.e. th e MT), the oracl e as
a whole—includin g the lion simile—i s mean t t o be read in a positive
light. Thi s n o doub t present s a proble m fo r th e moder n translator :
should thes e verses be rendered s o as to reflect thei r origina l inten t or
according to their 'corrected' meaning? Undoubtedl y bot h stages of the
history of this passage shoul d somehow be represented i n translation .

1. On e see s thi s process elsewher e i n th e propheti c books—for example , i n

Amos 9. Vers e 7 marks the end o f a clearly negativ e oracle ('Behold, the eyes of
Yahweh God arc upon the sinful kingdom // And I will destroy it from th e surface of
the ground'). There can be little doubt that the next line (v. 8) is a prosaic, editorial
addition that seeks to undo this negative judgment: 'Except that I will not utterly
destroy the house of Jacob'.
2. Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis, p. 59. However, he applies this label to the
entirety of v. 5.
3. Se e E . Leichty , Th e Omen Series Summa Izbu (Text s fro m Cuneifor m
Sources, 4 ; Locust Valley , NY: JJ. Augustin, 1970) , pp. 22-23. 'Commentaries '
of this type are generally lexical in nature, giving synonyms for rare, poetic terms. In
the case of verbs, the infinitive for m i s usually given (as in Isa. 31.5), regardless o f
the verba l form i n th e tex t (se e W.G . Lambert , Babylonian Wisdom Literature
[Oxford: Clarendo n Press , 1960] , pp . 32-54, 70-88) . Wer e i t no t fo r th e waw
before hissil, v. 5b might be interpreted as a lexical comment on the infrequent verb
gnn (8 x i n the MT) which woul d b e simila r t o wha t i s foun d i n th e Babylonia n
commentaries ('ganon [here means] "to deliver", "skip over", "rescue"'), which later
became incorporated into the text. However, the poetic balance of v. 5b—qal inf. +
w* + hiphil inf. // qal inf. + we + hiphil inf.—may suggest rather that the four word s
were a deliberate insertion from th e beginning.
Francis Land y

After a brief sectio n settin g the so-called servan t songs i n the context o f Jewish-
Christian dialogue , the bulk of this article consists of a close reading of Isa. 49.1-6
and 50.4-9, with a summary fora y into Isa. 53. The focus is on the different way s
the subject is constructed i n these poems, th e disjunction between extrem e symboli-
zation and disintegration, th e impossibility of attaining any quiddity in the swirl of
conflicting personae and explicative paradigms . Betwee n th e polarities of utter nega-
tion and theophanous vindication, between unbearable pain and unflinching resistance ,
the subjec t trie s differen t strategie s fo r achievin g coherence an d a n adequat e
relationship wit h the maternal/paternal symbolic order. B y the last poem, all we are
left with is insistent contradiction and the sense of tragedy, as, with pity and fear, we
watch the subject going to his death on our behalf, and beyond death .

1. The Suffering Servant Songs in Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Let u s begi n wit h Davi d Clines' s stud y o f Isaia h 53 , /, He, We , and
They.1 Th e grea t virtu e o f Clines' s wor k i s tha t i t move s u s awa y
from 'th e poem a s problem' t o 'the poem a s language event', an event
in whic h 'th e silenc e become s painful , almos t unbearable', 2 in which
there i s a complete absenc e o f action, dialogue , o r even, strangel y fo r
Isaiah, affectiv e language. 3 I t is a n event, a n experience, of a worl d

Lecture given at the 22nd Jewish-Christian Bible Week in Bendorf, Germany,

25th July , 1990 . I a m gratefu l t o m y audienc e an d thei r comments , t o a ver y
stimulating study circle, and to my colleague, E . Ben-Zvi, for invaluable discussion.
1. / , He , We, an d They. A Literary Approach t o Isaiah 5 3 (JSOTSup , 1 ;
Sheffield: JSO T Press, 1976), p. 59.
2. L . Alonso SchSkel, 'Isaiah', in R. Alter and F. Kermode (eds.), The Literary
Guide t o the Bible (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), p. 180.
3. / , He , We , and They, pp . 44-46.
LANDY Th e Construction o f th e Subject 6 1

that i s 'topsy-turvy', 1 ye t recognizably our own, that fascinates us, as

the 'they ' o f th e tex t interpret s us , insofa r a s w e identif y wit h th e
servant, and reproaches us for 'ou r easy activisms', from a silence that
is simpl y 'the silenc e of suffering', 2 tha t is nevertheless the service of
My proble m wit h th e text , however , i s no t simpl y tha t I a m
involved i n th e event, but tha t I experience a visceral recoi l fro m th e
notion o f vicariou s suffering , o r simpl e fright . Th e silence , passivit y
and emotiona l vacuit y that Cline s find s i n th e tex t correspond s t o
critical paralysis . Repressio n o f tha t which dies wit h each person , a s
well as self-preservation, separatio n fro m tha t person—the complex o f
survivor guilt , reparation, anaesthesia. Our text is, centrally, mourning
the mournin g seeks its comfort (the great them e o f Second Isaiah) , i s
framed b y it , yet discontinous with it.
German and anglophone scholarship sharply divide over the so-called
servant songs , a s the y d o ove r everythin g else. Germa n scholarshi p
tends t o isolat e th e servan t songs fro m th e res t o f Deutero-Isaiah , t o
see them as a separate collection , to ascribe them to the circle of Trito -
Isaiah, t o se e i n the m th e influence s of Jeremiah an d Ezekiel , an d t o
determine text-criticall y th e growt h of th e text , rathe r a s a dendro -
logist determine s th e ag e o f a tree . I n 49.1-6 , R.P . Merendino, fo r
example, trace s th e transformatio n of a poe m originall y about Cyru s
to one abou t the servant and then about Israel. 3 In English scholarship,
in contrast, we encounter increasing scepticism about the very existence
of th e servan t songs , a refusa l t o isolat e the m fro m thei r Deutero -
Isaianic contex t and th e Isaiani c tradition a s a whole , an d a n aware -
ness—-at leas t i n a recent articl e b y John Sawyer—of th e sexis m tha t
has focused on the servant rather tha n on his complement, th e daughter
of Zion. 4
But thi s i s overshadowe d b y th e deepe r problem , th e Jewish -

1. / , He , We , and They, p. 61.

2. / , He, We , and They, p. 65, for both these expressions.
3. 'Je s 4 9 1-6 : Bi n Gottesknechtslied?' , ZAW 92 (1980), pp . 236-48.
4. J.F.A . Sawyer , 'Daughte r o f Zio n an d Servan t o f th e Lor d i n Isaiah : A
Comparison', JSOT 4 4 (1989), pp. 89-107 . Cf . als o R.E . Clements , 'Beyon d
Tradition-History: Deutero-Isaianic Developmen t of First Isaiah's Themes' , JSOT31
(1985), pp. 95-113. Fo r a contrar y view , however, cf . C. Stuhlmueller , 'Deutero-
Isaiah: Majo r Transition s i n th e Prophet' s Theolog y an d i n Contemporar y
Scholarship', CBQ 42 (1980), pp. 1-29 .
62 Among th e Prophets

Christian one . Isaia h 5 3 has been a witness to the truth of the Gospel ,
and a snar e an d a thor n to Jews. The Jewish response ha s bee n taci t
decanonization; Isaia h 5 3 i s no t recited i n th e synagogu e amon g th e
readings fro m the prophets, ther e ar e no Midrashim abou t Isaia h 53 .
Only wit h the developmen t o f sequential commentarie s i n th e Middle
Ages wer e Jews force d t o confront the problem o f Isaiah 53 ; this was
exacerbated b y th e frequenc y of disputatio n an d th e intellectua l an d
emotional crisi s i n th e wak e o f th e Crusade s an d th e challeng e o f
philosophy. Fo r many commentators, suc h as Rashi and Ibn Ezra , th e
servant i s Israel; fo r the latter, thi s is linked with Judah Halevi's ide a
that Israel is the heart o f the world, and suffers fo r its diseases. 1
Now th e proble m i s not the equivocal surviva l of the christologica l
interpretation i n moder n Christia n commentaries , bu t tha t i t i s ver y
hard t o read Isaia h 5 3 except throug h th e len s o f its histor y o f inter -
pretation an d it s traumatic consequences: th e vindication of th e New,
and the theodicy o f substitutionary atonement. Ho w can we innocently
read Isaia h 5 3 as Christians and Jews, withou t or across th e appalling
memories o f dialogue as persecution? Ho w can we come to terms with
the notio n o f vicariou s suffering ? Perhaps I , a s a biblical critic , ca n
avoid thi s history . Bu t I woul d d o s o onl y i n th e fac e o f m y
responsibility a s a person an d as a Jew.
But ther e i s a deeper problem still : tha t th e tex t resist s interpreta -
tion, that one is lef t wit h a sense o f incomprehensibility that cannot be
accommodated i n our respective theologies . Th e text cut s throug h it s
history; every attemp t to identify th e servant, to use Isaiah 5 3 in inter-
faith polemics , falsifie s th e experience o f the text as something present
in and beyond our faiths, traditions and languages. Clines compare s it s
silence to Abraham's journey to Mt Moriah; 2 it is the same journey.

2. Isaiah 49.1-6
How di d w e ge t there ? Go d calle d m e fro m m y mother' s womb ,
reciting my name (49.1). Ther e i n the womb something wa s speaking ,
language wa s forming ; i t wa s no t m e speaking , bu t i t give s m e m y
name an d destiny; I come t o be in hearing that name and hearing that

1. Fo r a recent treatmen t o f mediaeva l Jewis h interpretatio n o f Isa . 53 , se e

I.E. Rembaum, 'The Development of a Jewish Exegetical Tradition regardin g Isaia h
53', HTR 7 5 (1982), pp . 289-311.
2. / , He , We , and They, p. 46.
LANDY Th e Construction o f th e Subject 6 3

voice. Perhap s i t i s a ghostl y father i n th e womb , summonin g me t o

the worl d an d t o m y death; s o a Lacania n migh t say ; bu t i t does no t
sound lik e that . Fo r th e voic e i s a strange r t o th e matrix , an d ye t i t
sounds deeper, eve n more innate.
The phras e "•&» TDtn , 'mad e mention o f m y name' , comes from th e
language of sacrifice , and refers t o the invocation of YHW H that accom-
panies th e offering. Th e imagery i s reversed; YHW H come s dow n into
the womb, and invokes my name there. 1 Is he worshipping, celebratin g
my existence ? o r i s th e plac e o f m y coming-to-b e tha t o f YHWH' s
And h e made me , and my mouth in which he and I speak th e word s
that remember thi s precipitation of self fro m language , the word s that
fructify th e eart h an d las t fo r eve r (40.8 ; 55.10-11) , an d tha t ar e
also thos e o f th e prophec y o f redemptio n an d consolation . Bu t m y
mouth is 'lik e a sharp sword' (v . 2), an instrument of death; it s langu-
age i s ambiguous , huma n an d divine , vita l an d fatal , expressiv e an d
mysterious. Thu s th e sharp, discriminator y swor d i s hidden i n God's
hand; th e polished , brigh t arro w i s conceale d i n hi s quiver. 2 God' s
calling me and my language into existence i n the womb is then also an
undoing, a creation o f death. No t onl y am I invoked by YHWH , but I
embody th e transformatio n of deat h into life tha t is o f th e essenc e o f
Something else encloses me : YHWH's hand, his quiver. The womb is
displaced, perpetuated, b y YHWH' s shadow, o n the trajectory throug h
life; thi s i s combined , however , wit h the imminenc e o f violen t ejec -
tion. Phallic , militaristi c imager y replace s materna l address; languag e
turns to warfare , which releases the subject from th e divine enfolding. 3
Between th e two sets of images ther e seems to be no continuity.

1. R.P . Merendin o ('Jes . 49 1-6' , p . 243), find s i t inconceivabl e tha t suc h a

restrained (zuriickhahender) prophe t as Deutero-Isaiah should use such languag e
about himself, and therefore attributes the reference to Cyrus. Quite apart fro m th e
question o f Deutero-Isaiah's restraint, on e wonders whethe r i t would b e rendered
less outrageous with reference to a foreign king.
2. Bot h adjective s hav e their linguisti c correlates; mn, 'sharp* , is paradigmati-
cally linked to rrrn, 'riddle'; ira, 'polished', is likewise use d of speech (e.g . Zeph .
3. Ther e is a clear parallel in the Aqhat legend, in which Anat encloses her agent
Yatpan, transformed into an eagle, in her pouch in order to murder Aqhat. For text ,
translation and commentary, se e most recentl y B . Margalit, The Ugaritic Poem of
Aqht (Berlin: d e Gruyter, 1989) , pp. 129, 156 , 340 .
64 Among th e Prophets

Then ther e i s anothe r transformation . Go d says , 'Yo u ar e m y

servant, Israel , in whom I will be glorified ' (v . 3). The servan t i n th e
divine gras p become s th e containe r o f God . Th e wom b imager y i s
inverted. An d a s YHW H entered th e womb t o invoke his name , s o he
enters the prophet an d radiates fro m him.
The prophet i s identified with Israel. Muc h has been mad e o f this as
evidence o f early interpretation . Bu t in fac t i t is a commonplace—the
prophet speak s fo r Israel , just a s he speak s fo r God. 1 Fro m th e pre -
natal commission t o its fulfilment i n the flight of the arrow fro m God ,
we com e t o a thir d phase : th e brillian t deadlines s o f th e arro w a s
The prophe t i s identifie d wit h Israel, a s servan t o f God , emissary ,
transmitter o f divine glory. But he has failed , he says , precisely i n hi s
relation to Israel . TP^ a TO ^am inn b Tiu r pn 1? THE N ^KI , 'An d I said :
I have exhausted mysel f for nothing; for chaos an d illusion I have con-
sumed my strength' (v . 4). Instead of theophany we have inn, 'chaos' ,
interposed betwee n th e prophet an d his mission, an d corresponding t o
it psychi c an d physica l prostration— a familia r propheti c a s wel l a s
shamanistic motif . The threshol d of despair an d death ove r whic h on e
passes i s an initiation into new life; it has its correlates i n the blindness
and deafnes s o f th e servan t an d Israe l i n 42.7 , 18-2 0 an d 43.8. 2 Bu t
here i t is upstaged b y a new commission: t o be a light to the nations.
The transitio n betwee n th e faile d tas k o f reclaimin g Israe l an d thi s
ultimate horizo n i s equivalen t t o th e doubl e origi n an d th e passag e
from deat h t o lif e i n th e firs t verses . Go d speaks , invokes , i n th e
mother's womb ; i n v. 5 he form s me there, t o restore the integrity of
Mother Israel; bu t his speec h goe s beyon d that. I see myself reflecte d
in hi s eyes , hi s languag e an d values ; his fortitud e (ni?)—or YHW H a s
fortitude—relieves m y failed strength. But this is facile, a cliche; 'I t is
too easy to be a servant...' (v . 6). Th e materna l enclosur e o f history ,
so nostalgicall y repeate d i n vv . 5 an d 6 , t o retur n thos e wh o hav e

1. Se e especiall y th e argumen t of P . Wilco x an d D . Paton-Williams, 'Th e

Servant Song s in Deutero-Isaiah', J'SOT 42 (1988), esp . pp . 88-92. A very ful l an d
sensitive accoun t of this ambiguity in relation to Jeremiah is to be found i n T. Polk ,
The Prophetic Persona: Jeremiah an d th e Language o f th e Self (JSOTSup , 32 ;
Sheffield: JSO T Press, 1984) .
2. R.E . Clement s ('Beyon d Traditio n History' , pp . 101-104 ) argue s tha t
Deutero-Isaiah her e develop s a theme notably present i n First Isaiah (e.g . 6.9-10 ;
LANDY Th e Construction of th e Subject 6 5

been preserved 1 of Israel t o their origins, is supersede d b y this other

voice, that makes him a light to the nations. Structurally, the enclosure
is reversed; th e outer ring, formed by the address to the 'islands ' an d
'peoples afar' i n v. 1 and the task of bringing salvation to the ends of
the earth in v, 6, envelopes the ingathering of Israel and the immanenc e
of YHWH in th e womb, and at the centre, negating YHWH's presence,
the prophet's emptiness and failure. 2
Is this the answer to the prophet's ple a for justice an d recognition of
his labour in v. 4? To add to his troubles? Or is YHWH also the plain-
tiff, hi s failure and weariness correspondin g to that of the prophet?3 Is
the prophet' s complain t against the people, as 50.6-9 would suggest,
or agains t YHWH , wh o se t hi m o n thi s thankles s venture? Is God' s
unfairness the n compounded, the complaint unanswered? But in some
strange wa y i t doe s see m t o be a response—not onl y suggestin g the
absolute valu e YHW H place s o n th e prophet , bu t som e connectio n
between success an d failure, som e sense that the prophet's exhaustion
and despai r ar e necessar y for th e furthe r mission . This i s typica l of
any limina l stage , of an y endeavour that takes u s beyond the know n
What is it to be a light to the nations? Light brings us back to crea-
tion, as well as to Abraham's brief to bring blessing to the families of
the eart h (Gen . 12.3) ; throug h parallelism, it i s equivalen t her e t o
rtinsr, 'salvation' , an d thus consummation; geographical extensio n i s
thereby correlate d wit h historica l totality. Bu t i t als o focuse s ou r
attention o n th e perso n a s theophany , a s God's salvatio n and light. 4

1 . Whybra y propose s a derivation fro m nsi , 'shoot' , reading n'S 3 (K) or •••ma
(Q) as •>!$?, 'offshoots , descendants' , o n th e ground s o f th e improbabilit y o f th e
meaning 'preserved ' (Isaiah 40-66, p. 139) . Th e latter, as well a s being more com-
mon, woul d also be less bland; 'TIXJ/TS J a s 'preserved ' i s not only mor e emotiv e
than 'descendants' , but also perhaps lends support to the ketib of ^OK' i 1? in v. 5 a s
*)OK', 'that has not been gathere d up' , i.e. perished .
2 .Th e contrast is strengthened by alliteration between th e strategically importan t
words pirn, 'afar', on the periphery o f the passage (v.l), and p'i, 'emptiness', at its
centre (v. 4). pn lacks the central consonan t o f pirn; it is, as it were, emptied a t the
centre of those distances .
3. Cf . HJ. Hermisson, 'De r Loh n de s Knecht', in J. Jeremia s an d L. Perlitt
(eds.), Die Botschaft und di e Boten (Neukirchen-Vluyn : Neukirchene r Verlag ,
1981), p. 276. Fo r YHWH' s exhaustion, cf . 43.24.
4. Ther e is a certain ambiguity here : is the light the salvation itself, and are the
66 Among the Prophets

The sharpness of the individual is juxtaposed with extreme symboliza-

tion. Thi s i s th e sourc e o f th e fascinatio n an d th e difficult y o f thes e
passages; I am called i n the womb as myself, in a language that is not
mine; bu t tha t whic h names, fashions , offer s itsel f u p i n my invoca -
tion, transmits itself an d finds its home in me, is both my very sel f an d
other tha n me. On the one hand, the so-called Suffering Servan t Songs
offered a romantic biblica l scholarship 1 th e possibility o f reality; th e
actual individua l talking for himself i n hi s haeccitas', a biographica l
delusion tha t coul d b e translate d i n terms o f a realist novel. 2 On the
other hand , thi s person , whe n probed , disappeare d i n theologica l
abstractions an d formulai c language ; hi s sufferings , fo r example ,
shaped accordin g t o the psalms o f lament. This, however, i s the cen -
tral problem : th e wis h t o identif y mysel f wit h th e symboli c order ,
flesh with word , to hous e and b e containe d by God—an d ou r diver -
gence, the collapse inward s when the effort fails .

3. Isaiah 50.4-9
God speaks ; mornin g by morning I listen, my ear opened , awakene d
by God , the tongue given by God (50.4-5). My speech and that which
I hear is divine language; I teach and learn repetitively, a s one learns
the tools and canonical texts of a culture. The imager y of the origina-
ting speec h an d international luminary i s transposed to th e everyday;
God speak s wit h th e dawn , th e comin g t o b e o f th e da y coincidin g
with th e light and consciousness. Ye t if education is conservative , a n

parallel clauses thus equivalent, or is it that which brings salvation, th e second claus e
thus being consequent to the first? If the former, then the prophet a s light embodie s
salvation; i f the latter, then the illumination is ideological, to be understood i n terms
of justice o r whatever. It is not clear whether there is a necessary distinctio n betwee n
the two possibilities. Illumination =prophet might be experienced a s salvation an d
provide a vision o f ethical o r politica l truth . The proble m i s complicated b y th e
coupling of rim 1? i n 'to be for me a servant' and 'to be my salvation'. These could
either be equivalent (i.e. prophet is salvation) or TOW11 rim1? could simply mean 'that
my salvation should be...'
1. I t is noteworthy that the hypothesis o f a collection o f servant songs develope d
in the heyday of late German romanticism, wit h B. Duhm's commentary, Das Buck
Jesaia (GSttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1892).
2. I am grateful fo r an observation by G. Josipovici, in the question period afte r
the lecture , contrastin g th e identificatio n mandated by th e realis t nove l wit h th e
empathy whose precondition is distance.
LANDY Th e Construction o f th e Subject 6 7

induction int o the old symboli c order, this speec h i s novel , heralding
the ne w age . It s symboli c languag e i s thu s in a sens e anti-symbolic ,
that which overturns old symbols or even all symbols.
I suffer , quit e traditionally, for my sedition: m y back lacerated , my
beard torn... I become a victim, my body a symbo l fo r th e rejectio n
of God , th e coercio n o f the powers tha t be. Sacrific e is then inverted;
instead o f God invoking my name in the womb, in me God's speech i s
repressed. A s i n 49.1-6 , th e ordea l i s i n th e centra l position . Bu t
whereas ther e i t resulte d i n exhaustio n an d failure , her e m y fac e i s
transformed int o flint , obdurat e an d unflinchin g (50.7) . Moreover ,
this i s because 'm y lor d YHW H help s me ' (50.7 , 9); inn, 'chaos' , i s
replaced b y divin e infusion . Th e paradoxes an d the duple x structure 1
of 49.1 -6—with it s juxtaposition of death an d life , divin e immanenc e
and alienation , crisi s a s dissolutio n o f th e brillian t weapo n an d it s
reforging a s immateria l light—thes e ar e no t s o muc h reverse d a s
negated. Th e flint masks ove r o r is without relation t o the experienc e
of emptiness ; petrificatio n a s symbo l fo r th e prophet/God' s passiv e
resistance activate s a propheti c agend a differen t fro m tha t o f th e
power o f word , ligh t an d arrow ; th e continuit y of divin e speech an d
aid i n persecutio n occlude s th e narrativ e intensity, even absurdity , of
the forme r passage . I s there an y contiguity between th e two interpre -
tations? O r simpl y disjunctio n i n th e prophet' s self-construction ? I s
there continuit y between th e ways in which we accommodate intoler -
able experience—pain , exposure , humiliation—an d th e experienc e
itself? The n th e biographical quest meets th e resistance o f the body t o
meaning, an d correspondingly a crisis arise s i n the transition from it s
kinesis to the symbolic structure of the stable, formed, understood self.
The phras e "h ntir , 'H e helps/will help me', is ambiguous. Is God's
help presen t o r future ? I t seem s t o b e both ; th e hel p i s trus t tha t h e
will help, taking vengeance on the prophet's enemie s (50.9 , 11) . Ther e
is a hiatus then between hel p as confidence and the absence o f help a s
rescue. I n thi s indeterminacy the smoothnes s of the passage founders.
We d o no t kno w whethe r th e prophet' s assuranc e wil l b e justified.
This opennes s affect s i n tur n th e closur e o f th e embryoni c myt h o f

1. Isa . 49.1-3 is recapitulated in vv. 5-6; thu s the summons in the womb is recol-
lected i n v. 5, the appointment as servant in v. 6, the mission to/as Israel in vv. 5-6 ,
and God's manifestation i n the servant, 'i n yo u I will b e glorified' (v . 3), in v. 6.
Cf. Merendino , 'Jes . 49.1-6' , p . 238, an d Hermisson , 'De r Loh n de s Knechts' ,
p. 273, wh o speaks of it as a 'Reprise'.
68 Among the Prophets

creation i n 49.1-6 . I n th e in n o f th e prophe t YHW H forms , name s

light. But we do not know what this light means, ho w i t will spread ,
and in what way the prophet embodies it.
This ligh t is 'm y justice' (51.4; cf. 42.1), parallelisticall y equivalen t
to my mm (51.4) , th e words tha t I hear da y by day and presumabl y
comprising Deutero-Isaiah. But it is this justice that is left i n question
by th e indeterminacy of ^ nw , 'helps/wil l help me'. In 50.8, th e liti-
gant, •'ODB D ^jn , i s dare d t o appear ; i n 49.4 , a s w e hav e seen , thi s
judgment is referre d t o YHWH . There a certain ambiguit y surround s
the complaint , directed a t YHW H a s well as the people; thi s is com -
pounded—to anticipate—by the assumption that the persecution come s
from YHW H (53.4) . A community persecutes a dissident i n the nam e
of socia l an d sacre d order . I f th e dissiden t is a prophet , persecution
may become part of his or her calling, a proof o f authenticity. I t is an
essential component of the prophet's self-construction. Then the judg-
ment bot h stand s agains t th e communit y that reject s th e wor d o f
YHWH, an d raise s th e questio n o f th e complicit y o f YHW H (an d
prophet?) in th e ordeal.
What can one say about the personality of the prophet/servant? He is
blind an d deaf , accordin g t o 42.19 ; h e walk s i n darknes s (50.10) ,
while his persecutor s us e th e light of their own torches—an d wil l b e
burnt by the m (50.11). Yet he is t o free other s fro m blindness , dark -
ness an d imprisonment , a s th e ligh t t o th e nation s (42.7) ; h e i s t o
restore th e devastate d estate s t o thei r owner s (49.8) , a s par t o f hi s
expanded mission , to raise u p th e earth (p N a^prf? ) a s well as Israe l
(spy •'Mt i n« D'pnb) . In each case this is what it is to be a Di? rvo, ' a
covenant of people' (42.6 ; 49.8), the intermediary between humanity
and God . Yet he is concealed by God's hand (49.2; 51.16) , th e sharp
sword an d polishe d arro w a s ye t veiled . I n 51.16 , h e i s obscure d
by th e shado w o f God' s han d 'to plan t heaven s an d t o foun d earth '
(p« -iD^-i o^a o P03 1?),1 just as God stretche s fort h (nou ) th e heaven s
and found s the earth (51.13) , a clear echo of the imagery o f creation
in 49.6 . Ye t the context is the destruction of creation in 51.6, in which
God's salvation , spread by the prophetic divine light in 49.6, continue s

1. Th e metapho r 't o plant' , which Whybray finds unusual an d consequently

emends t o moib, 'to stretch' (Isaiah 40-66, p. 162) , clearl y echoe s and amplifie s
Jeremiah's commissio n t o th e nation s i n Jer . 1.1 0 (cf . als o 18.7-9) . A furthe r
connection i s formed betwee n Jer . 1. 5 (10), i n which Jeremiah i s appointe d a s a
prophet to the nations, an d Isa. 49.6 .
LANDY Th e Construction of th e Subject 6 9

forever. Destructio n an d recreation , theophan y an d concealment ,

blindness an d brilliance , ar e thu s paired; th e contrarie s converg e o n
the last and most famous of the 'Servant' passages, Isaia h 53.

4. Isaiah 52.13-53.12
Isaiah 5 3 evokes pre-eminently th e tragi c dimensio n o f the Bible: an
audience, spectators , watc h with pity and fear someon e goin g on thei r
behalf t o death and beyond death. We see the collapse o f his hopes fo r
vindication, fo r justice; having rested hi s case with YHWH (49.4), and
having triumphe d prospectively ove r his opponents, he is now 'take n
away fro m justice' (53.8). No one can speak with or for his generation
(53.8), except ironicall y thi s silenc e an d death; thereb y h e intercede s
for th e sinner s (53.12) . W e watch with horror , or a t least fascination,
combined wit h guilt, since he dies 1 for our sins; the mystery is in part
that of death —that which we feel whe n anyone dies —in part i t i s the
release o f sociall y legitimate d violence, th e complicit y of a crowd a t
an execution, 2 an d henc e th e confrontatio n wit h ou r ow n murder -
ousness; bu t i t i s als o tha t o f growin g identification, from th e non -
recognition o f th e first verses —we did no t thin k o f him (v . 3), h e had
no image —to concentrated if mistaken thought about him as the objec t
of God' s wrath , to a sympath y at firs t metaphorical , displaced ont o
conventionally patheti c sheep , an d finall y focuse d b y th e insistent
evocation of his eiQ], his soul or psych e (vv. 10, 11, 12) . W e thus iden-
tify with him and murder him. But even more insidiously, the mystery
is formulated through paradox, th e condensatio n and reversa l o f th e
imagery o f the whole prophecy. Terror an d violence ar e absurd, sinc e
human being s ar e morta l — 'Where i s th e violenc e o f th e destroyer? '
(51.13). Onl y th e servant wil l no t die , no r descen d t o th e pi t (nrrs )
(51 .14).3 Yet here he dies, an d incarnates the pit: inn-i n crno nnsr a 'hi s

1 .I am not concerned a t this point with the question o f what reall y happened ,
whether the servan t was actuall y executed , or whethe r he merel y had a clos e
encounter. What is important is the symbolic enactment of this death.
2. B . Levine ('Rene" Girard on Job: The Question of the Scapegoat', Semeia 33
[1985], pp . 125-33) argue s that , eve n mor e tha n Job , th e servant i n Isa . 5 3 i s a
classic scapegoat, though the text differs fro m mos t instances i n that the scapegoat is
rescued and recognized as such.
3 .I t is ambiguous whether th e subject i s representative of Israel, as most com -
mentators suppose , or has a particular reference to the prophet; this is compounded
by the ambiguous identit y o f the prophet, as individual and as symbol fo r Israel. In
70 Among the Prophets
visage more waste, more pit-like than any person' (52.14). 1 He was to
bring habitatio n t o th e desolat e land s (mnott i mbr u ^ron 1?); bu t h e
himself i s desolate , th e desolatio n cas t o n hi m b y others : i&fc2 J iffl« 2
D'31 -p^s (52.14) . His word and salvation were t o outlast heave n an d
earth, bu t h e doe s no t speak . King s and prince s wer e t o bo w down
before him ; the y wer e t o nurtur e Israel (49.23) , wit h who m h e i s
ambigously identified—th e materna l imager y transferre d fro m God ,
Sarah an d the womb in whic h the prophet wa s called, to the nations .
Kings, i n 52.15, are astonished , speechless , becaus e o f seein g some -
thing beyon d th e narrative s o f th e world , understandin g something
beyond articulation. What this is we cannot say; but between i t and the
suppression o f seditio n embodie d i n th e servant/prophe t ther e i s a n
inexplicable breach.
Three furthe r points. The servant , a s wel l a s plantin g heaven an d
earth, i s t o say t o Zion nn » ••rsu , 'Yo u ar e m y people', a clear refer -
ence to Hos. 2.25 . Lik e the servant, Zio n has been rendere d desolate ,
and subjecte d to judgment, because o f the sin s of he r childre n (50.1-
3); as Sawyer has shown, the passages concernin g Zion and the servant
correspond t o eac h othe r throughou t thes e chapters . I n 52.7 , th e
herald, an obvious projection or persona o f the prophet himself, come s
to Jerusalem announcing its deliverance, to bring about the reunion of
God and Zion. 2 There follow s immediately ch. 53, with the servant' s
isolation, shame , passag e throug h death , an d apotheosis . Ar e thes e

51.12-16 the ambiguit y i s especially eviden t i n the paralleling of the addressee of

vv. 12-13 , which seems to be general, with tha t o f v. 16 , which is more specifically
the prophet, as shown by correlations with Jeremiah's commission (Jer. 1.9-10 ) and
the metaphor of being covered with God's hand i n 49.2. Th e subject of v. 1 4 medi-
ates between the two addressees. There is, however, a contrast between toriK, 'man ,
humanity' (v . 12) , wh o doe s die , an d th e subjec t o f v . 14 , who doe s not . This ,
without closing the ambiguity, makes identification with the prophet more pointed—
his immortalit y wil l b e augmente d b y his functio n o f co-creator i n v. 16 . For th e
modelling o f the servan t passage s i n Deutero-Isaia h a s commissio n oracles , se e
O.H. Steck , 'Aspekte des Gottesknechts in Deuterojesajas "Ebed-Jahwe-Liedem"',
ZAW 9 6 (1984) , pp . 372-90, and 'Aspekt e de s Gottesknechts i n Jes . 52 , 13-53 ,
12', ZAW 9 7 (1985), pp. 36-58.
1. I adopt here the usual emendatio n o f th e M T nrrao t o nrran. A. Brenne r ha s
made the attractive suggestion that nrora is a play o n n«Jo, 'to anoint'.
2. Fo r the parallelism betwee n th e herald, ifoan, i n 52.7, an d Zion as herald,
m!23Q, in 40.9 i s note d b y Sawyer, 'Daughte r of Zion an d Servan t o f the Lord' ,
p. 103 .
LANDY Th e Construction o f th e Subject 1 1

simply ironicall y contrasted, o r i s th e servant' s ordea l i n som e wa y

equivalent t o th e romance ? Ar e th e mysticall y vindicate d servan t
beyond deat h an d th e joyful mothe r Zion , whos e childre n retur n t o
her womb , metaphors fo r each other , or the same ?
Secondly, ther e i s the obtrusive overlappin g o f contradictory terms .
That whic h is not thought is thought; that which is not heard (52.15 ) is
our incredibl e hearin g (53.1); that which is seen (52.15 ) is the servant/
prophet wh o ha s n o appearanc e (53.2) . I n 53. 1 th e ar m o f YHW H i s
revealed presumabl y t o the kings who 'see' i n the previous verse , bu t
also over th e servant, who is crushed by it. But the arm of YHWH ha s
once crushe d Raha b an d torture d th e sea-drago n (51.9) ; i t i s sum -
moned to awake—to torment its servant. The same verb (n^'nnn/^nn)
is used fo r th e agony of serpent an d servan t 'fo r ou r sins' (53.5) . Bu t
it i s als o use d fo r th e birthpang s o f Sara h (51.2) . Chao s (inn ) an d
creation, deat h an d birth , serpen t an d mother , ar e thu s superimpose d
on each other .
Thirdly, what is th e point of view of Go d i n th e poem? Go d calle d
me i n th e womb , invokin g my name, i n a n evocation o f sacrifice , th e
voice comin g fro m beyon d th e womb , ye t entering it, becomin g par t
of it . Th e symboli c orde r o n it s ow n strang e trajectory . No w Go d
strikes m e (insn) that I may intercede (ins 11). I am a substitute—fo r
the man y o r fo r God ? I n 53.10 , Go d set s hi m a s a n oem , a trespas s
offering, fo r th e desecratio n o f sancta. Is thi s an DIB N give n by Go d fo r
the violatio n of the womb, for the invasion o f death int o life? Wha t is
important, however, is th e effect: th e servant sees an d knows, beyond
life an d death. Lik e God , he is high an d uplifte d (52.13 ; cf. 6.1). Bu t
there is also a transformation in the womb image. God finds him, sees
him, growing like a root in a dry land—presumably a comment on the
world an d Israel—and he is a prr, a suckling, suckling in the dryness,
but also o n God, that voice, vision, beyond the womb...

John F.A. Sawyer

The us e o f th e Hebre w word s hamus (cf . homes 'vinegar' ) an d so'eb (use d
elsewhere onl y o f prostitutes , prisoners and gypsies ) suggests a descriptio n of
Yahweh as a tired, bloodstained warrior returning from battle , in dirty clothes, not
'crimsoned garments' (RSV), an d 'stooping ' wearily , not 'marching ' triumphantl y
(RSV). This remarkable image, which i s developed further i n vv. 5 and 9, i s ofte n
removed b y textual emendation, but fits quite well into its context in Isaiah where
images of Yahweh als o include a woman in labour (42.14), an apologetic husband
(54.7-8) and a midwife (66.9) .

There is a widespread assumption that images ar e in some wa y inferior

to abstrac t idea s and concepts. 1 In a recen t discussio n of image s in
Biblical poetry , Lui s Alonso Schoke l argue s agains t thi s view : 'whe n
we are dealin g wit h poets', he says , 'wha t come s befor e th e image i s
not the concept, bu t the formless experience'. 2 A phrase lik e 'th e hand
of God', for example, doe s no t mean the sam e thin g as an abstractio n
like 'th e powe r o f God' . O f cours e w e ca n analys e th e meanin g o f
images b y referenc e t o concepts , bu t th e imager y come s first . I n a
passage lik e Isa. 63.1-6, the imagery has first to be taken seriousl y an d
examined i n it s ow n righ t a s reflectin g the author' s experienc e an d
relating t o our own . Only then are we gettin g near t o the meanin g of
the text.
There ar e theologian s an d philosopher s wh o ar e takin g image s
seriously too . For Sallie McFague, images and metaphors ar e as impor-
tant i n thei r ow n righ t a s theologica l concept s an d doctrines . I n he r
Metaphorical Theology, fo r example , sh e show s ho w influentia l the

1. Thi s is the revised version of a paper read at the IOSOT Congress in Leuven
in August, 1989 .
2. A Manual o f Hebrew Poetics (Subsidia Biblica, 11; Rome: Pontifical Biblical
Institute, 1988) , pp . 100-101 .
SAWYER Radical Images o f Yahweh i n Isaiah 6 3 7 3

traditional mode l o f 'Go d a s Father ' ha s bee n i n Christia n theology ,

almost t o the point of idolatry, and how closel y boun d up it is with the
experience o f die community or institution that developed it. 1 Such an
image ha s t o b e scrutinize d ver y carefully , an d eve n treate d wit h a
certain scepticism , no t least because it may not have the same relevanc e
in ever y age .
The searc h fo r ne w metaphor s o r model s tha t migh t reflec t th e
experiences o f th e moder n worl d bette r doe s no t restric t itsel f t o th e
Bible. Som e theologians find the biblical text s o irredeemably irrele -
vant o r patriarchal tha t they look elsewher e fo r authority . Others, lik e
Sallie McFagu e an d Phylli s Trible, 2 see k t o fin d trace s o f a les s
irrelevant o r les s patriarcha l religio n withi n scripture . I t i s the n a
matter o f selectio n an d interpretation—'Searching fo r Los t Coins' , t o
use th e titl e o f a book b y anothe r recen t theologian, 3 withi n scriptur e
and withi n tradition. McFague start s he r discussion o f one new model ,
her bes t know n one , namely , tha t o f 'Go d a s friend' , b y quotin g
scriptural authorit y fo r it : Isa . 41.18, Hos . 2.23, J n 15.1 3 an d s o on. 4
Passages i n which the image of 'Go d as mother' clearl y occur s receiv e
a new emphasis i n today's worl d for similar reasons. 5
Against thi s backgroun d I want to look agai n a t Isa . 63.1-6 , wher e
unexpected word s and images, implying something quite extraordinary,
are apparentl y applie d t o Yahweh. Befor e w e remove the m a s scriba l
errors o r resor t t o othe r method s o f weakenin g thei r effec t (whic h i s
what is don e i n th e majority of commentaries and , withou t comment ,

1. Metaphorical Theology: Models o f Go d in Religious Language (Philadelphia:

Fortress Press , 1982) , pp. 145-92.
2. Cf . M . Daly, Beyond Go d th e Father (Boston : Beaco n Press , 1973) ;
P. Trible, God and th e Rhetoric of Sexuality (Philadelphia : Fortress Press, 1978);
idem, Texts of Terror: Literary Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives
(Philadelphia:Fortress Press, 1984); cf.R.R. Ruether, Sexism andGod-Talk (London:
SCM Press, 1983); L.M. Russell (ed.), Feminist Interpretation of th e Bible (Oxford :
Blackwell, 1985) ; D.F. Middleton, 'Feminis t Interpretation', in R.J. Coggins and
J.L. Houlde n (eds.) , Dictionary o f Biblical Interpretation (London : SC M Press,
1990), pp . 231-34.
3. A . Loades, Searching fo r Lost Coins: Explorations i n Christianity an d
Feminism (London: SPCK, 1988).
4. Metaphorical Theology, pp . 177-78.
5. E.g . Deut. 32.18; Ps. 131.2 ; Isa. 31.5 ; 42.14 ; 46.3-4; 49.15; 66.13 . Cf .
Trible, Go d an d th e Rhetoric of Sexuality, pp . 2Iff.; McFague , Metaphorical
Theology, pp . 169ff. ; Ruether , Sexism an d God-Talk, pp . 54-56.
74 Among th e Prophets

in som e o f our Englis h versions),1 w e shoul d look ver y closely a t th e

text as it stands to see whether, like the feminine images in some othe r
passages, thes e ar e image s tha t have been suppresse d or underplayed
for identifiabl e theological reasons . Textual emendation, even when it
is supported b y the evidence o f the ancient versions , is not always th e
correct solution . Th e dictu m dijficilior lectio potior es t i s ofte n
proved correct , an d sometime s i t i s eas y t o se e wh y th e 'difficult '
reading or interpretation has been bypassed .

Verse 1 . Th e passag e begin s with a question : 'Wh o i s this? ' Man y
commentators assum e tha t thi s is a rhetorical question , lik e 'Wh o i s
this comin g up fro m th e wilderness? ' i n th e Son g o f Song s (8.5) , o r
'Who is the king of glory?' i n Psalm 24. 2 The speaker know s perfectly
well who the approaching person is and the question is just a figure of
speech designed t o heighten the effect o f the welcome he receives. But
this interpretatio n assume s tha t th e passag e describe s a norma l
encounter between tw o people, conversin g with each othe r i n every -
day speech. This seems to me to be quite unjustified. I n the first place,
no encounter between a human being and Yahweh is normal. The very
least w e would expect here is a question, not a rhetorical questio n but
a genuine one—the speaker does not recognize Yahweh at first.
Secondly, ther e i s a questio n i n v . 2 a s well , whic h i s a genuin e
question asking for information: 'Why th e red stains on your clothes?'
Surely thi s i s anothe r indicatio n that th e firs t questio n is a rea l on e
too, no t merel y a rhetorica l one . Both question s reflec t th e actua l
emotions o f someone confronte d b y an extraordinary sight, like Moses
confronted b y the burning bush (Exod . 3.3) or Gideon by the ange l of
the Lor d sittin g under the oa k a t Ophra h (Judg . 6.11-24), o r Danie l

1. E.g . RSV ; B. Duhm, Das Buck Jesaia (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
3rd edn , 1914) , pp . 433-34 ; G.H . Box, Th e Book o f Isaiah (London : Pitma
1908), p . 327; R.J. Jones , 'Isaia h 56-66' , i n Peake's Commentary o n th e Bibl
(Edinburgh: Nelson 1962) , p . 533; J.L. McKenzie, Second Isaiah (AB; New York:
Doubleday, 1967) , pp. 186-87 ; C. Westermann, Isaiah 40-66 (OTL; London: SCM
Press, 1969) , p . 380 ; C. Stuehlmueller , 'Isaia h 40-66' , i n Jerome Biblical
Commentary (London : Geoffrey Chapman , 1969), p. 384; R.N. Whybray, Isaiah
40-66 (NCB ; London: Oliphants, 1975) , pp. 253-54.
2. Alons o Schb'ke l describe s the m a s 'question s whic h pretend ignorance '
(Manual o f Hebrew Poetics, p. 152) . Cf. Westermann, Isaiah 40-66, pp. 380-81.
SAWYER Radical Images of Yahweh i n Isaiah 63 7 5

by the vision o f four great beast s an d the Ancient of Days (Dan . 7.15-
16). Hi s first reactio n i s t o ask , 'Wh o ca n thi s extraordinar y lookin g
person be?' , and then, when the figure introduces himself a s Yahweh,
'In tha t case', he asks, 'wh y d o you look like somebod y wh o has just
come from working in a winepress?1
Much depends, o f course, o n the meaning of the rest o f the questio n
in v . I . I t consist s o f a descriptio n o f th e approachin g figur e i n tw o
exactly paralle l clause s introduce d by th e demonstrativ e zeh: Who is
(A) this perso n comin g fro m Edom... and (B ) this person gloriou s i n
his apparel... ? Each claus e i s divided int o two halves, an d it seems to
me tha t i t i s th e semanti c oppositio n betwee n thes e tw o halve s tha t
gives u s th e clu e t o wha t the descriptio n means . I n bot h clause s th e
first half draw s o n traditiona l languag e an d imager y an d i s eas y t o
understand i n th e contex t o f a n anthropomorphi c descriptio n o f
Yahweh. He comes from Edom, a s in the Song of Deborah (Judg . 5.4 )
and elsewhere (Deut . 33.2 ; Hab . 3.3), an d he is 'clothe d with majesty '
as in Ps. 104. 1 (hod Skadar labasta).
The othe r hal f o f each clause , i n contrast , i s extremely unexpecte d
and unconventional , an d ha s th e effec t o f confusin g an d perhaps
frightening th e speaker . I f thi s is th e longed-fo r return of Yahwe h t o
Zion, referred t o in 40.10 ('Behold th e Lord God comes wit h might'),
52.8 ('fo r ey e t o ey e the y se e th e retur n o f th e Lor d t o Zion' ) an d
elsewhere, then it is not at all what was expected. Ca n this be Yahweh,
or is it someon e else ? Like Yahweh, he is coming, as of old, fro m th e
direction o f Edom, and, like Yahweh, he is 'clothe d with majesty'. Bu t
he is als o h amus tfgadi m an d so'eh. Whatever thes e word s mean , a s
applied t o Yahweh , the y mus t surely refe r t o som e un-Yahweh-lik e
features o f th e descriptio n i n orde r t o explai n th e speaker' s bewil -
dered questions—a t first, Who ca n thi s be, an d then, if i t i s Yahweh,
Why doe s he look like this?
A widesprea d interpretatio n of the verse involve s translatin g h amus
b gadim a s 'i n crimsone d garments ' (RSV ) or th e like , perhap s sug -
gesting colour s fi t fo r a king , and emendin g the secon d participl e t o
so'ed 'marching ' (RSV). 1 The first problem wit h this interpretatio n i s

1. E.g . Symmachus , Vulgate , RSV ; R . Lowth, Isaiah: A Ne w Translation

(London, 1779) ; T.K . Cheyne, Th e Prophecies o f Isaiah, I I (London , 1881),
p. 100 ; Box , Isaiah, p. 327; G.A. Smith, Th e Book o f Isaiah XL-LXVI (London ,
1910), p . 443; McKenzie , Second Isaiah, p . 187 ; Westermann , Isaiah 40-66,
p. 380 .
76 Among the Prophets

that it completely remove s th e point of the speaker's two questions. If

there i s nothin g od d abou t Yahweh' s appearance , a s h e marche s
majestically bac k from Edom , dressed lik e a king in glorious crimso n
garments, ther e i s nothin g t o explai n th e speaker' s apparen t
bewilderment. Th e other problem concerns the precise meaning o f the
two Hebrew words hamus and so 'eh.
Verse 2 implies that h amus means somethin g lik e 'red , stained wit h
red wine' , for the sam e b egadlm tha t ar e described a s h amus i n v . 1
are described in v . 2 as 're d an d looking as though they had been i n a
wine-press'. BOB suggests that Syriac 'ethamas ('to blush, be ashamed')
might provid e a possibl e etymology , but i t i s no t a ver y convincing
one. In a context where it is associated wit h th e terms gat 'win e vat',
purd 'wine-press' , darak 't o tread grapes' an d sakar 't o get drunk', the
ordinary everyda y Hebre w wor d homes 'vinegar ' surel y provide s a
much bette r explanation . Ther e is als o probabl y a wordpla y i n th e
choice of the Edomite place-name bosra, in preference t o the conven-
tional Paran or Se'ir as parallel to Edom in v. 1 , playing on its associa -
tion wit h baser 'grape-picker' , basir 'vintage ' an d s o on. 1 S o should
we not translate hamus 'winestained', if that is what is meant, however
incongruous an image of Yahweh it conjures up?
The first thing t o say about the other word, so'eh, is that, whatever
it means , i t to o i s incongruou s in a descriptio n o f Yahweh . Apar t
from thi s passage i t occurs three times in the Hebre w Bible , twic e in
the contex t of imprisonmen t and oppressio n (Isa . 51.14 ; Jer . 48.12) ,
and onc e o f a prostitut e (Jer . 2.20) . I t ha s becom e customar y i n
modern times , mainly for etymological reasons, to take it in the sens e
of 'stooping , cowed, unresisting': the prisoner is 'bowe d down' (RSV ;
cf. NEB 'he that cowers'), an d the prostitut e 'sprawls i n promiscuous
vice' (NEB) . With that background it surely cannot mean in Isaiah 63 ,
as some have suggested, 'wit h his head bent back proudly' o r the like.2
In Jewis h tradition, followed by th e Kin g Jame s Version , th e ver b i s
usually glossed a s Ftaltel 't o wander from plac e to place' lik e gypsies
or traveller s wit h n o fixe d abode. 3 Agai n i t surel y canno t mea n

1. Cf . Alonso Schokel, Manual of Hebrew Poetics, p. 30.

2. E.g . Gesenius , Delitzsch: see Cheyne , Th e Prophecies o f Isaiah, p . 100 ;
P.-E. Bonnard , Le Second Isa'te (Paris : Gabalda, 1972) , p . 436 .
3. E.g . Kimhi , Ib n Ezra, J . Skinner, Isaiah XL-LXVI (Cambridge :
Cambridge Universit y Press, 1902) , p . 19 5 ('travelling'): cf . A . Even-Shoshan,
Hammillon hehadas (Jerusalem: Kirya t Sefer, 1980) , V, p. 2249.
SAWYER Radical Images of Yahweh i n Isaiah 63 7 7

'marching' o r 'striding ' (RSV) . Whether we take the sense of 'stooping'

or th e traditiona l Jewis h on e o f 'wanderin g fro m place t o place', th e
term, lik e h amus, conjure s u p a pictur e o f Yahwe h actin g ou t o f
character. H e is wearing the majestic roya l garment s tha t befit him —
but the y look a s if they are stained with wine; his grea t strength , as of
the Lor d o f heaven an d earth, i s evident (b erob koho) v—but h e look s
lost an d weary . Tha t explain s th e speaker' s bewilderment . Wh o ca n
this ambiguous figure be?
Yahweh's answe r is usuall y understood t o be a n announcemen t of
victory an d salvation, taking fdaqa i n the sens e o f 'victory , vindica-
tion' (RSV) : 'I t is I , who announce that right has wo n the day, I who
am stron g t o save' (NEB) . This follow s logically fro m th e removal o f
all th e dir t and wearines s fro m th e descriptio n of Yahwe h in th e pre -
ceding question, and it is then a quite conventional picture of Yahweh
returning t o Zio n bringin g new s o f victory . Bu t i f w e retai n th e
ambiguity o f th e descriptio n an d th e bewilderment o f th e questioner ,
then th e answe r migh t hav e a differen t nuance . Th e firs t par t als o
addresses th e speaker' s doubts : 'I t i s I . I a m speakin g bifdaqa 'i n
righteousness = truthfully ' (J B 'with integrity' ; cf . 45.23; 48.1). Th e
sense would then be: '(D o not be put off by appearances.) Believe me,
it is I, Yahweh, mighty to save.'

Verse 2 . Th e speaker's second question need s littl e furthe r comment ,
except t o re-emphasiz e th e strikin g incongruit y o f th e imagery .
According to this verse Yahwe h looks like a dorek b egat ' a treader o f
grapes'. The imag e o f God trampling on his enemie s (includin g 'th e
virgin daughte r of Zion', Lam . 1.15 ; cf. Isa. 63.3; Rev . 19.15 ) occur s
elsewhere, bu t here he actually looks like ' a treader of grapes', that is
to say , lik e someon e wh o ha s bee n workin g in a wine-press , tired ,
sweaty, his clothes stained with the juice of the grapes .
Most o f th e verb s i n th e nex t section (vv . 3-6), afte r th e firs t one ,
darakti ' I hav e trodden' , appea r t o be moda l (imperfect s wit h w c),
corresponding t o th e implie d modalit y i n v . 1 , 'Who coul d thi s be?',
and suggesting perhaps th e extraordinary, almost unrea l nature of th e
scene described : 'tramplin g o n the m myself.. . m y clothe s spattere d

1. Cf . Whybray, Isaiah 40-66, p. 254 ('victory'); Bonnard, Le Second Isa'ie,

p. 436 ('justice') .
78 Among th e Prophets

with thei r lifeblood.. . I wa s panic-stricken...' 1 Jewis h traditio n an d

KJV consistently translate them as futures. Th e unconventional imager y
of thi s passage ma y well be reflected in what seems t o be a quite con -
sistent an d deliberat e choic e o f ver b forms . The y ar e difficult , i f no t
impossible, t o translate , bu t tha t i s n o reaso n t o emen d the m al l t o
simple narrative pas t tenses with waw consecutive, as BUS an d others
recommend.2 Surel y i t must b e significan t tha t th e onl y normal pas t
tenses i n the text as it stands describe the successful completio n o f the
task, in traditiona l theologica l languag e (us^nat g e 'ulay ba 'a 'th e year
when my people are redeemed had come' and wattosa' li zfro'i 'The n
my ow n arm save d me...') , whil e th e other, les s conventiona l verb s
are consistently modal .
Yahweh's answe r explains why he is looking so weary and bedrag -
gled. Ther e wa s n o one to help him . H e had t o d o the whol e job b y
himself. This i s repeated fou r times , twic e in the first line (l ebaddi an d
'en-'is 'itti) an d twic e i n v . 5, wher e onc e agai n w e fin d radica l
anthropomorphism. Th e ide a tha t the one God , creato r o f heaven an d
earth, act s alon e an d need s n o on e t o hel p hi m i s a familia r one ,
especially i n Isaia h 40-66 . Bu t this i s different : here Yahweh i s des -
cribed a s wantin g help, indee d lookin g roun d desperatel y fo r help .
The ver b histomem is used of someone 'crushe d t o the ground' b y his
enemies an d 'mad e to sit in darkness like those lon g dead' (Ps . 143.3 -
4) an d o f a ma n sic k wit h terro r (Dan . 8.17 , 27) . I t i s applie d t o
Yahweh twice : here , an d i n a simila r contex t in 59.16 . Unlik e h amus
and so 'eh i n v . 1 , its meanin g is well known. I t differ s fro m th e othe r
intransitive stem s o f th e roo t samam (qa l an d niphal ) onl y i n bein g
restricted t o persona l subjects . Whil e th e qa l an d nipha l form s ar e
applied to the devastation and desolation of lands and cities as well, the
hithpolel form is used only of human being s an d Yahweh, o f psycho -
logical or emotional devastation , as it were, not physical.
The extrem e anthropomorphis m implie d b y th e applicatio n o f thi s
verb t o Go d ha s onc e agai n bee n har d fo r commentator s an d trans -
lators t o accept. On e wa y o f avoidin g it i s t o reduce th e force o f th e

1. Cf . A.B . Davidson , Hebrew Syntax (Edinburgh : T . & T. Clark , 1894) ,

pp. 90-95; J.F.A . Sawyer, A Modern Introduction t o Biblical Hebrew (London :
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976) , pp. 86-89.
2. E.g . Duhm , Jesaia, p. 434; Box , Isaiah, p. 327; McKenzie, Second Isaiah,
p. 186 ; Bonnard , L e Second Isal'e, p . 434; Whybray , Isaiah 40-66, p . 254 .
Skinner tries t o understand MT as it stands (Isaiah XL-LXVI, p . 196) .
SAWYER Radical Images of Yahweh in Isaiah 63 7 9

word b y renderin g i t a s 'wondered ' (59.1 6 AV , RSV ; 63.5 AV),

suggesting mild surprise, or 'amazed , aghast' (63. 5 NEB) . Jerome goe s
farther i n thi s anti-anthropomorphi c directio n wit h quaesivi 'asked ,
inquired'. As well a s weakening the effect, thi s introduces a new and
quite irrelevan t anthropomorphism , namel y th e ide a tha t God di d no t
have th e wisdo m t o realize tha t h e had n o allies in hi s figh t agains t
evil. Other s introduc e th e notio n o f mora l outrage : '(Yahweh ) wa s
outraged (NEB ) or appalle d (RSV ) that n o on e intervened ' (59.16). 1
But thi s moral dimensio n i n the word histomem seem s on the face o f
it unlikely. Surely i n this context we need t o understand it i n its ordi -
nary sens e o f shoc k an d horror , a s o f someon e panic-stricke n an d
aware both o f the enormity of the task t o be don e and o f th e fac t tha t
there is no one in the world to help him do it. In the second half of the
book o f Isaiah, wher e images o f Yahweh include those of a woman in
labour, gaspin g and panting (42.14), and of a midwife assisting a t th e
birth o f a bab y (66.9) , no t t o mentio n tha t o f Yahwe h wanderin g
wearily bac k fro m work , hi s clothe s lookin g a s i f the y ar e staine d
with the juice o f grapes, w e have no justification fo r playing down the
anthropomorphism expresse d b y this verb, o r any of the other radica l
images in this passage.
Another important point that has to be made about Yahweh's speec h
is that the same ambiguit y or vacillation whic h was identified in vv. 1
and 2 run s throug h thi s also . Alongsid e thos e strikin g glimpse s o f
God's staine d garments , hi s lonelines s an d hi s horror , w e fin d con -
ventional references t o his wrath, his day of vengeance an d the saving
power o f his arm . In one verse he is the subjec t o f both histomem 't o
be horrified ' an d hosia' 't o save' , just a s in v . 1 he i s both 'comin g
forth fro m Edom' , a s i n day s o f old , an d 'wearil y stooping' , bot h
'glorious in his apparel' and 'i n blood-stained clothes' . He suffers, an d
at the same time inflicts suffering .
There i s als o vacillatio n between th e imag e of th e wear y laboure r
returning fro m th e winepres s and th e bloodstaine d warrio r returning
from th e scen e o f carnag e on th e da y o f judgment. The figur e i s tha t
of a bloodstained warrior , but th e red stain s on his clothe s mak e hi m
look lik e someon e wh o ha s bee n workin g in a wine-press ; an d thi s
leads t o a comparison betwee n a bloody battl e i n which he crushes his
enemies an d the trampling of grapes i n a winepress. 2 But the sense is

1. Cf . Cheyne, Th e Prophecies o f Isaiah, p . 101 .

2. Cf . Joel 4.13 (Englis h 3.13) ; Lam. 1.15 . Westerman n sees an allusion her e
80 Among th e Prophets

clear throughout . Th e poe t portray s Yahwe h no t a s a triumphan t

gloating warrior , swaggerin g bac k fro m battle , unmove d b y th e
enormity o f wha t h e ha s ha d t o do , bu t a s tire d an d bloodstained ,
barely recognizable, a s someone wh o knows what it is to suffer .
One final point about this remarkable passag e concern s it s relation -
ship to the passages immediately preceding and following it. The phras e
Ynat g e'ulay 'th e year o f my redeemed ones ' i n v. 4 (RS V footnote)
picks u p th e reference t o 'th e redeemed o f Yahweh ' i n th e pictur e of
redemption at the end of the previous chapter (62.11-12) . Redemption ,
especially i n thes e chapters , involve s th e ruthles s crushin g o f th e
forces o f injustice . Th e 'victory ' o r 'salvation ' a t th e climax o f th e
picture in v. 5 is made possible b y Yahweh's wrath ('my wrath upheld
me')—anger, tha t is , a t th e injustic e don e t o hi s people . I t wa s tha t
anger tha t gav e hi m strengt h t o figh t agains t th e oppressor , an d
spurred him o n to crush and humiliate them so mercilessly.
Those called 'redeeme d o f Yahweh ' featur e just a s prominently i n
the followin g passage , whic h contains some othe r important points of
continuity a s well . I t i s a hym n i n prais e o f Yahweh' s lov e fo r hi s
people: ' I will tell o f Yahweh's lovin g actions (h asadim)... al l tha t h e
has done for them in his deep love...' Fou r words for 'love ' ar e used ,
including rah amim, a ter m o f specia l significanc e i n thes e chapter s
(e.g. 49.13-14) . hosia' 't o save' and ga'al 't o redeem' bot h reappear .
But mos t extraordinary , almost a s thoug h intended as a comment o n
the immediatel y precedin g passag e w e have been considering , i s th e
phrase b ekol-saratam Id' sar i n v . 9: 'i n al l thei r affliction , h e wa s
afflicted' (KJV , RSV). As one would expect, most commentators cannot
take thi s an d emen d th e text : e.g . 'i n al l thei r troubles . I t wa s n o
envoy...' (NEB). 1 Kimh i make s sens e of the Hebre w tex t as it stand s
and glosse s i t wit h th e sentence wattiqsar napso ba' amal yisra el 'h e
[God] coul d no t endur e the sufferin g o f Israel ' (o f course , h e adds ,
rfhakkol derek masal 'everythin g i s by way of allegory'). I se e no
reason wh y w e to o shoul d not tr y t o understand the tex t a s it stands ,

to the Babylonia n myt h of the battle between Mardu k an d Tiamat (Isaiah 40-66,
pp. 382-83), an d i n a Ugaritic paralle l th e goddess Ana t return s hom e fro m battl e
covered in blood.
1. Cf . LXX, Old Latin; Skinner , Isaiah XLr-LKVI, p . 200; Westermann, Isaiah
40-66, p. 385; Whybray, Isaiah 40-66, p. 257; Bonnard, L e Second Isai'e, p. 443.
SAWYER Radical Images o f Yahweh in Isaiah 6 3 8 1

especially since , a s we have seen , ther e seem s t o be a surprising con-

sistency in the language and imagery used here. 1

To g o back t o Alons o Schokel' s commen t o n image s wit h which w e
began, w e might ask the question, What kind of 'formles s experience '
preceded th e extraordinar y imager y o f thi s passage ? I f w e plac e i t
alongside a number of similar passage s i n Isaiah 40-66 , it is not har d
to recognize behind the poet's images an experience of his God Yahwe h
that i s consistent and convincing . Possibly in hi s ow n suffering , o r in
that o f th e communit y wher e h e lives , th e poe t ha s encountere d th e
human face o f Yahweh in a peculiarly intimate way. Perhaps th e ter m
that bes t sum s u p hi s experienc e o f Yahwe h i s rah amim, wit h it s
earthy association s with a mother's physiologica l closenes s to the baby
in he r wom b (cf . 49.14-15 ; 46.3-4). 2 Thi s experienc e inspire d th e
images h e uses : th e mothe r goin g throug h the pain s of childbirt h fo r
him (42.14) , th e remorseful husband swearing almost on bended kne e
never t o los e hi s tempe r agai n (54.7-10) , th e midwif e attendin g th e
birth o f a baby (66.9), 3 and the bloodstained soldier, returning fro m
fighting hi s battle (63.1-6) , alone , weary, unrecognized. The commo n
theme i n al l thes e image s i s th e deep , close , comfortin g involvement
of Yahwe h i n th e struggl e for justice and freedo m i n th e world : 'th e
year o f my redeemed one s has come' (63.6) .
As we have seen , no t every on e has bee n abl e t o relate to som e of
these radica l images, an d elaborate mean s have been sough t to remov e
them or reduce thei r effectiveness. But in view of other radica l innova-
tions i n thes e chapters , notabl y th e ne w emphasi s o n explici t mono -
theism and th e analysis of vicarious suffering i n Isaiah 53 , it is hard t o
deny tha t the y ar e ther e i n th e Hebre w text , a s Jewis h traditionalist s
like Kimhi , as well as the KJ V and others , hav e acknowledged , an d i t
is a sig n of th e time s tha t modern commentator s hav e begu n t o tak e
such things seriously again.

1. Cf . Smith , Isaiah XL-LXVI, p . 450; I.W . Slotki, Isaiah (London : Soncino

Press, 1949) , p . 307 .
2. Cf . Trible, Go d and th e Rhetoric o f Sexuality, pp . 31-59; Ruether, Sexism
and God-Talk, p . 56; McFague, Metaphorical Theology, pp . 169-70 .
3. J.F.A . Sawyer , Th e Daughte r of Zion and the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah :
A Comparison', JSOT 4 4 (1989), pp. 89-107.
82 Among th e Prophets

What ar e the implication s of this for 'metaphorica l theology' ? The

earliest interpretatio n o f th e passag e i n Christia n traditio n come s i n
Revelation, where i t i s Christ who is 'cla d i n a robe dippe d i n blood'
and who will 'tread the wine-press of the fury o f the wrath of God th e
Almighty' (Rev . 19.13-15) . I t was later als o related t o the crucifixion .
There is , fo r example, i n Christian art the famous scene derive d fro m
Augustine, in which the great woode n frame of a wine-press i s modi -
fied t o represent a cross, and , instead of grape-juice, i t is the blood o f
Christ that flows out into a chalice beneath. 1 Both o f these interpreta -
tions explain th e extraordinary ambiguity of the passage b y referenc e
to the person o f Christ, bot h divin e and human, both glorious, power -
ful an d life-givin g on th e on e hand, and suffering , tortured , weary, on
the other. The y als o voice the problem posed b y a model o f God that
has been hard for commentators to accept .
But, a s Calvin pointe d out , the passag e i s actuall y abou t Yahweh ,
not Jesus , an d thu s must provide scriptura l authorit y for a mode l o f
God rathe r differen t fro m th e traditiona l ones. 2 To en d a s w e bega n
with McFague' s 'metaphorica l theology ' an d he r notio n of 'Go d a s
friend', suc h a n imag e shift s th e emphasi s fro m transcendenc e an d
once-for-all salvatio n i n a father/chil d mode, a s sh e says , t o a con -
tinuing adult relationship marked by sacrifice , suffering an d solidarity
with others : 'Go d is th e friend wh o makes sacrifice s on ou r behalf.. .
co-operates with gifts o f power, perseveranc e an d insight.. . and when
we fall...forgive s us'. 3 In Genesis, words containing the root 'sb ar e
used bot h o f th e 'pain ' an d 'toil ' o f Ev e an d Adam , and o f th e pai n
that Yahweh felt i n his heart when he saw the evil that was being done
on the earth he had created. 4 Isa. 63.10 i s another example . Fo r thos e
who hav e eye s t o see , th e Hebrew Bibl e contains many 'proof-texts '
for suc h alternativ e models o f God . Isa . 63.1- 6 i s surel y on e o f th e
most poignant.

1. Cf . L . Lee, G . Seddon an d F.Stephe n (eds.) , Stained Glass (London :

Mitchell Beazley, 1976) , p . 140 .
2. G.A . Smith, quoting Calvin, finds here a descriptio n o f 'th e passion , th e
agony, the unshared and unaided effort whic h the Divine Saviour passes through for
his people ' (Isaiah XL-LXVI, p . 433). Cf . Skinner , Isaiah XL-LXVI, p . 194 ;
Slotki, Isaiah, p . 307; J.F.A . Sawyer , Isaiah, I I (Philadelphia: Westminster Press,
Edinburgh: S t Andrews Press, 1986) , pp . 195-96 .
3. McFague , Metaphorical Theology, p . 186.
4. Cf . C . Westermann , Genesis (Philadelphia : Fortres s Press , 1984) , I ,
pp. 410-11.
Part I I
M.G. Swanepoel

Ezekiel 16.1-6 3 uses different metaphor s in bringing its message home . For instance
it uses the shocking metaphor of immorality in order to eliminate the false confidence
in huma n merit. We find Yahweh in this text as a outraged and exasperated lover .
The pendulu m swings i n Ezekiel 16 , metaphorically, from a n abandoned chil d of
suspect parentage (judgment) to ceremonies of fetching the bride (restoration); fro m a
wedding (restoration) t o a prostitute who pays her lovers (judgment) ; and fro m th e
disgraceful conduc t o f he r daughter s (judgment) to a ne w everlastin g covenan t
(restoration). This is a mirror image from lif e with a meaning for life. Opposites meet
in this text. Here is magnificent mercy, regardless o f filth and vileness; and then the
love o f Yahwe h in spite o f the evil o f human beings . The purpose : A ne w under-
standing and appreciation o f Yahweh.

1. Introduction
Surely on e o f the mos t gripping units in the book o f Ezekiel i s ch . 16 .
Yet scholars lik e Gowa n (1985: 65) are of the opinion tha t this impor -
tant par t o f th e boo k o f Ezekiel canno t stand o n its ow n bu t ca n only
be discussed i n connection with other texts. The message of Ezekiel 1 6
is als o describe d a s 'shocking ' o r 'unacceptable ' (Gowa n 1985 : 66) .
Here w e se e th e Lor d i n hi s lov e mortified by a n abandone d chil d t o
whom he had show n compassion . Therefor e Lemk e (1984: 176) justi-
fiably remark s o n Ezekie l 16 : 'Al l th e ro t an d vilenes s o f th e natio n
had to be exposed mercilessly ; all the false confidenc e in human merit ,
all the facile claims o n God's mercy had to be undercut radically onc e
and for all'.

* Thi s articl e i s a translation o f an Afrikaans article that appeared i n Skrifen

Kerkl 1(1990): 80-102.
SWANEPOEL Ezekiel 1 6 8 5

This sectio n ha s als o le d t o widel y differin g interpretations . Lan g

(1981: 137 ) quotes som e o f thes e views . H e quotes Koch , who says ,
'In al l of world literature, ther e is hardly a document that portrays th e
history o f its ow n people in suc h a negative an d guilt-stricken light' .
And Jasper s refer s t o 'sexua l metaphor s i n Ezekie l 1 6 and 2 3 which
occur with schizophrenia' (Lan g 1981 : 62) .
Greenberg (1983 : 299 ) howeve r give s a n interestin g view : 'B y
extending th e metaphor i n time, Ezekiel provide d th e adulterous wif e
of Hosea and Jeremiah wit h a biography'. It is very clear tha t Ezekie l
16 makes use of metaphors like that of the unfaithful wif e t o say some -
thing t o th e Jerusale m o f hi s ow n tim e a s wel l a s t o th e childre n o f
God today. The content of the metaphor has far-reaching consequences
for th e relationship between the Lor d an d his children . Lemke (1984:
176) speak s o f Yahweh a s the 'outrage d and exasperated lover , rathe r
than a tender an d forgiving parent... ' when he thinks of Ezekiel 16 .
Ezek. 16.1-6 3 forms a neat, well-defined unit . It begins in 16. 1 with
the conventiona l Wortereignis-formula whic h introduces mos t of the
prophecies i n th e book o f Ezekiel. Th e appropriat e conclusion o f th e
unit come s a t th e en d o f 16.6 3 wit h th e conventiona l Gottesspruch-
formula. Ezek . 16.1-6 3 is in addition the longest prophecy in the book
of Ezekie l (Greenber g 1983 : 292) .

2. Text-Critical Notes
The aim of this investigation is to establish the theology of Ezekiel 16 .
In orde r to achieve this a thorough study o f the Hebrew Masoretic text
(BHS) i s necessary. Some text-critical observations are important in this
16.6b-b. Th e original LXX and the Syria c translation, together with
a few othe r manuscripts , leave thi s part out because o f the possibilit y
of dittography . I n m y opinio n th e M T readin g shoul d b e retaine d
because th e repetition emphasizes the idea.
76.7 c-c. The reading of the text-critica l not e is DH U ru n or onus.
This ma y be translated , 'in th e time of menstruation'. I t makes bette r
sense in th e contex t if th e MT , where D"-iu "Hi n ma y b e translate d a s
'finest ornaments', i s followed.
16.15b-b. The M T reading i s 'rr'V? (i t wa s fo r him) . Accordin g t o
Fuhs (1984: 83), 'th e end of the verse in H is incomprehensible'. The
LXX throw s n o ligh t on th e matter . Zimmerl i (1979 : 325 ) point s ou t
86 Among th e Prophets

that 'thi s undoubte d secondary elemen t i n th e tex t i s interprete d b y

Halevy (Toy ) as TP V ? (whoeve r he ma y be)'. Here perhap s w e shoul d
say tha t w e d o no t know . Fuh s (1984 : 83 ) i s o f th e opinio n tha t
perhaps i t shoul d b e lef t untranslated . The M T reading i s therefor e
retained fo r wan t of a better alternative .
16.23b-b. Accordin g t o the text-critical not e thi s section i s wanting
in th e LXX , namely "p ^ H ^I K (woe , wo e t o you) . I t doe s no t mak e
much difference to the meaning, and so the MT can readily b e retained.
16.24a. The text-critical note points out that many other manuscripts
vocalize 3 1 and the n translat e i t a s 'platform ' o r 'artificiall y con -
structed hill', according to Wevers (1969 : 99) . Th e M T vocalizes a s aa
(dam, hollow o r bed). I t looks a s if the text-critical not e make s mor e
sense in the context. I therefore agree wit h Wevers .
16.29b. Th e text-critica l not e indicate s tha t th e LX X doe s no t
include this word. It may perhaps have been added . The M T reading is
]i?)D (lan d of commerce). I agree wit h Wever s (1969 : 99 ) tha t Canaan
here ha s th e possibl e meanin g of 'trader ' an d is used a s a n adjective.
There is therefore n o reason t o deviate from th e MT.
16.53a. According to the text-critica l not e the reading is "roan (i f I
change). The M T reading is Total (captivit y of) - Th e latte r doe s no t
make sens e i n th e context . Th e text-critica l chang e i s therefor e
J6.57a. The not e proposes inri y (you r nakedness) instead o f -[run
(your wickedness). The note makes better sense in the context.
16.57c. The M T reading is D~I « (Aram/Syria) . Th e text-critica l not e
is an« (Edom) , o n th e basi s o f th e Syria c translatio n of th e LX X and
many othe r manuscripts . The Edom-moti f appear s i n Ezek. 25.12 and
36.5. Th e Aramaean s ar e als o no t show n elsewher e a s enemie s o f
Jerusalem (Greenber g 1983 : 290) . Th e LX X is no t howeve r a goo d
external criterion fo r accepting the note. I stand, therefore, b y th e MT.
16.61. The LXX (Latin translation) of th e reading o f papyru s 967 i s
in Hebre w ^nnp n ( I take). The text-critica l amendment is preferable t o
the MT, because Yahweh is the subject and nobody else.

3. The Structure
When w e stud y th e structur e of Ezekie l 1 6 we fin d som e interesting
phenomena. Th e structura l analysis of ch . 1 6 is therefor e o f cardina l
importance fo r th e understanding of the peri cope.
SWANEPOEL Ezekiel 1 6 8 7

As ha s alread y bee n said , Ezek . 16. 1 begin s wit h th e conventional

Wortereignis-formula whic h we find 45 time s i n th e boo k o f Ezekie l
(cf. vo n Rabena u 1955-56 : 681) . Th e fac t tha t th e wor d o f Yahwe h
comes t o hi s prophe t i s i n ver y trut h a n event . Thi s even t i s o f
decisive importanc e fo r th e whol e o f th e res t o f th e pericope . I t ca n
justifiably b e accepted tha t 16. 1 is the matrix in which everything tha t
follows is embedded.
The waw-consecutiv e an d imperfec t tens e i n 16. 1 i s followe d b y
direct speec h in 36.2, wher e the prophet i s addressed a s m«-p (so n of
man), and is instructed t o act as an intermediary betwee n Yahwe h an d

3.1. From Abandoned Child to Beauty Queen

It is very clea r that (16.3-14 ) forms sub-pericope A. The sub-pericope
begins wit h th e messanger' s formul a i n 16. 3 an d end s wit h th e
Gottesspruch-formula a t th e end o f 16.14 . The dominan t role playe d
by th e first-perso n subject , Yahweh , i s striking . Yahwe h i s i n contro l
of every even t enacted i n this sub-pericope. Jerusalem' s fathe r was an
Amorite an d he r mothe r a Hittite , accordin g t o v . 3. I n 16.4 , 5 the
treatment o f th e newbor n baby i s discusse d (Greenber g 1983 : 274) .
McKeating state s unequivocall y tha t Ezekie l ha s a preferenc e fo r
'metaphors involving filth, dirt and loathsome matter'.
The alternatio n o f first-perso n verb s wit h second-perso n verb s
shows th e caring activitie s an d persona l relationshi p whic h develo p
between Yahwe h and the abandoned child. The Stichwort m (blood ) i s
used i n clos e relatio n wit h rr n (life ) i n 16.7 . Wever s (1969 : 96 )
rightly observe s tha t Ezekie l cleverl y play s o n th e ter m 'blood' . A
new metapho r i s used in 16.7 , namel y that of ma~i (plan t of the field) ,
with the aim of placing the emphasis on life, vitality and growth. It is
clear tha t the foundling chil d thrives under Yahweh's loving care.
It i s therefor e no t strang e tha t Yahweh' s car e an d tende r compas -
sion result , i n 16.8 , i n a rvn (bond ) wit h the no w youn g and nubil e
girl (Greenber g 1983 : 276) . Her e w e fin d th e covenan t formul a
(Greenberg 1983 : 278), an d Zimmerli (1979 : 340 ) i s therefor e correc t
in hi s opinion tha t thi s mentio n o f a betrotha l i s base d o n Yahweh' s
initiative. 'O n he r ow n sh e ha d n o statu s fo r marriage . The n th e
second wonde r occurred'. The cleansin g o f menstrua l blood (D~I ) links
back t o v. 7 and forward to v. 22 (Greenberg 1983 : 278) .
Yahweh's abundant mercy i s depicted furthe r whe n he clothes OBJ3 )
88 Among the Prophets

the girl to cover her nakedness (cf. Gen. 3). Wevers (1969 : 96) shows
that th e coverin g of nakednes s is a symbol of marriage. The gir l now
belongs t o Yahweh (Greenber g 1983 : 277) . Thi s proces s o f adorning
and beautifyin g (16.9 , 10 ) leads th e gir l t o a brida l crow n (Wever s
1969: 96) , an d in 16.1 2 sh e is see n a s a princess (Greenber g 1983 :
278). Th e profusio n o f clothe s an d gift s i s probabl y evidenc e o f
Egyptian influence , accordin g t o Fuhs (1984: 82) . Thi s gir l is breath-
takingly beautifu l (INB IK M ••STII ) an d i t i s understandabl e tha t sh e
goes out (KJPI ) among the nations and wins fame for her 'Lover ' (mm )
(16.14). The nations (n^n) is a term that has a political meaning . The
Gottesspruch-formula i n 16.1 4 places th e seal o n the fact tha t Yahweh
is th e subjec t o f ever y lov e affair . Sub-pericop e A (16.3-14 ) ca n
correctly b e described i n the phrase: From abandoned child t o beauty

3.2. Unfaithful
Sub-pericope B begins with a waw-adversative in 16.15 . Thi s i s als o
the beginnin g of a succession o f second-perso n singula r verbs i n th e
imperfect i n which the reckless misdeeds of Jerusalem are emphasized.
The frequen t appearanc e o f th e roo t ^ t (fornication ) i s noticeabl e
throughout th e sub-pericope , s o tha t on e ca n sa y tha t *x i s th e con -
tinous them e o f thi s sub-pericope . Indee d thi s root appear s i n 16.1 5
(2x), 16 , 17 , 20, 21 , 25 , 26 , 2 8 (2x), 29, 30, 31 , 3 3 (2x) and 3 4 (2x).
Ezek. 16.3 4 conclude s this peri cope. The dissolute misdeeds have been
recorded. Tw o opposin g ~\sn phrase s for m an inclusio i n v . 34. Th e
two mai n verbs form a chiasmus (cf. Greenberg 1983 : 293) . Thi s can
be regarded a s a summary of the foregoing.
The sin s o f Israe l ar e pile d u p hig h i n sub-pericop e B . Wever s
(1969: 98) shows convincingly that Tipm (you took) appears in vv. 16,
17, 1 8 and 20 , a s wel l a s Ti m i n v . 19 . I n thi s wa y th e emphasi s i s
placed o n th e ide a tha t the gift s tha t Yahweh gave ar e no w misused :
v. 16 : the clothe s ar e used for idolatry (sacre d prostitution , accordin g
to Greenberg 1983 : 280) ; v . 17: the misuse of cultic objects: gol d an d
silver; v . 19: th e misus e o f food ; vv . 20-22: th e sacrific e of childre n
(newborn childre n ar e th e resul t o f fornication) . It i s therefor e clea r
that the gift ha s superseded the Given (Zimmerli : 1979 : 343). I n v . 2 2
there is a reference bac k t o v . 6 with the repetition o f the same phras e
•pin noo'an n (flounderin g i n you r blood) . Th e objec t o f thi s i s t o
accentuate the contrast between what Yahweh has done in A (vv. 3-14)
SWANEPOEL Ezekiel 1 6 8 9

and what Jerusalem is doing now in B (vv. 15-34).

The lamen t in v . 2 3 i s strengthene d by th e Gottesspruch-formula
which i s a reminder that it is Yahwe h speaking . Notwithstanding this
fact, ther e i s a n emphasi s o n th e increas e o f fornicatio n (••Di m
-[mwrrm), strengthene d b y th e frequentativ e pie l o f pffl s i n v . 25
(Greenberg 1983 : 282) . Fro m vv . 2 3 t o 2 9 a numbe r o f politica l
lovers ar e named : th e Egyptian s (v . 26), th e Philistine s (v . 27), th e
Assyrians (v . 28) an d th e Chaldaeans/Babylonian s i n v . 29 (cf .
Greenberg 1983 : 282) . Eac h i s representativ e o f a specifi c political
period i n Israel' s history . The shockin g image o f immorality is use d
to express Yahweh' s aversion to the fact tha t in his love for Jerusale m
he ha s bee n forsaken . Verse s 2 3 t o 2 9 i n fac t sa y tha t ever y er a i n
Israel's histor y has been characterized by infidelity an d disobedience .
We are not even spare d the greatest shock. The shockin g fact i s diat
'you d o no t receiv e a fee, yo u give it ' (v . 34). Maarsing h i s surel y
referring, among others , t o thi s sectio n whe n h e say s o f th e boo k
Ezekiel, that there are parts that chill one to the bone (Le Roux: 1987:
190). Tha t yo u pay your men instead of them paying you is surel y the
summit of immorality. In v. 32 the wife i s described a s adulterous an d
unfaithful (pie l of *]«]). It must however be remembere d tha t Zimmerl i
(1979: 343 ) is probably correct in asserting tha t the fornication on th e
high place s point s rather t o th e metapho r tha n th e dee d itself . Th e
book o f Ezekie l wishe s t o expres s i n thi s wa y Israel' s shockin g
departure fro m Yahweh . The fornicatio n is a metapho r fo r Israel' s
search fo r political securit y apart from Yahweh .

3.3. Judgment
Sub-pericope C (16.35-43) i s introduced with th e messenger formul a
(v. 35 ) an d a n inferentia l p 1? i n 16.36 . Thi s p 4? is , accordin g t o
Fishbane (1984 : 148) , ' a lega l nexu s between th e sin s and the divine
decision to punish them'. As a result of th e grea t numbe r of "X verbs ,
Jerusalem i s no w calle d nn t (whore) . She has don e it s o often tha t it
has becam e almos t a prope r name . Th e messenge r formul a (16.36 )
indicates tha t Yahweh is stil l in control of this moral crisis. Vers e 3 6
refers agai n t o "o r an d relate s i t t o v . 2 1 (th e chil d murder) . Th e
punishment (pb ) i n v . 37 consist s i n bringin g th e forme r lover s
together, an d 'the n I will strip you naked before them so that they can
see you r whol e bod y naked' . Nakednes s is a constan t theme i n thi s
sub-pericope. The nakedness (-|nnjj) that is revealed i s a symbol of the
90 Among th e Prophets

loss of Yahweh's protection (Wever s 1969 : 96) . Fishban e (1984 : 138 )

rightly says , 'Sh e wil l b e strippe d nake d befor e he r lover s (thu s
reversing the robing motif of her youth)'. Yahweh is in ful l control of
the punishmen t (vv . 36-38)—notice th e large numbe r o f first-perso n
verbs. Yahweh gather s the erstwhile lovers (v. 37). He judges (-pncoech)
the adulterer s an d th e shedder s o f blood . Th e en d (on ) i s lik e th e
beginning (at ) in v. 6 (Greenberg 1983 : 286) . I n v. 39 he hands ove r
the bad woman to the lovers. The punishment fits the revolting deeds of
the unfaithful wife . God himself send s her to a violent death (Greenber g
1983: 294 ) i n which the adulterous wif e is stoned (vv . 40-41).
Yahweh remain s i n contro l of the action o f thi s judgment, but i t i s
important t o not e th e fac t tha t i t i s th e erstwhil e lover s wh o gathe r
0>np) agains t th e woma n an d ston e he r (mm ) an d bur n her (v . 41) .
Of Yahwe h i t i s sai d onl y that he wil l pu t a n en d t o th e fornication
(njiwa -protim) . Within this judgment ther e is yet salvation. Fo r Yahwe h
the endin g o f th e fornicatio n is mor e importan t tha n th e violenc e o f
the punishment. Al l that happens i s that Yahweh give s th e lover s th e
opportunity t o sho w themselve s i n thei r tru e colours . An d no w the y
do no t spar e thei r erstwhil e darling. No, the y are responsible fo r he r
return t o th e tim e whe n sh e la y defenceles s an d flounderin g i n he r
own blood (v . 6) (Fishbane 1984: 138) . It must happen in order t o place
Yahweh's gifts onc e again in the right perspective. The Gottesspruch-
formula i n 16.4 3 ratifie s Yahweh' s fur y an d anger , deserte d b y
Jerusalem in his unbounded love.

3.4. Like Mother, Like Daughter?

Sub-pericope D begins wit h th e exclamatic run i n 16.44 . It is followed
by a ^fflf c (proverb) , 'Lik e mother, lik e daughter', or 'Sh e is a chip off
the ol d block' . Vers e 4 5 hark s back t o v . 3 with its referenc e t o th e
mother a s a Hittite and the father as an Amorite .
The influenc e o f Jerusale m reache s further . Zimmerl i (1979 : 350 )
rightly refer s t o th e second-perso n singula r feminin e suffi x whic h
suddenly changes to the plural. Thus the unity of the whole pericope i s
maintained by means o f cross references. Th e sam e tun e (message) i s
played throughou t i n anothe r ke y (metaphor) . I n v . 46 ther e i s a
reference t o a specifi c tradition about Samari a and Sodom . Jerusale m
is th e mothe r an d Sodo m an d Samari a ar e he r daughters . Greenber g
(1983: 288) i s apparently correct whe n he remarks: 'Sinc e the daugh-
ter's depravit y derive s fro m ba d heredity , he r mother' s behavio r i s
SWANEPOEL Ezekiel 1 6 9 1

wholly assimilate d t o her s (thoug h it i s nowher e described t o hav e

been so)' . W e ca n regard vv . 4 4 t o 4 7 a s a sub-uni t (Dl ) unde r th e
heading: Like mother, like daughter.
Verse 48 is a new sub-unit (D2) on the basis o f the Scfcwr-formul a
plus the Gottesspruch-formula. Th e theme of Sub-unit D2 (vv. 48-58 )
is: Jerusalem's ba d sisters look 'good ' i n comparison wit h her shame -
less behaviour . The sin s of Sodo m ar e named i n v . 49. Her e 'foo d i n
plenty' (anbTimfo ) an d 'self-indulgence ' (opaj n mbah ) ar e use d a s
synonyms (cf . Greenber g 1983 : 289) . The y stan d in contras t t o ym) ,
(pride), th e complemen t o f rpri , an d explain it . I t i s thu s at th e sam e
time one of the characteristics, but also the cause of pride.
Samaria i s use d i n v . 51 to present Jerusale m a s a n activ e subject .
'Your sins ar e so much more abominabl e tha n theirs tha t they appear
innocent in comparison with you', according to the NEB translation of
v. 52 . Jerusale m gav e he r sister s th e appearanc e o f righteousnes s
(•jnp-i^n) (feminin e infinitive construc t of p-re) by pleadin g for them .
However, i n v . 53 Yahwe h wil l chang e th e fortune s Omen ) o f
Sodom, Samari a an d Jerusalem . Notic e th e pla y o n word s betwee n
TOW an d rrott ? (captivity) . Jerusalem's behaviou r was mor e disgraceful
than tha t of he r daughters . Yet sh e benefitte d (am ) the m throug h her
bad ways (v. 54) . Sh e had boasted of he r superiorit y (v. 56). Zimmerl i
(1979: 351 ) describe s th e parado x thus : 'Th e on e wh o sinne d mor e
than Sodom or Samaria defends these sisters before God's judgment of
the worl d an d effect s thei r rehabilitation' . Greenber g (1983 : 289 )
notes meaningfully : 'Furthermore , the cases o f her sisters bein g bette r
than hers , thei r restoratio n wil l take precedenc e ove r her s (not e th e
order i n vv . 53 , 55) s o that hers ca n be sai d to b e incidental t o their s
("among them")' . T o understan d the ful l humiliatin g impact o f this ,
we mus t loo k a t th e negativ e tradition s surroundin g Samaria an d
Sodom in tradition criticism . No w it is the arch-nemies Edom and the
Philistines who jeer at Jerusalem.
The Gottesspruch-formula i n v . 58 set s th e sea l o n the punishment
for th e 'lewd and abominable conduct', which Jerusalem now must bear
(DTIKC?]). Th e guil t is indicate d by th e indicative/jussiv e third-person
perfect o f *m. The guil t (throug h th e punishmen t o f Yahweh ) i s a
reproach i n th e eye s o f th e nation s (erstwhile lovers). A recognition
of guilt is required, and the acceptance of the accompanying reproach.
This i s als o th e conclusio n of sub-pericope s D an d E . Th e bridg e
between D and E is n^u "ffii o (v . 59), 'a s you have done', which agrees
92 Among the Prophets

with rrfoj ? no» 3 ^ in v. 54 (cf. vv . 48, 51; and cf. Greenberg 1983 :

3.5. Mercy?
Sub-pericope E begin s i n 16.5 9 wit h th e doubl e emphati c " o (cf .
Greenberg 1983 : 291 ) followe d b y the messenger s formula . W e find
here a reference agai n t o th e rr~ D (covenant ) tha t wa s mad e i n v . 8
(cf. Greenber g 1983 : 291 ) wit h an addition, namel y 'fo r ever ' (nbiy) ,
as wel l a s a n alternatio n betwee n th e firs t an d secon d person . Thi s
alternation o f the subjec t between Yahwe h and Jerusalem emphasize s
Jerusalem's responsibilit y for it s ow n hopeles s condition , as wel l a s
the actio n Yahweh takes to relieve tha t condition . The second-perso n
verbs (Jerusalem) contrast wit h the first-person verbs (Yahweh) . This
is a stylistic characteristic of this sub-pericope.
The ide a o f ID T (remember ) figure s strongl y in thi s pericop e an d
refers bac k t o vv. 43 and 22 . Zimmerli (1979 : 352 ) strongl y empha -
sises thi s idea: 'Agains t Jerusalem's "no t remembering" v . 60 sets th e
gracious "remembering " b y Yahweh , through which Jerusalem i s t o
be brought to a right "remembering" (vv . 61, 63 ) wit h a sens e o f it s
own shame' . I n thi s connectio n it i s meaningfu l t o notic e th e rol e
played by 0^2 (vv . 61, 63).
"jrr~o& N^ T (no t according to you r covenant) in v . 61 make s i t clea r
that Sodom an d Samaria are not accepted withi n th e same covenant as
Jerusalem, bu t sho w a wide r covenan t (cf . Zimmerl i 1979 : 353) .
Yahweh in v. 6 2 establishes th e covenant (TP-D) with Jerusalem, an d
the basis of this covenant (as well as of the whole pericope) i s found in
the conventiona l Erkenntnis-formula, whic h is th e basi c formul a in
the book o f Ezekiel. Thi s is followe d in v . 63 by rraa i no m pa b (s o
that you will remember an d be ashamed) a s the inevitable result of the
first-person actio n o f Yahwe h in v . 62. Th e sub-pericop e a s wel l a s
the pericope a s a whole i s seale d wit h nsaa ( I cover/close) , whic h
formulates th e ide a o f reconciliatio n as th e culminatio n point . Th e
idea of forgiveness stands in the forefront togethe r with the Erkenntnis-
formula i n v . 62. Th e whol e pericope close s wit h the Gottesspruch-
formula i n v . 63 . Vo n Rabenau (1955-56: 678 ) correctl y point s ou t
that thi s formul a emphasise s th e authorit y o f th e argumen t 'de s
gottlichen "Ich"', as coming from Yahweh.

3.6. Structural Synthesis

Ezekiel 1 6 can be structurall y analysed a s follows:
A Yahweh Discourse
Wortere/gms-formula v. 1
oiH-p v. 2
messenger formula v. 3 A
Gottesspruch-formula. v. 14
wow-adversative v. 15
Gottesspruch-formulz v. 19
Gottesspruch-formula. v. 23 B
summary: ~|sn v. 34
concluding p 1? v. 35
messenger formula v. 36 C
Gottesspruch-formula v. 43
exclamatic n:n v. 44
v. 47
v. 48 D
Gottesspruch-formula. v. 58
double-emphatic '3 +
messenger formula v. 5 9
Erkenntnis-formula v. 6 2 E
Gottesspruch-formula. v. 6 3

There are two structures t o be seen i n Ezekiel 16 . One is chiastic :

(vv. 3-14 ) A Yahweh's merc y
(vv. 15-34 ) B Jerusalem's sin
(vv. 35-43 ) C Yahweh's judgmen t
(vv. 44-58) D Jerusalem's sin
(vv. 59-6 3 E Yahweh's mercy

Here, o n th e on e hand , Yahweh' s judgmen t i n th e middl e (C ) i s

emphasized a s the centr e wit h B and D as the contributor y cause . O n
the othe r han d th e whol e pericop e i s frame d b y God' s mercy . Thi s
structure is intended to emphasize th e consequences o f Jerusalem's sin .
The diamon d structur e i s climactic an d begins an d ends i n a wedge
structure wit h A and E as the high points.
vv. 3-14 A Yahweh's mercy mercy
vv. 15-3 4 B Jerusalem's sin
vv. 35-4 3 C Yahweh's judgment judgment
vv. 44-58 D Jerusalem's sin
vv. 59-6 3 E Yahweh's mercy mercy
94 Among th e Prophets

Here Yahweh' s merc y a s th e beginnin g (A ) an d th e endin g (E ) i s

emphasized, whil e i t i s show n a s the result o f B and D . I prefer thi s
structure becaus e th e Wortereignis-formula (A ) and th e Erkenntnis-
formula (E ) complemen t eac h othe r a s the high points. Th e merc y o f
Yahweh is emphasized her e as incomparable .

4. Gattung
The Wortereignis-formula, th e messenge r formul a an d th e
Gottesspruch-forrmdas tha t appear throughou t in th e pericope under-
line th e fac t tha t w e ar e dealin g her e wit h th e Gattung o f th e
understanding of Yahweh.
Sub-pericope A (vv. 3-14) i s rightly regarded b y Fuhs (1984: 80) as
a Bildrede an d no t a n allegory . H e i s o f th e opinio n tha t Marchen
motifs ar e associate d wit h th e foundlin g child . Garne r (1980 : 132 )
thinks that this is a case o f personification. Luc (1983: 139 ) speak s o f
the metaphor o f the abandoned child . Eichrod t (1970 : 202) als o make s
much o f th e folk-tal e motif . I n th e origina l stor y ther e woul d b e a
wizard who saves the child by magic (Eichrodt 1970 : 205) .
Both Hose a an d Jeremiah hav e simila r motifs. This child , however ,
is adopted. God not only saves the child, he adopts her. He treats her as
his own child and not as a slave. 'I t is not that she is wonderful, but the
care and gifts lavished on her by YHWH', says Greenberg (1983 : 301).
I think that A is a Bildrede, with vv. 4-6 the picture of the abandoned
child, v . 7 tha t o f a plant , an d vv . 8-1 5 tha t o f a bride . Ther e i s a n
easy transitio n from one picture t o the other, keepin g i n mind th e one
aim of converging different facet s o f the same message .
In sub-pericop e B (vv . 15-34 ) w e hav e th e pictur e o f fornication ,
which i s a metapho r fo r idolatr y (v . 16) , templ e prostitutio n (v . 17)
and th e resultan t sacrific e o f childre n (vv . 20-21). I n vv . 26-2 9 th e
fornication i s a metapho r fo r Jerusalem' s foreig n politica l relation s
with othe r countries . Thi s pictur e o f th e adulterou s woma n carrie s
through t o v . 35 . Sub-pericop e C (vv . 35-43 ) i s introduce d b y th e
messenger formul a (v. 35) and a concluding p^ (v . 37), an d it conse -
quently reflect s Yahweh' s judgment and wrat h over Jerusalem' s ba d
behaviour whe n the adulterous woman is stoned.
In sub-pericop e D (vv . 44-58 ) w e agai n hav e a Bildrede tha t i s
developed aroun d a prover b (btflfc ) i n v . 44: 'Lik e mother , lik e
daughter'. Thi s famil y o r househol d them e i s foun d throughou t th e
SWANEPOEL Ezekiel 1 6 9 5
whole pericope, fo r example , i n v . 20 , wher e w e fin d children , i n
v. 46 , an d i n v . 61 , wher e th e sister s underg o a surprisin g trans -
formation (Greenber g 1983 : 295) .
In conclusion , sub-pericop e E (vv . 59-63 ) i s th e clima x o f th e
divine argument. I t begins wit h the messenger formul a an d conclude s
with th e Gottespruch-formula. Th e Erkenntnis-formula i n v . 6 2 i s
meaningful, an d it confirms that it is possible t o talk of the Gattung of
Erweiswort. The Erweiswort i s abou t th e divin e evidenc e o f self -
revelation (cf . Zimmerl i 1965 : 52 6 an d Swanepoe l 1987 : 33) . Thu s
Yahweh throug h th e Erweiswort brings abou t a personal relationshi p
with him .

To sum up, we can therefore sa y that the Gattung o f the pericope is a

Yahweh argumen t consistin g o f variou s Bildreden, a wor d o f
judgment and an Erweiswort a s a word of salvation.

5. Sitz im Leben
Regarding th e Sitz i m Leben ther e i s littl e clarity . Almos t th e whol e
history o f Israel i s encompasse d i n this single pericope. Traditionall y
Ezekiel 1-2 4 i s typified a s a judgment prophecy and is therefore date d
before th e fal l o f Jerusale m i n 58 7 BCE . The structura l analysi s ha s
already show n thi s hypothesis a s problematical because the pericope
closes with a salvation prophecy clima x (cf. sub-pericope E) . How can
a salvatio n prophec y b e possibl e befor e th e fal l o f Jerusale m i n 58 7
BCE? If we look at the centrality o f the covenant (ma) in this sectio n
and especiall y it s everlastingnes s (v . 61), the n w e must ask the ques -
tion whethe r th e pericop e doe s no t equall y wel l belon g i n a Sitz i m
Leben afte r 58 7 BCE . In thi s connectio n i t i s importan t t o loo k a t
Ezekiel 3 4 an d 3 7 (cf . Swanepoe l 1987 : 6 9 an d 154) . Th e terminus
ante quern is at a time whe n the Babylonian exile belong s i n the past,
thus 500 BCE, while the terminus post quern is about 721 BCE with the
fall o f Samaria.

6. Motifs, Traditions and Formulas

Many motifs appear i n ch. 16 . Of these th e Canaan motif in v. 3 is an
interesting example . I t i s clea r tha t th e heathen origin s o f Jerusale m
are her e emphasized . Canaa n i s curse d b y Noa h i n Gen . 9.25 . Th e
96 Among th e Prophets

Canaan moti f als o include s th e referenc e t o Amorite s an d Hittites .

According to Fuhs (1984: 81) , these heathe n nation s had to be driven
out b y Israe l befor e the y coul d occup y the lan d (cf . Deut . 7.1 ; Josh .
3.10 and 24.11).
The Canaa n moti f i s linke d t o th e abandone d chil d o r foundling
child moti f i n vv . 4-6 . Eichrod t (1970 : 202 ) call s i t th e fair y tal e
motif. I n the original stor y it would be the wizard who saves th e child
by magic , bu t here the hero i s Yahweh (cf . Eichrod t 1970 : 205) . W e
find the defenceless chil d also in Hos. 2.2 and Jer. 3.19 .
However in Ezekiel 1 6 there is a drastic change. This i s an adopte d
(heathen) child , whom God not only saves, bu t even adopts . H e treat s
her as his own child and not as a slave.
Without more ad o the abandoned child motif passes on to the plant
motif i n v . 7, whic h emphasizes vitalit y and growth . This moti f use s
the languag e of the creatio n stor y in Gen . 2.4-9. I t harks bac k t o th e
creation tradition (cf . Fuhs 1984 : 81) . In its tur n th e plant motif gives
way t o th e marriage motif (cf. Fishban e 1984 : 139 ) i n vv . 8-14 .
Zimmerli to o (1979: 340) speaks justifiably o f 'ceremonie s of fetching
the bride'. This speak s o f an intimate bond between Go d and human-
kind. I f th e first marvel i s tha t Yahwe h adopts th e child , th e secon d
marvel i s tha t he takes th e chil d to wife (cf . Fuhs 1984 : 81) . Perhap s
the plethora of the metaphors needs some explanation.
Zimmerli (1979 : 335 ) rightl y observe s tha t i n Ezekie l 1 6 the ga p
between th e metaphor and the fact portraye d can easily disappear, an d
the realit y referre d t o ma y aris e directl y out o f th e metaphor . Ther e
is a directness i n the address, an d 'fro m th e very beginning everything
is se t within the real m o f a n addres s of accusation . The allegor y i s a
"disclosure of abomination " (v . 2), upon which th e threat o f judgment
can follo w i n a direc t adres s t o th e woman ' (Zimmerl i 1979 : 335) .
This must have been part o f a legal procedure presente d as a for m o f
accusation tha t wa s bot h revealin g an d explanatory . Th e reade r i s
moved b y th e kindnes s and grac e o f Yahwe h a s th e differen t meta -
phors succeed s each othe r rapidl y (on e expects an emotional climax) ,
but thi s expectation i s shattere d (becaus e o f the unfaithful woman ) to
pave the way for the final climax of the sovereign grace o f Yahweh.
The covenant formula (v . 8) is closely connecte d to this and empha -
sizes wha t it is about (cf . Greenberg 1983 : 254 , 277-78) , namely, th e
personal relationshi p between Go d an d humanity . The them e o f th e
covenant figures strongly in the book of Ezekiel (cf . Ezek. 16.8 , 59-62 ;
SWANEPOEL Ezekiel 1 6 9 7

17.13-19; 20.37 ; 34.25; 37.26; 44.7 , an d especially the formulation in

16.60, namel y obis nn a "p Tivrp m ( I wil l establish/maintai n my
covenant with yo u for ever) .
The pla n o f hop e come s t o th e for e i n th e renewin g o f th e Sina i
covenant i n th e covenant formula, 'yo u ar e m y people— I a m your
God' (cf . Kellerman n 1971 : 85) . Thi s formul a doe s no t appea r i n
Ezekiel 16 , but th e ide a certainl y does . Therefore w e ca n spea k o f a
covenantal theme. Great emphasis is placed o n salvation: a new day of
salvation ha s dawned . A n important qualificatio n is adde d i n v . 60—
the ne w da y o f salvatio n last s fo r eve r (D^ID) . Th e absenc e o f th e
covenant formul a an d th e (accompanying ) stres s o n the activitie s o f
Yahweh demonstrates the inadequacy of Jerusalem.
The moti f o f th e unfaithful wife (?ri) fro m vv . 15-3 4 i s no t a n
unfamiliar moti f i n th e OT . W e fin d it , amon g other places , i n Isa .
1.21; 57.8 ; Jer . 2.20 ; 3.2 , 6 , 20; Ezek . 23.3 , 8 , 11 , 12 ; Hos. 1.2 . A s
has alread y bee n demonstrate d in th e structura l analysis, this motif
suggests th e movemen t awa y fro m Yahweh , ho w th e peopl e tr y t o
'desert' Yahwe h in his love. This is also a metaphor for wrong politi-
cal alliances (vv. 26-29), and for collusion with idols (vv. 17-19).
Even th e chil d sacrifice s (vv. 20-22 ) ar e relate d t o this . Fo r th e
children wer e apparentl y th e product s of templ e prostitutio n i n th e
service o f Baal. Chil d sacrifices are also mentioned in Jer. 2.34, 3.24 ,
7.31, 19. 5 an d 32.35 . The y occu r i n time s o f grea t crisis . Eichrod t
(1970: 207 ) show s tha t thi s happen s whe n Yahwis m merge s int o
Canaanite religions.
Punishment for the unfaithfulness, adulter y and child murder follows
in v . 36 . Here is the shocking exposure of the wife. Greenber g (1983 :
286) says , 'Thi s ma y be the earliest instanc e of what became a motif
of hypersexualit y i n eroti c literature' . Th e guilt y dee d (exposur e
before th e lovers) comes back upon the guilty woman as a curse in the
form o f a punishmen t (exposure befor e Yahweh) . Hereb y bot h th e
adultery wit h th e lover s (metaphor ) an d th e immoralit y wit h idol s
(reality) ar e condemned . Her e th e sig n an d th e actio n merg e (cf .
Zimmerli 1979 : 347) .
According to v . 38 ther e are two transgressions: adultery (me«3) and
bloodshed (an rosffii) - Henc e the erstwhile lovers devastat e Jerusale m
(the Yahwe h marriag e ha s ru n upo n th e rock s [?]) , an d Jerusale m
returns t o it s beginnin g (v. 7) , accordin g t o Greenber g (1983 : 286) .
The end is like th e beginning: in blood (01) . If a woman divorces her
98 Among th e Prophets

husband, she must be naked when she leaves hi m (v. 39), symbolizing
the withdrawal of all her husband's good s (cf . Greenberg 1983 : 287) .
The punishment for adultery according t o Deut. 22.2 1 an d 2 4 is th e
stoning o f th e guilt y woman . Sh e i s execute d b y stonin g as a publi c
punishment t o give expressio n t o the outrag e o f th e community . Her
body is also hacked/cut to pieces wit h thei r swords (v . 40). Thos e who
execute th e punishmen t ar e a ^np— a ter m use d fo r a gatherin g o f
armed force s (Ezek . 17.17 ; 26.7 ; 32.3 , 22 ; 38.4 , 7 , 13 , 15) as well as
of a host of foreign armie s tha t descend upo n Jerusalem (Ezek . 27.27 ,
The motifs around Samaria an d Sodom (vv . 44-58) also deserve ou r
attention. Eichrodt (1970 : 217) say s that what we find here i s a direct
personification. Th e Sodom motif i s als o t o be foun d i n Genesi s 18 ,
Amos 4.11 an d Isa. 1.9 . I n Gen . 19.5- 9 Sodo m i s linke d wit h sexual
immorality. Wever s (1969 : 102 ) point s ou t tha t Sodo m lie s sout h o f
Jerusalem. 'Sodo m i s "little " i n siz e no t age , sinc e i t wa s destroye d
before Juda h ever existed', according to Greenberg (1983 : 288) .
Samaria, o n th e othe r hand , lies t o th e lef t an d nort h o f Jerusalem .
In thi s cas e i t i s nort h o f on e lookin g toward s th e risin g su n (cf .
Greenberg 1983 : 294) . Samaria' s si n is idolatry , accordin g t o 2 Kg s
17.7-18. Greenber g (1983 : 288 ) als o says , 'Samari a is "big " i n size ,
not age , younge r tha n Jerusalem, muc h large r tha n Judah (fo r which
Jerusalem stands)'.
But th e questio n remains : wha t is th e functio n o f th e Sodo m an d
Samaria motif s i n thi s section ? Obviousl y the Ezekie l tex t (v . 49) i s
judging self-satisfaction , prid e an d wealth with regar d t o Sodom. I t is
noteworthy that this aspect doe s no t appear i n Genesis 19 . So it seem s
more likel y tha t Sodo m (an d Samaria ) ar e use d her e i n a manne r o f
comparison/metaphorically t o emphasize th e typica l socia l condition s
round about Jerusale m (cf . Zimmerl i 1979 : 350) . Wha t it is sayin g is
that th e daughters ' (Samaria' s an d Sodom's) ba d behaviour ha s bee n
learned fro m th e mother (Jerusalem) .
In this connection Greenberg (1983 : 288 ) point s out that 'daughters '
is th e designatio n o f smalle r town s name d i n th e compan y o f larg e
cities. Ezek . 26. 6 wit h regar d t o Tyre , a s wel l a s Ezek . 30.1 8 wit h
regard t o Tahpanhes , ar e vali d examples . Greenber g (1983 : 294 ) i s
apparently correct i n stating that Jerusalem's sin s make the bad sisters'
sins loo k goo d b y compariso n wit h hers . He r restoratio n i s als o a n
afterthought t o that of th e restoration o f th e bad sister s (cf . th e orde r
SWANEPOEL Ezekiel 1 6 9 9

in v . 53). Th e behaviou r o f th e sister s receive s t o a certai n exten t

justification fro m v . 51.
This brings us to the tradition about Jerusalem, which is never men-
tioned b y nam e in the book of Ezekiel, but which is always present in
the background (cf . Zimmerli 1958 : 84) . Th e concept of Zion i s use d
in th e name Jerusalem. Bu t because fo r Ezekiel th e Zion tradition had
led wrongl y t o a misplace d fait h i n Jerusalem' s impregnability , h e
does not use the name of Zion.
The book o f Ezekiel prefer s t o show that Yahweh's presence i s th e
only securit y fo r Jerusalem . Tha t i s wh y Fuh s (1984: 82 ) justifiabl y
believes tha t i t i s possibl e tha t th e lo t o f Sodo m an d Samari a ca n
change, because Jerusalem carries their guilt. It is clear tha t Jerusalem,
with regard to the nations, fills a representative role in Yahweh's eyes .
Jerusalem i s jointly responsible befor e Go d for th e ba d behaviou r of
Sodom and Samaria .
The covenan t theme is in fact ratifie d b y the Erkenntnis-formula. i n
v. 62. Thi s formul a appears a t leas t 5 4 times i n th e boo k o f Ezekiel :
'You/they shal l kno w that I am the Lord'. Through thi s th e recogni -
tion o f Go d is revealed a s the final goal an d the proper conclusio n of
the Gotteswort. The recognition o f Yahweh is thus an event that point s
to an ac t of Yahweh (cf. Zimmerli 1954 : 12) . Yahweh' s dealing s ar e
directed toward s humankin d (cf. Zimmerl i 1954 : 14) . Th e ac t mus t
grip humankin d and mov e toward s a recognition , a n understanding
and a n appreciatio n o f Yahweh . Yahwe h act s becaus e h e want s t o
attain this appreciation among humankind.
The Erkenntnis formul a is als o i n m y vie w the ke y t o th e under -
standing of ~|rvnQ N 1?! (not according to your covenant). The emphasis
is on the second person (Jerusalem) that forms part of the new covenant.
Because Yahwe h doe s goo d t o Jerusalem , h e als o doe s goo d t o
Samaria an d Sodo m withi n a wide r covenant . Ostensibl y th e write r
here wishe s to plac e th e emphasi s o n Jerusalem' s responsibilit y fo r
Samaria and Sodom before the Lord. 'Throug h the judgment God will
lead Hi s people s o that they will be made ashamed of the overplus of
grace show n to the m and will be please d t o accept a s a daughter th e
Canaanite Sodo m whic h the y ha d hithert o rejecte d a s to o sinful . B y
such action they will come to recognize their God an d kno w who H e
is' (Zimmerl i 1979 : 353) .
It i s clea r tha t in Ezekie l 1 6 we fin d a mixtur e of differen t tradi -
tions. We find the desert tradition (the abandoned child; cf. also Ezek .
100 Among th e Prophets

20.10-26) and the Creation traditio n (the young plant), as well as the
tradition o f th e occupatio n of th e lan d (Jerusalem' s heathe n origins )
and th e Zio n traditio n (Jerusalem) . Al l thes e tradition s ar e use d i n
Ezekiel 1 6 to brin g fort h a ne w understanding , a ne w realization , a
new knowledg e o f Yahweh. Therefore al l these tradition s ar e brought
together unde r the denomination o f the Erkenntnis formula (v. 62) as
the closin g formul a o f th e pericope . Th e Erkenntnis formul a ofte n
functions as the conclusion of a series o f Yahweh's deeds (cf . Zimmerli
1954:10). Yahweh's great act s towards Jerusalem ar e called t o remem -
brance (actuall y re-lived) . Thi s bring s Jerusale m t o a righ t under -
standing of the eternal covenant .

7. Redaction Criticism
As fa r a s redactio n criticis m i s concerned , opinion s ar e divergen t
Von Rabena u (1955-56 : 681 ) regard s 16.1-4 2 a s th e origina l uni t
The res t woul d be late r redactiona l addition s (L e Rou x 1987 : 175) .
Presho (1972 : 79) als o pay s homage t o this point of view. According
to thi s view, 16.1-42/4 3 forms th e core them e o r 'origina l word' , and
vv. 44-58 and 59-63 are then regarded a s the core theme develope d i n
a ne w manne r an d sen t i n a ne w direction . Eichrodt (1970 : 217 ) i s
outspoken i n his belief tha t 16.54-6 3 doe s no t originate with Ezekiel .
Wevers als o (1969 : 94 ) accepts 16.1-4 3 a s the 'original ' prophecy. His
reason is : 'No t onl y i s th e figur e o f th e origina l stor y completel y
abandoned i n verse s 44ff , bu t th e concep t o f a restoratio n t o th e
former estat e i s completel y a t odd s wit h the judgement o n th e adul -
teress i n verse s 40-41a' . Thi s ide a i s strengthene d b y Clar k (1984 :
190), who suggests tha t 16.44-58 is built on 'quotations'.
On th e othe r hand , Lan g (1981 : 49 ) regard s Ezekie l 16.1-5 2 a s a
unit tha t can b e date d fro m 59 1 t o 588 BCE . Greenberg (1983 : 292 )
divides the pericop e int o three parts , namel y vv. 3-43 , vv . 44-58 and
vv. 59-63 . Eac h par t end s wit h th e Gottespruch formula . Thu s i t
seems tha t there is a difference of opinion about what is 'original ' an d
what is not.
My vie w is that the structura l analysis shows convincingly that th e
whole pericope forms a meaningful unit . T o dat e an y parts earlie r o r
later withou t sufficient ground s is not a good practice .
In thi s connectio n Paruna k (1983 : 544 ) point s t o th e relationshi p
between Ezekie l 1 6 an d 17 . H e describe s 16.59-6 3 a s a n 'inverte d
SWANEPOEL Ezekiel 1 6 10 1

hinge' betwee n 16.1-5 8 an d ch. 17 . He bases thi s especially o n the key

term rva, which appears throughou t in the chiastic hinge (16.59-63 )
as well as in both adjacent units (16.1-58 and ch. 17) . 'I n 16. 8 the word
refers t o a marriag e covenan t betwee n th e Lor d an d the orpha n girl ,
while in 17.13-19 , a political covenant is in view' (Paruna k 1983: 545) .
This confirm s th e fac t tha t Ezek . 16.1-6 3 is th e masterpiec e o f th e
final redactor(s) o f the book Ezekiel . H e placed th e sub-pericopes in a
specific orde r t o attain the desired effec t (message) .

8. Final Synthesis
The main ideas i n thi s pericop e ca n be summarize d eithe r unde r th e
heading of judgment or of salvation. In Ezekiel 1 6 the pendulum swings
from a n abandoned child (judgment) to a wild plant (restoration), fro m
young beaut y (restoration) , an d fro m a brid e (restoration) , t o a n
unfaithful wif e (judgment ) who i s stone d fo r he r misdeeds , an d bac k
to a new covenant (restoration) . Ezekie l 1 6 is a mirror o f life for life .
Here opposite s mee t eac h other : th e greates t merc y an d th e mos t
horrible contempt .
The boo k Ezekie l expose s her e i n a grippin g wa y th e enormitie s
that can be committed agains t God. We find also in Ezekiel 16 the pain
and ange r o f personal rejectio n (cf . May o 1973 : 24-25) , bu t als o th e
satisfaction whic h can only be foun d i n a n intimate personal relation -
ship with God. Jerusalem's si n against Yahweh i s th e flagran t breac h
of precisely this lovely relationship/covenant between the Lord and his
child. On the one hand we have the beautiful garment s and presents of
the Giver , an d o n the othe r hand the givin g awa y of thes e presents t o
other lover s (th e breachin g o f th e covenant) . Thi s i s t o humiliat e
Ezekiel 1 6 does no t intend that Jerusalem shoul d thin k back t o th e
'good ol d days'. Thos e days wer e in realit y evil an d ba d (Lu c 1983 :
139). Also , th e guil t cannot be lai d o n somethin g or somebod y else ,
but is placed squarely o n the shoulders of Jerusalem. 'Israe l wanted to
be like th e othe r peoples—i t wanted t o forget tha t it had been calle d
into an indissoluble covenant with God' (Fuh s 1984 : 85) . Th e punish-
ment i s therefor e th e necessar y consequenc e o f th e covenan t which
lays obligations on both parties .
The judgment i s a personal judgment of the Covenant God. However ,
there i s n o specifi c judgmen t linke d t o a specifi c si n (cf . Fishban e
102 Among th e Prophets

1984: 148) . S o this pericope suggest s the reality of Divine Providence

on th e on e hand , bu t o n th e othe r han d th e lin k betwee n si n an d
judgment. Si n is referred t o in metaphorical and poetic language , and
not i n detail . Ezekie l her e prefer s t o bring home th e ide a o f a sinfu l
inclination/nature o f humanit y rather tha n a numbe r o f sins . Si n i s
thus tackled i n its core, i n its origin.
In thi s connectio n i t i s meaningfu l to notic e tha t th e admissio n o f
guilt by Jerusalem (th e shaming) will follow after the acquittal. This i s
because th e merc y i s s o overwhelmingl y great . Th e grea t merc y of
Yahweh overshadows every single act that Jerusalem ca n commit. Bu t
the shame is also the token of a new, pure heart that brings hope for a
new future . S o with the realization of the reckless pas t and the broken
heart, th e objectiv e o f th e judgmen t is attaine d an d a ne w under -
standing of the Lord is made possible.
This understanding/knowledg e of th e Lor d show s u s th e persona l
involvement of Yahweh, in this pericope especiall y in connection with
the judgment . I t i s sayin g tha t Yahwe h mus t als o b e know n i n hi s
judgment. Hi s judgment is i n th e future . I t i s there t o encourage an d
warn that Yahweh is the mighty God whose judgments will be carrie d
out as they have been announced—a knowledge of Yahweh which is at
this stag e wanting . Because th e judgments are described i n advance ,
those addresse d hav e a n anticipator y understanding of thi s futur e
knowledge (cf . Fishban e 1984 : 149) . Thi s i s precisely th e ai m o f th e
pericope: t o bring people to the same intimat e knowledge o f Yahweh
to which unbelievers wil l also be brought, against thei r wishes .
There is , however , an-Other side : Yahweh' s desir e t o be known.
Not because he needs to, but because hi s name is joined t o his peopl e
(Zimmerli 1958 : 88) . The prophe t know s this , becaus e his whol e
being is taken up in this knowledge, but the irony is that those who m
he addresse s d o no t com e t o thi s realization . Therefor e th e whol e
book of Ezekiel i s a series o f attempts to make known the purposes o f
Yahweh with his children. There i s thus no way out.
There remains onl y one knowledge : th e recognition o f Yahweh . I f
you take thi s reluctantly it will com e t o you in the form of judgment.
The perso n wh o accept s i t i n grac e wil l experience i t a s salvation .
That i s why Zimmerli (1958: 90) rightly says, 'Da s sola gratia dei, das
bei Ezechie l interpretier t wir d al s ei n sol a majesta s dei , wir d dari n
horbar'. This honourin g of God , whic h consists o f reverenc e fo r hi s
Name, i s therefor e th e lin k betwee n Israel/Jerusalem' s critica l past ,
SWANEPOEL Ezekiel 1 6 10 3

present judgment and future salvatio n (Luc 1983 : 142) .

Fuhs's word s (1984: 87 ) are appropriate: 'Sham e opens a new way
to the love of God. By forgiving al l sin God reveals his true greatness.
This i s the new covenant: forgiveness for all sin and salvation to a new
life. Th e usua l orde r o f things , accordin g t o whic h disgrac e lead s t o
confession o f guilt, thus reverses itsel f here' (Greenber g 1983 : 242) .
Jerusalem's join t reponsibilit y for other s (Sodo m an d Samaria ) i s
therefore als o discusse d here . Th e disgrac e mus t be remembere d t o
avoid a repetition o f th e iniquity. The merc y i s s o wide tha t ther e i s
even enough for Samaria an d Sodom .
By using the Sodom motif (v . 49), self-satisfaction , prid e and wealth
is judged (cf. also above), an d the covenant is extended (v . 61) to urge
Jerusalem (believers ) t o take care o f the poor and the underprivileged.
Sodom an d Samari a ar e used her e b y comparison/metaphoricall y t o
emphasize th e typica l socia l condition s round abou t Jerusalem . A n
appeal i s thus made to the reader t o share the gift s o f God (the results
of th e covenant) with the worl d (Samari a an d Sodom) . Th e existenc e
and renewa l o f th e covenan t implies a n opennes s o f believers fo r th e
need i n the worl d an d a readiness t o be responsibl e fo r thos e aroun d
us. Tha t i s a n integrate d par t o f ou r knowledg e tha t Yahwe h i s th e
Lord (v . 62).

Burden, J.J. an d W.S. Prinslo o (eds. )
1987 Tweegesprek me t God: Di e literatuur va n di e Ou Testament, II I (Cap e
Town: Tafelberg) .
Clark, D.R.
1984 'Th e Citation s i n th e Boo k o f Ezekiel: A n Investigatio n int o Method ,
Audience an d Message ' (Ph D dissertation , Vanderbil t University ,
Nashville, TN).
Eichrodt, W.
1970 Ezekiel: A Commentary (OTL; London: SC M Press).
Fishbane, M .
1984 'Si n an d Judgmen t in th e Prophecie s o f Ezekiel', Int 38 : 131-50.
Fuhs, H.F .
1984 Ezechiel 1-24 (Wurzburg : Echter) .
Garner, D.W.
1980 'Form s o f Communicatio n i n th e Boo k o f Ezekiel ' (Ph D dissertation ,
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary , Louisville, KY) .
Gowan, D.E .
1985 Ezekiel (Atlanta : John Knox).
104 Among the Prophets
Greenberg, M .
1983 Ezekiel 1-20: A Ne w Translation with Introduction an d Commentary
(Garden City, NY: Doubleday).
Kellermann, U .
1971 Messias und Gesetz (Neukirchen-Vluyn : Neukirchene r Verlag) .
Lang, B.
1981 Ezechiel (Ertrag e de r Forschung , 153 ; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftlich e
Lemke, W.E.
1984 'Lif e i n th e Presen t an d Hop e fo r th e Futur e (Ezek . 33-37)' , Int 38 :
Le Roux, J.H.
1987 'Di e boe k EsegieT , i n Burde n and Prinsloo 1987 : 175-94 .
Luc, A.
1983 ' A Theolog y o f Ezekiel : God' s Nam e and Israel' s History' , JETS 26 :
Mayo, J.
1973 'Covenan t Theolog y i n Ezekiel', ResQ 16 : 23-31.
McKeating, H.
1965 'O n Understandin g Ezekiel', London Quarterly an d Holborn Review,
Parunak, H . va n Dyke
1978 'Structura l Studie s i n Ezekiel ' (DPhi l thesis , Harvar d University ,
Cambridge, MA) .
1983 'Transitiona l Technique s i n th e Bible" , JBL 102 : 525-48.
Presho, C.
1972 'Distinctiv e Theologica l Emphase s i n th e Boo k o f Ezekiel ' (PhD
dissertation. Queen's University, Belfast).
Rabenau, K., von
1955-56 'Di e Entstehun g de s Buche s Ezechie l i n formgeschichtliche r Sicht' ,
Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift Halle 5: 659-94 .
Swanepoel, M.G.
1987 'Di e teologie van Esegiel 3 3 tot 39' (D D thesis, Universit y o f Pretoria ,
Faculty o f Theolog y [Dutc h Reformed Church], Pretoria) .
Wevers, J.W.
1969 Ezekiel (OTL ; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
Zimmerli, W.
1954 Erkenntnis Gotles nach dem Buche Ezechiel—Eine theologische Studie
(Wiirzburg: Echte r Verlag) .
1958 'Israe l i m Buch e Ezechiel', V T 8: 75-90.
1965 'Specia l Form - an d Traditio-Historica l Characte r o f Ezekiel' s
Prophecy', V T 15 : 515-27.
1979 Ezekiel. I . A Commentary on th e Book of th e Prophet Ezekiel, Chapters
1-24 (Hermeneia ; Philadelphia: Fortres s Press) .

John B. Geyer

Ezekiel 2 7 is reviewed i n the context o f mythology. This is an oracle against Tyre .
The islan d might have suggested th e image of the ship. Tyre's cultural links with
Egypt coul d hav e evoked th e ide a o f th e Cosmi c Ship , well know n i n Egyptian
mythology. The materials mentioned in Ezek. 27 indicate links with materials used in
the temple a t Jerusalem whic h was modeled on the temple at Tyre. Place name s in
Ezek. 2 7 have mythological connotations. The tradition of the Cosmic Shi p has been
adapted t o th e propheti c perspectiv e o f th e downfal l o f th e her o brough t about
because o f hybris.

The purpose o f this article is to argue that Ezekiel 2 7 has to do with a

cosmic shi p an d it s rol e i n th e overthro w o f enemie s terrestria l an d
mythological. A greate r concentratio n of mythologica l an d ritua l
themes appear s t o b e presen t tha n ha s bee n admitte d i n previou s
studies. Compariso n will b e mad e wit h th e Egyptia n myt h know n a s
the Amduat.
Ezekiel 2 7 stands within the collection of oracles agains t the nations
in chs. 25-32. In a previous article I have argued that this collection is
to be take n alon g wit h the collection s in Isaia h 13-2 3 and Jeremia h
46-51, wher e a commo n for m i s followed , and wher e th e basi s i s
mythological.1 This is no t to deny that in places the oracles hav e his-
torical reference, bu t i t emphasizes that the interes t is theological and
that th e imagery is draw n fro m creatio n mythology.

1. J.B . Geyer, 'Mytholog y and Culture in the Oracles agains t the Nations', VT
36 (1986), pp. 129-45 . In that article it is argued that Ezek. 25 is not an original part
of the collection. I n this article the major collections will be referred to as ON(-IJE). A
related stud y ha s been offere d b y me in Twistin g Tiamat's Tail : A Mythologica l
Interpretation o f Isaiah xii i 5 and 8', V T 37 (1987) , pp . 164-79 . A further article ,
"The Night of Dumah' ( a study of Isa. 21.11-12), and a Short Note, 'Mythologica l
Sequence in Job xxiv 19-20', appear i n VT42 (1992), pp . 317-39 an d pp. 118-20 .
106 Among the Prophets

In makin g a compariso n wit h the Amduat , n o suggestio n i s bein g

made tha t Ezekiel is dependent on the Egyptian myth. Distinct differ-
ences wil l be pointed out between Mesopotamian , Wes t Semiti c an d
Egyptian mythology. The significant fact is that the Ship in Ezekiel 2 7
has cosmic significance, and the fate of the Ship is described i n terms of
creation mytholog y as it appears i n other part s o f the Ol d Testament ,
especially th e Psalms . Thi s i s i n keepin g wit h othe r myth s tha t ar e
presented i n th e cours e o f ON-IJE , namel y helel be n sahar in Isaia h
14, or Primaeval Ma n or the Cosmic Tre e in Ezekiel 2 8 and 31.

Mythology in Ezekiel 27
While th e Se a i s th e natura l element i n whic h Tyre i s se t an d ove r
which it trades, i t is also a symbol of chaos in the creation mythology.
In v . 3 Tyre i s introduce d a s th e cit y enthroned on th e entrance s o f
Yam. Th e absenc e o f th e article i s significant. 1 Tyr e i s situated a t the
gates of Yam's kingdom.
The reader need s to be sensitive to the theological undertone s eve n
where ther e i s als o a natural reference (bib ymym, vv. 4, 6, 27; mym
rbym, v. 26; btwk hym, v. 32;ymym, vv. 33, 34).2 The wordm'mqym
(v. 34) occur s elsewher e onl y in connectio n wit h Raha b (Isa . 51.10 )
or in liturgical materia l probabl y connected with the chaos motif (Pss .
69.3, 15 ; 130.1) . I n v . 32 th e meanin g of th e expressio n kdmh btwk
hym i s b y n o mean s obvious . H.J . van Dijk translates , 'lik e th e
fortress i n th e mids t o f th e sea' , linkin g this wit h Akkadian dimtu,
'tower, fortifie d area', 3 which makes sens e fo r Tyre. Moder n transla -
tions indicate the difficulties. 4

1. Cf . W . Zimmerli, Ezechiel, I I (BKAT ; Neukirchen-Vluyn : Neukirchener

Verlag, 1969) , a d loc. The yodh at the end of hysbty migh t be the hireq compaginis
(GKC, §90m) signifying the ruler.
2. Significan t passages i n which the water and chaos motifs are linked with the
destiny o f nation s were explore d b y H.C . May, 'Som e Cosmi c Connotation s o f
MAYIM RABBIM, "Man y Waters'" , JBL 7 5 (1955) , pp . 9-21, a n articl e whic h
deserves mor e attention than it has received.
3. H.J . va n Dijk, Ezekiel's Prophecy o n Tyre (Ez. 26.1-28.19) (Rome ,
1968), p . 85.
4. A V 'like the destroyed'; RV 'like her that is brought to silence'; RSV 'who
was ever destroyed... (mg.: Tg. Vg.: Heb. like silence)'. NEB ha s 'wit h her build-
ings pile d (mg. : prob . rdg. ; Heb . obscure)' , apparentl y substituting krmh; cf .
L.H. Brockington, Th e Hebrew Text o f th e Ol d Testament (Oxford, 1973), p . 229 .
REB evades the difficulty, omitting the phrase without comment
GEYER Ezekiel 2 7 an d th e Cosmic Ship 10 7

bib ymym occur s i n liturgical contexts at Exod. 15. 8 (sg.) , Jon . 2. 4

and Ps . 46.3. ymym/ym paralle l wit h mym occur s i n ON at Isa. 17.12 ;
18.2; 23.2-3 ; Ezek. 27.25-26 ; 32.2; cf . Exod. 15.8 , 10 , 19; Ps. 46.3-4;
93.4. Th e parallelism stand s 6 times i n ON-UE, 8 times i n the Psalms,
11 time s i n connection wit h the creation myth , once in a festal liturgy
against the nations (Nah. 3.8), an d finally i n Isa. 50.2 , whic h describe s
Yahweh's power over the seas.
The ide a o f being enthroned (ysb) i s presen t als o i n v . 28 an d Isa .
14.13. The mlky 'rs (v. 33 ; cf. v. 35) occur also in v. 28 and Isa. 14.9 ,
18 and in liturgical materia l i n Pss. 2.2 ; 76.13 ; 89.28 ; 102.16 ; 138.4 ;
148.11; Lam . 4.12 . Th e languag e i s simila r t o that of Baa l 2. i (CA/L ,
pp. 40-43) .
Within th e sam e rang e ar e th e expression s klylt yp y (v . 3), kllw
ypyk (v . 4; cf . 28.12 , 17 ; 31.3 ; cf . vv . 8, 9) ; yplw...mpltk (vv . 27,
34; cf. Isa. 14.12 ; Ezek . 31.12 , 13 , 16); yrdw... 'lh'rs,y'mdw (v . 29;
cf. Isa . 14.11 , 15 ; Ezek. 31.14-17 ) an d r's (v . 28; cf . 31.1 6 an d rg z
in Isa . 14.19) .
Destruction b y th e (east ) win d (v. 26) i s characteristi c o f ON-UE
(Isa. 17.13 ; Jer . 49.36 ; 51.1) . Va n Dijk (p . 82) draws attentio n to Ps .
48.8, Isa . 27.8 , Ezek . 17.1 0 and 19.12 , Jer. 18.1 7 and Hos. 13.15 , Jon.
4.8, an d passage s suc h a s Isa . 11.1 5 an d 30.2 8 (agains t th e nations )
should also be noted.

The Amduat
Since there ar e traces tha t Ezekiel 27 is handling mythological themes ,
consideration wil l now be given to an Egyptian mythological text that
describes th e cosmic shi p known as the Bark of Re. This wil l illustrate
the way i n which such themes wer e handled in one tradition and gives
a broade r perspectiv e fro m whic h the materia l i n Ezekie l 2 7 ca n b e
better understood .
A lin k between th e oracles agains t the nations in the Old Testamen t
and Egyptia n mytholog y an d rite s ha s bee n posite d b y others , mos t
recently b y B . Gosse1 wit h reference t o the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus 2
which date s fro m abou t 31 0 BCE, though scholars agre e tha t the myth
and ritual belong t o a much earlier date .

1. B . Gosse, Jsaie 13.1-14.23 (Gottingen , 1988) , pp. 27-29.

2. Translation s include those by R.O. Faulkner in JEA 23 (1937), pp. 166-85 ,
and J.A . Wilson in ANEf2, pp . 6-7.
108 Among th e Prophets

This Papyru s is particularly interestin g because, especiall y i n Boo k

26, it link s th e conflic t wit h creation (th e conflic t i s on e i n which th e
primaeval monste r snak e Apophis attacks R e in his Bark), because th e
slaying o f Apophis is directl y linke d with the overthro w o f the terres -
trial enemie s o f Pharaoh , an d becaus e th e connectio n wit h a dail y
ritual is explicit .
Attention i s directe d i n thi s article t o th e accoun t of th e journey o f
the Bar k o f R e throug h th e underworl d during th e Twelv e Hour s o f
Night, including the conflict wit h Apophis, whic h is given in the 7my -
Det zs n't-jmnt, 'What is in the Underworld: The Text of the Hidden
Chamber', which wil l be referred to as the Amduat. This tal e i s tran-
scribed i n variou s degree s o f completenes s i n th e tomb s o f th e
pharaohs an d other s fro m th e time of Thutmosis I to Ramses IX , an d
is particularl y wel l preserve d i n th e tom b o f Amenophi s II I (1417 -
1379 BCE). 1
In Mesopotamia n mytholog y the Underworld is a dreadful place o f
dust an d mu d an d darkness . Abov e all , i t i s th e Lan d o f N o Retur n
(Sum. NU.GI 4A; Akk . erseti l a tdri). B y contrast , th e Egyptia n
Underworld wa s a lan d o f rejuvenatio n an d rebirth . R e descend s t o
the Underworl d i n th e evenin g an d come s fort h renewe d i n th e
morning. However , thi s proces s i s no t considere d t o b e automatic .
Severe dangers hav e to be overcome o n the way. This is done through
knowing th e correc t formulae . This Underworl d realm i s know n a s
the Dat.
During th e da y th e go d traverse s th e sk y in th e Da y Bar k (m'ndt),
but durin g th e hour s o f darknes s h e travel s i n th e Nigh t Bar k (n t
msktt), whic h is also known as the Bark of Re (wj3-n-r). Accordin g t o
a magi c papyrus of the 20th Dynasty , the Night Bark wa s golden . R e
does no t disembark . Th e Bar k itsel f change s fro m on e for m t o th e
other. Th e Bar k ha s th e name , 'Th e on e wh o pave s th e way ' (dm-
w3t—Mid. Reg. , Fourt h Hou r [p . 86]). I n the sam e Registe r a towing
rope i s mentione d fo r th e firs t time . I t i s pulle d b y fou r gods . Th e
Bark als o ha s a cre w whic h i s mentione d i n th e secon d scen e (Mid .
Reg., Nint h Hou r [p . 156]), wher e ther e ar e twelv e oarsmen , eac h
with an oar in his hand . 'Wha t the y hav e to do is to row Re dail y to
this place . The y stan d b y th e waterwa y (nt) o f th e Bar k whic h i s i n

1. Th e editio n tha t ha s bee n use d i n this articl e i s tha t b y E . Hornung, Da s

Amduat, I-II I (Wiesbaden, 1963 , 1967) . All references i n this article ar e to Vol. 2,
and the article is wholly dependent on Hornung for translation, notes and commentary.
GEYER Ezekiel 27 an d th e Cosmic Ship 10 9

this place.' I n th e secon d scen e (Uppe r Reg. , Twelfth Hour [p . 189])

twelve god s hol d th e to w rop e wit h bot h hands , thei r face s turne d
towards the Bark .
This Bar k moves alon g canals (e.g . Mid . Reg., Sixth Hour [p . 116])
rather tha n the open sea . Whe n the primaeval wate r i s encountered, i t
is part o f cosmos, th e sourc e o f life , rathe r than an element o f chaos ,
though i t ca n b e threatenin g o n occasions . Th e regio n o f th e Sixt h
Hour is called mdwt, the Deep, an d has the determinative $55:. This
opens out into the primaeval wate r Nun, which encloses th e world on
all side s i n a n endles s stretch , bu t als o run s through it. Th e threa t i s
encountered i n th e Uppe r Registe r o f th e Thir d Hou r (p . 64), wher e
reference i s made to the flood (h 'pj) tha t destroys the enemy. This als o
is designate d a s Nun. It attack s th e enemie s o f th e god , no t th e go d
But th e go d does hav e enemies t o face. These (especiall y Apophis )
live on sandbanks, and indeed this Bark has to be pulled over sand and
even has t o traverse mu d (Seventh Hour, introduction, Horizontal line
9 [p . 125]) left behin d after th e hostile Apophis has swallowe d all the
water s o a s t o preven t th e progres s o f th e Bark . Th e Bar k ca n b e
pulled ove r the sand but it can only get across th e mud by magic. Th e
Middle Register of the Fourth Hour (p. 86) describe s the Snake domain
of rs'-st3-w ('th e pulling over th e sand business'). The Bar k changes
into a snake so that it can glide more easily over the sand, the bow and
stern turne d int o fire-spittin g shinin g snak e heads . Eve n thoug h th e
Bark change s int o a snake, it is here tha t the two ropes ar e produced
for th e first time. Th e san d is the deser t which , in Mesopotamia also ,
was an element of chaos, a perpetual threat to cosmos .
Another familia r elemen t o f chao s tha t appear s i n th e Amdua t is
darkness. Line s 7-9 o f th e title (p. 2) affirm :
The beginning is the horn of the west
the gate of the western horizon ;
the end is the primaeval darknes s
the gate o f the western horizon. 1

The primaeva l darknes s (tith) i s a regio n no t lighte d b y Re . I t i s

reserved fo r th e enemies an d i s a t th e furthes t reache s o f th e Da t (cf .

1. On e would expec t the eastern horizo n t o be mentioned, bu t kkw-zm3w ha s

nothing t o do with the east. It indicates an absolute boundary i n the Underworld tha t
is unconnected with geographical direction.
110 Among th e Prophets

yrkty br, Isa. 14.15) . Thi s is the beginning of a primaeval chaos tha t
surrounds th e world , over whic h neither th e god s no r th e king s have
power. R e doe s no t engag e wit h thi s chaoti c power , bu t h e travel s
close t o the boundaries o f being.
In the third scene o f the Middle Registe r o f the Tenth Hour (p. 167 )
there is a falcon-headed snak e in a boat, wit h the inscription, 'H e is so
constituted i n hi s Bark . H e rouse s himsel f agains t th e primaeva l
darkness.' Th e Introductio n t o th e Twelt h Hou r (p . 184 ) place s R e
eye t o eye wit h the primaeval darkness , an d th e name o f th e place i s
'Rising a t dark , appearin g a t births', fro m whic h follow s the rebirt h
of Re . Lin e 7 o f th e inscriptio n accompanyin g th e firs t scen e o f th e
Upper Registe r o f th e Twelft h Hou r (p . 186 ) make s i t clea r tha t
darkness binds the dead and light releases them.
The journey o f R e through the Underworl d is ful l o f threats t o th e
created order . Thes e hav e t o b e face d an d overcome . Th e enemie s
appear i n differen t guises , bu t the y include the militar y opponents of
Pharaoh, th e enemie s o f th e gods (criminals? ) an d th e primaeva l
forces themselves . Al l thes e ar e linke d i n th e unit y o f creation . Th e
enemies o f Re and the enemies of the earthly monarch are one and th e
same threat.
In th e tex t o f th e Firs t Hou r (p . 33) th e god s gree t R e wit h th e
words: 'Yo u triump h over you r enemies (ny'fcw) ; yo u impos e disaste r
on th e punished ' (1 . 58), an d th e nam e of th e Hou r is : Th e on e tha t
shatters the foreheads of the enemies of Re' (1 . 76). Th e Uppe r Registe r
of th e Thir d Hou r (p . 64) state s tha t th e god s ar e ther e t o crus h th e
adversary (1 . 6), an d th e Lowe r Registe r (p . 71) record s tha t thes e
gods have to 'roas t and slaughter the souls, imprison the shades, brin g
about the annihilation of the Non-Beings, who are in their place o f the
Annihilation Posts. 1 The y kindl e th e flames , the y bur n th e enemie s
through that which is o n the point of their swords' (II . 2-6) .
After th e fift h scen e o f th e Uppe r Registe r o f th e Fift h Hou r
(p. 98), th e Slaughterer s ar e addressed, wh o
belong t o the shambles (nmt)... Ma y you r word s aris e an d ma y you r
magic shine (ssp). Abl e (spd) b e your souls, considerabl e (w3s) b e your
might. Crushed b e the enemies becaus e you destroy th e dead an d mass -
acre the shades of the annihilated. You are the ones who protect Osiris ,
who preven t a trial becaus e o f Onnophris. Sharp be your swords, grue-
some be your shambles... so that I may go by you in peace (11 . 3-11).

1. htmjt i s the place where the enemies are expelled from bein g to non-being.
GEYER Ezekiel 27 an d th e Cosmic Ship 11 1

The firs t scen e i n th e Lowe r Registe r i n th e Fift h Hou r (p . 104 )

shows fou r head s wearin g the beards o f divinity. All of them hav e th e
common nam e tpw-tk3w 'Torc h Heads' , an d it i s said , 'Wha t the y
have t o do is to destro y an d drive bac k hi s enemies'. The destruction
(s3m) i s effected throug h thei r torches.
The secon d scen e o f th e Lower Registe r o f the Sixth Hour (p. 121 )
represents a snake with four human heads (i.e . the sons of Horus), and
the inscriptio n states , 'Wha t he has to d o is t o sip up the shade s an d
extinguish th e form s o f th e enemie s wh o ar e overthrown i n th e Dat '
(11. 2-4). Thi s snak e i s called th e 'mw-jrw, 'th e on e who devour s th e
forms'. Th e fourt h scene (p . 122) shows nine fire-spitting snake staff s
armed wit h a sword. Connected wit h them , at th e end o f the Register ,
is th e go d Nun . R e say s t o them : 'Ma y you r face s bur n an d you r
swords (zw) b e shar p s o that yo u ma y destro y (3m) th e enemie s o f
Khepri an d cut up their shades... Yours it is t o protect Khepri , who i s
the wate r o f Tatenan, the Arise n One' (11 . 4-6).
The mai n enemy to be overcome is Apophis, and he is encountered
in th e Sevent h Hour . Th e vertica l line s of th e introductio n (p. 125 )
assert that R e diverts fro m Apophi s through the magic saying s of Isis
and o f the Oldes t Magician . The nam e of thi s Night Hour is 'Th e one
which ward s of f th e hjw an d beheads th e nh3-hr'. Both thes e term s
refer t o Apophis, who can also be identified wit h Seth, so that the 37th
goddess in the First Hour is called hsft-zm3 t-sth. The horizonta l lines
(11-12) relate that 'it happens tha t Apophis is dismembered i n the Dat
in thi s chambe r [although ] his plac e i s i n th e sky' , a reminde r tha t
Apophis attacks the Bark during the day as well as at night.
The secon d scen e o f th e Uppe r Registe r (p . 127 ) represent s th e
punishment of the 'enemies', which is to say the dead condemned before
Osiris, wh o i s th e Underworl d Su n god . Thre e enemies , alread y
beheaded an d bound, kneel before th e Judge of the Dead. Behin d them
there is a punishing god. In the inscription the god says to Osiris ,
May your enemies fal l under your feet; may you seize those who offende d
against you! The flames of (the Snake god) 'Livin g in Forms* are against
them. The 'Violen t of Countenance' is against them; he massacres them,
he roasts them as a roast for himself (11. 5-8).

The 'Violen t of Countenance' (mds-hr) i s the punishing god. H e hold s

a sword in one hand and a sling in the other.
In th e thir d scen e (p. 128 ) anothe r punishin g god holds th e end of
112 Among th e Prophets

the halte r b y whic h three defenceles s prostrat e enemie s ar e bound .

The inscription reads,
You whom Osiris bound up and who have rebelled against him of the Dat,
may you r arm s be bound an d your nooses be tightened; may your souls
be annihilate d an d your souls be detained. The punisher punishes you
with his knife and you never escape his attention.

The aim is to prevent the souls being united with their bodies .
The tex t o f th e Middl e Registe r (pp. 131-32 ) state s tha t the magi c
of Isis and the Oldest Magicia n is made to ward off Apophis from R e
and describes th e sandbank (tw) o f the nh3-hr i n th e Dat . 'H e fill s i t
with his coils and he is massacred befor e this god goes pas t him. This
god journey s in thi s plac e i n th e imag e o f th e Mehe n ( m ssmw n
mhn).' Th e Su n Bar k alter s cours e s o tha t R e doe s no t nee d t o g o
directly by the dangerous Snake until Apophis is rendered harmless .
The secon d scen e (p . 132) shows the much wounded Snake body of
Apophis wh o ha s alread y bee n dismembere d b y knive s an d i s hel d
neck and tail by a couple o f gods. He is found o n the sandbank which
is called sd3w. Then 'th e one who causes th e throat to breathe' slings
the lass o abou t his hea d whil e 'th e on e wh o i s ove r th e knives' , th e
'Punisher', throw s hi m abou t a t hi s feet , afte r Isi s an d th e Oldes t
Magician have robbed his strength (phtj) throug h thei r magic (11 . 6-9).
'The one who causes the throat to breathe' is the god Selket, srqt-htjt,
the Scorpion god.
The third scene shows four goddesses armed with knives. According
to the inscription, these ar e the goddesses wh o punish Apophis in th e
Dat an d diver t th e blow s (jht —lit. 'things' ) o f th e enem y fro m Re .
They carry their knives and every day punish Apophis in the Dat.
Re has armed himself in many ways against the dangerous encounter
with Apophis ; for example, th e Rin g Snak e (mhri) encircle s an d pro -
tects hi m in the Bark, and the magic-working gods Isis an d Seth (hk3
w-smsw) stan d by him. The Sun god also conceals a disc ('eye' ) and
alters cours e fo r adde d protection . Apophi s block s th e wa y wit h his
gigantic Snak e body , bu t ther e i s neve r an y rea l battle . Apophi s i s
bewitched an d the n easil y boun d b y th e othe r gods . Finall y h e i s
annihilated (htm). The journey can no w continu e in peace (m htp; cf .
commentary, pp . 139-40) .
Troubles continu e even afte r th e defeat o f Apophi s in th e Sevent h
Hour. The inscription of the third scene in the Middle Register o f th e
GEYER Ezekiel 27 an d th e Cosmic Ship 11 3

Eighth Hour records th e presence o f those wh o have to dismember th e

enemies o f Re (p. 145) .
In th e Elevent h Hou r (firs t scene , Lowe r Reg . [pp . 180-81] ) R e
gives instruction s abou t th e massacr e o f thos e wh o sle w hi s fathe r
Osiris, the corpses o f the enemies an d the bodies o f the dead, th e over-
thrown (shdw) an d th e form s o f th e annihilated . They ar e curse d b y
Horus, wh o say s among othe r things, 'Do no t raise yourself , fo r yo u
have fallen int o your graves! May you no t escape. May yo u no t flee '
(11. 8-9), an d th e sectio n finishe s wit h the words : 'Thei r destruction i s
commanded ever y day through the Majesty of the Underworl d Horus'
(11. 18-19) . Th e secon d scen e o f th e Lowe r Registe r o f th e Twelft h
Hour makes it clear that Apophis is still a threat to Re (p. 191) .
At most gates R e is greeted b y the resident gods. I n the closing text
of th e First Hou r (p . 33) the god s sa y among othe r things , 'Yo u tri -
umph over your enemies (nkjw); yo u impose disaster on the punished'
(1. 58; cf . also pp. 55-56,74) . In the third scene of the Middle Register
of th e Fift h Hou r (p. 101) the goddesses offe r th e greeting, 'Re come s
in peace to the Dat. The way is opened for Re in his Bark, which is in
the eart h a s hi s body . Hi s enemie s ar e destroye d fo r you...Yo u
triumph an d your enemies ar e driven away.'
The entir e dram a o f th e Amdua t is linke d wit h concept s o f th e
creation o f th e universe . The Superscriptio n o f th e firs t par t o f th e
Middle Register o f the First Hou r (p . 17) refers to 'Th e Two Realities '
that draw (st3) th e god in the Night Bark. 'Th e Two Realities' (m 3 '// )
are elsewher e represente d a s tw o goddesses , an d the y indicat e th e
duality inheren t in th e cosmos rathe r than two separate beings . A t the
end o f th e journey (Introductio n to th e Twelft h Hour , vertica l line s
[p. 184]) Re 'goe s out of the Dat, lies down in the Day Bark and step s
forward (h 'j) ou t o f th e thigh s o f Nut ' (1 . 5), wher e Nu t represent s
the primaeva l wate r of lif e an d fertility. Th e cosmi c dimensio n of th e
situation appear s again i n th e secon d scen e o f th e Uppe r Registe r o f
the Twelft h Hou r (p . 189) , wher e twelv e gods stan d wit h thei r leg s
reaching ove r the gigantic body of the Snake, through which they pull
the Bark. I n the first scene of the Lower Register o f the Twelfth Hour
(p. 191 ) th e totalit y of the primaeval gods is present , wit h the excep -
tion o f the paired Amun/Amaunet .
The Amdua t indicates tha t durin g the cours e o f th e Nigh t journey
law an d orde r i n th e worl d ar e confirmed . I n th e thir d scen e o f th e
Middle Registe r o f th e Sixt h Hou r (p . 118 ) R e i s foun d confirming
114 Among th e Prophets

the kings o f Upper and Lower Egypt in their offices .

The structur e o f th e cosmos i s preserve d throug h thi s dail y ritual .
This i s made clear i n the first scene o f the Upper Register of the Ninth
Hour (p . 154) , wher e R e says, 'Ma y yo u do your duty for Osiris , tha t
your worshi p fo r th e Lor d o f th e Wes t ma y b e declare d (sw3s), an d
let him triump h over hi s enemies ever y day . It is the Judgment Court
of th e God s that interrogates o n behalf o f Osiris ever y day . What you
have t o d o i n th e Da t i s t o fel l th e enemie s o f Osiris ' (11 . 7-8). Th e
destruction o f the enemies 'ever y day' is commanded i n the first scene
of th e Lowe r Registe r o f th e Elevent h Hou r (p . 181,11 . 18-19).

Analysis of Ezekiel 27
1. Outline and Structure
The imag e i s no t clearl y hel d throughout . First o f al l Tyr e i s intro -
duced a s th e cit y enthrone d o n th e entrance s o f Yam . I n th e secon d
part of the verse, thoug h it is not explicit, is the theological indictmen t
of hybris . Tyr e ha s sai d tha t sh e i s perfec t i n beauty—whic h sh e is ,
according t o v. 4. It might be that the image o f the shi p is introduce d
in v . 3, BHK an d BUS readin g 'nyh fo r 'nv, 1 'Yo u hav e said , " I a m a
ship, perfect in beauty"'.
Verses 5- 7 recor d th e material s importe d fro m variou s nation s fo r
the construction o f the vessel, an d vv. 8-11 record th e various nations
from whic h th e cre w ha s bee n assembled . Vers e 9 b interrupt s thi s
flow with mentio n of th e way i n whic h all trading ships contribut e t o
Tyre's commerce, an d this links up wit h v . 25.
Verses 12-2 4 lis t th e variou s ware s trade d b y Tyre , togethe r wit h
the countries fro m which they are imported. Thi s sectio n i s generall y
regarded a s a n insertio n o f materia l differen t fro m th e res t o f th e
chapter, though , a s H.J. van Dijk says , 'o n insufficien t grounds'. 2 The
most obviou s differenc e i s that while the rest o f the chapter i s clearl y
written i n poeti c metre , vv . 12-2 4 ar e no t s o obviousl y poetic . Bu t
vv. 12-2 4 hav e a rhythm and may be intended as poetry, a n indication
of whic h is th e regular repetitio n o f phrase s use d lik e a drum bea t t o
mark the stages o f the list:

1. Cf . Zimmerli, Ezechiel, II, ad he.

2. Va n Dijk, Ezekiel's Prophecy, p . 75.
GEYER Ezekiel 2 7 an d th e Cosmic Ship 11 5

v. 1 2 shrtk
ntnw 'zbwnyk
v. 1 3 rklyk
ntnw m 'rbk
v. 1 4 ntnw 'zbwnyk
v. 1 5 rklyk <strt ydk>

v. 1 6 shrtk
ntnw b'zbwnk
v. 1 7 rklyk
ntnw m'rbk
v. 1 8 shrtk
v. 1 9 b'zbwnyk ntnw
bin 'rbk hyh
v. 2 1 shry ydk. . . shryk
v. 2 2 rklyk
ntnw 'zbwnk
v. 2 3 rkltk
v. 2 4 rklyk

There is a close connectio n i n thought and language between vv . 9-2 4

and th e remainde r o f th e chapter . G.A . Cooke 1 liste d word s an d
phrases tha t are repeated i n both parts :
kllw ypyk vv . 4, 1 1
'zbwyn vv . 12 , 14 , etc., 2 7
mrbklhwn vv . 12 , 18 , 3 3
m 'r b vv . 13 , etc., 9 , 3 4
shrym vv . 12 , 15 , etc., 3 6

Cooke explain s thi s phenomenon a s a deliberate attemp t b y th e late r

author (vv . 9b-24) t o lin k hi s materia l wit h th e poem . Ye t th e fac t
that both section s ar e painting the picture of a world power, tha t they
both produc e names , som e o f which belong mor e i n th e mythological
realm tha n th e historical , an d tha t the y bot h lis t material s tha t ar e
associated wit h th e constructio n o f th e templ e ar e al l reason s fo r
accepting th e chapte r a s a n integra l uni t fro m whateve r source s it s
parts ma y have been brough t together .
The wrec k o f th e shi p b y a n eas t win d is describe d i n vv . 26-27.
Verse 2 8 i s curiou s an d introduce s som e confusion . I t migh t b e

1. G.A . Cooke , Th e Book o f Ezekiel (Edinburgh , 1936) .

116 Among th e Prophets
At the sound of the cry of your helmsme n
the common ground (?) shakes .

We are then tol d (v . 29) that 'rowers , sailors an d helmsmen' g o down

from thei r ship s an d stan d 'l-h'rs. Thes e ar e no t th e survivor s o f th e
ship Tyr e unles s the y wer e equippe d wit h lifeboats , yrdw... 'l-'rs
recalls 'l-s'wltwrd i n Isa . 14.1 5 and simila r phrase s i n mythology .
The y'mdw doe s not seem t o belong, an d one would expect 7 for 7 if
it did. Whatever i s goin g on in thes e tw o verses , 'they ' the n becom e
the choru s singin g th e lament , whic h i s standar d i n th e myths unde r
review, finishin g wit h the same words as Ezek. 28.19 .

2. Names and Substances

An outstandin g feature o f Ezekie l 2 7 throughou t is th e collectio n o f
proper name s an d the list o f substances, bot h thos e use d fo r th e con-
struction o f the shi p and those that were the wares trade d b y Tyre. O n
examination, thes e ar e seen to have links with mythological tradition s
and, as fa r as the substances are concerned, they are much in keeping
with the materials use d in the construction of the temple in Jerusalem .

3. Proper Names
Thirty-six prope r name s o f town s o r state s appea r i n Ezekie l 27 ; o f
these, 1 3 occur in the first section (vv . 5-11), an d 2 3 in the trad e list
(vv. 12-23). This i s excluding the name of Tyre itself , thoug h Tyre i s
not without significance. The name of Tyre occur s 46 times in the Old
Testament, of which nearly hal f (20) are in ON-UE. Two conclusion s
may b e draw n fro m thi s fact . On e i s tha t geographica l name s wil l
obviously occu r i n particular contexts , an d the names o f Israel/Judah's
immediate neighbour s ca n be expected t o occur in oracles concerne d
with nation s mor e frequentl y tha n elsewhere . Th e secon d possibl e
conclusion i s tha t th e nam e o f Tyr e i s no t s o widel y sprea d throug h
the Old Testament a s might be expected. Analysi s of the occurrence o f
the othe r name s bear s ou t th e fac t tha t th e 3 6 places mentione d ar e
sparsely distribute d i n th e Ol d Testamen t an d frequentl y belon g
together i n other contexts .
Clues a s to the provenance o f these name s emerg e fro m th e occur -
rence o f Ibnwn. Thi s i s mentione d i n v . 5 a s th e plac e fro m whic h
wood was imported fo r the ship's mast . There i s nothing curious about
this either geographicall y o r historically. Bu t the distribution of Ibnwn
in th e Ol d Testament shoul d b e noted . I t is foun d agai n i n ON-U E a t
GEYER Ezekiel 27 an d th e Cosmic Ship 11 7

Isa. 14. 8 an d Ezek . 31.3 , 15 , and elsewher e i n a n oracl e agains t a

foreign nation, 1 i n oracle s agains t Israel o r Judah 2 and i n oracle s o f
promise t o Israel. 3 It is foun d i n poetry. 4 The woo d is value d for th e
temple building, 5 which has more significance for Ezekiel 2 7 when the
list o f ware s i n th e followin g section i s considered . I t occur s i n th e
enthronement Psal m 2 9 (vv . 5, 6 ) an d th e roya l Psal m 7 2 (v . 16 ; cf.
also Ps. 92.13). It is associated wit h the House (Temple?) o f the Forest
of Lebanon. 6 Like snyr, it is associated wit h Hermon (almost certainl y
a cult resort) i n Josh. 11.1 7 an d 13.5 , an d also with Seir (Josh . 12.7) .
It occur s i n th e spuriou s lists, 7 th e dubiou s natur e o f whic h i s high-
lighted b y more historical references. 8
This evidence suggests that although Ibnwn was (and is!) a historical
site it had particular emotional overtone s that were brought into play,
especially in oracle s of doo m or promis e concernin g the nations ,
including Israel/Judah.
The traditiona l us e o f th e name s i s brough t into sharpe r focu s b y
consideration o f the other items in the list. Fifteen of the names occur
also in the lists in Genesis 1 0 and 1 Chronicles 1 , three o f them occur -
ring onl y in Ezekiel 2 7 and the lists ('lysh, v . 7; 'wzl, v . 19; r'm/i ,
v. 22), an d on e o f the m occurrin g in th e list s an d th e Gog-Mago g
tradition (twgrmh, v . 14 ; Ezek . 38.6) . Th e name s occu r i n poetry :
snyr, v . 5;9 q d r , v . 21 ;10 sb' (vv . 22, 23); 11 in liturgy : bsn, v . 6;12
trsys, v. 1 2 (Ps. 48.8), and in a royal Psalm (Ps. 72.10).
The majorit y o f the occurrences o f all the names falls i n the oracle s
about th e nation s or about Israel/Judah. ywn an d tbl (v . 13 ) are men -

1. 2 Kg s 19.2 3 / / Isa . 37.24 ; Isa . 10.34 ; Nah . 1.4 ; Zech . 11. 1 (o r agains t
2. Isa . 2.1 3 (o r agains t another nation?); 29.17 ; 33.9 ; Jer . 18.1 4 (proverb?) ;
22.6, 20 , 23; Ezek. 17.2 ; Hab. 2.17.
3. Isa . 35.2 ; 40.16 ; 60.13; Hos. 14.6 , 7, 8; Zech. 10.10 .
4. Ps . 104.16 ; Cant. 3.9; 4.6 , 8 , 11 ; 5.15; 7.5 . I t is also foun d i n fable: Judg .
9.15; 2 Kgs 14. 9 // 2 Chron. 25.18.
5. 1 Kgs 5.13, 20 , 23, 28 (bis); 1 Chron. 2.7 (bis), 15 ; Ezra 3.7 .
6. 1 Kgs 7.2; 10.17 , 21; 2 Chron. 9.16, 20 .
7. Josh . 9.1 ; Judg . 3.3 .
8. Deut . 1.7 ; 3.25 ; 11.24 ; Josh. 1.4 .
9. Cant . 4.8 .
10. Cant . 1.5 ; Ps. 120.5 ; cf. msk, v . 13.
11. Jo b 6.19 ; Ps . 72.10, 15.
12. Ps . 68.16, 23.
118 Among th e Prophets

tioned togethe r i n Isa . 66.19 , wher e favou r is promised t o th e nation .

Of particular note ar e the eight place name s i n the Gog-Magog tradi -
tion: prs, v . 10; pwt, v. 10; trsys, v. 12; tbl, v. 13; msk, v . 13; twgrmh,
v. 14 ; ddn, vv . 15 , 20 ; sb\ vv. 22, 23. Of these, tb l occurs i n ON-IJE
at Ezek . 32.2 6 ( + msk), i n th e list s Gen . 10. 2 an d 1 Chron. 1. 5 (also
with msk) an d Isa. 66.19 (wit h Iwd); ms k (v . 13 ) is similar ; twgrmh
occurs elsewher e onl y i n th e list s Gen . 10. 3 an d 1 Chron. 1.6 ; dd n
occurs 1 0 times: 4 times in ON-IJE plus Ezek. 25.13, in an oracle against
nations (Jer . 25.23) , and in the lists (Gen. 10.7 ; 1 Chron. 1.9 , 32) .
One sixt h o f th e name s (6:36 ) ar e hapax legomena: hylk (NEB
Cilicia) an d gmdym i n v . 11 ; hlbwn an d shr i n v . 18 ; knh an d klmd
in v . 23. Some o f these ma y be traceable t o faulty transmission . Ther e
must have been thousand s of places tha t are no longer known by nam e
to us . Va n Dijk suggest s tha t gmdym refer s t o dwarf s (gomed 'shor t
cubit'). M . Elat 1 ha s mad e a n impressive reconstruction of th e tex t to
show tha t v . 1 9 may b e translated , 'Als o Da n an d Yawa n traded fo r
your ware s fro m Uzal' , an d tha t thes e place s wer e t o b e foun d i n
Anatolia. Bu t t o b e abl e t o giv e geographica l o r historica l identity t o
some, o r all, of the places mentioned does no t in itself explain the list .
It remain s mysterious ; th e Gog-Mago g traditio n suggest s tha t thi s i s
deliberately so . The poeti c allusions , particularly those in th e Psalms ,
suggest that the use in ON-IJE in general, and Ezekie l 2 7 in particular,
is traditiona l rather than factual. Modern scholars, strugglin g to trea t
the list as factual, hav e failed to reach a comprehensive explanation.
In th e ligh t of al l this , prs stand s ou t a s exceptional . Apar t fro m
Ezekiel 2 7 an d th e Gog-Mago g tradition , it i s foun d frequentl y in
Esther, Daniel , Ezra, Nehemia h an d 2 Chronicles, an d s o is in perfect
keeping wit h th e Persia n perio d t o whic h i t refers . Thi s doe s no t
necessarily giv e th e dat e o f Ezekie l 27 . I t ma y appea r her e i n a n
attempt t o brin g the oracl e u p t o date , an d i t ma y hav e replace d a n
earlier kws (cf . Ezek . 30.5 ; etc.) . sb' (vv . 22, 23) i s a goo d exampl e
of th e wa y i n which history and tradition combine. Closely connecte d
with th e quee n ( 1 Kgs 10.1 , 4 , 10 , 1 3 // 2 Chron. 9.1, 3 , 9, 12) , i t ha s
never bee n finall y decide d wher e i t lay , an d tha t make s ver y littl e
difference t o th e legen d i n whic h i t i s embedded . I t wa s a romanti c
title conjurin g u p the mysteries of the east (o r the sout h or wherever) .

1. M . Elat, Th e Iro n Expor t fro m Uza l (Ezekie l xxvi i 19)' , V T 3 3 (1983) ,

pp. 323-30.
GEYER Ezekiel 27 an d th e Cosmic Ship 11 9

The name s in Ezekiel 2 7 are no t intended to do much more tha n that.

The attempt t o read the chapter in a matter-of-fact way is misleading.

4. Substances
Fifty-three substance s ar e mentioned altogethe r i n th e poe m an d th e
list. Thes e ma y b e considere d al l together , since , fro m thi s poin t of
view, no significant difference exists between them.
Nine of the words used are hapax legomena, so no further commen t
can b e mad e o n the m excep t t o sa y tha t i f thi s wer e a list o f well -
known product s the y migh t b e expecte d t o appea r elsewher e i n th e
Old Testament. Th e fac t tha t they do not s o occur migh t suggest tha t
the author' s min d wa s elsewhere—fo r exampl e o n som e culti c o r
mythological theme . Th e nin e are : mprs (v . 7) ; swsym wprsym
wprdym, t o be treated a s a unit (v. 14); hbny (v . 15 ; an Egyptia n loan
word foun d i n Ugaritic 1), an d al l th e substance s in v . 24 except hbl,
namely mkll, glwm, brm and 'rwz, which last is possibly an adjectiv e
(see the versions).
A furthe r fiv e words appea r i n secula r context s an d neve r (i n th e
Old Testament ) hav e referenc e t o sacra l functions . Thes e are : tr n
(v. 5) , sn (vv . 6, 15) , rqmh (vv . 7, 16 , 24), r'mh (v . 16 ) and hblym
(v. 24) . However , n o fewe r tha n 3 0 substance s ar e connecte d else -
where wit h the templ e (o r ar k o r tabernacle) , an d thi s suggest s tha t
the image in the author's mind was the sacred place as he knew it best,
in Jerusalem, alon g wit h it s associate d traditions , an d thes e h e ha s
transferred t o Tyre , whic h he migh t have known , or hav e justifiabl y
thought, to be simila r to the templ e in Jerusalem. 2 This stand s eve n
though th e author was using the symbolism of a merchant ship and its
wares (henc e the five substances not known t o have connections with
sacred places) .
The lis t is presente d belo w unde r headings indicating objects with
which the substances are elsewhere associated .

The Temple, rwsym (v . 5) were used fo r panelling the larg e chambe r

of Solomon' s templ e ( 2 Chron. 3.5). 'r z (v . 5) wa s use d fo r David' s
palace, makin g th e kin g ashame d tha t th e ar k wa s house d onl y i n

1. U T 2102.6; cf. van Dijk, Ezekiel's Prophecy, p . 78.

2. Tyr e was much involved in the building of the temple in Jerusalem and was
the dominan t partner ; cf . J.K . Kuan, Thir d Kingdom s 5. 1 an d Israelite-Tyria n
Relations during the Reign of Solomon', JSOT46 (1990) , pp. 31-46.
120 Among th e Prophets

curtains; i t wa s the n use d fo r Solomon' s templ e an d it s alta r (e.g .

1 Kg s 6.18 ) and fo r th e postexili c templ e (Ezr a 3.7) . I t wa s use d fo r
sacrifice (Lev . 14.4 , 49 ; Num . 19.6 ) an d b y thos e wh o mad e idol s
(Isa. 44.14). It appears i n hymnody and myth. 1 bqd occur s elsewher e
only wit h reference t o the temple. 2 brzl (v . 12) was used in the templ e
according t o 1 Chron. 22.14, 16 ; 29.2; 2 Chron. 2.6 , 13 . Strangely, it
was use d fo r th e sarcophagu s o f O g (Deut . 3.11) , bu t i t i s prohibite d
in th e constructio n of altars (Deut . 27.5; Josh . 8.31 ; 1 Kgs 6.7), whic h
was due to the nature of the 'livin g stone' rathe r tha n any objection t o
the substance tha t was not to be used o n it. I t is associated with curse
(Deut. 28.23 ; cf . v . 48), bu t als o wit h blessin g (Deut . 33.25) . I t i s
holy when placed unde r ban (Josh. 6.19, 24) .

Temple Furnishings an d th e Like, luh (v . 5) i s use d frequentl y o f th e

tables o f ston e give n to Moses (e.g . Exod . 24.12 ; 31.18 ; Deut . 4.13) ;
also of the material fo r the trolleys in Solomon' s templ e ( 1 Kgs 7.36).
ns (v . 7) i s use d o f a n alta r (Exod . 17.15 ) an d o f th e bronz e serpen t
(Num. 21.8-9) . I t also occurs i n ON-Isa. 13.2; 18.3 ; Jer . 50.2 ; 51.12 .
'bn yqrh (v . 22) appear s agai n in ON-Ezek . 28.1 3 an d a s part o f th e
temple adornment s ( 1 Chron . 29.2; 2 Chron. 3.6) . bws (v . 16 ) i s a n
emblem o f grandeu r (Est . 1.6 ; 8.15) , otherwis e mentione d onl y i n
connection wit h attendant s of th e ar k ( 1 Chron . 15.27 ) an d th e vei l
(2 Chron . 3.14) . Th e place s wher e i t wa s processe d ar e note d
(1 Chron . 4.21) .

The Tabernacle, qrs (v . 6) i s otherwis e use d onl y in connectio n with

the tabernacle. 3 In the case o f ss (v . 7), th e majorit y of reference s i s
to the tabernacl e and its court. 4 As to tklt (vv . 7, 24) , apar t fro m the
dress o f Samaria' s lover s th e Assyrian s (Ezek. 23.6 ) an d it s associa -
tion wit h royalty (Est . 1.6 ; 8.15) , al l reference s ar e t o th e tabernacl e
(Exod. 26.36) , th e breastplate an d ephod (Exod . 28.39) , t o the cover -
ing fo r object s i n th e sanctuary 5 o r t o th e coverin g fo r idol s (Jer .
10.9; not e th e referenc e i n th e sam e vers e t o silve r fro m Tarshish) .
'rgmn (vv . 7, 16 ) is ver y simila r t o tklt an d i s associate d wit h i t i n

1. Pss . 29.5 ; 92.13 ; cf. ON-Isa. 14. 8 an d Ezek. 31.3 .

2. 2 Kgs 12.6-13; 22.5; 2 Chron. 34.10 .
3. Exod . 26.15 ; 35.11; 36.20; 39.33; 40.18; Num. 3.36; 4.31 .
4. Exod . 26.1 ; 27.9; 39.28 . It is also use d o f the ephod: Exod. 28.6 .
5. Num . 4.6; cf . also Num. 15.38 ; 2 Chron. 2.6 ; 3.14 .
GEYER Ezekiel 2 7 an d th e Cosmic Ship 12 1

some places . Ther e ar e reference s t o th e coverin g fo r th e altar, 1 th e

tabernacle,2 th e epho d (Exod . 28.39 ) and , alon g wit h tklt, t o idol s
(Jer. 10.9 ) an d royalt y (Est . 6.1 ; 8.15) . mksk (v . 7) i s a n unusual,
possibly unique , use of piel participle, of ksh (cf . ON-Isa. 14.11) . Th e
noun miksek shoul d perhap s b e read. Thi s i s use d o f the tabernacle. 3
ksp (v . 12 ) wa s use d fo r th e decoratio n o f th e tabernacle 4 an d th e
veil.5 nhst (v . 13 ) is use d fo r th e tabernacle, 6 the temple,7 its vessels, 8
its platform, 9 it s pillars, 10 it s altar, 11 it s 'Sea', 12 an d th e 'Serpent ' i n
the wilderness. 13 I t constitute s members o f heavenl y beings 14 and of
mountains see n i n vision. 15 I t form s par t o f Goliath' s armour 16 an d
also David's. 17 zhb (v . 22) wa s use d fo r th e constructio n o f th e ark ,
the tabernacl e an d thei r furnishings, 18 th e ephod, 19 th e breastplate, 20
the lampstand, 21 th e gold altar, 22 th e rosette fo r Aaron's turban, 23 th e
inner shrin e to house the ark an d it s fittings, 24 an d furnishing s fo r th e
temple,25 as well as the construction of idols. 26

1. Num . 4.13; cf . 2 Chron. 3.14 + tklt.

2. E.g . Exod. 26; 27.
3. Exod . 26; 35.11; 40.19; cf. Num. 4.
4. Exod . 26.19, 21 , 25.
5. Exod . 26.32 .
6. Exod . 26.11; 27, passim.
7. 1 Chron. 22.3 .
8. 1 Kgs 7.47.
9. 2 Chron. 6.13 .
10. 1 Kgs 7.14-16; 2 Kgs 18.4 ; 25.17.
11. Exod . 27.2 , 3 , 4 ; 1 Kgs 8.64 ; 2 Kg s 16.14 ; 2 Chron . 1.5 , 6 ; 4.1 ; 7.7 ;
Ezek. 9.2 .
12. 1 Chron. 18.8 .
13. Num . 21.9.
14. Ezek . 1.7 ; 40.3; Dan . 10.6 .
15. Zech . 6.1 .
16. 1 Sam. 17.5, 6 .
17. 1 Sam. 17.38 .
18. Exod . 25.26 .
19. Exod . 28.6-22 .
20. Exod . 28.13.
21. Num . 8.4.
22. Exod . 40.5, 26 ; Num. 4.11.
23. Lev . 8.9 .
24. 1 Kgs 6.20, 30.
25. 1 Kgs 7.48.
26. 1 Kgs 12.18 ; Ps . 135.15 .
122 Among the Prophets

The High Priest's Breastplate. As well as tklt (se e under Tabernacle),

npk (v . 16 ) i s use d o f th e breastplat e an d o f tha t only, 1 alon g wit h
ON-Ezek. 28.13 , which probably depends on the breastplate .

Anointing Oil. qdh (v . 19) is mentione d otherwise onl y as a n ingre-

dient o f sacre d anointin g oil (Exod . 30.24). qn h (v . 19 ) is mentioned
in connectio n with sacrifice (Isa. 43.24) an d as an ingredient of sacre d
anointing oi l (Exod . 30.23) . I t is als o th e ter m use d fo r th e branches
of th e temple lamp (Exod. 25.31). bsm (v . 22) i s use d i n th e sacre d
anointing oil (Exod. 30.23; 35.28) .

Sacrifice, hth (v . 17 ) constitute d on e o f th e regula r sacrifices. 2 5m n

(v. 17 ) is used as a n oblation, 3 sacrifice 4 an d als o fo r anointing. 5 yyn
(v. 18 ) occurs i n ON-Isa . 16.10 , 22.13 , Jer . 48.3 3 an d 51.7. I t i s for-
bidden o n entrance to the sanctuary, 6 but is recognized as a sacrificial
offering.7 k r (v . 21) i s associate d wit h sacrific e as a symbo l o f th e
destruction o f die nations. 8 'yl (v . 21) has a regular place in the sacri-
ficial system. 9 'twd (v . 21) i s presente d i n sacrifice, 10 thoug h i t i s
spurned by some; 11 it is associated wit h the slaughter of the nations.12

Symbols o f Yahweh. mgn (v . 10 ) occurs also in ON-Isa. 21.5 and 22.6 ,

in Jer . 46.3 , 9 , i n th e Gog-Mago g tradition, 13 an d i n othe r oracle s
against nations. 14 I t occur s i n poetry. 15 It s mos t commo n usag e i s

1. Exod . 28.18; 39.11.

2. Exod . 29.1; cf . 34.22; Ezek . 45.13.
3. Gen . 28.18 ; 35.14.
4. Lev . 2.1 , 6; Ezek. 45.24; 46.5 , 7 , 11 , 14.
5. Exod . 30.25; 31.11; 37.29; Lev . 8.2; 21.10; Ps . 133.2 .
6. Lev . 10.9 ; Ezek . 44.21 .
7. Exod . 29.40; Lev . 23.13 ; Num . 15.5, 7, 10 ; 28.14; cf . Gen. 14.18 ; 1 Sam.
1.14; 1 Chron. 9.29 .
8. Isa . 34.6 ; Ezek . 39.18; ON-Jer. 51.40.
9. Exod . 29.13 ; Lev . 5.15 ; 9.2 ; 16.3 , 5 ; Num . 7.15; etc. ; Ezek . 43.23 , 25 ;
46.6; Ps . 66.15.
10. Num . 7; Ps. 66.15 .
11. Ps . 50.9; Isa . 1.11 .
12. Isa . 34.6 ; Ezek . 39.18.
13. Ezek . 38.4 and in 38.5 wit h kwb'.
14. 2 Kgs 19.3 2 // Isa. 37.33 ; Nah. 2.4; Ps. 76.4 .
15. Judg . 5.8; 2 Sam. 1.21 ; Cant. 4.4 .
GEYER Ezekiel 27 an d th e Cosmic Ship 12 3

either a s a symbo l o f Yahwe h o r a n objec t associate d wit h him. 1 I t

occurs i n th e Hous e o f Fores t o f Lebanon, 2 otherwis e a s a military
term onl y in 1 Kgs 14.26 , 27 ; Ezek. 23.24 ; Neh . 4.10 an d 1- 2 Chron .
(10 times) ; Jo b 14.26 ; possibl y als o Prov . 6.11 ; 24.34 . Problemati c
are Hos . 4.1 8 (probabl y a referenc e t o Yahweh ) an d Jo b 41. 7
(mythological?), kwb' (v . 10) occur s i n th e Gog-Mago g traditio n
with mgn (Ezek . 38.5) ; i t belong s t o th e armour y o f Yahwe h (Isa .
59.17) an d Goliat h ( 1 Sam . 17.5) . I t ha s a militar y us e i n 2 Chron .
26.14 an d i n ON-Jer . 46.4 . hd r (v . 10 ) is mos t frequen t i n liturgical
texts connecte d wit h Yahwe h or th e king. 3 qrn (v . 15 ) also occur s i n
ON-Jer. 48.25 , Ezek . 29.21 . I t i s a symbo l o f Yahweh 4 an d o f
worship5 an d i s connecte d wit h th e altar. 6 It is a symbol of th e king 7
and his anointing. 8
There remai n nin e word s whos e provenanc e i s equivocal , word s
that could be used in a 'religious ' sense , tha t is to say, connected with
rites an d rituals, bu t which might equally be used in a natural or secu-
lar sense (thi s is also true of some of the 30 words in the previous list,
but a concentratio n of thei r usage i n ritua l contexts an d thei r bein g
linked togethe r i n Ezekie l 2 7 suggest s mor e positivel y th e author' s
intention to describe th e temple unde r the figure of the ship).
'Iwn (v . 6) i s associate d wit h sacre d place s an d wit h idolatry, 9
(h)bdyl (v . 12) stands in appositio n to h'bn i n Zech . 4.10 , a symbo l
held b y Zerubbabe l a s messianic ruler. It has been suggeste d tha t th e
word might be pointed as hiphil of bdl and have the sense 'dividing' .
'wprt (v . 12 ) occur s i n Exod . 15.1 0 a s a n imag e o f th e wa y i n
which Egyp t sank as a result o f Yahweh's action a t the Reed Sea . np s

1. Gen . 15.1; Deut. 33.29; 2 Sam. 22.3, 31, 36 // Ps. 18.3 , 31, 36; Prov. 30.5;
Pss. 3.4 ; 7.11 ; 28.7 ; 33.20 ; 59.12 ; 84.10 , 12 ; 89.19 ; 115.9 , 10 , 11 ; 119.114;
144.2; cf . Pss. 35.2 ; 47.10; Prov. 2.7.
2. 1 Kgs 10.17//2 Chron. 9.16.
3. Pss . 8.6 ; 21.6; 29.4; 45.4, 5 ; 90.16; 96.6 ; 110.2 ; 111.3; 145.5 , 12 ; 149.9 ;
1 Chron. 16.27; cf. Isa . 2.10, 19 , 21; 35.2; Mic . 2.9; Job 40.10.
4. 2 Sam. 23.3 // Ps. 18.3 ; Hab. 3.4.
5. 1 Chron. 25.5.
6. Exod . 29.12 ; Lev . 4.7 ; 1 Kg s 1.50 ; 2.28 ; Amo s 3.14 ; Ezek . 43.15 ;
Ps. 118.27 .
7. 1 Sam. 2.10; 16.1 ; Ps. 132.17 ; cf. 1 Sam. 2.1.
8. 1 Sam. 16.13; 1 Kgs 1.39 .
9. Gen . 35.8; Hos . 4.13; Isa . 6.13 ; 44.14 .
124 Among th e Prophets

'dm (v . 13 ) i s a comparativel y rar e phrase. 1 Onl y in 1 Chron. 5.2 1

does i t have th e sam e sens e a s Ezek . 27.1 3 (slave/captive) . A lis t of
slaves is called sprnps'm U T 2106.1-2. 2
'skr (v . 15) occur s elsewher e onl y of th e tribut e paid b y Tarshish ,
Sheba an d Seb a (Ps . 72.10) . kdkd (v . 16 ) is used elsewher e onl y of a
(mythologically) restore d Jerusale m (Isa . 54.12 ; cf . 54.16) . dbs
(v. 17 ) is not to be burnt as an offerin g t o Yahweh (Lev . 2.11) , but i t
is a standard symbol of the promised land. 3 sry (v . 17 ) occurs i n ON -
Jer. 46.1 1 an d 51.8 ; i t i s otherwis e t o b e foun d onl y i n Gen . 37.25 ;
43.11 and Jer. 8.22 . smr (v . 18) was no t t o b e wor n in th e sanctuar y
(Ezek. 44.17) . I t is onc e sai d t o have bee n use d i n divinatio n (Judg.
A tent h substanc e migh t b e adde d t o thi s lis t wit h r'mt i n v . 16,
elsewhere onl y Job 28.1 8 an d Prov . 24.7—bu t o n thi s se e NE B and
W. McKane. 4 Va n Dijk (p . 79) draw s attentio n t o U T 'nt II I 1- 2
(= CML 3 C 1-2 , p . 48): [t]st nmt lirth. H e say s tha t th e singula r
'coral' i s a collectiv e noun , the -6- pointin g t o Phoenician vocaliza -
tion. Ha s th e Old Testament suppresse d an intimate adornment of th e
Not al l th e substance s are associated wit h th e temple i n Jerusalem .
Some o f the m ar e no t eve n acceptabl e there . Th e fac t tha t som e o f
them are associated wit h idolatry does no t exclude the possibility that
the author is thinking of the temple in Tyre. Th e fac t tha t some o f th e
substances ar e not known to have been associate d wit h worship doe s
not preclude th e conclusion tha t the author was thinking principally o f
the temple . Th e concentratio n o f article s wel l know n as par t o f th e
paraphernalia o f the temple suggests that tha t is what he had i n mind .
The image h e used was tha t o f a merchant ship, and he include d arti -
cles other tha n those associated with worship as he thought appropriate .
The sea, thoug h always feared, had also a benevolent aspec t fo r sea -
faring people . A . van Selms compare s a n Egyptia n text dealin g wit h
a shipwrecke d sailo r an d th e Ugariti c text s U T 129 , 13 7 an d 6 8
(= CM L 2 iii, 2 i, pp. 37, 40). I n the Egyptia n text th e sea-go d give s
the sailor a shipload of goods. Van Selms concludes, 'Non e of the epic

1. Gen . 9.5 ; Num . 19.13 (bot h h'dm); Lev . 24.17; Num . 9.6, 7 ; 19.11 ; 31.55,
40,46; 1 Chron. 5.21 .
2. Quote d by van Dijk, Ezekiel's Prophecy, p . 76.
3. Lev . 20.24 ; Deut. 6.3; 11.9 ; 26.9 , 15 .
4. W . McKane, Proverbs (London , 1970) .
GEYER Ezekiel 2 7 an d th e Cosmic Ship 12 5

texts discovered a t Ugarit deal s wit h seafarin g but th e Egyptia n story

is a n indicatio n that the sea , fa r fro m bein g th e universall y abhorred
chaotic force, could also be pictured as a great and good god'.1

Now that the two mythologies have been set out, they may be compared .
1. Th e mos t strikin g differenc e i s tha t th e se a appear s a s a
threatening element i n Ezekiel. Th e sea does no t appear a t all
in th e Amduat, where san d and deser t ar e th e most threaten -
ing feature s o f th e natura l world . I n th e Egyptia n traditio n
any referenc e t o wate r i s generall y a s th e sourc e of lif e an d
fertility. Th e floo d (h'pj) i s a n elemen t tha t destroy s th e
enemy but protects th e god.
2. A notable element in ON-IJE is the Lament passage. Thi s als o
occurs i n th e myth s where th e lamen t becomes a taun t (Isa.
14.9-11; Ezek . 27.29-36 ; 31.15). Wher e th e lament occur s in
myth, i t usuall y marks th e poin t a t whic h th e go d (her o o r
anti-hero) is greeted i n the Underworld, often withou t enthu-
siasm (cf . Descent o f Istar, 11 . 28-37 ; CML 5 i i 17-22) . A
remarkable featur e o f the Amdua t is the wa y i n whic h Re i s
greeted a t th e gate s o f th e variou s Hours . H e i s alway s
greeted with adulation. The contrast is wholly in keeping with
the Ol d Testamen t us e o f myth , where th e on e wh o shoul d
end up as the glorious god ends up as the defeated, humiliate d
3. I n th e Amdua t a cre w o f twelv e oarsmen i s mentione d an d
there i s als o mentio n of twelv e gods wh o pul l th e to w rope .
Much attention is given to the crew in Ezekiel, wher e th e cre w
is draw n fro m man y countries , some o f whic h ar e know n
only from mythology . This accentuates the cosmic dimensio n
of this Ship.
4. Th e primaeval darkness (tith) i s a region not lighted by Re. It
is reserve d fo r th e enemie s an d i s a t th e furthes t reache s o f
the Dat . Re doe s no t engage wit h this chaoti c power , bu t h e
travels close to the boundaries of being. In view of the mytho-
logical significanc e of the se a in Ezekie l 27 , hysbty 'l-mbw't

1. A . van Selms, The Fir e i n Yammu's Palace', UF 3 (1971), pp. 249-52.

126 Among th e Prophets

ym in v . 3 comes t o have a simila r significance . Tyr e stand s

at the boundaries of chaos.
5. Frequen t reference s ar e mad e i n th e Amdua t to ritual s tha t
are t o b e carrie d ou t daily , an d i t become s clea r tha t th e
whole progres s o f the Bar k i s closel y monitore d i n worship .
In fact , wha t the Amduat is about i s the right ordering o f th e
cosmos expresse d throug h templ e liturgies . Th e constructio n
of the Ship shows that Ezekiel also had the temple ver y much
in mind. He speaks o f the fate o f Tyre but he does s o in term s
that link this oracl e wit h th e other myth s used in ON-IJE . H e
speaks o f th e Go d wh o bring s orde r ou t o f chao s an d wh o
does s o by subjugating the rebel people .
Leslie C . Allen

This stud y analyse s Ezek . 37.1-1 4 fro m th e perspective s o f structure , traditio n
history an d redaction. Structurall y there is a double movement in the vision accoun t
from a negative orientatio n to a positive one ; this is matched by a single movement in
the accompanyin g oracl e o f salvation . I n term s o f tradition history thi s movemen t
echoes the metaphorical credal statement that Yahweh bot h kills and makes alive, in
order to affirm his positive purpos e to restore his exiled people . Redactionally the
passage functions as an elaboration o f the gift of Yahweh's spiri t promised earlie r in
Ezek. 36.27a.

The degre e t o which the vision o f dry bones has gripped the religious
imagination is evident in expressions as culturally diverse as the Dura-
Europos synagogu e paintings and black America n preaching.1 In this
article a concerte d attemp t i s mad e t o explor e th e meanin g o f thi s
powerful tex t in Ezek. 37.1-14 from thre e perspectives, on e synchronic
and two diachronic .

M.V. Fox , i n a valuable rhetorical stud y of this pericope, ha s playe d
down th e valu e of forma l structural analysis, in a desire t o focu s on
the persuasiv e forc e of discours e and thu s to alig n Old Testamen t
rhetorical criticis m wit h th e extra-biblica l discipline. 2 Hi s genera l

* A n earlier draft of the material relatin g t o structure and redaction wa s read a s a

paper at the 198 9 Annua l Meeting of the Pacific Coast Region of SBL .
1. Fo r the latter, see F.C. Watkins , '"De Dry Bones i n de Valley" (Ezek. 37, 1-
10)', Southern Folklore Quarterly 2 0 (1956), pp. 136-49 .
2. 'Th e Rhetoric of Ezekiel's Vision of the Valley of the Bones', HUCA 5 1
(1980), pp. 1-15(1-4) .
128 Among th e Prophets

point i s wel l taken : comple x stati c pattern s coul d hardl y hav e bee n
appreciated b y a n audience . However , i t need s t o b e born e i n min d
that i n it s presen t for m Ezek . 37.1-1 4 function s a s a literar y text ,
which permit s rereadin g an d s o appreciatio n o f fine points. Fo x went
on t o admi t tha t analysi s o f th e structur e o f a uni t o f discours e ma y
have som e value . A s w e shal l see , it help s t o revea l no t onl y th e
relation betwee n th e variou s part s o f a unit , bu t als o it s dynami c
Various scholar s hav e trie d thei r han d a t uncoverin g th e structur e
of th e passage . A n overvie w o f their rather differen t conclusion s wil l
be presente d befor e a fres h analysi s tha t build s upo n thei r wor k i s
offered. H.V.D . Parunak made a good star t by observin g symmetrica l
elements tha t dominat e th e piece. 1 He divided vv . 1-1 4 into two main
parts, two symmetrical 'symboli c panels' i n vv. 3-8 and 9-10, prefaced
by a headin g i n vv . 1- 2 and followe d b y a n interpretativ e oracl e i n
vv. 11-14 . H e foun d th e structura l focu s o f th e passag e i n th e tw o
panels. The y exhibi t triple parallel structurin g consisting of (1 ) divine
command wit h three repeated feature s (an introductory 'and he said to
me', 'so n o f man' , an d ' d say' ) i n vv . 2- 6 an d 9 ,
(2) report o f prophetic obedienc e i n vv . 7a an d lOa , an d (3 ) narrativ e
description o f th e resul t o f th e prophec y i n vv . 7b- 8 and lOb .
Elements o f thi s central structur e stretc h bac k an d forwar d t o fram e
the pericope; th e thir d elemen t o f descriptio n i s anticipate d i n th e
heading o f vv . 1-2 , while th e firs t elemen t o f divin e comman d i s
repeated i n vv. 11-14 .
Next, M. Fishban e ha s claimed chias m a s the key to th e structure. 2
According t o him ther e ar e three doubl e elements , ABCC'B'A' . Th e
first and last , i n vv. 1- 2 and 14 , consist of a combination of terms, th e
'spirit' (mi ) of Yahweh an d hiphil forms of the verb rm wit h Yahweh
as subject, ^rrn 'an d he set me down' and Timm 'an d I will settle' (A-
A'). Th e next element s ar e th e fulfilment o f Ezekiel' s prophecy ove r
the dry bones and its interpretation i n national terms (B-B') in vv. 3-10
and 12-13 . Th e centra l element s o f th e chias m ar e th e interpretatio n
of th e vision in v. 1 la an d what he describes a s an idiomatic focu s t o
the vision provided in v. lib (C-C); both anticipate th e interpretation

1. 'Structura l Studies in Ezekiel' (PhD dissertation, Harvard, 1978 ; Ann Arbor ,

MI: University Microfilms International), pp. 479-81.
2. Biblical Interpretation i n Ancient Israel (Oxford : Clarendo n Press , 1985) ,
p. 452.
ALLEN Structure, Tradition and Redaction 12 9

that follows . Fishban e has draw n attention to th e significanc e o f th e

parallelism betwee n th e A-A' elements. Ezekiel's experience o f being
'set down' i n the valley by Yahweh turns out to be a model fo r that of
Israel's being 'se t down' i n its own land by Yahweh. What was to be
done fo r th e communit y wa s first done i n th e perso n o f th e prophet ,
so that his experience function s a s a guarantee of national restoration.
C. Westerman n ha s offere d a doubl e analysis. 1 First , dividin g the
passage int o tw o parts, vv . 1-1 0 an d 11-14 , h e discovere d a paralle l
sequence inse t i n th e former, a sequence o f commissions an d conse -
quences i n vv . 4-5/ 7 an d 9/10 , afte r th e basi c visio n i n vv . 1- 3 and
before th e presentatio n o f it s meanin g in vv . 11-14 . Thi s analysi s is
similar t o Parunak's, with less exposur e of his element o f description .
True t o hi s longstandin g concer n fo r form , Westerman n judge d a
form-critical structurin g also t o be important. He foun d a central rol e
for v . l i b a s a fragmentar y declaration o f communa l lament , whil e
vv. 1-1 0 and 12-1 4 function a s expression s o f a n oracl e o f response .
Both Fishban e an d Westerman n hav e give n a centra l rol e t o v . 11 .
They ech o a n emphasis expresse d b y W . Zimmerli , tha t v . 1 1 i s th e
nucleus of the whole pericope, lookin g both back and forward. 2
Both scholar s see m t o hav e uncovere d vita l structura l element s
from thei r differen t perspectives. I f on e look s afres h a t th e pericop e
in th e light of their labors, reusing some of these elements and utilizing
further features , a consisten t structur e emerges. Vers e l a seem s t o
function a s the introduction, lying outside the structure of the unit as a
whole. Th e bod y o f th e tex t consists of a threefold sequence , whos e
elements gro w progressivel y shorter , i n vv . lb-8a , 8b-1 0 an d 11-14 .
The sequence of elements is ABCBCA'-ABCA'-AB. A represents nega -
tive description, B divine speech, C prophetic reaction, and A' positiv e
The first part, vv. lb-8a , fall s int o two segments, vv . lb- 3 and 4-8a .
The forme r consists of three elements, th e first of which is a negative
description o f bones s o devoid o f life tha t they are 'ver y dry' (vv . Ib-
2, A). The vividnes s of the visionar y scene is emphasized b y th e tw o
uses o f 'behold ' i n v . 2. There follow s a divin e speech i n v . 3a (B) ,
prefaced b y th e introductory formula 'and h e sai d t o me' an d begin -

1. Prophetische Heilsworte im Alien Testament (FRLANT , 145 ; Gottingen :

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1987) , pp. 133-34.
2. Ezekiel (Hermeneia ; 2 vols.; Philadelphia: Fortres s Press, 1979 , 1983) , II ,
p. 257 .
130 Among th e Prophets

ning wit h the vocative 'so n o f man'. The divin e speech consist s o f a
question, to which a prophetic answer is given in v. 3b (C). The negati -
vism in vv. lb-2 seems to dominate this first segment. Ezekiel's laconic
reply ma y b e take n a s a reinforcemen t o f th e negativ e description :
'You kno w that these bones—s o dry and lifeless—will no t and cannot
The second segmen t o f vv. lb-8 a is composed o f vv. 4-8a. Thre e of
the element s o f th e firs t segmen t reappear , wit h variety o f orde r an d
content. Firs t come s divin e speech (B) , i n vv . 4-6. I t essentially con -
sists of an oracle o f salvation that is a two-part proof saying , in which
the particl e 'behold ' i s pointedl y reuse d i n a positiv e context . Th e
oracle i s preface d wit h th e introductory formula already use d fo r th e
divine speec h o f v. 3 . It is prefaced wit h a commission t o prophesy, a
call t o attentio n and a messenger formula . Prophetic transmissio n of
the oracl e (C ) follow s i n v . 7a . Finall y there i s positiv e descriptio n
(A') in vv. 7b-8a, whic h studiously includes two uses o f 'behold' , in a
happy counterpar t t o th e gri m usag e i n v . 2 . Overall , th e relatio n
between th e two parts, vv . lb-3 and 4-8a, seem s to be that of a nega -
tive prelud e t o a positive , transformin g event. Withi n vv. 1-1 0 th e
content of vv. lb-8a is marked by incompleteness, in that the oracle of
revival has onl y partially been fulfilled . Ye t structurall y this portion is
self-contained and represent s a distinc t phase tha t come s to an end
with v . 8a.
Verses 8b-1 0 present a second par t that, while developing th e story
line, includes the same elements a s vv. lb-8 a but in a shorter compass .
A brie f negativ e descriptio n (A ) pave s th e way , i n v . 8b. 2 Ther e
follows divin e speech (B ) in v. 9, which comprehensively recapitulates
in it s preliminar y features the case s i n vv . 3 a an d 4-6 : th e introduc-
tory formul a (/ / vv . 3 , 4) , th e commissio n t o prophes y (/ / v . 4), th e
address 'so n o f man' (/ / v. 3) and the messenger formul a (// v. 5). The
call t o attentio n in v. 5 is lef t ou t of this recapitulation, with a brevity
that may echo the overall conciseness of vv. 8-10 in relation to vv. Ib -

1. Th e prophet' s reply should probably be paraphrased: "Yo u kno w th e answe r

to that . O f cours e the y can' t live!" ' (P.C . Craigie , Ezekiel [Dail y Stud y Bible ;
Philadelphia: Westminster Press , 1983] , p . 260) . Cf . W.E . Lemke , 'Lif e i n th e
Present and Hope for the Future', Int 38 (1984), pp. 165-8 0 (178-79).
2. P . Hoffke n ('Beobachtunge n z u Ezechie l xxxvi i 1-10' , V T 3 1 [1981] ,
pp. 305-17 [308 n . 10] ) has drawn attention to the change i n the mode o f descriptio n
at v. 8b, from visual experienc e to interpretation .
ALLEN Structure, Tradition an d Redaction 13 1

8a. Th e actua l oracl e i s o f a differen t kin d fro m tha t in vv . 5-6 ; i t i s

now an oracle of command for the mi, here the world-sustaining life-
force, t o presenc e itsel f an d fulfi l th e wor k o f reanimation . Ther e
follows i n v . 1 0 propheti c transmissio n (C ) whic h matche s tha t o f
v. 7a, wit h stylistic variation. 1 Finall y comes positiv e description (A' )
in v . lOb . Overall , vv . 8b-1 0 has echoed th e elements alread y use d i n
vv. lb-8, but telescoped them , as is not uncommon in literary repetition .
The thir d part , i n vv . 11-14 , i s briefer stil l i n term s o f th e numbe r
of elements . Propheti c reactio n i s lacking , an d s o i s th e positiv e
narrative description featured in vv. 7b-8a and lOb . The part is wholly
made u p o f divine speech (B) , which takes th e form o f a disputation.
Imbedded withi n it is an element o f negative description (A), in v. 11 .
It consists of interpretation of the dry bones described in vv. lb- 2 and
a complementary quotatio n of the exiles' lamentin g despair. It s atten-
tion-drawing particl e 'behold ' noticeabl y echoe s v . 2 . In reply t o this
negative feature , the divine speech move s i n vv. 12-1 3 to an oracle of
salvation, a two-part proof sayin g in vv. 5-6. I t too contains 'behold' ,
now correspondin g to that in v. 5. One may add tha t it also allude s to
its double presence withi n the positive description of vv . 7b-8a, at v. 8a.
What i s promised i n th e oracl e o f vv. 12-1 3 naturally corresponds t o
what wa s performe d i n th e vision , as wel l a s t o wha t was promise d
there. Th e divin e speec h i s initiate d b y element s alread y familia r t o
the reader : i n v . 1 1 th e introductor y formula (/ / vv . 3 , 4 , 9 ) an d th e
vocative addres s (/ / vv. 3, 9) and in v. 1 2 the commission t o prophes y
(// vv. 4, 9) and the messenger formul a (// vv. 5, 9). Prophetic formu -
laic languag e used i n th e tw o section s o f th e visio n narrative i s her e
gathered u p an d reused i n thi s interpretative section. Structurall y one
might hav e expecte d th e piec e t o conclud e wit h v . 13 . However, i n
v. 1 4 there follow s a s a seeming clima x a further oracl e o f salvation,
again a two-par t proo f saying , whic h i s cappe d b y a n asseveratio n
formula an d a divine-saying formula.
Support fo r this structura l analysis comes fro m a pair o f inclusions
evident i n th e passage . Th e firs t o f th e thre e section s o f the pericop e
was define d as vv. lb-8a ; i n fact th e double usage o f 'behold ' i n both
the initial negativ e description an d th e final positive descriptio n pro -
vides a nice framework for it . The second section, vv. 8b-10, is marke d

1. R . Rendtorf f (TDNT, VI , p . 799 ) ha s compare d th e hithpae l o f th e ver b

'prophesy' wit h th e us e a t 13.17 , where i t characterizes a misused psychi c gif t o f
mediating life or death. Here the prophetic word share s this immense potential.
132 Among th e Prophets

by a contrasting border, Dn n n n p o 'bu t there was no breath in them'

and aro nn n »ia m 'an d breath came into them' (8b , 10) .
There ar e a numbe r o f othe r example s o f inclusio n in thi s stylisti-
cally rich pericope. Wha t Fishbane regarded a s the first and last step s
in a chiasm may at least be viewed as an envelope fo r the pericope, in
vv. 1 and 14 . The firs t tw o section s togethe r mak e u p th e visionary
part o f the passage . D . Baltzer ha s note d tha t it i s marked of f by th e
parallel doubl e usag e o f n« n 'very ' i n vv . 2 and 10. 1 Th e repetitio n
accentuates the contrast between the negative and positive descriptions
in whic h they ar e set . Smalle r portion s o f tex t ar e als o delineate d b y
inclusion. P. Hb'ffke n ha s observe d tha t within the oracle o f salvatio n
in vv . 5- 6 th e firs t par t o f th e proo f sayin g ha s it s ow n inclusion ,
on^m rr n 023 , '...i n yo u breat h an d yo u wil l live', whic h serves t o
focus o n th e gif t o f ne w life. 2 Paruna k ha s draw n attentio n t o th e
extensive inclusion that marks the oracle o f salvatio n in vv . 12-13 : ' I
will ope n you r grave s an d brin g yo u u p fro m you r graves' , an d th e
resumptive 'whe n I ope n you r grave s an d brin g yo u u p fro m you r
graves'.3 Tight bondin g and differentiatio n ar e achieve d b y al l thes e
examples o f inclusion , and amon g the m ar e pointer s t o a structural
break betwee n v . 8a and 8b.
Cognizance ma y b e take n of a number of case s o f wor d repetitio n
and wordplay, mainly serving as stylistic links between parts. Wordplay
is characteristic o f vision oracles, an d s o one is not surprised to find it
here. The wor d repetition i s not of a straightforward kind, but applie s
the sam e term s t o differen t contexts . Th e firs t an d thir d part s ar e
loosely linke d b y tw o example s o f thi s patterning . First, th e divin e
bringing o f breat h (N^D E M N ' I wil l bring' , v . 5 ) i s echoe d i n th e
bringing o f th e exile s t o the lan d of Israe l (Tma m 'an d I will bring',
v. 12) . Secondly , th e divin e bringing u p o f fles h upo n th e bone s i s
capped by the bringing up of the exiles from thei r virtua l graves (Tibum
'and I will bring up', vv.6,12). Wordplay also unites these parts: lanpm
'and (th e bones) joined' (v . 7) finds an echo i n wnrap 'you r graves '
(vv. 12, 13) . Another instance of wordplay bridges the second and third
parts: TI B 'breathe' (v . 9) and nns •>] « ' I will open' togethe r wit h Tinea
'when I open' (vv . 12, 13). Counterpointing of thi s same pair o f stem s
occurs i n Jeremiah's visio n of the tilting cauldron and its explanator y

1. Ezechiel und Deuterojesaja (BZAW , 121 ; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1971), p. 109 .

2. Hoffken , 'Beobachtungen' , p. 306 .
3. 'Structural Studies', p. 483 .
ALLEN Structure, Tradition an d Redaction 13 3

oracle in Jer. 1.13-14 . Mention may also be made of consonantal asson-

ance tha t occurs withi n the second part: vm nbn n D'orinto ) 'thes e slain
ones, tha t they may live ' an d *rn orr^r i (~bi? ) '(upon ) their feet, a host'
(vv. 9 , 10) . Th e transpose d consonant s stylisticall y emphasiz e th e
radical transformatio n Yahwe h woul d brin g about , whereb y victim s
of divine judgment were to become recipients of salvation and strength.
The third par t deserve s close r structura l examination. I n general th e
lament i s obviously matched b y the following oracle of salvation, with
appropriate correlatio n o f forms . Th e thre e clause s o f th e lamen t
correspond t o th e thre e clause s o f th e divin e response , bu t onl y
loosely. I n fact, the third clause i n v. 1 1 matches th e second clause i n
v. 12 , fo r tw o reasons . First , th e doubl e pronomina l referenc e i n
13*7 iriTH 'w e ar e cu t of f fo r ourselves ' i s nicel y answere d b y tha t o f
D^Tinapn DDH « Ti^u m 'an d I wil l brin g yo u u p fro m you r graves' .
Secondly, th e metaphor s o f graves an d o f being cu t of f (i n death ) ar e
closely associate d concept s i n a lament context , a s Ps . 88.6(5 ) illus-
trates: TIN:)...-o p • | Mffl...iM 'like...thos e wh o li e in th e grave... they
are cu t off. Th e secon d claus e i n th e lamen t seems t o correspon d t o
the firs t on e i n th e oracle . Th e emotiona l expressio n o f dea d hope ,
nmpn n~DK i 'an d ou r hop e i s perished' , i s answere d b y a ne w hope ,
Yahweh's openin g o f thei r graves . On e ma y not e her e no t onl y th e
matching of th e two final terms in the Hebrew, a s nouns with suffixe s
that relat e t o th e exiles , bu t als o th e echo o f th e death-lade n ver b i n
the ter m 'graves' , an d the irruption of dynamic activity on Yahweh' s
part t o deal wit h th e passive situatio n o f the exiles. Th e first statement
in th e lamen t an d th e thir d on e i n th e oracl e functio n a s flanges . Th e
initial lament claus e 'ou r bones ar e dried up ' ha s its own role to play,
as a metapho r o f disorientatio n tha t expresse s a lo w qualit y o f life .
Reinterpreted i n terms o f the metaphor of death expressed i n the third
clause ('w e ar e cu t off) , i t ha s forme d th e basi s o f th e precedin g
vision, a s the references t o dry bones in vv. 2 and 4 reveal. The inter-
pretation o f the vision commences wit h the basic factor revealed a t the
start o f th e vision . Th e thir d statemen t i n th e oracl e o f v . 1 2 con -
cerning restoratio n o f th e exile s t o thei r ow n lan d i s a n importan t
element i n th e interpretation . I t ground s the metapho r o f ne w lif e i n
Ezekiel's genera l positiv e agend a of a new exodus. By implication i t
serves t o identif y th e bringin g up fro m th e grave s wit h th e actua l
phase o f exodus, whic h is then followed by the phase o f entry into th e
promised land . Vers e 2 1 i s comparable , wher e th e exodu s phas e i s
134 Among th e Prophets

flavored by the symbolism of taking sticks (np b 'take' , vv. 16 , 19, 21).
The mentio n o f entry into the land finds reinforcement in v. 1 4 within
the second salvation oracle.

Hopefully th e reason fo r this complex structurin g will become evident
from a consideration o f Ezekiel's us e o f traditio n history . I t mus t b e
said tha t ther e i s muc h i n 37.1-1 4 tha t correlates wit h materia l else -
where in th e book. Fo r instance, the overall for m of the unit is simila r
to tha t o f 36.16-3 2 i n consistin g of bot h a private communicatio n o f
Yahweh t o th e prophe t an d a public oracle . I n form-critica l content,
although no t i n th e orde r o f it s components , i t i s especiall y clos e t o
11.1-13. There a vision and a disputation that consists of divine inter-
pretation o f th e vision , a commissio n t o delive r a n oracl e an d th e
actual oracl e ar e followe d by a visionary account of th e effec t o f th e
oracle an d a questio n aske d b y th e prophet. 1 Th e tw o stage s o f
reanimation in the vision have been compare d b y Zimmerli t o the two
phases o f Ezekiel' s eatin g th e scrol l i n 3.1-3 , whic h both consis t o f
divine command an d prophetic compliance. 2 F. Hossfeld has observed
that th e referenc e t o th e 'slain ' (D-mn ) in v. 1 0 echoes th e use o f th e
verb in 9.16 , 21.16(11 ) an d 23.10 , 4 7 i n context s of divine judgment
against Israel. 3 At a climacti c point in th e vision the ter m i s deliber -
ately use d t o categoriz e th e exile s a s virtuall y 'slain' , victim s o f
Yahweh's punishment for their sins.
Yet i t i s als o clea r tha t the pericop e draw s upon earlier traditions .
Commentators generall y se e in the two stage s o f reanimation narrate d
in th e vision the influence o f Gen. 2.7; the fact tha t the verb 'breathe '
(ns]) is common to both passages support s the derivation. 4 Yahweh is
engaged i n a wor k o f ne w creation . Baltze r has foun d i n th e divin e
command o f v . 9 a referenc e t o th e powe r o f th e creativ e wor d i n
Genesis 1. 5 Bu t wha t of th e conceptio n of deat h an d ne w life ? Th e

1. Se e especially Hoffken, 'Beobachtungen' , pp. 310-12.

2. Ezekiel, II, p. 257; cf. Ezekiel I , pp. 135-36 .
3. Untersuchungen zu Komposition und Theologie de s Ezechielbuches
(Forschungen zur Bibel, 20; Wurzburg: Echter Verlag, 1977), p. 380. H e also cited
the usage in foreign oracle s a t 26.6, 8, 11 , 15 ; 28.9.
4. See , e.g. , Zimmerli , Ezekiel, II, p. 261.
5. Ezechiel, p. 112 .
ALLEN Structure, Tradition an d Redaction 13 5

very questio n o f v . 3 appear s t o indicat e tha t a belie f i n physica l

resurrection wa s no t ye t curren t t o provid e th e basi s fo r a positiv e
answer. Scholar s hav e usuall y been conten t to groun d the conceptio n
in the lamenting citation o f the exiles' despai r i n v. 11 , with examples
from th e Psalm s o f disorientatio n describe d i n term s o f a livin g
death.l I f the citation supplie s the negative imagery, one can go on to
relate th e gif t o f ne w lif e t o th e reorientatio n tha t Yahwe h bring s
about. 'Yo u hav e brough t u p m y bein g fro m Sheol' , exclaim s th e
giver o f thank s (Ps . 30.4[3] ; cf . 86.13) . Bu t ma y on e fin d a mor e
specific parallel ? Hossfeld , wh o views vv. llb-13 a a s a separate uni t
from vv . 1-1 0 and s o cannot ground th e latter i n th e imagery o f v. 11 ,
has include d in his extensiv e stud y of vv. 1-1 4 a section o n the tradi -
tion histor y o f th e vision . He has foun d the sourc e o f it s imager y o f
new lif e afte r deat h i n the literal resurrectio n o f the dea d bo y through
the prophe t Elija h i n 1 Kg s 17.17-24. 2 I n hi s sectio n o n semanti c
analysis h e note d tha t bot h ther e and in the vision th e verb rr n 'live '
has a n ingressive sense , 'com e back t o life'. 3 Eve n more significantl y
he also cited as a semantic parallel the interrelated saying s in 1 Sam. 2. 6
and 2 Kgs. 5.7 concerning God's powe r to kill and bring back to life. 4
Here surel y i s a likel y traditio-historical sourc e fo r the transforma -
tion i n th e vision . Deut . 32.39 , 1 Sam . 2. 6 an d 2 Kg s 5. 7 ar e al l
examples o f a merismu s tha t couple s Yahweh' s omnipoten t powe r
both to inflict deat h an d t o besto w life. 5 I n vie w of its particula r con -
texts, i t i s apparentl y use d no t o f litera l deat h bu t metaphoricall y o f
Yahweh a s th e originato r o f both disorientatio n an d reorientation. 6 In
the first cas e i t i s expresse d i n hymnic language, ' I put t o deat h an d
bring t o life' , an d i s followe d by ' I woun d and I heal'. Th e secon d
case i s a similar affirmation: 'Yahwe h puts to death and brings to life' .

1. Fo r a recent study of death in the Psalter, se e C.C. Broyles , The Conflict o f

Faith and Experience i n the Psalms (JSOTSup , 52 ; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989) ,
pp. 84-95. The imagery appears to be restricted to individual psalms.
2. Untersuchungen, p. 390 .
3. Untersuchungen, pp. 376-77 .
4. Untersuchungen, p. 377.
5. Se e J . Krasovec , De r Merismus i m Biblisch-Hebrdischen un d
Nordwestsemitischen (BibOr , 33; Rome : Biblical Institut e Press, 1977) , p . 118 ;
K.-J. Illman , Ol d Testament Formulas about Death (Abo : Ab o Akademi , 1979) ,
pp. 164-68 . Cf. Wisd. 16.13 : 'For you have authority over life and death; you bring
down to the gates of Sheol and back again'.
6. Cf . A.D.H. Mayes, Deuteronomy (NCB ; London: Oliphants, 1979) , p . 392 .
136 Among th e Prophets

The tex t continues with example s o f God's providentia l dual activity,

impoverishing/enriching an d demoting/promoting . I n it s settin g o f
thanksgiving the focus i s on the second element: Yahwe h who inflict s
deathlike disorientatio n als o restore s t o a ne w qualit y of life . I n th e
third case both the emphasis on the second of the two elements an d the
metaphorical natur e of the terminology ar e clear: 'A m I God to put to
death an d to bring alive, tha t this person send s to me to cure a man of
his leprosy?'
Let u s recal l a t thi s poin t tha t Ezekie l mad e us e o f a serie s o f
Achilles' hee l metaphor s to corroborate hi s message o f coming divine
judgment. These metaphor s first empathetically share d th e misplace d
optimism o f th e exile s an d the n too k a ver y logica l tangen t toward
pessimism.1 Thus Tyre i s a magnificent ocean-goin g merchan t ship —
but i n traditiona l Israelit e thinkin g do no t ship s ten d t o b e wrecke d
(ch. 27)? The prince of Tyre has all the glory of the fabulous primaeval
man i n Eden—bu t di d h e no t fal l (ch . 28) ? Pharao h possesse s th e
power o f th e mythologica l chao s monster—bu t di d i t no t los e t o it s
divine enemy (chs . 2 9 and 32)? In the prophet's messag e o f salvation
here th e same thin g seems t o be happening in reverse. The exiles' des -
pair cite d i n v . 1 1 i s depicte d i n a visionar y metapho r tha t full y
assents t o their pessimism: 'Ca n thes e bones live?' Wh o indeed coul d
give an affirmative answer? In the terms o f 33.10, 'Ho w ca n we live?'
Yet the bones d o come back to life. Jus t as Ezekiel use d older cultural
concepts a s models to support his theme of unforeseeable judgment, so
here th e implici t basi s fo r salvatio n appear s t o b e th e traditiona l
hymnic quality o f th e nationa l God t o giv e triump h over th e traged y
he sends. 2 Yahwe h puts to death and bring s back t o life. The 'slain' ,
victims of just punishment at his hand, are destined to enjoy an amazing
new lease on life. The double process o f reanimation itself reflect s the
prophet's twofol d agend a o f first empathizing with the exiles' moo d
and then contradicting it. Fox has delightfully compare d 'th e magicia n

1. Cf . C.A . Newsom , ' A Make r o f Metaphors—Ezekiel' s Oracle s agains t

Tyre', Int 38 (1984), pp. 151-6 4 (157) .
2. I n thi s fre e adaptatio n o f th e hymni c formula , rin 'slay ' function s as a
synonym of fVfo n 'pu t to death'. Note too the hiphil of n^U 'brin g up (from Sheol) '
in 2 Sam. 2.6, a s in vv. 12-1 3 here. Illman (Old Testament Formulas, pp. 164 , 166 )
has observed tha t alongside the formulaic phrasing of 'pu t to death/make alive' ther e
are freer instances that employ the qal of iTT! 'live' in a perfect consecutive construc -
tion (Exod. 1.16; Esth. 4.11)—which is what occurs her e in vv. 5, 6, 14.
ALLEN Structure, Tradition an d Redaction 13 7

who invariabl y "fails" onc e o r twice in attemptin g the grand finale in

order t o intensif y suspens e an d t o focu s attentio n o n th e climacti c
success t o follow'. 1 I n fact the magician is also reinforcing the evident
impossibility o f th e tric k i n th e mind s o f th e audience . Th e doubl e
process o f revivin g expresse d i n th e tw o structura l section s o f th e
vision concede s th e difficult y o f th e enterpris e an d accentuate s th e
power o f God . Lik e th e her o i n Pau l Gallico' s Th e Ma n Wh o Wa s
Magic,2 Yahwe h was a real magician .
Also wove n int o th e visionar y accoun t is the traditiona l concep t o f
the prophet a s inaugurator of the futur e h e prophesies fo r th e people. 3
'I hav e hew n the m throug h the prophets , I hav e slai n the m by the
words of my mouth', declared Yahwe h through Hosea (Hos . 6.5). Ye t
not onl y a negativ e futur e wa s unleashe d b y th e prophets . Jeremia h
was se t 'ove r nations and kingdoms, to pluck up and break
build an d plant ' (Jer . 1.10 ; cf . Ezek . 36.36) . I n al l thre e part s o f th e
pericope, structura l emphasi s i s lai d o n th e rol e o f th e prophe t i n
bringing abou t Yahweh' s positiv e work. 4 A s i n 11.4-12 , Ezekiel' s
prophetic wor d control s th e developmen t o f th e vision. 5 H e wa s t o
function unde r Go d as the agen t of renewal. Thi s rol e serve d bot h a s
an assurance t o the prophet and as an assertion t o the people regarding
the authority and authenticity he possessed a s proclaimer o f salvation,
as trul y a s whe n h e ha d predicte d th e judgment tha t ha d no w bee n

Scholars hav e varied i n th e amoun t of redactional materia l the y hav e
detected i n 37.1-14 . Perhap s surprisingl y Zimmerli ha s her e refuse d
to se e any. 6 Other s hav e discovere d i n redaction criticis m th e answe r
to a discrepancy betwee n th e vision and its interpretation—a scene of

1. Fox , 'Rhetoric' , p. 11.

2. London : Heinemann, 1966.
3. Cf . J. Lindblom, Prophecy i n Ancient Israel (Philadelphia : Fortress Press ,
1965), pp . 117-20 .
4. Fox' s descriptio n of Ezekiel in the vision as a largely passive spectator ha s
rightly bee n criticize d b y R.W . Klein (Ezekiel: Th e Prophet an d hi s Message
[Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988] , p. 15 5 n. 9).
5. Cf . Zimmerli, Ezekiel, I, p. 258.
6. Ezekiel, II, p. 257.
138 Among th e Prophets

unburied bone s give s wa y t o a graveyard . Accordingl y A. Bertholet ,

G. Fohrer an d J.W . Wever s hav e envisage d a n origina l uni t of vv . 1 -
12aoc and 14, whic h has bee n supplemente d wit h the first oracl e of
salvation i n vv . 12a|3-1 3 tha t contain s th e awkwar d 'graves'. 1 Mor e
recently a rather mor e radica l expedien t ha s foun d favor: t o envisag e
the combination o f two independent units—a n interpreted visio n an d a
disputation—and the n thei r supplementatio n wit h eithe r v . 1 4 o r
vv. 13b-14 . Thu s Baltze r ha s take n th e visio n o f unburie d bone s i n
vv. 1-1 0 alon g wit h th e interpretatio n i n v . 1 1 ('Thes e bone s ar e al l
the house o f Israel') as a unit separate fro m the divine introductio n i n
the res t o f v . 1 1 an d th e graves-base d oracl e o f vv . 12-13 . The fres h
oracle o f v . 14 , which use s n n i n th e sens e o f 'spirit ' (rathe r tha n
'breath' o r 'lif e force' ) an d makes i t Yahweh's, is a subsequent com -
ment o n vv . 6 an d 12-13 . I t i s linke d wit h th e redactiona l 36.26-28 ,
which employ s n n i n th e sam e wa y as here. 2 Hossfel d ha s largel y
followed Baltzer' s analysis except tha t he has aligned v. 1 la a s a whole
with vv . 1-10 , rather tha n only the interpretin g clause , envisagin g th e
redactional additio n a s vv . 13b-14. 3 H e dilute d th e basi c similarit y
between vv . 1- 1 la an d v. li b by claiming tha t th e references t o 'dr y
bones' withi n vv. 2 and 4 were redactiona l addition s t o bind vv . 1-1 la
more closel y t o th e next , juxtaposed unit . H e dre w attentio n t o th e
omission o f th e norma l TIX 'Lord ' i n th e divine-sayin g formula i n
v. 14. 4
Zimmerli ha s brushed aside as unnecessary the concern about chang e
of imager y fro m unburie d bone s t o properl y interre d remains. 5 His
instinctive reaction agains t envisaging two units may be supporte d b y
objective arguments . First, in view of the lament styl e of the quotation

1. A . Bertholet, Hesekiel (HAT; Tubingen: Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1936) , p . 126 ;

G. Fohrer , Ezechiel (HAT ; Tubingen: Mohr [Pau l Siebeck] , 1955) , pp . 209-10 ;
J.W. Wevers, Ezekiel (NCB ; London: Nelson, 1969) , pp . 277, 279 .
2. Ezechiel, pp . 101-108 . H e ha s bee n followe d b y A . Graffy , A Prophet
Confronts hi s People (AnBib , 104; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1984) , pp . 83-84.
3. Untersuchungen, pp. 367, 369 . H e followed G. Jahn, Das Buch Ezechiel auf
Grund de r Septuaginta hergestellt (Leipzig : E. Pfeiffer, 1905) , p. 255, an d mor e
recently b y J . Garscha , Studien zum Ezechielbuch: Eine redaktionkritische
Untersuchung vo n 1-39 (Bonn : Lang, 1974) , p. 222, in taking v. 13 b as the start of
the redactional addition. Both Baltzer and Hossfeld construe nnn 'they ' at the end of
v. 1 la wit h v. lib, in order to supply a subject at the beginning of their new unit.
4. Untersuchungen, p. 387 .
5. Untersuchungen, p. 387 .
ALLEN Structure, Tradition an d Redaction 13 9

in v . 11 , i t i s pertinen t t o refe r t o th e fre e mixin g o f metaphor s t o

describe th e experienc e o f disorientatio n in th e psalm s o f lamen t an d
thanksgiving. Fo r instance , ther e i s fre e movemen t fro m a figur e o f
drowning t o tha t o f a trap i n Ps . 124.4-5 , 7 (cf . Pss . 57.2 , 5 , 7 [1 , 4,
6]). Accordingly it is wooden to differentiate o n this score between the
prophetic visio n an d the divin e oracle , whic h commen t fro m slightl y
different perspective s o n th e deathlik e disorientatio n o f v . lib.
Secondly, one must take seriousl y th e stylistic coherence of the passage
suggested above , especiall y th e paralle l element s an d wordplay .
Thirdly, th e rol e o f th e prophe t i n th e visio n a s agen t o f divin e
salvation fo r th e exile s matche s th e propheti c formulation s an d th e
actual message o f salvatio n i n th e interpretativ e material . Fourthly , a
warning need s t o b e sounde d agains t confusin g for m criticis m an d
redaction criticism. 1 The existence o f unredacted 'mixed ' Psalm s i s a
perennial cautio n agains t thi s no t infrequen t confusion . Ther e i s n o
reason wh y a vision and a disputation cannot coexist from the beginning
in a prophetic piece. 2
Zimmerli als o dismisse d a s unnecessary th e assignment o f vv . 13b -
14 to a redactor's hand. 3 He explained vv. 12-1 4 a s an expanded proo f
saying an d wa s abl e t o cit e othe r example s i n th e boo k o f Ezekiel .
However, h e admitte d elsewher e tha t a t time s wha t looke d lik e a n
original expanded proo f sayin g might on othe r grounds turn ou t t o b e
primary materia l redactionall y expanded. 4 I n thi s case th e facto r o f
inclusion permit s v . 13 b t o b e take n wit h wha t precedes , s o tha t
Baltzer's limitatio n o f the alleged supplemen t t o v. 1 4 may b e judged
preferable. Certainl y i n term s o f structur e vv . 11-1 3 supplie s wha t
one expects t o find in correspondenc e wit h th e previous tw o section s
of the unit . The extr a oracl e o f salvation or proof sayin g in v . 1 4 gilds
the structura l lily . What the n i s th e rol e o f v . 14 ? The answe r lie s i n
the wide r literar y settin g o f thi s pericope . Baltzer , Garsch a an d
Hossfeld al l made referenc e t o 36.27 an d ascribe d v . 1 4 or vv. 13b-1 4

1. Graff y ( A Prophet, p . 84 ) identifie d for m an d structur e a s 'th e principa l

reasons' fo r division int o tw o units, with the change i n metaphor a s a supplementar y
reason. By 'structure' he meant form-critica l structure .
2. On e might add, fifthly , tha t R. Bartelmus has argued strongl y fo r the unity of
v. 11 , agains t Baltze r an d Hossfel d ('Textkritik , Literaturkriti k un d Syntax :
Anmerkungen zur neueren Diskussion um Ezek. 37, 11', BN 25 [1984], pp. 55-64).
3. Bartelmus , Textkritik'.
4. Ezekiel, II, p. 97.
140 Among th e Prophets

to th e sam e redactiona l hand that they found i n th e context o f 36.27. l

Zimmerli himsel f assigne d 36.23bp~3 8 t o th e 'school ' o f Ezekiel, 2
while i n a recen t commentary 3 I have judged 36.24-3 8 t o b e redac -
tional. U. Cassuto once suggested tha t the similarity o f 36.27 and 37.14
was the reason wh y 37.1-14 was placed after ch . 36. 4 His insight ma y
be develope d i n a redactiona l direction . Vers e 37.14 a i s remarkabl y
like 36.21 a: oimpa ]n « TirrnN i 'an d my spirit I will put withi n you'
appears t o b e echoe d b y D3 3 s nn Tir m 'an d I wil l pu t m y spiri t i n
you'. Th e chang e o f prepositio n an d verba l constructio n ma y b e
explained as deliberate assimilation t o ten 02 3 Tinn in v. 6 in order to
allude t o specific material within 37.1-13. The continuation with Drv"m
'and yo u wil l live' an d a recognition formul a in bot h vv. 6 and 1 4 is
further evidenc e o f a recapitulating intent.
This virtua l quotation from 36.2 7 i n v . 1 4 needs t o be linked with a
parallel echoin g o f 36.27 b in 37.24b : •'OEHD& I "ob n • >prQ"u»» n « Trai n
Dirrain nnra n 'an d I wil l caus e tha t i n m y statute s yo u wal k and m y
ordinances yo u observ e an d do ' i s resume d b y Tip m 'o' r •'asffl&a i
am« ifflu i v w 'an d i n my ordinances the y wil l walk an d my statute s
they wil l observe an d do them'. The reversa l o f th e objects i s typica l
of literar y resumptio n o f earlie r material. 5 I n th e cas e o f 37.24b ,
Zimmerli ha s seen i t as the start of a redactional expansion in vv. 24b -
28.6 Rightly so, most probably , but more remains to be said abou t th e
redactional process . 37.14 a an d 37.24 b see m t o functio n a s fina l
captions t o 37.1-1 3 an d 37.15-23 . Thes e caption s deliberatel y refe r
back to the two halves o f 36.27. The editorial functio n o f 37.1-13 in
its presen t positio n is to throw light on the gif t of the spiri t in 36.27a .
That o f 37.15-2 3 i s to clarify a means b y which Yahweh would bring
about th e obedience o f 36.27b , namely via a Davidic king who would
impose orde r amon g God' s people , unitin g souther n an d norther n
elements wit h hi s roya l staf f o r scepter. In tur n 37.14 a represents an

1. Baltzer , Ezechiel, p . 108 ; Garscha , Studien, p . 222 ; Hossfeld , Unter-

suchungen, p. 401 .
2. Ezekiel, II , pp. 245-46, 248 .
3. Ezekiel 20-48 (WBC; Dallas: Word Books, 1990) .
4. Biblical and Oriental Studies. I. Bible (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1973) , p. 239 .
5. Cf . in principle S. Talmon in P.M. Cross an d S. Talmon (eds.), Qumran and
the History of th e Biblical Text (Cambridge , MA: Harvard University Press, 1975) ,
pp. 359-68. It is a further exampl e of what Talmon calle d 'inverte d distan t paral -
lelism' used in inner-biblical quotations .
6. Ezekiel, II , pp. 272-73.
ALLEN Structure, Tradition an d Redaction 14 1

editorial roundin g off o f th e uni t o f vv . 1-13 , whic h use s th e visio n

with it s ninefol d occurrenc e o f mi 'breath/spirit ' a s a n illustration of
the restorin g powe r o f Go d i n 36.27a . I t intends to focu s particularly
on th e referenc e t o the givin g of th e mi i n v . 6 , but it s identification
as Yahweh's spirit seem s to echo Ezekiel's own empowering i n v. 1 .
Hossfeld observed tha t in both 36.2 7 an d 37.14 reference t o renewed
occupation o f th e lan d follows. 1 Th e redacto r apparentl y use d th e
unusual verb mn 'settle ' i n order t o recall th e setting dow n of Ezekiel
in v . 1 , thereby creatin g no t onl y a structura l inclusio n bu t als o th e
role-modeling inten t detected b y Fishbane , whic h the skewin g factor
of redaction makes more likel y than it would be in an unredacted text. 2
The formul a o f asseveratio n tha t i s wove n int o th e recognitio n
formula, TTWJJ I TIID I m m ^ K ' I Yahwe h hav e spoke n an d wil l act',
serves to reinforce th e twin components o f promise an d event presen t
in th e vision . The interpretatio n of vv . 11-1 3 necessaril y focuse d o n
promise; th e asseveratio n formul a allows both component s t o surfac e
in a final reference. Ther e i s a nice stylistic echo o f mrr 13 1 'the word
of Yahweh' i n v . 4, which in the rest o f the vision and in the interpre-
tation lack s a matchin g counterpart . There i s muc h evidenc e i n th e
book o f Ezekiel tha t the redactor(s) had a n eye fo r literar y style. Her e
an opportunity is take n for a slight stylistic improvement that yields a
satisfying clima x b y addin g the las t piece t o a structural jigsaw. Th e
closing signatur e of th e divin e saying formul a accords wit h a feature
of redactiona l wor k i n th e book , th e clai m o f propheti c inspiratio n

1. Untersuchungen, p . 386 . The change from P K 'land ' t o nan* in 37.14 i s

doubtless to be explained by to the influence of the latter term in 37.12; cf. also 36.24.
2. Fo x refused t o see inclusion in the double use of mi, since it would hardly
be detectable to an auditor and since the term functions so differently tha t the repeti-
tion has no rhetorical value ('Rhetoric', p. 1 4 n. 18). Fishbane's larger inclusion and
explanation, when set in a redactional perspective, serve to answer his second point.
If v . 1 4 is redactional , hi s firs t poin t is invalid . Hoffken ha s reasonabl y aske d
whether the verb means 'settle', as in Isa. 14.1 , or 'allo w to stay', as in Jer. 27.11
('Beobachtungen', p. 315 n. 26). He took it in the latter sense and intriguingly saw
in vv . 1 2 and 1 4 two differen t act s of God, corresponding to the tw o i n vv. 8 and
10. However, if v . 1 4 is take n a s primary , i t shoul d mos t probably b e regarded
form-critically a s the closing part of an expanded proof saying, as Zimmerli took it.
Then v. 1 4 continues the subordinate clauses of v. 13 , as further act s after bringin g
the exiles up from thei r Sheol of disorientation. Yet in v. 12 the next step is return to
the land, to which one accordingly expects a reference in v. 14.
142 Among th e Prophets

and divin e authorit y i n vali d continuatio n of th e wor k o f Ezekie l

An attemp t ha s been mad e t o analyze this pericope fro m thre e per -
spectives i n orde r t o she d ligh t o n its meaning . I n term s o f structur e
there is a double movemen t fro m a negative orientatio n t o a positive
one in the visio n report; i t is matched i n th e accompanying oracle . I n
terms o f tradition history thi s movement relate s t o the creda l affirma -
tion that Yahweh both kills and makes alive , whic h is echoed in orde r
to confirm his positive inten t to restore hi s people . Redactionally th e
pericope function s as a n elaboratio n o f th e gif t o f Yahweh' s spiri t
promised i n 36.27a.
Part II I
Alan Coope r

'Deliverance', as the author of Jonah depicts it , is neither a reward fo r merit nor a
tempering of justice wit h mercy. It is, instead, a free and gracious ac t of divine love.
The wellsprin g o f thi s concept o f deliverance i s no t covenan t faith , bu t persona l
religion. This understanding of the message o f Jonah is defended by a close reading
of the critical passages in Jon. 3-4, and by an examination of intertextual relationships
between Jonah and some of the other Minor Prophets.

The Boo k o f Jonah give s commo n sens e a battering. A t almost ever y
turn, i t seem s t o refut e som e unspoke n assumption , somethin g take n
for grante d abou t th e wa y thing s work in th e world . A prophe t com -
missioned t o g o t o th e east woul d not flee to th e west ; peopl e drow n
when they are tossed int o a tempestuous sea; if God announces that he
is goin g t o destro y a city , i t i s a s goo d a s destroyed ; th e Assyrian s
would no t chang e thei r entir e wa y o f lif e becaus e o f a five-wor d
admonition fro m a Hebrew prophet—excep t (i n all fou r cases ) in th e
Book o f Jonah . Practicall y everythin g in th e boo k confute s norma l
expectation—its characters , it s plot, an d even it s language . It s fictive
world is far removed fro m th e everyday world descried b y experienc e
and common sense. 1

* I would like to thank my former students, Rabbi R.M. Rosenberg an d Rabbi

E.W. Torop, for their responses to the ideas contained in this paper. I also benefitte d
from kee n critica l reading s o f earlie r draft s b y m y friends , Dr s M.V . Fox ,
B.R. Goldstein an d B . Halpern .
1. Se e S. Stewart, Nonsense: Aspects o f Intertextuality i n Folklore and Literature
(Baltimore: John s Hopkin s Universit y Press , 1980) , pp . 3-46. I n he r words ,
'nonsense mos t ofte n results from wha t may be seen t o be a radical shift.. . away
COOPER I n Praise of Divine Caprice 14 5

One o f th e classi c confutation s o f th e 'rea l world ' i n al l literature ,

of course , i s Jonah' s se a voyag e i n th e bell y o f a grea t fish . Thi s
incredible adventur e is spu n out o f th e literalizatio n or inversion of a
metaphor,1 specifically the metaphor of Jon. 2.3-4 ('Fro m the belly of
Sheol I crie d out') . Th e effec t o f suc h inversio n i s t o 'presen t a
critique and a denial of univocal meaning and the ideology o f univocal
meaning foun d i n commo n sense' 2—not a ba d preci s fo r th e entir e
Book o f Jonah, in m y view . Yet it i s ou t o f the book' s befuddlement
of it s reader s tha t it s profoun d theologica l messag e emerges , a s I
intend to show in this paper.
It ca n hardl y be fortuitou s that two astonishin g instances o f unpre-
dictable plot-reversa l (peripeteia) i n the Bibl e happen t o involve th e
prophet Jonah . I n 2 Kg s 14.25-27 , Go d permit s th e expansio n o f
Israel's borders, 'accordin g to die word that his servant Jonah uttered',
despite th e nation' s persisten t sinfulnes s (14.24) . An d i n Jon . 3.10 ,
God reverses th e evil decree that Jonah had pronounced against Nineveh
in 3.4 . Th e thematic lin k between these tw o events wa s already note d
in th e Babylonia n Talmud, where R. Nahman b. Yisha q i s quote d a s
saying, 'Jus t a s evi l wa s transformed 3 int o good fo r Nineveh, s o was
evil transforme d int o good fo r Israe l durin g the day s o f Jeroboam b .
Joash' (b . Yeb. 98a).
In eac h instance , the change of fortun e entail s th e falsificatio n o f a
prophetic threat of destruction. The reversal of Jon. 3.4 is self-evident. 4

from a contiguous relationship to the context of everyday life...' (p . 33) .

1. Example s of this phenomenon are legion in everyday discourse, an d are ofte n
a sourc e o f humor . When cartoo n characters becom e furious , the y tur n re d an d
breathe fire, their ears emit steam, and the tops of their heads blow off—all literaliza -
tions o f commonl y used metaphors . On thes e an d othe r metaphor s o f anger , se e
G. Lakoff, Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the
Mind (Chicago: Universit y of Chicago Press, 1987) , pp. 380-97.
2. Quotin g Stewart , Nonsense, p . 77.
3. R . Nahman uses the niphal of hpk, as does Jon. 3.4 .
4. I am assuming for the moment that Jon. 3.4. i s unequivocally negative. Ye t
according t o Rash i an d Isaac Abravanel , for example, nehpaket migh t hav e tw o
senses: either Nineveh will be 'overthrown', or it will be 'transformed' fo r the better.
Nineveh's response to the oracle will determine whic h of the two senses is effect -
uated. This view has been adopted recently by E.M. Good, Irony i n the Old Testament
(Philadelphia: Westminste r Press, 1985), pp. 48-49; B. Halpern an d R.E. Friedman,
'Composition an d Paronomasia in the Book o f Jonah', HAR 4 (1980), pp. 79-92,
esp. pp . 87, 89 . Fo r a n arbitrar y rejectio n o f it , se e H.W . Wolff, Obadiah an d
146 Among th e Prophets

It i s les s frequentl y note d tha t th e prophecie s o f Amo s agains t

Jeroboam, recounte d i n Amo s 7. 9 an d 1 1 (th e latte r bein g Amaziah' s
report o f Amos's speech) , ar e contradicte d b y th e favorabl e notice in
2 Kings 1 4 and, by inference, must have been a t variance wit h Jonah' s
predictions. A s M . Cogan an d H . Tadmo r remark , 2 Kg s 14.2 7
'evidences awarenes s o f a propheti c wor d contradictin g tha t o f
Jonah'.1 A midrash suggest s tha t Jeroboa m wa s rewarded becaus e h e
repudiated Amaziah' s charg e agains t Amos : 'Wa s no t Jeroboa m a n
idolater? Yes , ye t God chose hi m to save Israe l becaus e h e refused t o
accept slande r o f the prophet Amos.' 2 The sixteenth-centur y homilist
Moses Alshek h explain s tha t b y sparin g Amos' s life , Jeroboa m
brought about the annulment of Amos's prophecies, an d the fulfillmen t
of Jonah's.3
In each case , the Bible seems t o supply God's motiv e for sparing the
condemned people . I say 'seems to' because, upon closer examination ,
the purported motive s evanesce , o r at least rais e mor e problem s tha n
they solve . I intend to argu e tha t thes e problem s ar e th e cru x o f th e
Book o f Jonah—an d no t th e contrast betwee n Israe l an d th e gentil e
nations, th e clash betwee n universalis m an d particularism, th e tension
between divin e justice an d mercy , o r th e dilemm a of fals e prophecy ,
to name th e fou r theme s tha t have dominated discussion of th e boo k
for tw o millennia. 4

Jonah (trans . M. Kohl; Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986), p . 149 .

1. / / Kings (AB, 11; New York: Doubleday, 1988), p. 16 1 (see als o p . 164) .
2. T . d . Eliyy. 1 7 and parallels . Se e W.G . Braud e and I.J . Kapstein , Tanna
Debe Eliyyahu (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1981) , pp. 233-34.
3. M . Alshekh , Sefer Mar'ot ha-Sove'ot (repr . Ne w York : Josep h Weiss ,
1979), a d 2 Kg s 14.26 . Alshekh's positio n is consistent wit h a common attitude
towards prophecy, namely that prophecies of destructio n are contingent upon the
human response t o them. Such prophecies may therefore be annulled without preju-
dice t o the prophet who pronounced them. Promises o f good fortune , on the othe r
hand, are invariably fulfilled. O n the latter point, see b. Ber. 7a (bot.); b. Sab. 5la.
On th e general principle , see Maimonides, Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah 10. 4 (trans .
H.M. Russell an d J . Weinber g [Ne w York : Ktav , 1983] , pp . 26-27); Lev i be n
Gershom, Milhamot ha-Shem 2. 6 (trans . S . Feldma n [Philadelphia : Jewis h
Publication Society , 1986] , II , pp. 59-60).
4. Fo r basi c orientation , see E . Bickerman , 'Les deu x erreur s d u prophet e
Jonas', RHPR 4 5 (1965), pp. 232-64; idem. Four Strange Books of th e Bible (New
York: Schocke n Books , 1967) , pp . 3-49; L . Schmidt , 'D e Deo': Studien zu r
Literarkritik un d Theologie de s Buches Jona... (BZAW, 143 ; Berlin : de Gruyter,
1976), pp . 4-130; J. Magonet, Form and Meaning: Studies in Literary Techniques in
COOPER I n Praise o f Divine Caprice 14 7

According t o 2 Kg s 14.26-2 7 (contrar y t o th e aforementione d

midrash), God perceived th e abject helplessness o f Israel, an d 'resolved
not t o blo t ou t th e nam e o f Israe l fro m unde r heaven ' (NJPSV). 1 A
similar pretex t i s apparentl y adduce d fo r th e rescu e o f Nineveh : it s
inhabitants 'd o no t ye t kno w thei r righ t han d fro m thei r left ' (Jon .
4.11). Th e thrus t i n bot h case s seem s t o b e tha t th e helpless , th e
ignorant, o r those wh o are not responsible fo r their action s (lik e those
renowned 'beasts ' o f Jon. 4.11) benefit fro m God's mercy. 2
The proble m wit h tha t motiv e fo r divin e mercy i s twofold . I n th e
first place , i t i s contradicte d b y othe r description s o f th e huma n
characters. Amo s depict s a n Israel tha t exults in its military successe s
(Amos 6.13) , an d i s anythin g but forlorn : 'The y li e o n ivor y beds ,
lolling o n thei r couches , feastin g o n lamb s fro m th e floc k an d o n
calves fro m the stalls' (6.4) . One might sugges t that God's perceptio n
of Israe l i s a t odd s wit h Israel' s self-perception , bu t tha t woul d b e
special pleadin g i n favo r o f harmonizing Amos with 2 Kings 14 . And
that suggestion woul d not explain wh y God should choose to constru e
this particular instance of Israelite sinfulnes s a s helplessness.
The contras t betwee n th e professe d divin e motivation an d human
action is even mor e blatant in Jonah. In response t o Jonah's word , the
Ninevites embark o n a course of action that is s o commendable tha t it
has bee n take n fo r satire: 3 they repent (Jon . 3.5-8). In effect, the y ac t

the Book of Jonah (Sheffield : Almon d Press, 1983) , pp. 85-112; A. Preminger and
E.L. Greenstein, The Hebrew Bible in Literary Criticism (New York: Ungar, 1986) ,
pp. 467-78. O n th e histor y o f interpretatio n i n general , se e th e work s liste d i n
Wolffs bibliograph y (Obadiah and Jonah, pp. 91-92, §10) .
1. Th e passage bristles with difficulties. Fo r a recent discussion, see Cogan and
Tadmor, / / Kings, pp . 107, 160-64 .
2. Cf . J . Licht, Storytelling i n the Bible (Jerusalem : Magnes, 1978) , pp . 121 -
22. Licht suggests tha t God 'spare s His creatures for the simple reason tha t He like s
them t o exist' . Tha t suggestio n raise s a n obviou s question: why , then , doe s h e
destroy them?
3. Se e J.A. Miles, Jr, 'Laughin g at the Bible: Jonah as Parody', JQR 65 (1974-
75), pp . 168-81 ; J.S . Ackerman , 'Satir e an d Symbolism in the Son g o f Jonah', in
B. Halpern and J.D. Levenso n (eds.), Traditions in Transformation: Turning Points
in Biblical Faith (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1981) , pp . 213-46; idem, 'Jonah' ,
in R. Alter and F. Kermode (eds.), The Literary Guide to the Bible (Cambridge, MA :
Harvard Universit y Press, 1987) , pp. 234-43, esp. 238-39 . Note also T. Eagleton's
recent characterizatio n o f Jonah a s a 'surrealist farce' ('J.L . Austin and the Book of
Jonah', in R. Schwartz (ed.), The Book and the Text: The Bible and Literary Theory
[Oxford: Basi l Blackwell, 1990] , pp. 231-36).
148 Among th e Prophets

out Amos' s admonitio n t o 'see k th e Lord an d live' (Amo s 5.6) . Thi s

hardly represent s th e behavio r o f helpless , ignoran t or irresponsibl e
people. An d thei r motivatio n fo r repentanc e i s sophisticated : 'Wh o
knows bu t tha t Go d ma y tur n an d relent? ' (Jon . 3.9) . I n 3.1 0 Go d
'perceives' (r'h, a s in 2 Kgs 14.26 ) wha t the Ninevites have done, and
reverses hi s evi l decree . Fo r a moment, i t eve n seem s a s i f Go d ha s
renounced hi s threa t because o f th e Ninevites' repentance , bu t tha t
causal nexu s i s immediatel y severe d b y bot h Jona h (4.2 ) an d Go d
(4.11). Accordin g t o Jonah , merc y arise s ou t o f God' s character ,
which th e prophe t define s b y a purposefu l revisio n o f Exod . 34.6. l
When Go d account s fo r hi s behavior , however , h e refer s neithe r t o
the Ninevites' repentance, nor to Jonah's characterization of him (4.11).
The dissonance between God' s action s and his putative motive(s) i s
exacerbated b y a secon d consideration : the redemptio n o f bot h th e
Northern Kingdo m and Nineveh was abortive . The 'transformatio n of
evil int o good' wa s reversed i n both cases . Israe l persiste d i n it s evil
ways an d wa s wipe d ou t ( 2 Kg s 17) . Th e Ninevite s repented , an d
lasted lon g enough t o serve as the agents of Israel's destruction befor e
meeting thei r doom (Nahum) . The destinies of the two beneficiaries of
divine 'mercy ' wer e thus intertwined until the demise o f both.
It should be clea r fro m th e forgoing remark s tha t I reject th e notion
that 'Jona h ha s n o connection wit h the grand sequenc e o f sacred his -
tory'. 2 Suc h a clai m ma y serv e th e interest s o f critic s wh o woul d
divorce Jona h fro m it s canonica l context , an d rea d i t a s a n isolated ,
self-contained entity . My view , however (t o be elaborate d below) , i s
that only a n intertextua l readin g ca n d o justice t o th e book . I t seem s
obvious to me that, a s B.S. Child s observes, the reader of Jonah 'ha s
in hi s cano n th e boo k o f Nahum!' 3 (and , I woul d add , Amo s an d
2 King s a s well) . I woul d appl y tha t observatio n t o ancien t an d
modern reader s alike , an d suspec t tha t i t wa s alread y i n th e min d o f
the editor o f the Book of the Twelve Mino r Prophets .

1. I shal l retur n t o thi s topi c below . Se e th e importan t discussion s b y

M. Fish bane, Biblical Interpretation i n Ancient Israel (Oxford : Clarendo n Press ,
1985), pp . 335-50; T.B . Dozeman , 'Inner-Biblica l Interpretatio n o f Yahweh' s
Gracious an d Compassionate Character' , JBL 10 8 (1989), pp . 207-23.
2. Licht , Storytelling, p . 124.
3. Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1979), pp . 425-26.
COOPER I n Praise o f Divine Caprice 14 9

It i s easy , then , t o sympathiz e wit h I . Abravanel' s explanatio n o f

Jonah's anger , apropo s o f Jon. 4.1:'
He neve r though t that th e decre e agains t [th e Ninevites ] woul d b e
reversed, fo r even though they had turned away from thei r wicked deeds ,
they persiste d i n thei r idolatry...Why , then , di d Go d renounc e th e
punishment that he had planned to bring upon them?... So that they might
become th e 'ro d of his anger' [Isa . 10.5 ] an d the 'weapon s of his wrath'
[Isa. 13.5], in order that he might take vengeance agains t Israel by means
of them. 2 The prophet protested agains t God in his heart: Why should it
be his intention to destroy Israel for idolatry, while pardoning Nineveh for
the same offense?

The questio n tha t Abravane l put s i n Jonah' s hear t i s precisel y th e

question o f the Book o f Jonah, but it need s t o be rephrased i n a more
general way : why does Go d allow a wicked natio n to prosper, onl y to
destroy it later on for the selfsame wickedness ?
The poin t is no t to contrast God' s treatmen t o f Jews wit h his treat -
ment o f gentiles, but simpl y t o ask why God seems to be s o inconsis-
tent an d unpredictable. I s his behavior motivate d i n som e comprehen -
sible way ? The Boo k o f Jonah and 2 King s 1 4 provide thre e possibl e
answers t o tha t question : (1 ) Go d spare s th e helpless ; (2 ) Go d i s
'compassionate an d gracious , slo w t o anger , aboundin g i n kindness ,
renouncing punishment' ; (3 ) Go d eschew s th e punishmen t o f thos e
who repent . Al l thre e o f thos e answer s ar e rendere d problematic, 3
particularly grantin g th e validit y of intertextual reading. Eve n withi n
the storie s themselves , Israe l an d Nineve h ar e no t portraye d a s
particularly helpless . I n the larger canonica l context , i t becomes clear
that Go d di d no t utterl y renounce thei r punishment; he onl y put i t off
for a while. 4 Finally, whil e the repentance of the Ninevites did not sav e

1. Al l citations o f Abravanel are fro m th e Warsaw (1862 ) edition, wher e th e

commentary o n Jonah can b e found o n pp. 119-30 . The commentary on the Latte r
Prophets was first published in Pesaro in 1520 .
2. Fo r a modern commentator who derives Jonah's patho s from hi s prophetic
knowledge of Israel's future destructio n by Assyria, see H. Gese, 'Jon a ben Amittai
und da s Jonabuch', Theologische Beitrage 1 6 (1985), pp. 256-72 .
3. Fo r a diametrically oppose d opinio n on this point, see T.E. Fretheim , The
Message o f Jonah: A Theological Commentary (Minneapolis : Augsburg , 1977) ,
p. 129 . Fretheim asserts th e validity of all three answers.
4. Abravane l discern s God' s true intention by interpreting Jonah's prophec y
esoterically. 'Fort y days more' (3.4 ) turn s out to mean 'in 12 0 years', for 'days' =
'years', and the numerical value of the Hebrew word for 'more' ('od, i.e. 7 0 + 6 + 4
150 Among the Prophets

them in the end, a remnant of Israel, which neve r repented, survived.

Why shoul d th e Boo k of Jona h raise thre e explanations of divine
behavior tha t are subjec t t o contradiction or falsification ? Because , in
my view, that is the point of the book! God's actions ar e uncanny and
inexplicable; he i s absolutel y free t o d o a s he chooses . Mor e impor-
tantly, for the postexilic author of the Book of Jonah, 1 divine freedom
manifests th e onl y tolerabl e alternativ e t o th e faile d conditiona l
covenant—the covenan t that had literall y compelled Go d t o destro y
Divine freedo m i s ofte n propounde d as a them e o f th e Boo k o f
Jonah,3 but I do not thin k that it has been understood in all its ramifi -
cations. In a popular introduction t o Jonah, K. Pfisterer Dar r writes,
Central t o th e Boo k o f Jona h ar e th e concept s o f divin e freedo m an d
mercy i n th e fac e o f repentance . Th e stor y is , in fact , illustrative o f th e
perspective foun d i n a text like Jeremiah 18.7-8, 4 wherein Yahwe h says:
'If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck
up an d break dow n and destroy it , and if that nation, concerning which I

= 80) must be added to the explicitly mentioned forty!

1. Perhap s als o for the authors of Lamentations an d Job. Se e my articles, 'Th e
Message of Lamentations', i n J. Lassner and P. Machinis t (eds.), The Hebrew Bible:
Sacred Text an d Literature (Detroit : Wayn e Stat e Universit y Pres s [i n press]) ;
'Reading and Misreading th e Prologue t o Job', JSOT46 (1990) , pp. 67-79.
2. I accept th e scholarly consensu s tha t places th e composition o f Jonah i n the
late fifth or early fourt h century. On the reassessment o f covenant i n exilic and post -
exilic Israelite thought, see D.J. McCarthy , 'Covenan t in Narratives fro m Late OT
Times', in H.B. Huffmo n e l al. (eds.), The Quest for th e Kingdom o f God: Studies
in Honor ofG.E. Mendenhall (Winon a Lake, IN : Eisenbrauns, 1983) , pp . 77-94;
P.D. Hanson , 'Israelit e Religion i n the Early Postexili c Period', in P.D. Miller , Jr ,
el al. (eds.), Ancient Israelite Religion (Philadelphia : Fortress Press , 1987) , pp. 485 -
508; S.D . Sperling , 'Rethinkin g Covenant in Late Biblica l Books' , Bib 70 (1989) ,
pp. 50-73 .
3. See , e.g. , Wolff , Obadiah an d Jonah, p . 177 , o n God's 'completel y fre e
grace'. Schmidt comment s ('De Deo\ p. 129 ) tha t the Book of Jonah 'verma g zwa r
von ihrem Ansatz her die Freiheit Gottes z u wahren, auch das in der volkstiimlichen
Weisheit gelegentlic h nicht der Fall gewesen sei n mag'. See also Magonet, Form and
Meaning, p . 112 ; J . Blenkinsopp, A History o f Prophecy i n Israel (Philadelphia :
Westminster Press , 1983) , p . 271.
4. S o already th e ninth/tenth-century Karaite commentator Danie l al-Qumisi , in
his Pitron Sheneim-Asar (ed . I.D . Markon; Jerusalem : Mekiz e Nirdamim , 1957) ,
p. 42 .
COOPER I n Praise o f Divine Caprice 15 1

have spoken, turns from it s evil, I will repent o f the evil that I intended t o
do to it'. God exercises freedom to pronounce judgment against, an d be
moved b y compassion toward , Nineveh. 1

What Darr calls 'freedom ' i s not freedom at all. God acts in a clearly
motivated way , under compulsion, i n fact. He condemns th e Ninevites
for thei r wickedness (Jon. 1.2) , but then he must spar e the m because
of thei r (an d his ) adherenc e t o th e formul a in Jeremia h 18 . Jonah' s
objections, i n thi s light , appear silly , or, worse , turn hi m into a hard-
hearted Jew. 2
Then, too, if th e Ninevites were saved because o f their repentance ,
what hope is there for those who do not repent? The logic of Jeremiah
18 ineluctably condemns them. The author of Jonah, in turn, condemns
that logic . A s A . an d P.E . Lacocqu e observ e i n thei r provocative
study of Jonah, 3
The author of Jonah had the amazing boldness t o show the 'anti-Jonah' in
the persons of the wicked Ninevites . T o the Jonah who hungered for cer -
tainty they opposed the ultimate uncertainty of 'perhaps' [Jon . 3.9] . They
thus opene d a n immens e possibility , namely , tha t Go d migh t choos e
extravagance ove r determinism...

In this view, God is free t o save (or, as the Lacocques neglec t to men-
tion, to destroy) whomever he pleases, in whatever manner he chooses.
The adroitl y paire d stor m win d (1.4 ) an d deser t scirocc o (4.8), 4
tempest (1.4) and hot sun (4.8), Phoenicians (1.6) and Assyrians (3.9),
great fis h (2.1 ) an d tin y wor m (4.7)—all d o God's bidding , with th e

1. K.P . Darr , 'Jonah' , i n B.W . Anderso n (ed.) , Th e Books o f th e Bible

(2 vols.; Ne w York: Scribner's , 1989) , I, pp. 381-84 (quotatio n o n pp . 382-83).
2. Dar r als o remark s tha t 'Jonah' s stor y refute s an y notio n tha t Israe l alon e
deserves divin e mercy , wherea s th e othe r nation s o f th e worl d meri t onl y divin e
justice' ('Jonah' , i n Anderso n (ed.) , Th e Books o f th e Bible, p. 383) . Similarly ,
Wolff, Obadiah and Jonah, p . 177 . These are but modern reworkings of the kind of
interpretation tha t Bickerman demolished. Cf . the salutary remarks i n Blenkinsopp ,
History o f Prophecy, p . 271.
3. A . Lacocque an d P.-E. Lacocque , Th e Jonah Complex (Atlanta : Joh n Knox ,
1981), pp. 90-100, 125-2 7 (quotatio n o n p. 127) . The authors' 'in-dept h reworking'
(Jonah: A Psycho-Religious Approach t o th e Prophet [Columbia : Universit y o f
South Carolina, 1990] ) arrived afte r the present articl e wa s completed. O n the issue
under discussion , se e esp. pp . 122-25.
4. O n this symmetry, see the sensitive remark s o f G.H. Conn , Da s Buch Jona
im Lichte der biblischen Ezrahlkhunst (Studi a Semitica Neerlandica , 12 ; Assen: Van
Gorcum, 1969) , pp . 54, 59-60 .
152 Among th e Prophets

sole purpos e o f teachin g Jona h wha t he kne w al l along , namel y that

'deliverance is the Lord's' (2.10) .
'Deliverance', as th e author of Jonah depict s it , i s neither a reward
for meri t no r a tempering o f justice wit h mercy. 1 It is, instead, a free
and gracious act of love. A s such, i t is a worthless people' s only hope
for survival . An d th e wellsprin g of thi s concep t o f deliveranc e i s no t
covenant faith, but the simple trust in God's love an d fear of his wrath
that are the hallmarks of 'persona l religion'. 2
I intend to defend this understanding of the message o f Jonah in two
ways: b y proposin g a ne w interpretatio n o f th e critica l passage s i n
Jonah 3-4 , and by examinin g on e aspect o f the intertextua l relation -
ship o f Jona h wit h som e o f th e othe r Mino r Prophets , especiall y
Micah and Nahum, the two books that follow Jonah in canonical order.

Since th e pioneerin g articl e b y N . Lohfink, 3 i t ha s becom e commo n
for scholar s t o regard th e tw o episodes in Jona h 3-4 as a narratoria l
unity, their complex textua l pre-history notwithstanding. Th e linchpin
of any unified reading, a s Lohfink observed, is the interpretation o f 4.5 ,
which establishes som e sor t o f temporal relationshi p between th e tw o
episodes. My view, itself admittedly not free of difficulties, i s that 4.5b(3
establishes th e simultaneity an d complementarity of the two accounts. 4
The storie s abou t Nineveh and Jonah, in other words, illuminate and
confound on e another . Eac h on e supplie s vita l detail s tha t th e othe r
is lacking , s o tha t neithe r on e i s comprehensibl e excep t i n th e ligh t

1. Contras t Coh n (Das Buck Jona, pp . 87-88), wh o see s thi s a s th e centra l

theme of the book.
2. O n the emergence (or, perhaps , re-emergence) of personal religion in post-
exilic Israel, see McCarthy, 'Covenan t in Late OT Times', in McCarthy et al. (eds.),
The Quest for th e Kingdom, pp . 86-88. I us e th e ter m 'persona l religion ' i n th e
sense delineate d b y T . Jacobsen , Th e Treasures o f Darkness: A History o f
Mesopotamian Religion (Ne w Haven : Yale Universit y Press , 1976) , pp. 147-64. 1
have discussed the concept in relation t o the theology of the Book of Lamentations in
my article , 'Th e Message of Lamentations' i n Lassner an d Machinist (eds.) , Th e
Hebrew Bible.
3. 'Jon a ging zu r Stadt hinau s (Jon a 4 , 5)', BZNS 5 (1961), pp. 185-203 ; cf.
Wolff, Obadiah and Jonah, p. 163 .
4. Simultaneit y in narrative has the advantage o f disrupting ordinar y narrative
temporality, and thus disorienting the reader. See Stewart, Nonsense, pp. 146-70 .
COOPER I n Praise o f Divine Caprice 15 3

of th e other . I n th e end , Jonah' s strang e encounte r wit h Go d bring s

about th e deconstructio n an d re-mystificatio n o f th e superficiall y
simple tale of Nineveh's repentanc e an d salvation.
At the heart o f the matter i s an analogy cum wordplay, whic h centers
on God' s abilit y t o do wha t h e want s by mean s o f seemingl y unpro -
mising agents . Thus , Jona h (th e agent ) i s t o Nineveh (th e on e acte d
upon) a s the qiqayon (4.6) l i s t o Jonah . Thi s analog y i s no t merel y
signalled b y th e wordplay YONa/qiqdY&N. 2 Th e qi- elemen t i n th e
plant name als o evokes Jon. 2.11 , where th e fish 'vomits' (wayyaQE")
Jonah out onto dry land. 3 And God describes the qiqayon as having had
a lifespan o f a single day (4.1 Ob), which corresponds t o the amount of
time that Jonah had spent in Nineveh (3.4), despit e tha t city's enormou s
size. Jonah's physical presenc e wa s as ephemeral fo r Nineve h a s tha t
of the qiqayon wa s for Jonah.
With thi s analogy in mind, we can follow th e two story-line s as they
overlap an d intertwine . Both storie s begi n wit h th e human character s
in a state of 'evil ' (ra'a). Jona h prophesies agains t Nineveh, th e 'grea t
city' whos e 'evil ' ha s com e t o God' s attentio n (1.2 ; 3.3-4) . Havin g
prophesied, Jona h experiences a 'grea t evil' himself (4.1) .
The Ninevites' initia l response t o Jonah's wor d is to believe it; they
take it to be reliable (wayya' ammu)4 an d of divine origin (3.5). Jonah,
in contrast , assert s tha t God is unreliable, in his reformulatio n (4.2 ) o f
one of the divine attribute s listed in Exod. 34.6ap-b :

1. I do not gloss this word because, as Good rightly observes, th e identity of

the plant is irrelevant (Irony i n the Old Testament, pp. 51-52).
2. I t als o shoul d be note d tha t NYNW H (Nineveh ) contains the sam e con-
sonants as YWNH (Jonah).
3. So , rightly, Halpen and Friedman, 'Compositio n and Paronomasia', pp. 85-
4. I n general, wayya' aminu ha s been grievously overinterpreted (e.g . Wolff ,
Obadiah an d Jonah, p. 150). I would understan d i t here in it s simplest sense, 't o
consider trustworthy, reliable'. For discussion, see A. Jepsen, ' 'aman\ TDOT, I ,
(1977), pp . 293-309. Unfortunately, Jepse n also overinterprets in the present cas e
(pp. 304-305). W . Rudolp h take s th e simple r view : Trot z de r ungeniigende n
Ausrichtung de r Botschaft trauen si e [th e Ninevites] dem Bote n des unbekannte n
Gottes un d nehmen die Warnung ernst' (Joel-Amos-Obadja-Jona [KAT , 13/2 ;
GUtersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1971] , pp . 358-59). But even Rudolph feels compelled t o
contrast Nineveh's receptivity to the divine word with Israel's deafness to it.
154 Among th e Prophets

Exodus Jona h
'erek 'appayim 'erek 'appayim
werab hesed w e
rab hesed
we'emet w e
niham 'al-haia'd
Instead o f bein g 'reliable ' ( >emet\l Jonah' s Go d 'renounce s evil '
(niham 'al-hara'a). The substitution is both intentional and polemical2—
renunciation o f evil, fro m Jonah' s perspective , connote s unreliability .
And th e prophet' s characterizatio n o f Go d seem s t o b e accurat e i n
context. The possibility tha t God' s word i s not truthful gives hope to
the Ninevites (3.9 ; mi-yddea'); th e certainty tha t it is not moves Jonah
to despai r (4.2-3 ; yada'ti). 3 Th e paradox her e i s disorienting; Jonah' s
sure knowledg e tha t Go d wil l spar e Nineve h i s take n fo r unbelief ,
while Nineveh's hop e in a false God manifests a true faith.
After stakin g ou t their basi c position s concernin g God' s reliability ,
both th e Ninevites and Jonah take action. A s Ackerman ha s observed ,
Jonah an d th e Ninevit e kin g ca n b e construe d a s 'antitypes'. 4 Th e
following paralle l plo t summaries wil l extend and amplify that point:
Nineveh (Jon. 3.5-10) Jona h (Jon . 4.2-6 )
The Ninevites fast and mourn. Jona h prays; he demands to die.
Jonah's word reaches the king; the Jona h leaves the city; he sits down
king gets up (wayyaqom) fro m hi s (wayyeseb).
The kings puts on sackcloth Jona h erects a SuKKd, an d sits
(wayKaS SaQ), an d sits (wayyeseb) (wayyeseb) i n its shade,
in the dust.

1. I a m assumin g tha t 'tnn an d >e met ar e cognate . Se e Jepsen , 'a/nan' ,

pp. 309-10 .
2. So , rightly , Cohn, Da s Buch Jona, p . 99 n . 2 . Dozema n ('Inner-Biblica l
Interpretation') unaccountably misses this point altogether.
3. I follow the opinion of Eliezer de Beaugency that, at the time of his utterance
in 4.2-3 , Jona h 'di d no t kno w o f [th e Ninevites' ] repentance ' (Kommentar z u
Ezechiel und de n XI I kleinen Propheten [ed . S . Poznariski; Warsaw : Mekiz e
Nirdamim, 1909] , p. 15 9 [ad Jon. 4.1]). He cannot, therefore, hav e been ascribin g
God's mercy to that repentance. Rather , 'i t turns out that I struggled an d broke my
body an d had my strength exhausted alon g the way for nothing, for I realized tha t
you would renounce the evil even without repentance' (idem, ad Jon. 4.3) .
4. 'Satir e and Symbolism', pp. 239-40, following Magonet, Form and Meaning,
pp. 19-20 .
COOPER In Praise o f Divine Caprice 15 5

The Ninevites mourn, fast, and turn

away from thei r wickedness (ra'a).
The Ninevites pray; they hope to live.
God sees (r'h) wha t the Ninevites Jona h waits to see (r'h) wha t will
have done. happe n in the city.
God decides not to do the evil (ra'a) Go d provides a qlqayon to save
that he had promised to do. Jona h from hi s evil (ra 'a).
Jonah rejoices .

This plo t summar y ma y b e abstracte d further , an d condense d int o

three paralle l plo t elements :
1. Th e human character i s in a state of evil.
2. Th e human character act s to counter the state of evil.
3. Go d unilaterally reverses th e state of evil.
Jonah impugn s God's reliability , builds himsel f a shelter, 1 an d then
waits passively. Th e Ninevites, in contrast, believe God , and put on an
extravagant displa y o f piet y a s the y attemp t t o aver t thei r fate . Th e
point o f contac t betwee n th e respectiv e action s o f Jona h an d th e
Ninevites (plo t elemen t 2 ) is the word play KSh SaQ(Qim) (3.6 , 8 ) //
SuKKd (4.5) . Jona h 'sits ' (ySB) i n th e shad e o f hi s hu t whil e th e
Ninevites 'repent ' (&vB). Ye t th e outcome i s th e same i n both cases:
God rescues bot h Nineve h and Jonah from th e 'evil ' tha t besets them .
The Ninevite s repent , an d Go d spare s them ; Jona h cavils , an d Go d
'saves' him too.
We hea r nothin g about Nineveh' s reactio n t o God's reversal o f it s
fate. Th e possibilit y envisione d in Jon. 3. 9 // Joel 2.1 4 seems t o hav e
been realized. 2 A s fo r Jonah , his rescu e fro m evi l make s hi m happ y
(4.6), and his story, too, seems to have reached a satisfactory resolution .
And the n th e wor m turns . The followin g morning, Go d arrange s
for th e demis e o f the qiqayon (4.7) . The su n beat s dow n o n Jonah' s
head and , once again , the prophet wishe s to die (4.8). 3 Now it is tim e

1. Se e Cohn's important discussion of the contrast between Jonah' s sukka an d

the God-given qlqayon (Das Bitch Jona, pp . 87-88); als o Ackerman , 'Satir e and
Symbolism', pp. 240-42; Lacocqu e and Lacocque, The Jonah Complex, pp. 87-90.
I am sympathetic to the efforts of Ackerman and the Lacocques t o find allusions to
the Temple here , especially i n the light of Isa. 4.5-6.
2. See Dozeman, 'Inner-Biblica l Interpretation', pp. 213-16.
3. I t does not seem t o occur to Jonah that he might return to his sukka, perhap s
156 Among th e Prophets

for Go d t o teac h hi m a lesson . Bu t wha t i s tha t lesson? 1 Th e usua l

view is well summarized by Darr: 2
...God remonstrate s thi s prophe t [sic], wh o cares mor e fo r infallibl e
prophecy and mechanica l justic e tha n for merc y in the fac e of whole-
hearted repentance. If Jonah pitie d the plant (himself?), which he had no
part in creating, should not God feel pity for a repentant cit y with many
thousands of human and animal inhabitants?
Although tha t widel y proffered vie w embodies a valuable teaching , I
do not think that it is the lesson o f Jonah, for at least thre e reasons .
First, eve n assumin g tha t Jona h di d resen t hi s propheti c 'los s o f
face', 3 ther e i s no t th e slightes t indicatio n tha t h e begrudge d th e
Ninevites thei r salvation , no r doe s h e expres s an y opinio n abou t th e
proper divin e respons e t o huma n initiative. 4 Jonah' s praye r i n ch . 2
manifests th e ethos o f personal religion : on e cries ou t and hopes tha t
God wil l respond (2.3) . Acts of piety serv e a s offerings of thanks, no t
as attempts t o win God's favo r in a time of crisis (2.10). 5
Secondly, Go d neve r say s tha t h e wa s mercifu l t o th e Ninevite s
because o f their repentance. That is an inference derived fro m readin g

because it s shade (set) wa s lacking in redemptive power (massit).

1. Cf . the anonymous Bible critic cited by Augustine, Epistulae 102 , 3 0 (apud
Giancarlo Rinaldi, Biblia Gentium [Rome: Libreria Sacre Scritture , 1989] , pp. 402-
403): "The n what is the purpose of the gourd which sprang forth abov e the disgorged
Jonas? What was the reason for its appearance? Questions such as these I have see n
discussed b y Pagans amidst loud laughter, and with great scorn.'
2. Darr, 'Jonah' , in Anderson (ed.), Th e Books of th e Bible, p . 382 .
3. Se e especially Bickerman ; also, e.g. , M . Steinberg, Th e Poetics o f Biblical
Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington : Indiana
University Press, 1985) , p . 320.1 refrain fro m discussin g Steinberg's interpretation
in detail becaus e I cannot share one of his basic premises: tha t the reader arriving at
Jon. 3. 1 expects Nineveh t o be destroyed, and is shocked by the reversal (p. 319) .
This reade r neve r did , not even a s a child . I am, i n general, uncomfortabl e with
Steinberg's arrogation o f the epithet 'th e reader'; the first person woul d b e mor e
4. Jona h is not portrayed as ruthless or homicidal—he acts t o save th e sailors ,
even though it seems to mean certain death for him (1.12). Jon. 1.1 5 is another verse
like 3.10 , i n whic h i t i s possible , bu t no t necessary , t o infe r a cause-and-effec t
relationship between the two clauses.
5. Cf . Elize r d e Beaugency , Kommentar, p. 15 8 (ad Jon . 2.2) : 'Ther e ar e
prayers i n Scriptur e tha t are pleas, and other s tha t express praise an d thanks , fo r
example, "an d Hanna h prayed" [ 1 Sam. 2.1], which consists entirel y of praise and
thanks, an d this one [i.e. Jona h 2]'.
COOPER I n Praise o f Divine Caprice 15 7

Jon. 3.1 0 a s a statemen t o f caus e an d effect, 1 bu t tha t readin g i s no t

necessarily correct . Jonah' s alternativ e i s t o asser t tha t i t i s i n God' s
nature t o 'renounc e evil ' (4.2), 2 withou t explicating th e relationshi p
(if any) between huma n action an d divine response.
Thirdly, th e a fortiori reasonin g allegedl y foun d i n God' s state -
ments i n 4.10-11 makes n o sense. God is supposedl y saying , i n effect,
'if yo u (Jonah ) woul d spar e tha t insignifican t plant (fo r you r sake) ,
then naturall y I (God ) shoul d spar e al l those peopl e an d animal s (fo r
my sak e [?])' . In thi s view , Jonah's self-absorption i s contraste d wit h
God's magnanimity . The speciousnes s o f the analog y become s pain -
fully evident , however , whe n someon e (Abravanel , i n thi s case ) trie s
to elucidate it: 3
God reprove d [Jonah ] an d go t t o the hear t o f th e matte r whe n h e said,
'You cared abou t the plant'. In other words, you cared abou t something
that was not the work of your hands, that 'yo u did not work for and did
not grow' , fo r somethin g tha t wa s considere d worthles s becaus e it
'appeared overnight and perished overnight'. If that is the case, then how
can 'I not care about Nineveh, that great city', that wondrous work of my
hands that is a great and mighty edifice, unlike the plant?
Is the idea tha t Go d likes the big things tha t he make s mor e tha n th e
little things ? O r tha t peopl e hav e n o righ t t o griev e fo r th e los s o f
good thing s tha t the y di d no t mak e fo r themselves ? Suc h notions , i n
my view , represen t misreadings of th e relationship betwee n 4.1 0 and
4.11—not least th e preposterous ide a tha t God was responsible fo r th e
construction o f Nineveh, an d might regret it s loss fo r that reason .
AbravaneFs continuatio n confuse s th e issu e eve n further . H e ha s
God say to Jonah:
You cannot argue that you did not care about the plant for its own sake,
but, rather, for the benefi t tha t it provide d yo u with , namely th e shade,
because Nineveh provide s me with acknowledgement and glorificatio n
that are like the shade.
At leas t Abravane l recognize s (a s most commentator s d o not) that th e
story depict s th e plant not a s something worthless, but a s the agent of

1. Se e Bickerman , Four Strange Books, pp . 45-48; Fishbane , Biblical

Interpretation, pp . 346-47.
2. Se e Eliezer de Beaugency, Kommentar, p. 159 (ad Jon. 4.2).
3. Fo r a moder n restatemen t o f Abravanel's position, see, e.g., A.J . Hauser,
'Jonah: In Pursuit of the Dove', JBL 10 4 (1985), pp. 21-37, esp. p. 37.
158 Among th e Prophets

Jonah's salvation (4.7). Nevertheless , he fails t o show that the Ninevites

provide Go d wit h an analogous benefit, n o matter ho w man y of the m
there are. The y ar e not, after all , agents of benefaction like the qiqayon,
but beneficiaries o f divine mercy, lik e Jonah in ch. 4.
When Jonah grieve s fo r the plant that had shade d him , Go d say s t o
him, 'A s fo r you , yo u cared abou t th e plant, which yo u di d no t work
for an d whic h yo u di d no t grow , whic h appeare d overnigh t an d
perished overnight ' (4.10) . Th e poin t i s no t tha t Jonah' s carin g wa s
trivial o r self-absorbed. I t is, rather, tha t God, th e one wh o did 'wor k
for' an d 'grow ' th e plan t (s o to speak ) i n orde r t o giv e Jona h shad e
and respite (4.6) , als o destroye d i t without compunction, thus reducing
Jonah t o hi s previou s sorr y stat e (4. 3 / / 4.9) . Jona h care d abou t th e
plant, and rightly so; God did not.
Now Nineveh , like Jonah, has also bee n grante d respit e fro m 'evil' ,
but God's treatment o f Jonah is cold comfort for them. What God says
to Jona h abou t th e 'grea t city ' i s clearl y paralle l i n constructio n t o
what he had said about the plant:
Jon. 4.1 0 Jon . 4.1 1
'attd hasta wa ni Id' 'dhus
'al-haqqiqayon 'al-nin weh
The universal assumptio n that 4.11 is interrogative ('Should I not care
about Nineveh?' ) flie s i n th e fac e o f th e parallelis m wit h 4.10. Tha t
assumption, apparently base d o n an exegetical a priori, represent s jus t
one possibility; i t is neither necessar y no r inevitable. God' s utteranc e
also ca n b e translate d a s a simpl e declarative : 'A s fo r me , I d o no t
care abou t Nineveh' . Th e implicatio n would b e tha t Go d care s n o
more abou t tha t huge cit y ful l o f ignoramuses and beasts tha n he ha d
about the qiqayon. Thei r repentanc e means nothing to him, and he has
kept his real reaso n fo r sparin g them (if, indeed, he had one) to himself.
The Boo k of Jonah itself give s no grounds for choosing between th e
interrogative an d declarativ e rendering s o f 4.11, sinc e i t simpl y end s
here.1 M y preferenc e fo r th e latte r i s base d o n readin g Jona h i n th e
light of Nahum. In the immediate contex t of Jonah, however, the point
of th e ambiguit y is t o sugges t tha t God's treatmen t o f Nineveh, whe n
scrutinized, migh t b e just a s unintelligible to th e huma n observer a s

1. A s th e Lacocques remar k concernin g th e 'open-endedness ' o f Jonah (The

Jonah Complex, pp . 99-100), 'I t seems... that it is one of the important feature s o f
the book that it does not bring the plot to a veritable end' .
COOPER I n Praise of Divine Caprice 15 9

his treatment o f Jonah. 1 God buffets th e prophet about against his will,
makes hi m prophesy an d then falsifies hi s word, rescues hi m from his
pathetic emotiona l conditio n and then condemns him t o it once more .
One can infer that Nineveh's situatio n is no less absurd, an d that it is,
therefore, fraugh t with insecurity .

The endin g o f Jona h leave s th e ultimat e fate s o f it s principa l actor s
undetermined. What will become o f Jonah and Nineveh? Jonah seem s
to be consigne d to death, sinc e the threat o f 4.7-9 ha s no t been coun -
tered. Jonah does no t react to God's word s in vv. 10-11 , nor does God
state hi s intention s concerning the prophet . A s fo r Nineveh , nothing
has occurre d t o disturb the apparent equilibrium attained in 3.10.
The denouement of Jonah, in my view, takes place outside the book.
The book's full significanc e emerges onl y in the ligh t of it s canonical
setting—especially i n relation to the prophetic book s (Hosea-Nahum )
that are concerned primaril y with th e Assyrian crisis. Th e assemblag e
begins wit h the first announcement of divine judgment against Israel ,
and ends wit h th e destruction o f Assyria . I propose that th e Book of
Jonah (a s opposed , perhaps , t o it s constituen t parts) , wa s neve r
intended t o be read apar t fro m tha t canonical context. An intertextual
reading o f the book is, therefore, both valid and necessary .
The prophet s wh o addres s th e Assyria n threat struggl e mightil y to
understand th e nature of God's wrat h and love, an d Jonah contribute s
to that discussion by wa y o f interpretation and elaboration. 2 First an d
foremost, on e note s five midrashic adaptations of the attribut e formu-
lary in Exodu s 34. The followin g ar e the relevant texts (all except fo r

1. S o already Eagleton , who comments tha t 'God' s mercy i s indeed a kind o f

absurdity' ('J.L . Austi n an d th e Book o f Jonah', in Schwart z [ed.] , Th e Book an d
the Text, p . 236) .
2. I t should b e obvious tha t I am not interested in the historicity o r the literar y
history o f th e component s o f th e 'Boo k o f th e Twelve', but i n th e wa y tha t the y
function togethe r as parts of a unified collection . See, provisionally , D. Schneider,
'The Unity of th e Book o f the Twelve' (Ph D dissertation , Yal e University , 1979) ;
much mor e wor k need s to b e done . I a m awar e o f tw o ne w work s o n th e topic ,
neither of which wa s availabl e t o me when I was writing this paper : P. House, The
Unity of th e Twelve (JSOTSup , 97; Sheffield : JSOT Press, 1990); J. Nogalski, 'The
Use of Stichworter as a Redactional Unificatio n Technique within th e Book of th e
Twelve' (Doctoral dissertation, University o f Zurich, 1991) .
160 Among th e Prophets

the Nahu m excerp t cite d accordin g t o NJPSV , wit h th e allusio n t o

Exod. 34.6- 7 emphasized i n each case):
1. Take words wit h you an d retur n to the Lord . Sa y to Him: 'Forgive al l
guilt (kol-tissa' 'awori) and accept wha t is good. Instea d o f bulls we will pay
[the offering of] our lips'... I will heal their affliction, generously will I take
them back in love; for my anger has turned away from the m (Hos. 14.3,5).
2. Rend you r hearts rathe r tha n you r garments, an d turn back t o the Lor d
your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding
in kindness, an d renouncing punishment. Wh o knows bu t He may turn and
relent, and leave a blessing behind for meal offering an d drink offering t o the
Lord your God (Joel 2.13-14)?
3. '.. . Let everyone tur n back fro m hi s evil way s and from th e injustice of
which he is guilty. Who knows but that God may turn and relent? H e may
turn back fro m hi s wrath, so that we do not perish.' God saw what they did,
how they were turnin g back fro m thei r evil ways. And God renounced th e
punishment H e ha d planne d t o bring upon them, and di d no t carry i t out.
This displeased Jonah greatly, an d he was grieved. H e prayed t o the Lord ,
saying, ' O Lord ! Isn' t thi s just wha t I sai d whe n I wa s stil l i n m y own
country? That is why I fled beforehand to Tarshish. For I know that You are
a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in kindness,
renouncing punishment' (Jon . 3.8-4.2) .
4. Who is a God like You, forgiving iniquity an d remitting transgression
(nose' 'awon w e'ober 'al-pesa'); wh o has not maintained His wrath forever
against the remnant of his own people, becaus e H e loves graciousness! He
will take u s back i n love; He will cover u p our iniquities, You will hurl all
our sins int o the depths o f the sea. You will keep faith [ 'emet\ with Jacob ,
loyalty [hesed] t o Abraham, as You promised o n oath to our fathers in days
gone by (Mic. 7.18-20).
5. The Lord is a passionate, avenging God; the Lord is vengeful and fierce in
wrath. The Lor d take s vengeanc e upo n his enemies, he rages agains t hi s
foes. Th e Lord i s slow t o anger an d o f great forbearance ('erek 'appayim
ugedol-koah), but the Lord does not remit all punishment (w enaqqeh Id'
fnaqqeh) (Nan . 1.2-3a).
The 'historical ' questio n o f the Book o f Jonah—what will become of
Jonah/Israel and Nineveh/Assyria—is subsumed in the canonical contex t
(where the historical realit y of Assyria is not an issue) to a theological
question: wha t moves Go d to shape huma n destiny for good o r for ill?
Exod. 34.6- 7 serve s a s a fixed point of reference fo r variou s answer s
to that question .
The firs t tex t cite d abov e belong s t o th e sublimel y equivoca l con-
COOPER I n Praise of Divine Caprice 16 1

elusion of Hosea (chs. 13-14). The Israelites are utterly guilty and have
forgotten Go d (13.1-6). God, therefore, will slaughter them (13.7-11).
He spared them despite previous iniquity (13.12-15a) , but now he will
destroy the m (13.15b-14.1) . Th e peopl e ar e admonishe d t o return
(14.2-4), an d God declares, finally , tha t he will redeem the m becaus e
of hi s lov e for them (14.5-9). Th e tension between God' s justic e an d
his lov e is manifest—divine ange r is motivated b y human sin; divine
love, o n th e contrary , ma y o r ma y no t b e contingen t upo n human
action. Th e restoratio n prophesie d i n Hos . 14.5- 9 ma y neve r hav e
taken place, bu t th e text does no t blame that failure on the absence o f
The contingen t character o f salvatio n i s take n up i n Joe l 2.12-14 .
Israel doe s no t want a god who is 'reliable ' (a s in Exod. 34), bu t on e
who 'renounce s punishment' . Reliabilit y means th e inevitable fulfil -
ment o f a n oracle o f destruction (Joel 2.1—'Th e day o f the Lord ha s
come!'); i t i s essential , however , that Go d be willin g to revers e hi s
decree. Firs t Joe l suggest s that such reversal might b e effectuated by
repentance (2.14) , then he tries t o demonstrate that it certainly is, th e
beginning of 2.19 strongly implying caus e and effect. Joe l 2.1 9 looks
like a midrash on Hos. 2.24 1 tha t seek s t o counter Hosea's vacillation
and unclarity. In order t o accomplish that, Joel explicates th e restora -
tion envisione d b y Hose a i n term s o f a causal lin k between Israel' s
repentance and God's mercy .
That causality is put to the test by the Book of Jonah, with Nineveh
serving a s th e tes t case . Th e ver y use o f Nineveh, together wit h th e
plain unreality of the city's repentance (animals in sackcloth),2 indicates
the hypothetica l thrus t o f th e story . A singl e questio n wit h thre e
mutually exclusive answers brings the problem of Jonah to a head:

1. Not e th e us e of 'nh an d th e sequenc e 'grai n an d win e an d oil' denotin g

restoration in bot h texts . The context o f Hos. 2.2 4 (vv . 18-25 ) suggests unilatera l
divine action ; i n Joe l 2.19 , restoratio n i s God' s respons e t o al l th e fastin g an d
praying i n vv. 15-17 .
2. Th e penitent beasts of Jonah represent the same kind of literary play a s the
big fish, namely th e literalization of such poeti c turns of phrase as Joel 1.20a , 'The
very beasts of the field cry out to you'. One might also imagine a midrashic play on
Exod. 34.7aa, taking '"lapim to mean 'beasts ' instead o f 'thousands'.
162 Among th e Prophets

Question: Should God spare repentant Nineveh?

Answer 1—th e answer of Joel: yes,because the God who 'renounces evil' reverses
his decree for the sake of those who repent
Answer 2—th e answe r o f Jona h th e prophet : no , becaus e th e Go d wh o
'renounces evil' is not being 'true ' to his word.
Answer 3—th e answer of the Book of Jonah: God does as he pleases, and it is folly
to try and justify or rationalize his behavior.

The autho r o f Jona h recognize s th e erro r o f Joel , wh o ha s merel y

substituted on e mechanisti c vie w o f Go d fo r another . Naturall y on e
would lik e Go d t o forg o destructio n an d wor k salvatio n a t ever y
opportunity, but tha t is not the way things are. I f an oracle o f doom i s
reversible accordin g t o some formula , then , logically, s o is a promise
of restoration—th e contrar y vie w o f th e Jewis h traditio n notwith -
standing. An d any formul a that requires Go d to be just in a mechani -
cal wa y i s likel y t o wor k agains t Israe l i n th e lon g run ; th e Exil e i s
proof o f that .
On th e other hand , the position o f the prophet Jona h (the characte r
as distinct from th e autho r of the book) i s als o untenable . It is just a s
erroneous to say that God cannot revers e his decree as it is to say that
he must. And thus , as the Lacocque s realized , th e Ninevites hold th e
only theologicall y respectabl e position , o n th e slipper y groun d o f
If we recontextualize the views of Joel and Jonah within the Assyrian
crisis, w e ar e compelle d t o dra w tw o absur d conclusions : Go d mus t
save th e hate d Ninevite s becaus e the y hav e repented ; and , h e mus t
destroy hi s beloved Israe l because their demis e has been prophesied ,
yet they have not repented. Absur d conclusions, obviously, are derive d
from fals e premises . Th e incomprehensibl e endin g o f th e Boo k o f
Jonah—Nineveh save d an d Jona h condemned—i s th e reductio a d
absurdum of a false theology.
God cannot be constrained by a mechanistic formula , no r can he be
predicated b y an y se t o f attributes. Such formula s and attribute s con -
stitute n o mor e tha n vagu e guidelines , tentativ e groping s toward s a n
understanding of God's character. Israel' s hope, i n fact, abides i n their
untruth, i n th e extent t o which God's capriciou s an d unrequited lov e
will motivate his behavior (th e point, after all , of Hosea). The dark sid e
of tha t view is tha t God's destructiv e wrath might be just as arbitrar y
and unconstrained, as in the case of the qiqayon. On e hopes an d pray s
for God' s love, while recognizin g tha t nothing is certain.
COOPER I n Praise of Divine Caprice 16 3

And tha t is the point of Mic. 7.18-20, whic h provides the real reso -
lution o f th e Boo k o f Jonah . Again , as i n Jonah , the focu s i s o n th e
meaning o f th e divin e attribute s rob hesed we' emet. Jona h (th e
character) intimate s tha t insofar a s God allow s hi s hesed t o alte r hi s
course o f action , h e is no t a God of ' emet. Micah, lik e th e autho r of
the Book o f Jonah, recognizes divin e caprice a s a boon fo r Israel. God
annuls Israel' s punishmen t entirely ou t o f hesed; neithe r repentanc e
nor act s o f expiatio n ar e require d (Mic . 7.18) . Go d simpl y tosse s
Israel's sins into the sea, Mic. 7.19 explicitly alluding to Jon. 2.4 . And
God's lov e i s no t a t odd s wit h his truth . Rather, ' emet and hesed ar e
one and the same thing; thus the parallelism o f Mic. 7.20 .
Just a s Go d save s Israel , h e als o wipe s ou t Nineveh . Th e bizarr e
conclusion o f th e Book of Jonah is, finally, turned topsy-turvy with a
vengeance b y the Book o f Nahum. Where hi s enemies ar e concerned ,
then, Go d i s no t ra b hesed, but g edol-koah, 'fierc e i n wrath ' (Nah .
1.3).1 H e doe s no t car e abou t Nineveh , an d h e doe s no t remi t th e
punishment o f those he hates. God's wrath is just a s inexplicable and
uncontrollable a s his love , bu t that , too, i s par t o f wha t i t mean s fo r
him to be freely and truly God.

1. Not e th e intertextua l allusion s o f Nah . 1.3- 4 t o th e tempes t languag e o f

Jon. 1-2 .

Timothy L . Wilt

Jonah's first chapter contains many elements of ancient Near Eastern battle accounts.
The whole book has several lexical similarities with the holy war account in Joshua
10.1-27 an d i s structurall y paralle l t o it . However , ther e ar e als o ke y semioti c
oppositions between th e two accounts, including th e role reversals in Jonah wher e
insider become s adversary, outsiders become allies, and victory i s expressed in terms
of mercy rather than massacre. Thus, Jonah ma y be viewed as the terminus ad quern
of the transformatio n o f the war oracles that bega n i n the second hal f o f th e eight h

Much has been writte n about the literary parallels betwee n Jona h and
other propheti c literature , ke y Tora h narratives , an d th e Psalms. 1
Further appreciatio n o f Jonah's literar y richnes s an d message may be
gained throug h considering its similarities to biblical an d other ancient
Near Easter n battle accounts and its parallels in literar y structur e an d
lexical reference s wit h th e particula r accoun t o f a battle recorde d i n
Josh. 10.1-27 . Compariso n with th e Joshua narrative makes th e ironic
reversals i n Jonah's depictio n of human relationships with the divin e
warrior eve n mor e poignant—inside r become s adversary , outsider s
become allies , an d victor y i s expresse d i n term s o f th e warrio r go d
YHWH's merc y rathe r tha n massacre. Thus , Jonah may b e viewe d a s
the terminu s a d quer n o f th e transformatio n of th e wa r oracle s tha t
began in the second half of the eighth century.

Battle Motifs in Jonah

In thi s section, w e focus o n the elements i n the first chapter o f Jonah
that ar e commo n t o biblica l an d othe r ancien t Nea r Easter n battl e

1. E.g . Lacocqu e 1981 : 10-16 ; Magonet 1976 : 65-84 ; Sasson 1990 : 168-201 .
WILT Jonah: A Battle o f Shifting Alliances 16 5

reports: flight , divin e use of celestial weapons, seeking o f divine guid-

ance, terror , confusion , crying ou t fo r deliverance , an d offerin g o f
vows and sacrifices. Although each o f these elements coul d be referre d
to i n othe r kind s o f narratives , thei r ensembl e i n a tex t o f sixtee n
verses strongl y suggests th e battle setting.

Jonah's Flight as a Prelude to Battle

At th e outse t o f th e narrative , YHW H commission s Jona h t o g o an d
prophesy agains t Nineveh , bu t instea d h e flee s (n~D ) i n th e opposit e
direction. I n th e Hebre w scriptures , th e tw o word s mos t ofte n trans -
lated b y the Englis h 'flee ' ar e rro and 013. The forme r refer s t o flight
before physica l violenc e break s out , wherea s th e latter refer s t o flight
after a n initial outbreak of violence. Thus , for example, Davi d usually
flees (ma) from Sau l before there i s combat between them; 1 only once
does he flee (013) from Saul , afte r Sau l throws his spea r a t him ( 1 Sam .
Though th e perso n wh o flee s (m:i ) ha s no t ye t engage d i n ope n
conflict, she/h e flees because o f bein g i n a n oppressiv e situatio n and/
or, b y fa r mos t frequently , becaus e of being in danger of being killed. 2
Naturally enough, the one from who m one flees is the one responsibl e
for th e oppression an d the threat to life. Whil e the fleer might wis h to
have a more amicable relationshi p with the oppressor (a s David would
wish t o hav e wit h Sau l i n 1 Samuel), th e oppressor' s action s d o no t
allow fo r this .
While Jonah migh t have wished for a more comfortabl e relationshi p
with YHWH , YHWH's command disallow s this. Jonah, hi s lif e threat -
ened i n vie w o f tha t grea t an d evi l powe r t o whic h th e oppressiv e
YHWH would send him, must run if he is to save his life. There seem s
no mor e reaso n t o accept Jonah' s after-the-fac t explanation t o YHW H
of wh y he fled (4.2) tha n to accept Jacob's explanatio n to Laban (Gen .

1. 1 Sam. 19.12, 18 ; 21.1; 21.10; 22.17; 27.4.

2. Fligh t because of a n oppresive situation: Hagar fro m Sara h (Gen. 16.6-7),
Jacob from Laba n (Gen. 31), Israel from Egyp t (Exod. 14.5) .
Flight becaus e of threa t t o th e fleer' s life : Jaco b from Esa u (Gen. 27.43) ,
Jacob fro m Laba n and hi s sons (implied b y Gen. 31.1-2, 7b , 29a) , Mose s fro m
Pharaoh (Exod . 2.5) , Jotha m fro m Abimelec h (Judg . 9.21) , Davi d fro m Sau l
(1 Sam. 19-27) and fro m Absalo m (2 Sam. 15.14), Absalom from Davi d (2 Sam.
13), Hadadfrom Joab (1 Kgs 11.12) , Jeroboam from Solomo n (1 Kgs 11.40) , Uriah
from Jehoiaki m (Jer . 26.21), and Zedekiah and his soldiers fro m th e Babylonians
(Jer. 39.4) .
166 Among th e Prophets

31.31) o f hi s fligh t whic h contrasts wit h his previou s explanatio n t o

Rachel and Leah (Gen . 31.4-II). 1
If th e oppresso r choose s t o pursue the fleer and is abl e t o catch up ,
the stag e i s se t for a confrontation whic h ma y result in either recon-
ciliation (e.g . Gen . 31.43-55 ; 1 Sam. 24 , 26 ) o r furthe r conflic t (e.g .
Exod. 14 ; Jer. 26). Jonah is pursued and a battle ensues.

Divine Use of Celestial Weapons

In severa l ancien t Nea r Easter n traditions , on e deit y wa s both go d of
war an d go d o f th e storm. 2 Accordingly , th e stor m an d element s
associated wit h storms wer e commonly used b y non-Israelite deitie s in
earthly battles , a s the y wer e b y YHW H (Weinfel d 1984) . I n Jonah ,
YHWH's weapon , wind , i s th e sam e instrumen t he used agains t th e
Egyptian army during the exodus (14.21 ; 15.8 , 10) .

Seeking Divine Guidance

Oracles wer e sough t t o determin e whethe r o r no t on e shoul d g o t o

1. Awarenes s of the many traditions about prophets' fearfu l respons e to and/or

resistance o f YHW H (e.g . Exod . 3.6-4.14; Isa. 6; Jer. 1.4-8 ; 20.9), the persecutio n
of prophets wh o speak out against evil and/or announce judgment (e.g. 1 Kgs 13.4 ;
18.4a; 19.2 ; Jer . 1.1-2 ; 20.10 ; 26; 37.14-15 ; Amo s 7.11-13), an d prophets ' fligh t
from dange r (e.g . 1 Kgs 17.3 ; 18.4b-14 ; 19.3 ; Jer . 26.21 ) make s i t natura l to
assume tha t Jonah flees out of fear of his task. Explici t reference t o fear is reserved
for developmen t of the characterization of the sailors' respons e t o YHWH's actions
and revelatio n which has been pointed out, e.g., b y Alexander (1988: 106-109) and
Magonet (1976 : 106-109) . Thes e observation s are evidence agains t Sternberg' s
(1985: 318-20) position tha t a narrative gap must be filled within the narrative itself,
leading him to take at face value Jonah's explanation for his flight. Of the gap in ch.
1, where Jonah's reaso n fo r fleeing is not given, Sternberg says: 'Wh y does Jonah
flee...? Th e narrato r does no t say, but apparently only becaus e th e reaso n i s self -
evident: Jona h is to o tender-hearte d to carry a messag e o f doo m t o a grea t city '
(p. 138) . This explanation of what the reader would infer seems far-fetche d i n view
of the absence o f biblical accounts of prophetic tenderness toward s wicked, pagan
2. Kan g 1989 : 26 , 32, 37, 50, 54, 68, 77, 96. With regard t o who might have
been th e go d o f th e sailor s wit h who m Jona h travelled , Sasso n ha s thi s t o say :
'... any sea tempest... must include heavy black clouds, lightning , and thunder: one
and al l weapons o f a storm god.. . the sailors wer e likel y Phoenicians an d as such
would hav e worshiped..."Baa l (is ) Heaven " a s thei r mai n god...Thi s god' s
propensity fo r shipwreckin g thos e h e despises is...cite d in... a treat y betwee n
Assyria's Esarhaddo n and the king of Tyre...' (Sasso n 1990 : 118) .
WILT Jonah: A Battle o f Shifting Alliances 16 7

war o r respon d t o th e aggressio n o f a n adversary, 1 o r o n how a wa r

should b e fough t (Judg . 20.18 ; 2 Sam . 5.23) . Lot s wer e on e o f th e
ways in which this divine word could be obtained. 2 While th e oracle s
would normall y b e consulte d befor e th e onse t o f a battle, ther e coul d
also b e consultatio n durin g th e cours e o f a battle. 3 I n Jonah , th e
sailors, strugglin g fo r thei r lives , see k a divin e wor d b y castin g lot s
and thereb y lear n vi a Jonah tha t the y hav e bee n caugh t up i n a battl e
with a divinity.

Reference t o divinel y inspire d terro r wa s a commo n componen t o f
ancient Near Easter n battle reports. 4 In Jonah, the sailors feare d (IK-PI )
the stor m fro m th e outset , but , upo n learnin g tha t Jonah wa s fleeing
from th e go d o f th e sea , fea r turne d to terror (rftr u HK T INTI) .

Confusion and Panic

The terror fel t by those losin g a battle becaus e o f a divinity's interven-
tion coul d b e bu t a prelude t o confusio n an d pani c an d self-inflicted
loss.5 Althoug h th e technica l wor d nn n use d t o refe r t o divinely-
inspired confusion does not occur in Jonah 1 , there ar e several image s
of confusion : th e ragin g o f th e se a i s ever-increasing (vv . 4 , 11 , 13) ;
the ship, n o more controllabl e tha n Sisera's chariots whic h YHW H put
into confusio n (Judg . 4.15), comes clos e t o breaking apar t (v . 4); and
the sailor s cr y ou t t o thei r god s i n fea r an d throw carg o into th e se a
(v. 5). Alon g with thes e explicitl y stated element s o f confusion, ther e
is als o th e situationa l element o f disarra y i n whic h all y turn s int o

1. Non-Israelit e traditions: Kang 1989 : 42, 57, 98; Biblical records: e.g. 1 Sam.
14.36-37; 23.2 .
2. Kan g 1989: 57 ; 1 Sam. 14.18, 36-37; 14.41-42 .
3. Kan g 1989: 57 , 79; perhaps Josh. 10.8 .
4. 'Victor y i n battle is alway s attributed to th e terrifyin g powe r o f th e god s
(ANET, 28 Ib); this has a paralyzing effect upo n the opponents, leaving them in con-
fusion an d weakness... (ANET, 289b)' (Jone s 1989 : 301) . Vo n Rad (1991: 46-47)
lists several reference s to an enemy's terror stemming from YHWH' s alliance wit h
Israel: e.g . Exod . 15.14-16 ; 1 Sam. 4.7-8.
5. Th e Egyptia n god Seth wa s the god of confusion a s well as the god of wa r
and o f the storm (Kang 1989: 96). Som e examples (from th e list of von Rad 1991 :
48-49) of biblical reference s to divinely inspired confusion i n a battle situation are :
Exod. 23.27; Josh . 10.10 ; Isa. 5.11.
168 Among th e Prophets

adversary—the on e wh o shoul d b e wit h YHW H i s fleein g fro m him,

thus th e captain and the sailor s wh o sough t alliance wit h Jonah (v . 6)
must distance themselves fro m him , thereby becoming YHWH' s allies .
Of course , th e sea settin g itsel f i s the most importan t imag e o f no t
only confusion but chaos, as reflected in ancient Near Eastern traditions
of a supreme god' s battle agains t watery chaos. 1 But the superiority of
YHWH to neighboring gods is indicated in Jonah . YHWH , god of the
heavens, i s no t simpl y on e wh o struggle s agains t an d defeat s chaos;
rather, h e i s the make r o f th e se a and, a s the narrato r shows , he i s as
able t o manipulate tha t principal element o f chao s (chs . 1-2 ) a s he is
able to manipulate elements on the dry land (ch. 4).

Crying out for Deliverance

In biblica l narratives , whe n th e Israelite s cr y ou t (pi n o r pus) t o
YHWH, i t i s almos t exclusivel y in th e contex t o f militar y conflict. 2
The cr y ma y g o u p afte r a n extended period o f oppression 3 or it ma y
go up in the midst of battle. 4 The sailors in Jonah are like those o f this
latter situation , in which their battle seem s doome d unles s th e divinity
intervenes, or rather, in this case, unless the divinity ceases fire.5

Offering of Vows and Sacrifices in the Wake of Victory

In preparatio n fo r battle , soldier s woul d undergo purification rituals,
and mak e vow s an d sacrifices. 6 Th e sailor s o f th e Jona h accoun t

1. 'Yam.. . Baal's "fundamental" opponent... is the princ e o f th e sea , an d th e

sea... is the primordial element of chaos' (Gr0nbs k 1985 : 31) . Before creating th e
world, the Babylonian Marduk must battle against Tiamat, who is a 'personificatio n
of the sea and its powers' (Jacobse n 1968 : 105) .
2. Th e Jonah accoun t is the only one in which non-Israelites are referred t o as
calling out (pin or pas) to a divinity. In Judges, the cry to YHWH is always followed
by hi s raisin g u p a person t o delive r them i n victorious battl e agains t a military
3. E.g . Judg . 3.9, 15 ; 4.3; 6.6 , 7 ; 10.10 .
4. Exod . 14.10 , wher e thos e i n fligh t ar e pursue d b y th e Egyptia n army ;
Isa. 7.8, 9 , wher e YHW H respond s t o th e cr y b y usin g thunde r a s a weapon ;
1 Chron. 5.20 ; 2 Chron. 13.14 ; 32.30.
5. Cf . the curse i n the treaty between Esarhaddo n and the King of Tyre: 'Ma y
Baal... raise an evil win d against you r ships... may a strong wave sink the m in the
sea' (ANET*, 534 , cite d in Sasson 1990 : 118) .
6. Biblica l reference s i n von Rad 1991 : 42 ; other ancien t Nea r Eastern refer -
ences in Kang 1989 : 62 , 63.
WILT Jonah: A Battle o f Shifting Alliances 16 9

obviously ha d n o occasio n t o d o suc h befor e thei r encounte r wit h

YHWH an d th e prophet . Bu t i n grea t fea r o f YHWH , the y offere d
sacrifices an d made vows after th e sea became calm. 1

Jonah and Joshua 10.1-27

We ma y g o beyon d th e identificatio n of variou s similaritie s betwee n
Jonah 1 and othe r battl e narrative s an d compar e th e boo k o f Jona h
with on e specifi c battl e narrative . Jona h parallel s th e accoun t o f a
battle in Josh. 10.1-2 7 in lexical references, semiotic relationships an d
narrative structure .

Lexical Parallels
The mos t strikin g lexical similarit y betwee n th e tw o storie s i s thei r
use o f "ma . Althoug h thi s i s th e mos t frequentl y use d qualitativ e
adjective i n th e Hebre w Scriptures , Jon . 1.1-2. 1 an d Josh . 10.1-2 7
stand apar t fro m al l other narrativ e passages i n the Hebre w scripture s
in bot h th e numbe r of occurrences o f thi s adjective an d th e variet y of
lexical reference s whic h it modifies . A list of the modifie d reference s
can be mad e t o prefigure other observations that will be mad e abou t
the parallels between these two passages:
Joshua 10 Jonah 1
Key city: Gibeo n (v. 2, twice) Nineve h (v. 2)
Heaven-sent weapon: (hail- ) stones (v. 11 ) win d (v. 4)
storm (vv . 4, 12)
Tools of confinement: rock s (vv . 17 , 27) fis h (2.1 )
Result of YHWH's
intervention: defea t (v. 10 ) fea r (vv. 10 , 16)
destruction (v. 20)
Chart 1 : Occurrences o/bru

^ita migh t b e a s appropriatel y labelle d a 'leitmoti f o f th e Joshu a

account a s i t ha s bee n wit h regar d t o th e Jona h narrative; 2 YHW H

1. Reference s to ANE post-battle sacrifices are to be found i n Jones 1989 : 30 1

and Kang 1989 : 49 .
2. Thi s is a key theme in the hortatory passages of Deuteronomy. Note especi-
ally 4.32-38, where there is a cohesive densit y of Vita occurrences (five , in referenc e
to the exodus event, deeds accompanying it, YHWH's fire, YHWH's strength, and the
nations driven out by Israel) similar to that in the two narrative passages that we are
170 Among th e Prophets

battles wit h grea t means , fo r grea t people , an d wit h grea t result s

(Lacocque 1981 : 8 ; Sasson 1990 : 72) .
Other lexica l parallel s betwee n th e tw o narratives , reflectin g simi-
larity in plot, ar e found i n the following verbal references :
Semantic domain Joshua 10 Jonah

flight oi l (vv . 11 , 16 ) m a (1.3 , 10 ; 4.2)

attack (naa ) (vv . 4, 10 , 20, 26) (4.7 ,8 )
casting dow n -pv (vv . 11, 27) "n o (1.4 , 5 , 12 , 15)
•pa (2.4 )
downward descent (IT) (vv . 11 , 27) (1.3 , 3 , 5; 2.6 )
fearOrv) (v . 2) (1.10,16 )
Chart 2: Predicative Parallels

Despite th e obviou s parallel s here , th e iron y involve d i n th e Jona h

narrative is indicate d b y considerin g the tw o account s with regard t o
the agents and objects associated wit h these events.
In th e Joshu a account , YHWH , Joshu a an d Israe l ac t i n harmon y
against th e enemy . Thus , i t i s the y (o r on e o f the m o n behal f o f th e
others) wh o 'strike' and 'cast down', and it is the enemies wh o fear fo r
their lives , tak e flight , an d ar e force d downward . Bu t th e rebelliou s
Jonah flee s downwar d and i s the n cas t downwar d like th e five kings
who fle d an d were cas t downward , o r a t least ground-ward , int o th e
When the y lear n wit h who m Jonah is allied , the sailor s experienc e
terror a s di d th e kin g o f Jerusale m whe n h e learne d o f Gibeon' s
alliance wit h Israel . Bu t wherea s th e non-Israelite s resis t an d ar e
slaughtered throug h th e chose n representative s o f YHWH , th e non -
Israelites i n the Jonah account are saved through ridding themselves of
YHWH's chosen representative .

Parallels in Text Structure

The two narratives have parallel structure s at various levels. Th e simi -
larities o f structur e a t the overal l tex t leve l reinforce s th e impressio n
of similarit y i n genre . Th e similaritie s a t lowe r level s enabl e furthe r
appreciation o f the contrast between how things stand between YHWH ,
his inside r representatives , an d outsiders now, i n the time of Jonah' s
original postexili c audience , an d how the y stoo d then, when YHW H
and his people fough t togethe r in holy wars against pagan outsiders .

considering. Also, DeuL 9.1-2 refers to great nations, great cities and great people .
WILT Jonah: A Battle o f Shifting Alliances 17 1

High-Level Parallels
The basic structur e of both accounts is:
Joshua 10 Jonah
Setting 10.1-5 a 1.1- 3
Battle 10.5b-l l 1.4-1 6
Miracle report 10.12.14 1.17-10.01
Closure of primary battle account 10.1 5 2.1 0
Follow-up and lesson 10.16-2 6 3- 4
Closure 10.2 7 4.1 1
Chart 3: Text-Level, Structural Parallels

The narrativ e begins b y settin g the stag e fo r the conflict s t o occur . A

report i s the n given o n how th e battle is fought an d who th e victor is.
In bot h accounts , th e divine use o f a common elemen t o f natur e (hai l
in Joshua , win d i n Jonah ) is show n t o hav e bee n a ke y facto r i n th e
But th e repor t o n th e battl e whic h involved a relativel y common -
place divin e weapo n (se e th e sectio n o n celestia l weapons , above ) i s
followed b y referenc e t o a muc h les s common , perhap s uniqu e (se e
below), manipulatio n o f natur e that underscore s th e exten t t o which
YHWH has been involve d in the battle. The Joshua narrator comment s
directly o n thi s intervention , exultin g i n th e greatnes s o f Joshu a a s
well as of YHWH, while the Jonah narrator depicts Jona h as producing
the psalm o f praise.
Following thi s interlude the narrative tension is diminished, bu t th e
extent t o whic h YHW H give s victor y i s demonstrated , an d a n objec t
lesson accompanied b y a moral is given.

Lower-Level Parallels
Lower-level comparison s o f th e text s furthe r revea l parallel s i n
structure, bu t th e differenc e i n th e wa y tha t th e structura l slot s ar e
filled indicates a considerabl e contras t i n perspectiv e o n th e variou s
aspects o f YHWH' s alliances . I n th e followin g w e wil l conside r th e
most salien t parallel s withi n each o f th e basi c segment s diagramme d
above. Th e appendi x contain s a n eve n mor e detaile d outlin e o f th e
parallel texts .
172 Among th e Prophets

Setting. The setting s of both accounts may be outlined as follows.

Joshua JO Jonah 1

Inciting moment 10.1- 2 1. 1

Call for allied action 10.3- 4 1. 2
Response to the call 10.5 a 1. 3
Chart 4: Setting Components

In bot h storie s th e incitin g moment, th e even t tha t set s th e stag e fo r

the narrative' s conflicts , i s th e receptio n o f a wor d concernin g a n
adversary, a great (n^m ) city. 1 The reception o f the word concernin g
the grea t cit y cause s grea t fear . Th e Joshua narrato r state s thi s reac-
tion explicitl y (v . 2a); th e Jona h narrato r shows thi s reactio n b y
referring t o Jonah's fligh t (a s noted above) .
The cal l fo r allie d actio n i s a n adversary' s respons e t o th e fearfu l
word in Joshua, bu t i t becomes par t o f the fearfu l wor d to th e insider
Jonah. Th e Jerusale m kin g Adoni-Zede k call s ou t t o hi s allies , fou r
other kings , fo r hel p i n attackin g thos e allie d wit h the Israelit e god ;
YHWH entrust s hi s all y Jona h wit h th e divin e word o f judgment t o
attack Nineveh, whose evil reflects their non-alignment with YHWH.
In Joshua , th e fou r king s respond t o Adoni-Zedek' s cal l just a s h e
had desired , an d th e stag e i s se t fo r a battl e i n whic h the distinctio n
between allie s an d adversaries i s clear-cut. Jonah also move s out—bu t
to flee in the direction opposite t o where he has been calle d t o go. The
kings' unifie d actio n takes the m up (n*?i?) ; Jonah's rebellio n take s hi m
down (TV ) on a descent tha t will not end until he is at the 'root s of the
mountains' (1.3 , 3 , 5 ; 2.6) . Thus , i n th e Jona h account , a n initia l
alliance turns into a civil war and a battle agains t the rebel is necessi -
tated before the battle agains t the original adversary continues.

The Battle. The followin g chart indicate s th e similaritie s o f th e tw o

battle accounts.

1. Th e Joshu a narrato r underscore s th e greatnes s o f Gibea h b y modifyin g i t

twice wit h n^r u i n th e tw o clauses explainin g Jerusalem' s grea t fear . I n Jonah ,
Ninevah will be referred t o as nbn:(n) -i^(n) three more times (3.2, 3 ; 4.11). These
are the only places in the Hebrew Scriptures where there is repeated reference t o a
specific cit y as rftru. I n Moses' Deuteronomic exhortation t o the children of Israel,
there are three references to nhn: ara) a s part of the image of the imposing task of the
conquest, possible for the Israelites only because YHWH is fighting for them (1.28 ;
6.10; and, especially , 9.1).
WILT Jonah: A Battle o f Shifting Alliances 17 3

The Battle Joshua 10 Jonah 1

Attack 10. 5 1.4 a
Call for help 10. 6 1. 6
Response 10. 7—
Oracle 10. 8 1.7-1 0
Battle scene 10.9-1 1 a 1.4-1 5
Deaths and calm 10. 1 Ib, 1 5 1.1 5
Chart 5: Battle Components

In Joshua, the battle begins when the five kings lay siege against isola-
ted Gibeo n whos e onl y hope is tha t the people in league wit h YHWH
will respond t o their call for help. But in Jonah the battle begins when
YHWH hurl s hi s weapo n agains t th e on e wh o i s suppose d t o b e i n
league wit h him bu t wh o has mad e th e sailor s unwittin g allies i n his
only battl e tactic , flight . Th e sailor s soo n se e that they hav e n o hop e
but to call for help, divin e help.
The Gibeonite s sen d t o thei r swor n all y t o gai n deliverance ; th e
captain goe s t o his iner t ally in th e ship' s hol d s o that 'w e might not
perish'. I n both accounts, those callin g for help begin their addresse s
by denouncin g inaction an d the n tel l wha t must b e don e an d why.
While the Gibeonites ' ple a i s give n only in terms o f human, military
assistance, th e captain of Jonah's shi p realizes that the battle fo r their
lives involves a divine element. Wha t he does not realize , however , i s
that the god whom he is ordering Jonah to 'cal l out to' (*? « mp ) is the
one wh o ha d ordere d Jona h t o 'cal l ou t against ' (*7j ; «~ip ) a paga n
power, an d tha t his call for Jonah to work in allianc e with the sailors ,
who have already mad e frantic call s t o their gods (v . 5), is also a call
to mak e goo d o f a divin e alliance agains t which Jonah has revolted ,
thereby enmeshin g the sailors in the battle.
Joshua, in respec t o f his alliance , responds t o the Gibeonit e cal l a s
the four king s had responded t o the Jerusalem king' s call. I n contrast,
no mention is made of Jonah's response: how can he call out to the one
from who m he i s fleeing ? Rather , the scen e shift s t o th e sailor s wh o
must resort to divination.
In both accounts , the divine word concerning the battle comes afte r
the battl e ha s alread y begun . But whil e the Joshu a account portray s
YHWH as speaking directly to Joshua, the sailors mus t first throw lots ,
then interrogat e Jona h fo r furthe r clarification . The wor d t o Joshu a
from YHW H i s 'd o not fear'; th e word to th e sailors fro m Jona h is an
ambiguous ' I fear' and the sailor s in tur n 'fea r a grea t fear' . Joshu a
174 Among th e Prophets

need no t fea r becaus e YHW H ha s pu t th e enemy 'i n thei r hands' ; bu t

the sailor s hav e plenty of reason t o fear since they now recognize tha t
Jonah's presenc e ha s put the m in the hands of the on e who mad e th e
sea a s wel l a s th e dr y ground , an d tha t thei r allianc e wit h Jonah —
which they refuse to take lightly (1.11-14)—ha s brought them int o the
midst o f a civil war , an d o n th e wron g side. Indeed, th e intensit y of
the sailors ' fea r upo n learnin g o f thi s uncertai n allianc e (Jonah i s
fleeing ye t claim s t o fear/worshi p YHWH ) is lik e tha t o f the kin g of
Jerusalem wh o 'feare d greatly ' whe n h e hear d o f Gibeon' s allianc e
with Israe l (v . 2).
While ther e i s les s correspondenc e betwee n th e sequenc e o f
elements i n th e battle scene s (th e fifth component o f Char t 5 ) than in
what ha s been observe d u p t o thi s point, ther e ar e severa l referentia l
parallels. We have alread y mentione d th e images of confusio n i n th e
Jonah account. The Joshua account records th e classic elemen t o f holy
wars i n th e Nea r East : th e militar y panic/confusio n (a&n ) sen t fro m
God. In Jonah, however, sinc e YHW H is battling against an individual,
rather tha n the group with whom Jonah finds himself, ther e is no nee d
to ad d an y more confusio n t o th e sailors ' pligh t tha n what is alread y
present simpl y from th e intensity of their battle agains t the storm . Th e
image of the raging se a and the plunging ship correspond t o Joshua' s
more prosaic reference t o the 'grea t attack'.
More salientl y paralle l ar e th e accounts o f the attempte d fligh t an d
the divin e cut-off. 1 Th e armie s o f th e fiv e king s fle e fro m OJQ& ) th e
Israelite soldiers, thus , as shown by the divine sanction i n v. 8 and the
agent o f 'confuse ' an d 'attack ' i n v . 9, awa y from YHWH . Similarly ,
Jonah i s fleein g fro m Cos 1™) YHWH. 2 Th e directio n o f th e fligh t i s
downward, i n bot h narratives . Thoug h thi s migh t b e a n incidenta l
detail in the Joshua account, it is vested wit h theological significanc e in
Jonah (Magonet 1976 : 17 ; Sasson 1990 : 80 , 187 ; Wolff 1986 : 112) .
Then come s a classi c attac k fro m heaven : th e divinit y take s a n
element o f the sky and hurls it down upon the fleer. His weapon i s n o

1. Tha t Jonah's flight was not simply a prelude t o the battle but also an integral
part of it may be signalled by the participial for m of rro in v. 10 , rather than the per -
fect, which coul d have signalled tha t he had fled but now recognized such flight to be
impossible. Th e participia l for m coul d b e take n t o indicat e tha t hi s fligh t i s a n
ongoing process .
2. Thi s sam e prepositiona l phras e i s use d i n referenc e t o fligh t i n battl e i n
2 Chron. 19.18 .
WILT Jonah: A Battle o f Shifting Alliances 17 5

skimpy one: whether hail-stones from heave n or wind , it is 'ma, 'great' .

In bot h accounts , focu s o n the agen t o f th e fusillade, a s wel l a s hi s
opposition t o thei r attemp t t o flee , i s provide d b y th e frontin g o f
YHWH t o sentence-initia l position. 1 Thoug h YHW H ha s bee n referre d
to by nam e twic e i n th e Joshu a accoun t (bot h time s a s subjec t o f th e
clause) an d thre e time s i n th e Jona h account , thi s i s th e firs t tim e i n
both account s tha t hi s nam e occur s i n th e sentence-initia l position .
Indeed, it is the first time that any subject appears in that position.
The climati c par t o f th e Joshu a accoun t end s wit h a commen t o n
how man y die d fro m th e hailstones cas t dow n by YHWH . That o f th e
Jonah accoun t end s wit h depictio n o f Jona h bein g cas t dow n t o hi s
apparent deat h i n th e se a b y th e sailor s (v . 15 ) bu t als o b y YHW H
(2.4). Vers e 1 6 shows tha t thi s on e deat h wa s al l tha t wa s sought : all
others survive d an d worshippe d th e on e wh o wa s th e sourc e o f th e
threat t o their lives .

The Fantastic Event. I n bot h accounts , th e narratio n slow s dow n t o

report an d commen t o n a fantastic , unique 2 miracle : th e stoppin g o f
the su n in Joshua an d the deliverance vi a a fish in Jonah. Th e presen -
tation o f these events ma y be compared in several respects (see Char t
6, below) .
The ke y semioti c oppositio n i s betwee n th e reference s t o element s
associated wit h the region o f God's dwellin g place an d lif e an d thos e
associated wit h th e regio n o f death . Th e positiv e sign s o f th e Joshu a
account underscor e th e glor y o f th e Israelit e victory ; th e negativ e
signs underscore the depth o f the prophet's plunge away from God .

1. Josh . 10.lib : nVr u DM^ N nrr^v -prior i mm ; Jon . 1.4 : n'mrnr i 'ra n m m
2. Th e references t o the divine castin g down of hail (Josh . 10 ) or wind (Jonah )
have man y parallel s i n biblical an d ancien t Nea r Easter n literatur e (a s shown, fo r
example, in Weinfeld 1984) . But there ar e few, if any, parallels t o the stopping o f the
sun and the salvation via a fish. The only near-parallels that Weinfeld (1984 : 146-47)
suggests, concerning th e stopping o f the sun miracle, ar e the reference i n Hab. 3.11 ,
which ma y be borrowing th e image fro m th e Joshua account, and a wish expressed
in th e Iliad tha t 'th e sun set not.. . until I have cast down... the hall o f Priam'—
which i s not followed b y a report tha t the sun did actually stop .
Ben-Yosef (1980 : 113 ) point s ou t tha t thoug h 'th e fish, or water-monster,
swallows a man' is a folk moti f foun d i n various part s of the world, 'From the point
of view o f the element of a benevolent fish.. . th e story of Jonah is unique, especiall y
in the cultural milie u where i t originated' (m y emphasis).
176 Among the Prophets

Joshua 10 Jonah 1.17-2.10

Battle situation: YHWH against enemy of YHWH against prophet of
Israel (outsiders) Israel (insider )
Witness: Israel None but the victim/
delivered one
Natural elements Sun, moon, heaven (up, Fish, roots of mountains,
referred to : positive, associatio n Sheol, and so fort h
with God's abode) (down, negative,
association wit h death)
Purpose: Defeat of enemy Salvation of rebel
Call to God: 'Joshua spoke to YHWH' 'I called out to... YHWH'
God's response : YHWH heard a human 'He heard my voice'
Result: Victory Deliverance
Chart 6: Referential Components o f th e Fantastic Events

Thus, thoug h the fantasti c events i n both battles occu r for th e benefi t
of thos e originall y leagued wit h YHWH, the first is a great victor y for,
and witnesse d by , th e Israelit e natio n and thei r leaders , wherea s th e
second i s a hidde n ac t o f deliveranc e o f a rebe l wh o finall y surren -
ders. However, a key link between the ignominious rebel an d the great
holy-war commander is that they both called out to YHWH and YHW H
heard thei r voice .

Follow-up an d Lesson. Thoug h th e greatnes s an d victoriousnes s o f

YHWH's wor k i n battl e ha s bee n shown , th e battl e doe s no t end .
Joshua command s hi s troops , 'Don' t stop!' , an d Jonah i s onc e agai n
commanded b y YHW H t o d o wha t had prompte d hi s rebellion : th e
pursuit of the enemy is to continue.
However, ther e i s quite a difference i n strategy . The Israelite s wer e
to attac k thei r enemies fro m th e rear an d prevent the m fro m enterin g
their cities . I n contrast , Jonah , equippe d wit h YHWH' s word , i s t o
walk into the midst of the enemy's city . The Israelite soldiers ' contin -
uance, i n keeping wit h their orders , results i n an overwhelming defea t
of the enemy. Jonah's weapon— a word of judgment fro m hi s warrio r
God—overwhelms th e enem y bu t wit h th e resul t tha t the y believ e
God, cr y ou t t o hi m fo r mercy , and , through their humble surrender ,
avert massiv e destruction . I n th e wak e o f thes e decisiv e display s o f
YHWH's power and fearfulness, a lesson is given.
Apart fro m thes e genera l parallel s i n plot , ther e ar e als o severa l
unflattering, synonymou s parallels betwee n th e prophet Jona h and th e
WILT Jonah: A Battle o f Shifting Alliances 111

five king s o f th e Joshu a account , an d severa l antithetica l parallel s

between th e Ninevite kin g and the five kings that reinforc e th e irony
involved in the depiction o f the prophet's response t o YHWH.

Jonah an d th e Five Kings. Jonah' s attemp t t o fle e fro m YHW H b y

descending into the darkness of the ship's hold and sailing over the sea
is simila r t o th e attemp t o f th e five kings i n th e Joshu a narrativ e t o
hide in the darkness of a cave. For both, the place of refuge becomes a
prison. YHWH' s me n impriso n th e king s b y blockin g th e cav e wit h
great stones ; th e sailors , workin g in harmony wit h YHWH, cas t Jonah
into the sea which surrounds and imprisons him (2.6-7).
In bot h accounts , th e prisoner s ar e brough t ou t o f thei r confine -
ment: the kings are brought out at Joshua's command ; Jonah is belche d
out a t YHWH's command . The kings ' emergenc e fro m thei r prison is
only temporar y an d fo r th e sak e o f being humiliated and kille d a s a
sign o f what YHWH wil l do t o all Israel' s enemies . Jona h i s brought
out o f hi s priso n a s on e reconcile d wit h YHW H (2.7 , 9 ) an d who , on
YHWH's behalf, is to proclaim Joshua-style destruction. However, th e
carrying ou t o f his tas k will result in a sign of what, to quot e Joshua ,
'YHWH wil l do to all your enemies'—if the y repent—but thi s sign of
YHWH's merc y i s fo r Jonah a sourc e o f distress 1 tha t will make hi m
wish for the same end as the five kings.

The Five Kings an d th e Ninevite King. Th e fiv e enem y kings ,

surrounded b y th e Israelites , ar e forced t o the groun d an d humiliated
(v. 24). I n contrast, the Ninevite king, his people surroundin g the lone
representative o f YHWH, voluntarily humiliates himself, taking off hi s
royal robes and lowering himself from hi s thron e into the dust (3.6) .
In both accounts, a series of commands follows the royal humiliation .
Joshua command s th e Israelite s t o assum e attitude s of psychologica l
strength i n vie w o f thei r allianc e wit h YHWH (v . 25). Th e Ninevit e
king command s his people to weaken themselves throug h fasting and,
more importantly , t o refor m (3.7-8) . Joshu a command s th e Israelite s
in ful l confidenc e of th e destructio n of enemies tha t results whe n one
battles i n allianc e wit h YHW H (v . 25). Th e Ninevit e kin g ca n onl y
hope (inv' a 'wh o knows? ) tha t th e adversary' s annihilatin g ange r
may give way to compassion (3.9) .

1. m n i s translated as 'anger' i n most translations, but Sasson (190: 270, 273 -

75) argues for translating it as 'dejection' .
178 Among th e Prophets

In bot h Joshu a an d Jonah' s proclamations , th e announcemen t of

destruction is unconditional. However, while Joshua promised tha t nM
mrp nfoy 1* (v . 25), Jona h found tha t the LOR D ntou K ^ wha t he sai d h e
After Joshu a humiliates the kings, exhorts his people t o strength and
promises victor y ove r thei r enemies , h e strike s (rim ) th e king s an d
kills the m (literally : cause s the m t o die) . Afte r th e Ninevit e kin g
humbles himsel f an d exhort s hi s peopl e t o d o th e same , Nineve h i s
spared. Instea d o f the enemy bein g struc k down , the vine whic h pro -
vides comfor t to the proclaime r of destructio n is struc k (roj ) and
wirners, allowing the sun—that celestial elemen t whic h Joshua had so
triumphantly commanded—t o strik e (ma ) th e prophet' s hea d an d
make him wish that he would die (3.8, 9) .

Closure. Bot h account s end with a reference t o a 'great ' (bru ) objec t
which ha s been referre d t o earlier i n th e narrative. 'Th e great stones '
in th e Joshua accoun t ar e used t o seal the tomb of the five kings, an d
they stand 't o this day' as a witness to the great alliance of YHWH with
Israel. I n the Jonah account, YHWH chides Jonah for his concern ove r
the insignifican t vin e in view of YHWH's concern fo r th e 'grea t city' ,
a formidable adversar y turne d ally.

Jonah i s lik e a narrativ e negativ e o f Joshu a 10 . Th e structur e i s
basically th e same , bu t th e blac k an d white s o f th e earlie r narrativ e
are reverse d i n th e late r one . Joshu a an d Israe l ru n u p t o defen d a
great cit y i n respect o f its call, an d they defeat their enemies throug h
the powerfu l interventio n of th e divinit y wit h whom the y ar e allied .
Jonah run s away fro m a great cit y in disrespect of his call, but is cut
off b y th e powerful intervention of the divinity , who ha s becom e his
adversary. Joshua ascends for battl e and commands the great light s of
heaven. Jona h descend s an d i s entrappe d i n th e dept h o f Sheol . I n
Joshua, th e pagan king s are humiliated a s a demonstration o f YHWH's
power. I n Jonah, th e king humbles himself bu t is save d a s a demon -
stration of YHWH' S grace .
This narrativ e manipulatio n o f th e structur e an d reference s o f a
battle repor t ma y b e viewe d a s a developmen t consisten t wit h th e
transformations o f th e wa r oracl e fro m th e eighth-centur y prophets '
WILT Jonah: A Battle o f Shifting Alliances 17 9

insistence tha t YHW H wa s no w battlin g agains t Israel 1 dow n t o th e

early-sixth century transformation in which 'the primary intent of this
literary mode...[becomes ] th e preservation of th e peopl e o f Israe l i n
the impending crisis which challenges their very existence' (Christensen
1975: 282) .
However, b y the time the Jonah narrative receives it s final form, the
crisis i s no t impendin g bu t realized . The peopl e hav e alread y bee n
swallowed u p an d sen t t o a grea t city . The y hav e survive d bu t no t
without anger/dejection . Th e Jona h narrativ e suggest s that , thoug h
there ma y b e dismay a t the escape of the great cit y from judgment, i t
is a n occasio n fo r growin g in understandin g o f ho w extensiv e i s th e
grace tha t delivered the m from th e hell to which their flight fro m Go d
led them .

Alexander, T.D .
1988 Jonah: A n Introduction an d Commentary (Tyndal e Ol d Testamen t
Commentaries, 23; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press) .
Ben-Yosef, LA.
1980 'Jona h and the Fish as a Folk Motif, Semitics 7 : 102-17 .
Christensen, D.L .
1975 Transformations o f th e Wa r Oracle i n Ol d Testament Prophecy
(Missoula, MT: Scholars Press) .
Gr0nbsk, J.H .
1985 'Baal' s Battl e with Yam— A Canaanit e Creation Fight', JSOT 33 : 27-
Jacobsen, T .
1968 "Th e Battle between Mardu k an d Tiamat' , JAOS 88 : 104-108 .
Jones, G.H .
1989 'Th e Concep t o f Hol y War' , i n R.E . Clement s (ed.) , Th e World o f
Ancient Israel: Sociological, Anthropological and Political
Perspectives (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press): 299-321.
Rang, S.-M .
1989 Divine Wa r i n th e Ol d Testament and i n th e Ancient Near East (New
York: de Gruyter) .
Lacocque, A.
1981 Th e Jonah Complex (Atlanta: John Knox).

1. 'Amo s has taken th e earlier speech of a war oracle... and transformed i t into a
judgment speec h against Israel ' (Christense n 1975 : 71-72) ; Th e traditio n o f holy -
war [is ] i n its reversed form. The concept was so familiar in Israelite thinking tha t the
judgment implie d b y its total reversa l coul d not be missed' (Jones 1989: 318) .
180 Among the Prophets

Magonet, J.
1976 Form and Meaning: Studies in Literary Techniques in the Book of
Jonah (Bern : Herber t Lang ; Frankfur t a.M. : Peter Lang) .
Sasson, J.M.
1990 Jonah (Ne w York : Doubleday) .
Sternberg, M.
1985 The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the
Drama of Reading (Bloomington , IN: Indiana Universit y Press) .
Rad, G. von
1991 Holy Wa r in Ancient Israel (trans, an d ed . M.J . Daw n and J.H. Yoder ;
Grand Rapids : Eerdmans) .
Weinfeld, M.
1984 'Divine Interventio n in Wa r in Ancien t Israe l an d i n the Ancien t Nea r
East', in H . Tadmor an d M. Weinfeld (eds.), in History, Historiography
and Interpretation (Jerusalem : Magnes) .
Wolff, H.W.
1986 Obadiah an d Jonah (trans . M . Kohl ; Minneapolis: Augsburg) .

Structural Parallels of Joshua 10.1-27 and Jonah
Joshua 10 Jonah
a. Incitement: a fearful word 10.1 1.1
Receptor: It was (vri) when the king of It was (vn) the word of YHWH
Jerusalem heard to Jonah
Response: They feared greatly
Reason: Since Gibeon was a great city Nineveh, the great city...
... greater than Ai.
b. Call for allied action 10.3-4 1.2
Adoni-Zedek to four kings YHWH to Jonah
Call to move out : Come up to me Get up, go to Nineveh
Desired action: Help me Call out against her
Reason for action: that we may attack Gibeon for thei r evil has risen before me
c. Response to the Call 10.5a 1.3
And they gathered... And Jonah got up—to flee.. .
and they went up and he went down
d. Commencement of battle 10.5b 1.3b-4a
They attacked Gibeon... and YHWH hurled a great wind upon
fought... the sea...
WILT Jonah: A Battle of Shifting Alliances 181
e. Call for hel p 10.6 1.6
Going for help: The Gibeonites sent to Joshua The ship's captain went to
... to say Jonah and said
Inaction i s
inappropriate: Don't withdraw your hand How can you sleep!
Move! Come up ! Get up!
What to do: Save us , help us Call out to your god
Why: for all the kings have gathere d perhaps God will show us favor
against us and we will not die

f. Response 10.7
So Joshua wen t up... along
with all his soldiers

g. Divine word 10.8 1.7-10

Method o f obtaining: They cast lots and the lot fell on
Speaker: YHWH said to Joshua [Jonah] said t o them
Message: 'Don't fear, fo r I have put 'YHWH... I fear, the one who
them in your hand' made the sea and the dry
Response: [Israel proceeds ] The men feared a great fea r

h. Battle scen e 10.9-1 la 1.4-11

Confusion: YHWH panicked them [Several images of confusion ]
Powerful attack : They attacked them with a a great stor m (vv . 4, 11 , 13)
great attack ship about to break u p (v. 4)

Attempted fligh t ... they fled from Israel.. . He got up to to flee from
YHWH (v. 3)
along th e descent to Beth and descended to Joppa (v. 3)
Horon He was fleeing from YHW H
Divine cut-off: But YHWH cast down on them (v. 10 )
great stones But YHWH cast down a great
wind on the sea (v. 4)

i. Death and calm 10.1 Ib, 1 5 1.15-16

Miracle Report 10.12-14 1.17-2.10

Closure of Primary Battle 10.15 2.10

Report Joshua and all Israel returned to YHW H spoke... and the fish
their camp spa t Jonah onto the dry land

Follow-Up and Lessons

a. Don't stop! 10.19 3.2-5
Don't stop! Get up, go to Nineveh...
Pursue your enemies... Call out to ('?/) it...
Don't allo w them to enter their Jonah began t o enter the city...
cities He called out... 'In forty day s
for YHWH has given your Nineveh will be destroyed'
enemies int o your hand
182 Among the Prophets
b. Resul t 10.20 3.5 a
Joshua and the Israelites Th e men of Nineveh believed
attacked them with a great God.. .

c. Of royal adversaries 10.22-25 3.6-10

Royal humiliation : they brought the kings the king got off his throne
they put their feet on the he sat in the dust (v. 6)
kings' necks
Commands: (Joshua to Israel) (King to Nineveh)
Do not be afraid Do not taste anything
Do not be discouraged Do not eat; do not drink
Be strong Cover yourselves with sacks
Be courageous Call out to God
Turn from evi l and violence
Reason: Thus YHWH will do to all Perhaps God will relent and have
your enemies compassion
God felt sorry about the destruc-
tion he had said he would do
and did not do it

10.26 4.7-8
Final Blow: Joshua struck the kings a worm struck the vine over
Jonah's head
(he sun struck Jonah's bead
and killed them Jonah said: 'It's better that I die'

Closure 10.27 4.11

great stones stand to this day YHWH: should I not have com-
(as a memorial to YHWH's passion for that great city?

Athalya Brenne r

This study i s addressed to the nature of the links between the Jonah narrative and the
poem embedde d withi n i t (2.3-10). The poe m i s examined ou t o f its narrationa l
context, collated wit h it s biblica l intertexts , an d re-examine d withi n th e framin g
narrative. Its compositional status vis-a-vis the prose narrative is then considered and
compositional integrity argue d for. The poem is read (following Mile s and Carroll) as
a parody and satire. Finally, the convergence of literary technique s is read as a means
for producin g a didacti c messag e throug h humour : merc y an d grac e shoul d b e
privileged over justice.

The proble m o f th e functio n an d authenticit y o f Jonah's poe m (Jon .

2.3-10) is a perplexing one . Wha t is i t doin g there , embedde d i n th e
middle o f a prose narrative ? I s i t a n insertion , or a n integra l par t o f
the origina l composition ? A t an y rate, wha t is it s functio n withi n it s
context, especiall y since th e pious attitude s supposedl y expresse d in it
by Jonah are in stark opposition t o his quarrelsome behaviou r through-
out th e narrativ e (Carrol l 1987 : 12) ?
Until quite recently mos t scholars viewe d th e poem a s inappropriat e
on variou s grounds , a pastich e o f quotation s from th e Psalte r badl y
fitted into its present context . Lately, however, the trend has changed .
For example, Magonet (1983 : 39-54) argues tha t th e poem i s authen -
tic an d original ; tha t it s man y echoe s o f th e Boo k o f Psalm s ar e
deliberate [misjquotation s (bu t se e Hurvit z 1985) ; tha t th e poem' s
apparent incongruity disappears whe n its 'pious ' nature is perceived a s
ironic; an d tha t the poem fits in well with th e overall structure , intent
and psychology of the book. In another recent treatment Lacocque and
Lacocque (1990: 94-113) once mor e affirm th e authentic statu s o f the
poem an d analys e i t a s a journey o f Jonah's sel f 'Fro m Nothingness
into Being ' (th e nam e o f th e chapte r dealin g wit h th e Jona h poem ,
p. 94). I n view of this change in scholarly opinion, and because o f the
184 Among th e Prophets

convincing reassessment o f the book of Jonah as a parody/satire (Mile s

1976; Carrol l 1990) , I would like to explore th e poem onc e more .

The Poem out of Context

It i s eviden t that , overtly , th e poe m i s a prayer , orthodo x i n tone ,
beseeching Go d for a metaphorical 'rescu e from a pit' (Mile s 1975) .
The praying subject-in-the-text describe s hi s situatio n (or hers—there
are n o gende r marker s i n th e text , whic h i s delivere d i n th e firs t
person singular) . She/h e wa s desolate : desolatio n an d despai r ar e
expressed metaphoricall y i n terms o f abyss—'Sheol', death an d water
imagery. No specifi c source for thi s despair i s voiced, apar t fro m th e
centrally place d an d unmetaphorica l complaint—the subject' s spatia l
separation fro m God' s plac e o f worship , whos e exac t locatio n i s
unspecified (v . 5). In spite of the physical separation between Go d and
worshipper, th e praye r reache s it s destinatio n (v . 8). No w i t seem s
that th e subjec t i s insid e th e Temple , gratefu l fo r th e presen t releas e
and promising to repay the previously unmentioned vows to YHWH.
The Sheol and drowning-in-water images stand in spatial and qualita-
tive oppositio n t o God's plac e of worship. The reunion of worshipper
and worshipped effect s a solution to the former's problem . Therefore ,
both (metaphorically expressed) proble m and setting seem t o be cultic
rather tha n physical o r social . B y th e end o f th e poe m th e real com -
plaint ha s becom e apparen t throug h the effected solution : th e ability
(in th e present, fo r th e Hebre w tens e syste m allows th e interpretatio n
of th e verb s i n v . 1 0 in th e presen t tense ) t o b e nea r Go d onc e mor e
ends the crisis. Verse 9 too, although problematic (see below), suggest s
a cultic Sitz im Leben for Jonah's psalm.

The Poem and its Intertexts

It i s i n Psalm s 6 9 an d 8 4 that on e find s characteristi c wate r an d pi t
imagery i n the Psalter. Mile s (1976: 174-75 ) show s that even i n thos e
psalms suc h imagery is not nearly as dense as in the prayer attribute d
to Jonah. Generally speaking , then, Jon. 2.3-10 offer s th e most articu -
late an d extravagant use of water and pit imagery in biblical poetry .
A more detaile d analysi s of expressions an d combinations produce s
the following observations. Disregardin g th e problematic v . 9 for th e
time being , eac h vers e o f th e Jonah poem ha s a n identical o r closel y
BRENNER Jonah's Poem out o f an d within it s Context 18 5

parallel counterpar t i n th e Psalms . Her e i s a lis t o f correspondence s

which is by no means exhaustive:
Jonah Psalms
=2.3 22.3 , 5 ; 31.23; 118.5; 130. 1
=2.4 42.8 ; 88.8, 1 8
=2.5 31.2 3
=2.6 113.3 ; 69. 2
=2.7 30.1 0
=2.8 42.7 ; 77.4, 12 ; 107.5; 142.4 , 23-31 ; 143. 4
=2.9 31. 7
= 107.22 ; 116.1 7

To these individual parallels w e may add Psalm 1 8 = 2 Samuel 2 2 on

grounds o f similarit y i n imagery , ton e an d choic e o f metaphors. Fo r
the proble m o f v . 9, a s wel l a s th e shift s i n th e so-calle d quotations,
one shoul d consult Magonet's work, where it is claimed tha t the shift s
are deliberat e an d methodical, in th e service o f charting Jonah's roa d
towards accepting his mission.
Turning fro m imager y t o othe r intertextua l matters , wha t ca n b e
gleaned fro m othe r biblica l poem s similarl y and dissimilarl y embed -
ded withi n a narrationa l pros e context ? Th e embedde d Son g o f
Miriam (Exod . 15 ) and Son g o f Debora h (Judg . 5) ar e indee d poem s
of thanksgivin g and praise fo r divin e salvation too. Bot h link up with
their context s b y subject matter ; the y contain quasi-historica l account s
of event s previousl y narrate d i n prose . Jonah' s psalm , however , ha s
no direc t dimensio n o f historicit y o r persona l history ; thu s it s lin k
with th e surroundin g prose contex t is les s apparent . Anothe r differ -
ence i s th e following : the Son g o f Debora h doe s no t contai n specifi c
cultic elements. Th e secon d par t of the Son g o f the Sea , lik e Jonah' s
poem, doe s hav e affinitie s wit h a culti c shrine ; however , it s affinit y
with th e prose accoun t is problematic (Childs 1974 : 243-53).
What abou t the Davidi c psalm embedded i n 2 Sam. 2 2 ( = Ps. 18) ?
Placed withi n the contex t o f addend a ( 2 Sam . 21-24 ) tha t ar e only
loosely connected t o the narrational contex t (2 Sam. 20 on the one side
and 1 Kgs 1- 2 o n the other side), David' s psalm has no overt biogra -
phical significance—just lik e Jonah's 'psalm'.
The nex t intertex t i s Hannah' s praye r ( 1 Sam . 2.1-10) , whic h i s
perhaps th e closest parallel t o Jonah's. Significantly , Yalkut Shim'oni
even quote s Hannah' s prayer withi n th e treatmen t o f Jonah's prayer .
In both instance s the poems constitut e a plot break. The lin k betwee n
prose an d poe m i s thematically , overtly , problematic , i n tha t th e
186 Among the Prophets

occasion invite s thanksgiving after (se e above ) a n event of salvation,

the chang e i n styl e introduce s variety , an d a suspensio n o f tensio n
occurs on the plo t level. The content s of the poem , nevertheless , do
not correspon d closel y t o tha t of th e pros e narrative . Th e similarity ,
inasmuch a s i t exists , lie s i n th e correlatio n betwee n poeti c imager y
and stor y event. Thus the correlation i s overt but superfluous, in both
cases base d o n catch-phrase s rathe r tha n on tru e congruity . Finally ,
the language of both poems differ s fro m tha t of its prose surroundings
and i s more aki n to that of the Psalm s (cf . Hurvitz 1985) . It is there -
fore no t surprising that scholarly debate s concerning the integrity and
dating o f Hannah' s praye r vis-a-vi s it s pros e fram e closel y paralle l
those concerning Jonah's prayer.

The Poem within its Framing Narrative

The Jona h poem certainl y breaks th e ongoin g movement of th e plo t
advanced by the (prose) narrative. The embedding o f a poem is obvi-
ously a change in style. As in the passages cite d above and others, th e
change i s firs t an d foremos t a multifunctiona l literar y device . I t
enhances th e tensio n whil e allowin g for a respite . I t introduce s a
variety o f poetic expression. In short, it is a 'filler' . Beyon d this, does
the poe m d o anythin g fo r th e stor y line apart fro m functionin g a s a n
orthodox intermission?
Isolated fro m th e narrationa l flo w tha t surrounds it, th e poe m ca n
hardly b e perceived a s related t o the narrated situationa l contex t (th e
belly o f th e male/femal e fish ) i n whic h Jona h find s himself . Th e
problem was noticed already by the ancient Jewish sages and exegetes.
They wen t to great lengths in order to tie details of the poem wit h the
foregoing narrativ e o f 1.1-2.2 . Th e borderlin e betwee n peshat an d
derash i s perforc e trodde n here , a s fo r instanc e i n th e cas e o f th e
difficult v . 9. The vers e is linke d to ch. 1 : 'the preservers o f vanities '
are understoo d t o b e th e heathe n sailors who , after seein g YHWH' s
glory, 'forsak e thei r forme r attachment'—so eve n Rashi , Kimh i an d
Ibn Ezra. I n short , th e attempt s to relat e th e poe m biographicall y t o
Jonah are more than a trifle forced .
Ibn Ezra, however , raise s anothe r importan t questio n whic h ha s
been referre d t o briefl y earlier . Wherea s th e superscriptio n o f th e
poem has Jona h pray inside the belly of the female fish (2.2), and th e
conclusion state s tha t God mad e th e (male! ) fis h spout him ou t afte r
BRENNER Jonah's Poem out o f an d within its Context 18 7

the praye r ha d bee n uttere d an d hear d (2.11) , th e languag e o f th e

poem enclose d b y thes e tw o statement s expresse s th e jo y o f th e
praying subjec t a t a salvatio n effected in th e past/presen t rathe r tha n
the future . I n other words , ther e i s n o correlation betwee n th e situa -
tion of the fictional Jonah and the language of the praying T whic h is
put int o his mout h in th e psalm; an d the seams connectin g prose and
poetry (2.2 , 10 ) exacerbate th e incongruity.
Ibn Ezra indeed explains this as an apparent incongruit y only, since
the propheti c min d regards th e prayer a s having been answere d eve n
before salvatio n i s accomplished . Th e sam e argumen t ofte n crop s u p
in moder n biblica l scholarshi p too : fo r instance , i n orde r t o explai n
peculiarities o f the Hebrew tense system in the so-called propheti c style
and genres. Withi n the framework of the present discussion, th e usage
of the perfect tense for designating future time is thus excused. Needless
to say, such explanations are not truly inspired by linguistics as much as
by ideology , b y the wis h to harmonize an d glos s ove r extralinguistic
difficulties. I n th e cas e o f Jonah's prayer , th e 'tense-time ' questio n
emphasizes th e alienated position of the poem within its context.

The Compositional Status of the Poem

The argument s fo r th e poem's independent statu s withi n the framing
narrative can be summarized as follows.
1. Th e Sitz im Leben o f th e poe m i s culti c an d linke d t o a
specific, althoug h unnamed, place o f worship.
2. Th e water/pi t imager y i s motivate d b y genr e an d conven -
tionalized metaphorization , no t by Jonah's actua l situatio n in
the story .
3. Othe r instances of embedded psalms, notably Hannah's prayer,
exhibit th e practic e o f linkin g a genera l psal m o f thanks -
giving to a specific narrationa l context by overt verba l mean s
and through superficial content associations .
4. Th e incongruit y o f th e prose-poe m link s i s poignantl y
expressed i n th e incompatibilit y o f th e ver b tense s i n th e
poem, a s against those in the verses that frame it .
What, then , i s th e 'original ' natur e of th e poem? O n the on e hand, i t
can b e viewe d a s a n insertio n fro m anothe r an d olde r source , a n
import fro m th e stoc k o f a well-known genre (cf . th e parallels i n th e
188 Among th e Prophets

Psalms). Accordingly , Jonah's praye r shoul d be classifie d as an addi -

tion, a piou s interpolatio n whos e valu e fo r th e plo t pe r s e doe s no t
exceed th e literary consideration s outlined above. I find this evaluation
difficult t o accept, since the unquestioning piety and orthodox ideolog y
of th e poe m ar e i n star k contras t t o Jonah's behaviou r outsid e it. Le t
me b e frank : i f th e poe m i s indee d a n additio n conditione d b y piety
and th e conventio n o f embeddin g poetr y a t seemingl y appropriat e
spots, thi s particular poe m i s no t wel l chosen . I t damage s th e credi -
bility of the book and its anti-hero, Jonah the refusenik. Wh y would an
author, or a n editor, thu s interfere wit h his/her ow n literary creation ?
Was not she/he aware of the incompatibilities, an d the superficiality of
the seams combinin g poem and prose narrative? Or was he/she willing
to forg o th e difficultie s simpl y fo r th e sak e o f introducin g a multi -
functional literar y device ? Onc e more , suc h a hypothetica l solution,
such a presumed authoria l or editorial choice, has serious flaws.
On the other hand, if the poem is regarded as a compositionally and
originally integra l part of the stor y line, another view emerges. The n
the question s a reade r ma y pos e shif t slightly . Assumin g tha t a n
author/editor ha s deliberatel y create d th e prose/poem contradictions ,
what aim s wer e i n mind ? In othe r words , why di d th e autho r switch
genres an d religious attitude s in midstream, so to speak? Personally , I
prefer thi s perspective , fo r I ten d t o tur n t o a solutio n base d o n
authorial o r editoria l naivet y onl y a s a las t resort , an d ther e i s n o
compelling reaso n t o resor t t o tha t i n th e presen t case . A t th e ver y
least, th e incompatibilities here see m to o pronounced to be explained
away. Hence, authorial intentionality should be reconsidered .
Let u s retur n t o the languag e of th e poem. Unlik e the languag e o f
the pros e narrative , i t i s fre e o f Aramaism s and highl y conventional.
Consequently, shoul d it be characterized a s relatively archaic o r just
archaisticl Doe s th e languag e of th e poem predat e tha t o f th e pros e
narrative? Methodologically , both evaluations of the linguistic data at
first appear t o be equally valid. Convention implies conservatism and
makes dating , eve n relativ e dating , uncertain—contra Mile s (1975 )
and others who postulate a relatively earlier date for the poem. Drawin g
on a contemporary, no t necessarily older , stoc k thesauru s o f a genre
explains the linguistic difference betwee n poem an d prose narration as
adequately a s a theor y o f a n earlie r datin g fo r th e poem . I n short ,
viewing the poem a s a conscious imitation of genre and religious atti -
tude seem s t o b e a cogen t possibility . I wil l therefor e explor e thi s
BRENNER Jonah's Poem out o f an d within its Context 18 9

possibility i n th e hope tha t such a viewing will plausibly account fo r

the poem' s statu s withi n its framin g (prose ) wor d contex t an d situa -
tional (plot) context.

The Poem —A Parody and a Satire

Let u s assum e tha t th e poe m i n Jon . 2.3-1 0 i s no t onl y a consciou s
imitation bu t als o a humorous , self-consciou s one . I n tha t case , i t
should be classified as a parody o f its generic kind . I believe that this
interpretation clarifie s some o f th e poem's centra l feature s an d fits in
with the tenor of the prose sections .
The imagery o f the poem i s extremely extravagant . Th e water meta -
phors finall y ad d up t o a n inflated hyperbole , quit e removed fro m th e
poem's central issue (separatio n fro m Go d an d the cultic shrine). An d
yet, they finally amount to an inadequate aping of Jonah's actua l situa-
tion. Sheol, referred to in term s of a monster, is more horrifi c tha n the
male/female/male fis h o f the prose narrative , a primaeval sea-dragon .
The abundance and concentration of both metaphors constitute a verit-
able floo d (Mile s 1975 ) o f primordia l images . Suc h a concentrate d
cluster (not e how many psalms were listed for the purpose o f compari-
son with this one!) exceeds ordinary poetic convention, or naive generic
correspondence. Th e convention s are al l there , bu t ar e overdon e t o
the poin t o f absurdity . Hence, th e resul t i s parody— a consciou s (!? )
imitation o f a literar y genr e whic h conveys , throug h exaggeration ,
comedy, an d humour , criticism o f th e sourc e genr e an d th e accepte d
literary an d ideological norm s that inform it.
Miles (1975 : 174-75 ) make s a n additiona l soun d point. Wate r an d
abyss imager y i s ordinarily just that—imagery . I t refers t o situation s
by metaphorizin g them int o something else, int o some equivalents . I n
Jonah's case , however , th e metaphors ar e no metaphors. Rea d within
the framing prose, they refer to the (extralinguistic) 'rea l thing'. Jonah
is i n th e monster' s belly ; turbulent wate r i s al l over hi s head . Unlik e
the imager y i n simila r psalms , th e metaphor s i n Jonah' s praye r ar e
rendered invali d because , withi n th e story , the y ceas e t o functio n a s
metaphors. Factualit y and image cancel each othe r out. The result i s a
ludicrous parody o f the true believer's complaint: wil l the same meta -
phors still be meaningful whe n the metaphorized situatio n materializes ?
Returning t o th e fram e narrativ e tha t immediatel y follow s th e
prayer, i t is worth noting that God does no t answer Jonah's praye r b y
190 Among th e Prophets

word of mouth. The silenc e towards Jonah is especially conspicuous,

since God communicates with the fish (a male fish once more; the Jewish
exegetes mad e muc h of the frequen t change s o f th e fish' s gender). I s
this not ludicrous? Jonah has spoken s o eloquently, delivere d a speech
replete wit h erudite knowledg e o f conventionalized prayer , ye t that is
not deemed worthy of a direct divin e reply!
In obedienc e t o th e divin e word, th e fis h 'vomits ' Jona h ont o dr y
land. 'Vomit ' is a strong word, evocative, derisivel y imaginativ e i n its
reference t o th e digestiv e tract . Ca n w e reall y clai m tha t w e fee l
sympathy towards the unfortunate messenger Jona h at this juncture, or
do we laugh at him? Imagine the filth, to quote the Jewish sage s again!
It is plain that the man is satirized, th e folly o f his behaviour exposed ,
his just deserts meted out to him.
Let me repeat. Th e possibilit y tha t th e poem is a parody—critical
and humorous, a comical presentation of genre and fictional character—
could no t have been s o defined i n isolation . Ha d there no t been othe r
indications o f genr e parod y (th e prophet' s call , th e reluctanc e t o
comply, the conflic t betwee n prophe t and king , the God and prophe t
dialogue) an d satir e (th e angr y prophet, hi s unusually pliant foils and
target audience—foreig n sailors , foreig n city, foreig n king) , I would
have been happ y to consider the prayer as an imagined sincere expres -
sion o f a person i n distress. A little incongruous perhaps, a conventio n
borrowed fo r th e purposes o f insertion into a specific fictional context
from a more genera l on e but, nevertheless, wel l grounded in biblica l
traditions and biblical attitudes . As things stand, though, such an inter-
pretation seems to me less than plausible.

Medium and Message

Stylistically, th e poe m introduce s a variet y o f for m int o th e Jona h
story. Compositionally , it allows for a break and heightens the dramatic
tension (Jona h remain s i n th e bell y o f th e fis h fo r th e duration ; w e
readers remain i n suspense) . Hebre w genre s o f poetr y an d prophec y
are parodized. Angr y Hebrew prophets , togethe r wit h quick t o repen t
foreigners and , by implication, the famously obstinate 'Hebrews ' wh o
seldom liste n t o thei r prophets ' cal l t o repent—al l ar e satirized . Th e
question w e finally face is: what is the didactic aim of the entertainin g
Jonah story ? Wha t messag e doe s th e humou r serv e apar t fro m
BRENNER Jonah's Poem ou t o f an d within it s Context 19 1

Jonah is a reluctant messenger, albeit , an d despite himself, a success -

ful one . A s i t transpire s (ch . 4) , hi s reluctanc e stem s fro m a rigi d
sense of justice. He does not want the foreigners t o escape their fate ,
the consequences o f their wicke d behaviour . Jonah , apparently , ha s a
precise lega l min d and believe s i n divinel y meted retribution . It tran-
spires tha t h e i s more extreme , mor e legall y 'just ' tha n the Go d wh o
dispatches him . I n contradistinction , YHWH i s extremel y mercifu l
towards al l creatures . Th e conflic t betwee n th e tw o coexisten t divin e
attributes, justice and mercy/grace (Hebre w hesed\ cf . Exod . 20.5- 6 =
Deut. 5.9-10 ; Exod . 34.6-7 ) i s th e subjec t matte r o f th e story . I n th e
Jonah story , th e tw o attribute s ar e spli t betwee n th e tw o literar y
personae. Jonah embodies the attribute of plain (absolute) justice; God
embodies th e attribut e o f (relative ) mercy/grace . I n th e las t vers e of
the book God says something like 'Ho w can I not forgive the Ninevites
(= everyone) whe n they are s o lost, whe n they are s o numerous, when
they ar e (like ) cattle? ' I n othe r words , huma n folly i s recognize d b y
God (o r s o our autho r claims) fo r wha t it is . YHW H therefor e make s
allowances. H e i s prepare d t o forgive , to b e on th e sid e o f lif e rathe r
than rigi d principle whe n lif e i s a t stake . Th e flimsies t excuse—eve n
repentance motivated by threat, the kind of repentance whose sincerity
is questionable—suffices for Go d t o abando n hi s 'Sea t of Justice' an d
proceed to his 'Sea t o f Mercy' (Yalkut Shim'oni, after Pirke deRabbi
In the book o f Jonah, God's wor d is the final word. In the end Jonah
is rendere d silent . I find it difficul t t o agre e wit h the Lacocque s tha t
Jonah has acquired a 'self; his selfhood is one of expediency, it seems ,
rather tha n ideolog y an d recognition . Jona h does , however , lear n t o
keep quiet when all else fails. Thu s the end is possibly an open end; he
who appeale d t o God directly only when threatened b y fish and water ,
who sorrowe d s o energetically when the qiqayon plan t died an d could
protect him no longer, perhap s remains unconvinced when God applies
to hi m th e sam e treatmen t tha t woul d hav e awaite d th e equall y
frightened gentiles .
So, b y th e en d o f th e story , huma n foll y i s onc e mor e exposed .
Within th e narrative , n o perso n ha s bee n immun e fro m it : prophet ,
sailors, foreigners , th e Hebre w communit y that created th e stor y an d
adopted i t int o it s literar y canon , an y reade r an d an y write r o f th e
established genre s utilized. Only God, whose superior wisdom dictates
benevolence rathe r tha n huma n (sometime s hypocritical ) justice , i s
192 Among the Prophets

depicted a s unperturbed by persona l and seemingl y theological con-

siderations. And therein lies a lesson. To be truly huma n i s to partake
of divinity no t only through orthodox sentiment (see th e poem). To b e
in God's image (Gen. 1.26-27; 5.3), to be sanely judgmental, is to for-
sake legalis m and become understandin g and merciful. Jonah , prayer
and all , remains the butt of the story. His example is certainly not one
to b e followed. W e readers, d o we mostly behave like the messenger
or like his dispatcher? Let us ponder this, but not without smiling.

Brenner, A .
1979 "Th e Languag e o f Jona h a s Criterio n fo r th e Datin g o f th e Book' ,
Beth Miqra 79 : 396-40 5 (Hebrew) .
Carroll, R.P .
1987 'Lampoonin g th e Prophets : Tw o Burlesque s o n Prophecy ' (unpub -
lished pape r read a t the SB L Internationa l Meeting, Heidelberg , 1987) .
1990 'I s Humou r als o amon g th e Prophets?' , i n Y.T . Radda y an d
A. Brenner (eds.) , O n Humour an d th e Comic i n th e Hebrew Bible
(Bible an d Literature Series, 23 ; Sheffield : Almon d Press): 169-89 .
Childs, B.S .
1974 Tlie Book of Exodus (OTL; Philadelphia: Westminste r Press).
Hurvitz, A.
1985 'Original s an d Imitation s i n Biblica l Poetry : A Comparativ e
Examination o f 1 Sam. 2.1-1 0 an d Ps . 113.5-9' , i n A . Kor t an d
S. Morschause r (eds.) , Biblical an d Related Studies Presented t o
Samuel Iwry (Winon a Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns): 115-21 .
Lacocque, A. , an d P.-E . Lacocqu e
1990 Jonah: A Psycho-Religious Approach t o th e Prophet (Columbia :
University o f South Carolina Press).
Magonet, J.
1983 Form an d Meaning: Studies i n Literary Techniques i n the Book o f
Jonah (Bibl e an d Literatur e Series , 8 ; Sheffield : Almon d Pres s
Miles, J.A.
1975 'Laughin g a t th e Bible : Jona h a s Parody' , JQR 65 : 168-8 1 ( = O n
Humour an d th e Comic, 203-15) .
James Nogalski

This paper introduces a seldom recognized catchword phenomenon in the Book of
the Twelve as one clue to understanding its unity and its growth. Nan. 1 is then dis-
cussed a s an example of how the recognition and evaluation of this technique both
aids the interpretation of the text and furnishes insight into the growth of the Book of
the Twelve.

1. Th e Unity o f th e Book o f th e Twelve

Ancient source s provid e incontrovertibl e evidence tha t th e Boo k o f
the Twelve wa s not only transmitted on a single scroll, but counted a s
a singl e book, no t twelve. Jesus ben Sirach, LXX , Qumran, Josephus,
4 Ezra 14 , Baba Bathra 13b-15 a and Jerome al l attest t o the commo n
transmission o f thes e writings. 1 Sir . 49.1 2 supplie s th e earlies t con -
crete reference t o 'Th e Twelve', meaning that they were alread y con -
sidered a corpus by th e beginning of the secon d centur y BCE. 4 Ezra
14 relates Ezra' s inspire d rol e i n th e restoratio n o f th e 2 4 canonica l
books, an d Josephu s (Apion 1.40 ) count s 2 2 books. Whil e thi s dis -
crepancy create s som e uncertaint y over th e precise identit y o f thes e
books, neithe r tota l ca n be reached unles s the Boo k o f th e Twelv e i s
counted a s a singl e book . Jerom e state s thi s unit y explicitly i n th e
introductory remark s t o his translatio n of the prophets. 2 Baba Bathra

1. Se e further th e discussions i n Dale Schneider, Th e Unity o f th e Book of th e

Twelve (Ph D dissertation, Yal e University, 1979), pp . 1-4 ; J. Nogalski, Th e Us e
of Stichworter as a Redactional Unification Technique in the Book of the Twelve
(ThM Thesis , Baptis t Theologica l Seminary , Riischlikon, Switzerland , 1987) ,
pp. 2-3 .
2. 'Incipi t prologus duodecim prophetarum', Biblia Sacra Vulgata, II (Stuttgart:
194 Among the Prophets

13b-15a categorizes th e Twelve differently fro m th e remaining books

in th e Ol d Testament wit h regar d t o th e spac e betwee n th e writings,
and whe n listin g th e orde r o f th e biblica l books , i t refer s t o 'th e
Twelve', an d doe s no t refe r t o th e prophecie s containe d withi n by
name. Th e remainde r o f th e evidenc e i s mor e indirect , bu t never -
theless helps demonstrate conclusively that the mino r prophet s hav e a
long history which places them in a common transmission.
Modern scholarshi p ha s for th e most part ignored thi s evidence, o r
merely give n i t toke n acknowledgment . Th e fe w wh o d o trea t th e
question ten d to regard th e writings as though they had entirely sepa -
rate transmissio n histories , implyin g that onl y th e fina l for m of th e
individual writin g was incorporate d int o th e large r corpus. 1 Onl y a
handful o f scholar s trea t th e growt h o f th e individua l writing s in
connection with the context of the Book of the Twelve.2

Wiirttembergische Bibelanstalt, 1969) , p . 1374. Jerom e say s 'unu m libru m ess e

duodecim prophetarum'.
1. See , fo r example, th e theories of H. Ewald, Die Propheten des Alten Bundes
erklart (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2nd edn, 1868), pp.74-82; F. Delitzsch,
'Wann weissagt e Obadja?' , Zeitschrift fiir lutherische Theologie und Klrche 1 2
(1851), pp . 92-93; U . Cassuto, 'Th e Sequenc e an d Arrangemen t of th e Biblica l
Sections', Biblical an d Oriental Studies, I (Jerusalem : Magnes , 1973) , pp . 5-6 ;
C. Kuhl, Die Entstehung de s Alten Testaments (Bern: Francke, 1953) , pp. 217-18 ;
H.W. Wolff, Dodekapropheton. II. Joel und Amos (BKAT , 14/2 ; Neukirchen :
Neukirchener Verlag , 1977) , pp . 1-2 ; W . Rudolph , Haggai—Sacharja 1-8—
Sacharja 9-14—Maleachi (KAT , 13/4; Giitersloh : Giitersloher Verlagshaus, 1976),
pp. 297-98. Se e also the dissertations b y Schneider and A.Y. Lee, Th e Canonical
Unity o f th e Scroll o f th e Minor Prophets (Ph D dissertation, Baylo r University,
1985). Most recently, th e wor k by P . House (The Unity o f th e Twelve [JSOTSup ,
97; Sheffield : JSO T Press , 1990] ) applies a 'New Literary Critical' approach , and
makes the assumption of one literary form programmatic for his treatmen t
2. C . Steuernagel (Lehrbuch de r Einleitung in das Alten Testament [Tubingen :
Mohr, 1912] , pp . 669-72) believe s section s o f Nahum an d Zech. 9-1 4 wer e adde d
after othe r sections of their respective writing s were already part of the canon. Two
scholars attempte d redactional hypotheses t o explain common transmission which
affected th e shape o f the writing s in the Twelve: K . Budde, 'Ein e folgenschwer e
Redaktion des Zw61fprophetenbuchs',Z4W 3 9 (1921), pp. 218-29; and R.E. Wolfe,
The Editin g of the Book o f the Twelve', ZAW 5 3 (1935), pp. 90-129. However ,
the efforts o f both Budde and Wolfe were seriously marred by the assumptions of the
old source-critical school , an d have not received favorabl e treatment in subsequent
commentaries. Mor e promisin g are the observations o f Blenkinsopp, Weimar an d
Bosshard: J. Blenkinsopp, Prophecy and Canon (Notre Dame: Notr e Dame Press,
1977), pp. 106-108; P. Weimar, 'Obadja : Ein e redaktionskritische Analyse', BN21
NOGALSKI Th e Redactional Shaping ofNahum 1 19 5

A phenomeno n i n th e Boo k o f th e Twelv e exist s tha t ha s no t ye t

been give n the attention i t deserves, namely , the presence o f words a t
the en d o f on e boo k tha t reappea r a t th e beginnin g o f th e next .
Occasionally, scholar s hav e note d tha t catchword s play a role i n th e
order o f som e o f th e writings , but th e definition , exten t an d implica -
tions o f thes e catchword s remain s virtuall y untreated . Th e exten t o f
these catchword s i s considerable . Anywher e from fiv e t o twenty-fiv e
words appear i n tandem between adjacen t writings. The consistency of
this phenomenon i s even more intriguing, in that those places where it
breaks dow n (Jon . 4 ; Zech . 14 ) illumine othe r phenomena . Jona h 4
does no t exhibi t th e catchword s lik e th e endings of th e othe r books ,
but th e long note d secondar y hym n i n Jona h 2 doe s contai n catch -
words t o Micah 1 . Additionally, If Jonah is removed fro m considera -
tion, a stron g connectio n exist s betwee n Obadia h an d Mica h 1 . Th e
end o f Deutero-Zecharia h present s a secon d inconsistenc y i n thi s
catchword phenomenon. Yet while Deutero-Zechariah doe s no t exhibit
the phenomenon, th e end of Proto-Zechariah manifests a strong wor d
connection t o Malachi 1 . Both of these inconsistencie s therefor e rais e
the questio n whethe r thes e section s wer e place d int o a n existin g
Three possible explanation s can b e offere d fo r th e Stichwort con - -
nections. Eac h optio n must be evaluated fo r every 'connection ' sepa -
rately, although some generalizin g helps to clarify th e character o f the
connections. The three options are:

(1985), pp. 94-99; E. Bosshard, 'Beobachtunge n zum Zwolfprophetenbuch', B N 40

(1987), pp. 30-62. Blenkinsopp notes that a number o f the writing s hav e received
substantial additions wit h an eschatological character. Blenkinsopp i s not unique in
noticing thes e additions , bu t he describes the m a s a common characteristi c i n the
literary history of the Book of the Twelve. Blenkinsopp lists several of these addi-
tions, including Amo s 9.11-15, Obad. 16-2 1 an d Zeph. 3.9-20. Weimar briefly con -
siders the question of the growth o f the Twelve from th e perspective of Obadiah. H e
argues that Obadiah must be viewed in light of several redactional levels across the
Book o f th e Twelv e whic h poin t t o a commo n history . Weima r mention s on e
progressive level o f redaction o n the prophetic collectio n whic h produce d literar y
'Querverbindungen' throug h the aid of'Stichwortentsprechungen'. H e suggests tha t
at this level the 'collection' took the shape of a 'book'. Bosshard documents a strong
correlation between the ordering of the writings i n the Book o f the Twelve and th e
structuring theme s and motifs of Isaiah. His observations most certainl y point i n the
direction of a common tradent , and, taken e n bloc, present a striking phenomenon tha t
should be considered carefully .
196 Among the Prophets

1. Accident. Thi s option is the least satisfyin g in most instances ,

because th e phenomenon appears to o frequently, an d becaus e
the existence of broader organizin g principles (chronologica l
order o f the superscriptions, similarity to Isaiah) demonstrates
a thoughtfu l orderin g of most of the writings.
2. Collection. This option argues that a compiler recognize d th e
similar wording , and placed th e completed work s next to one
another. Thi s mode l represent s th e mode l traditionall y
espoused o r presume d fo r th e growt h o f th e Boo k o f th e
Twelve. I t is difficul t t o exclud e fo r ever y catchword , since
one editoria l techniqu e appear s t o have incorporate d previ -
ously existing material into new contexts. Nevertheless, clos e
analysis of th e text often lead s to th e conclusion that on e o r
both of the books receive d significan t additions in light of the
neighboring book, or in light of themes and motifs within the
larger corpus . Man y times th e mos t significan t word s i n a
connection appear i n passage s lon g noted a s 'secondary ' o r
'tertiary' in their respective contexts . One logical assumption
is that the secondary portion was added to unite two or mor e
3. Redaction. Thi s optio n provides th e best mode l fo r treatin g
the text s as a whole. It asks whether the appearance o f thes e
catchwords, particularl y i n thos e passage s whic h ar e liter -
arily suspect , shoul d be approached a s deliberate change s t o
the tex t i n vie w o f th e contex t of th e Book of th e Twelve .
Indeed, significan t catchword s ofte n tak e on considerabl e
importance whe n viewe d a s par t o f larger , programmatic -
work o n th e propheti c texts . Th e intentiona l reworkin g o f
material fro m a n expanded literary contex t often provide s a
plausible explanation for troublesom e synta x and pericopes.
The recognition of variou s techniques for unitin g these texts
helps to explain a large numbe r of the common words . Such
techniques include redactional notes withi n existing contexts ,
incorporation o f pre-existin g material , fre e composition ,
redactional frame s an d superscriptions . Man y word s an d
phrases traditionall y treated a s text-critical problem s tak e on
greater significanc e whe n viewe d fro m a redactiona l an d
literary perspective .
NOGALSKI Th e Redactional Shaping o f Nahum 1 19 7

2. Nahum 1 as Example
A cursor y treatmen t o f Nahum 1 will exemplify this catchword tech -
nique. The phenomenon itself i s readily demonstrable , sinc e Nahum 1
shares a t least thirtee n differen t word s with Mic. 7.8-20. ' The words ,
both nomina l an d verbal , rang e fro m thos e whic h ar e relativel y
common, suc h as 'river', to those whic h are quite uncommon, particu -
larly i n prophetic literature , suc h a s Bashan an d Carme l i n th e sam e
The chapte r ma y b e safel y divide d int o thre e sections : th e super -
scription (1.1) ; th e semi-acrosti c theophanic hym n (1.2-8) ; an d th e
remainder o f th e chapte r (1.9-14) . Clos e inspectio n o f th e Hebre w
suffixes an d addressee s i n th e las t sectio n mak e i t difficul t t o vie w
these verses a s an inherent unity. The remainder of the chapter ca n be
further divide d int o fou r subsections : th e literar y transitio n fro m th e
poem t o the Nineveh material (1.9-10); the accusation against Nineveh
that originall y opened th e corpus (1.11) ; a reworke d oracl e o f relie f
for Zio n (1.12-13) ; YHWH' s announcement o f the imminen t burial of
the king of Assyria (1.14).
There ar e goo d reason s fo r arguin g tha t a redacto r ha s expande d
earlier materia l i n l.ll-12a , 14 . Recent studies on the composition of
Nahum arrive a t the conclusion that Nahum did not obtain its final form
until th e postexili c period. 2 Ther e i s stron g evidenc e tha t th e poe m
(1.2-8) and its transition (1.9-10) are postexilic accretions. The remain-
der o f th e chapte r (1.11 , 12-14 ) blend s wit h 2.1- 3 (Eng. 1.15-2.2 )

1. Thos e word s i n common between Nah . 1 and Mic . 7.8-20 are: 'enemies '
(Nah. 1.2 , 8 ; Mic. 7.8, 10) ; 'anger ' (Nah . 1.3, 6; Mic. 7.18); 'dust ' (Nah . 1.3 ; Mic .
7.17); 'sea ' (Nah . 1.4 ; Mic . 7.12); 'rivers ' (Nah . 1.4; Mic . 7.12); 'Bashan ' (Nah .
1.4; Mic. 7.14); 'Carmel ' (Nah . 1.4; Mic. 7.14); 'mountains ' (Nah . 1.5 ; Mic . 7.12);
'land' (Nah . 1.5 ; Mic . 7.13); 'inhabitants ' (Nah . 1.5; Mic. 7.13) ; 'day ' (Nah . 1.6 ;
Mic. 7.11); 'passin g over' (Nah . 1.8; Mic. 7.18); 'darkness ' (Nah . 1.8; Mic. 7.8) .
2. Se e especially J . Jeremias (Kultprophetie und Gerichtsverkiindigung i n dec
spaten Konigszeit Israels [WMANT, 35; Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag, 1970]) ,
who argues there was a pre-exilic core to Nahum which received a postexilic expan -
sion; and the more radical view s of H. Schulz (Das Buch Nahum: Eine redaktion-
skritische Untersuchung [BZAW , 129 ; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1973]) , who views th e
entire book as a postexilic composition. Most recently K. Seybold (Profane Prophetic:
Studien zum Buch Nahum [Stuttgarte r Bibelstudien, 135 ; Stuttgart : Katholisches
Bibelwerk, 1989]) date s th e unit s differently tha n Jeremias , bu t agree s wit h him
insofar as he also finds evidence of a pre-exilic core and exilic and postexilic additions.
198 Among the Prophets

and expand s a n earlie r structure . Th e earlie r structur e include d a

parallel cor e inside a redactional frame. Chapters 2- 3 manifes t a well-
documented parallel structure . The rol e o f 1.11 , 12 a and 1 4 as redac -
tional fram e for th e early corpu s has no t been noted , ye t its functio n
as inclusio wit h 3.15b-17, 18-1 9 i s readil y demonstrabl e a s note d i n
the followin g chart (wher e A = th e earl y redactiona l fram e an d B =
the parallel core):
A1 1. 1 l-12a: The numerical strength of Nineveh will not deliver it
from destructio n
A2 1.14 : The preparation of the grave of the king of Assyria
B 2.4-14 : (Eng. 2.3-13) Firs t description of Nineveh's destruction
B' 3.1-15 : Second description of Nineveh's destructio n
A1 3.16-17 : The numerical strength of Nineveh will not deliver it fro m
A2 3.18-19 : Mocking funeral dirg e at the grave of the king of Assyria

The late r accretion s (1.12b , 13 ; 2.1-3 ) blen d allusion s an d quote s

from Isaia h 5 2 as promises t o Zion and Judah. 1 Similar Isaiani c allu-
sions i n th e literar y transitio n in 1.9-1 0 rais e th e likelihoo d tha t th e
redactional han d responsible fo r thes e allusion s is th e sam e on e tha t
incorporated th e semi-acrosti c poe m i n 1.2-8. 2 Al l of these observa -
tions, whe n taken together, reinforc e the belief tha t the semi-acrostic
poem i n Nah . 1.2- 8 wa s a pre-existin g hymn tha t ha s bee n redac -
tionally incorporate d int o the corpus. Th e fac t tha t the catchwords t o
Mic. 7.8-20 appear in the hymn deserves consideration.
The semi-acrosti c poe m i s broke n i n fou r places . Eac h o f thes e
places contain significant words , which also appear in Micah 7, raising
the question o f whether this repetition is intentional. Recent literatur e
tends t o relativiz e the acrosti c elements. A general consensu s exist s
that regards th e hymn as never having extended beyond the first half
of th e alphabet . A reactio n t o earlie r theorie s o f radica l emendatio n
attempting to reconstruct the entire poem along acrostic lines , a s well
as an increasing respect fo r the integrity of the MT, has cause d textua l
corruption t o al l but disappea r as a n explanation for th e brea k i n th e
acrostic characte r o f th e poem . Th e textua l corruptio n mode l ha s

1. Nah . 2.1 quote s Isa . 52.7 . I n additio n t o th e herald formul a of Isa. 52.7 ,
Nah. 1.12-1 3 contains other allusions to Isa. 5 2 as well. There Zio n is admonished
to shake her bonds from he r neck (Isa. 52.2; cf. Nah 1.13), and reference is made to
the oppression/affliction o f Assyria (Isa. 52.4; cf. Nah. 1.12).
2. Compar e Nah. 1.9-10 with the anti-Assyrian polemic in Isa. 10.15-19 .
NOGALSKI Th e Redactional Shaping o f Nahum 1 19 9

virtually bee n replace d b y a widel y atteste d opinio n tha t th e hym n

should be understood as only loosely semi-acrostic in nature. 1
The presuppositions of this relativization shoul d be challenged. Th e
presuppositions, whic h ar e sometime s state d explicitly , concer n th e
style o f th e poe m an d th e natur e of composition . Proponent s believ e
the acrosti c techniqu e i s onl y one o f severa l stylisti c devices Nahu m
uses, and that he was so creative that he was not slavishly boun d to one
single devic e suc h as an acrostic pattern . Thi s relativizatio n assume s
the acrosti c poe m a s it stands in the MT represents th e author' s wor k
in its pristine state. I n response t o these assumptions, it should be noted
that th e firs t assumptio n treat s th e creatio n o f acrosti c poetr y to o
casually. The creatio n o f suc h poetry require s considerabl e delibera -
tion and creativity . I t is highly improbabl e tha t a poet would deliber -
ately choos e t o write a poem tha t is nearly acrostic . B y contrast , a n
acrostic onc e recorded i s a subtle device which could readily b e over-
looked o r ignored by someone desirin g the poem fo r another purpose .
The secon d presuppositio n does no t conside r full y th e possibility tha t
the inconsistencies in the acrostic ar e deliberate change s to the poem .
Indeed whe n viewe d fro m thi s perspectiv e (withi n the fram e o f th e
catchword phenomenon) , thes e inconsistencie s tak e o n considerabl e
In th e cas e o f Nah . 1.2-8 , thi s relativizatio n is unwarranted . Th e
breaks i n th e acrosti c patter n can be explained plausibly as deliberat e
alterations t o a pre-existing poem. Th e easiest disruptio n to explain is
the presenc e o f th e i in th e • • line . Someone incognizan t of th e acrosti c
nature of the poem woul d have readily added th e i to conform the text
to more typica l syntax.
The additio n o f th e tw o bicol a betwee n th e K an d a line s ca n b e
explained fro m th e contex t o f th e Boo k o f th e Twelve. Nah . 1.2b-3 a
introduces thematic elements that run counter to the main body o f th e
acrostic poem , namel y th e dela y o f YHWH' s vengeance . Thi s dela y
functions meaningfull y whe n one understands Nahum's position in the
Book o f th e Twelve . Nahu m function s a s representativ e o f th e
prophetic messag e durin g the Assyria n oppression. I n additio n t o th e

1. Suc h as J. De Vries, The Acrosti c of Nahum in the Jerusalem Liturgy' , VT

16 (1966), pp. 476-81; and R. Smith, Hosea-Micah (WBC , 32; Waco, TX : Word
Books, 1984), pp. 71-72. By way of contrast, see D.L. Christensen, The Acrosti c of
Nahum Reconsidered', Z4W87 (1975), pp. 17-30. Christensen offer s a reconstruc -
tion based on syllable count that too nearly approaches the old emendation attempts.
200 Among th e Prophets

basic theme (destruction of Nineveh), its position following Micah and

preceding Habakku k i s appropriat e fo r thi s function . Th e dela y i n
1.2b-3a b y n o mean s reflect s th e lac k o f fait h tha t YHW H woul d
overthrow Assyria . O n the contrar y it i s better understoo d a s a theo -
logical reflectio n upo n historica l reality . YHW H wil l ultimately brin g
judgment upon his enemies. I n addition, the phrases i n this expansion
quote and adapt Joel 2.1 3 and 4.21.
The redactor ha s worked differently i n the t line . Those no t opting
for th e flexibilit y o f a loos e acrosti c devic e hav e bee n satisfied with
either one of two suggestions for emendation, bu t both pose consider -
able difficulties. 1 I t makes good sense t o suppose tha t a redactor either
changed th e firs t hal f o f th e n lin e o n th e basi s o f Mic . 7.1 4 o r
inserted a n entirely ne w lin e int o the context . Th e pairin g o f Carme l
and Basha n is not common, appearing only twice elsewhere (Isa . 33.9 ;
Jer. 50.19) , bot h time s i n th e contex t o f Assyria n oppression . Thi s
makes it difficul t t o believe tha t the two words appea r accidentall y i n
adjacent passage s i n th e Boo k o f th e Twelve , particularl y i n ligh t of
the fact that Nah. 1.4 breaks the acrostic pattern. Other stylisti c observa-
tions distinguis h thi s half-verse from th e remainder of the poem. 2

1. Th e presence of V^nt* breaks the acrostic, leading to the argument that V?1?! was
original. However, LXX never translates "T^T with oXiyoco, but does use oXiyoto with
y?aK (Joe l 1.10,12) . The second verb, e^eXucev, does not necessarily impl y another
text, sinc e it can be used fo r ^Q K (cf . Isa. 38.14) . Th e Vulgat e likewise use s tw o
different word s ('infirmatus' and 'elanguit'), but this likely relates to the two differen t
subjects. Some , e.g . D.L . Christensen (Transformations o f th e Wa r Oracle in Old
Testament Prophecy: Studies i n the Oracles against th e Nations (HDR ; Missoula ,
MT: Scholars Press, 1975], pp. 168-69) , hav e suggested tha t the verb was originally
3«i, but it is difficult t o perceive how these consonants could have been confused to
the point of becoming V^DK, and it could not easily explain the reading in LXX.
2. I n addition to the acrostic interruption , several observation s se t this line apart
literarily, making plausible the suggestion that this entire line has been substituted for
one that did not adequately serv e th e redactor's purpose . First , thi s line is the only
line i n the entire poe m containin g no referenc e to YHWH . Secondly , th e entitie s
Carmel, Bashan and Lebanon are not intrinsic to Old Testament theophani c material.
Thirdly, the passiv e us e o f "^DK stand s out fro m th e active verb s elsewher e i n th e
hymn, giving this line a situational character, rather than one that depicts th e reaction
to YHWH's appearance. Fourthly , the reference to the withering of Bashan, Carme l
and Lebano n tak e u p literar y tradition s appearing elsewhere . Scholar s typicall y
interpret th e witherin g o f thes e thre e area s onl y via tradition s associatin g thes e
regions wit h fertility. However, thi s interpretation ignores two essential element s o f
the metaphor: the political and the literary.
NOGALSKI Th e Redactional Shaping ofNahum 1 20 1

Three possibl e explanation s present themselve s fo r th e T line. Th e

most commo n explanation argues for th e presumed dislocation o f *isb
from elsewher e i n th e sentence . Simultaneousl y most argu e that th e
form wa s originall y VJD 8?. Th e proble m wit h this proposa l i s tha t i t
offers n o rea l explanatio n a s t o ho w th e wor d becam e transposed .
More likel y i s a grammatical correction . Th e ver b i& u i n the qal can
take a direct objec t without a preposition, an d be used in the sens e of
'to stan d before'. 1 A late r han d unaware of th e acrosti c coul d ver y
conceivably have added th e preposition to conform to more common
constructions o f "\ns. A third alternative suggests th e insertion o f th e
phrase 'al l its inhabitants' in the preceding line could have accounte d
for th e dislocatio n an d th e chang e from ns 1? to "•)&*?. Th e deletio n o f
the phrase , an d the change to ns^, improve s th e parallelism. 2 The
presence 'al l it s inhabitants ' ca n b e explaine d in ligh t of Mic . 7.13 ,
where th e phras e appear s i n simila r form . Thi s suggestio n i s les s
probable than the simple grammatical change, but still well within th e
realm o f possibility .
Thus, not only can all four interruptions of the acrostic be explained
as deliberat e changes , bu t a t leas t tw o an d possibl y thre e ar e bes t
understood as the work of a redactor operatin g from a broade r literar y
perspective. This broader perspectiv e demands brief treatment .

3. The Function ofNahum within the Book of th e Twelve

A brief surve y of Nahum's structur e and literar y history confir m tha t
its position an d function i n th e Boo k of the Twelve has been create d
with considerable deliberation . Th e selection o f Nahum in its curren t
position, a s alread y noted , coincide s wel l withi n th e historicall y
oriented literar y framewor k of th e Boo k o f the Twelve , eve n thoug h
it does not contain the typically Deuteronomistic superscriptions statin g
the chronology , whic h themselve s probabl y represen t a n earlie r

1. Fo r example , Gen . 19.27 ; Jer . 48.11 ; Hab . 3.11 ; Exod . 33.9 ; Josh . 20.4 .
Many of these constructions also have theophanic elements present in the context.
2. Th e phrase would then have read originally, 'And the land is lifted u p before
him (vMta) , and the world before him (vjB 1?)'.
3. Compar e Hos . 1.1 ; Amos 1.1 ; Mic. 1.1 ; Zeph. 1.1 . Similar Deuteronomistic
superscriptions that lack reference t o the ruling king(s) appear in Joel 1.1 , Jon. 1.1 ,
Hag. 1. 1 an d Zech . 1. 1 ar e relate d stylisticall y t o on e another , an d probabl y
202 Among the Prophets

The structur e of Nahu m i n it s expande d form, whic h incorporates

the semi-acrostic poem, fits a structural pattern beginning in Micah and
extending through Habbakkuk. This pattern helps explain the selection
of th e theophani c hym n i n it s curren t position . Micah , i n it s lates t
structural development , begin s wit h a theophani c portraya l (1.2-5) ,
and ends with a lament (7.1-7 [8-20]). Nahum also commence s wit h a
theophanic portraya l an d conclude s wit h a wo e oracl e an d mockin g
lament. Habakkuk starts with a compositional lament and finishes with
a theophani c portraya l whic h share s vocabular y an d outlook , t o a
certain extent, to Nahum 1.
The inserte d redactiona l allusion s to Joel in Nah. 1.2b-3 a coincid e
with th e sam e phenomeno n in Nah. 3. 1 Sab, 16b , an d indicat e a con -
siderable probabilit y tha t Nahum entered th e corpu s simultaneousl y
with, or subsequently to, Joel. Th e dating of Joel in the Persian perio d
(at least i n the form containing Joel 4) suggests tha t the Nahum corpus
entered th e large r corpu s afte r 400 , an d no t close r t o th e tim e o f
In summary , the catchword phenomenon is one facet that should be
borne i n mind whe n treating the writings of the Book o f the Twelve .
In th e cas e o f Nahum , thi s phenomeno n simultaneousl y afford s a
rationale fo r th e presenc e o f th e acrosti c poe m an d unlock s insights
into the interruption of the acrostic pattern.

experienced similar transmission histories. They als o date the prophet's message by
reference to the reign of a specific king.


Genesis Exodus 28.13 121

1 134 1.16 136 28.18 122
1.26-27 192 2.5 165 28.39 120, 121
2.4-9 96 3.3 74 29.1 122
2.7 134 3.6-4.14 166 29.12 123
3 88 14 166 29.13 122
5.3 192 14.5 165 29.40 122
9.25 95 14.10 168 30.23 122
9.5 124 15 185 30.24 122
10 117 15.8 107 30.25 122
10.2 118 15.10 107, 123 31.11 122
10.3 118 15.14-16 167 31.18 120
10.7 118 15.19 107 33.9 201
12.3 65 17.15 120 34 159, 161
14.18 122 19.4 58 34.6-7 160, 191
15.1 123 20.5-6 191 34.6 148
16.6-7 165 23.27 167 34.7 161
18 98 24.12 120 34.22 122
19.5-9 98 25.26 121 35.11 120, 121
19 98 25.31 122 35.28 122
19.27 201 26 121 36.20 120
27-43 165 26.1 120 37.29 122
28.18 122 26.11 121 39.11 122
31 165 26.15 120 39.28 120
31.1-2 165 26.19 121 39.33 120
31.4-11 166 26.21 121 40.5 121
31. 7b 165 26.25 121 40.18 120
31.29a 165 26.27 121 40.19 121
31.31 165 26.32 121 40.26 121
31.43-55 166 26.36 120
35.8 123 27 121 Leviticus
35.14 122 27.2-4 121 2.1 122
37.25 124 27.9 120 2.6 122
43.11 124 28.6-22 121 2.11 124
28.6 120 4.7 123
204 Among the Prophets

5.15 122 5.9-10 191 10.5b-ll 171

8.2 122 6.3 124 10.6 173, 181
8.9 121 6.10 172 10.7 173, 181
9.2 122 7.1 96 10.8 167, 173,
10.9 122 9.1-2 170 174, 181
14.4 120 9.1 172 10.9-1 la 173, 181
14.49 120 11.9 124 10.9 174
16.3 122 11.24 117 10.10 167, 169,
16.5 122 21.18 14 170
20.24 124 22.21 98 10.11 169, 170
21.20 122 22.24 98 lO.llb 173, 175,
23.13 122 23.1 50 181
24.17 124 26.9 124 10.12-14 171, 181
26.15 124 10.15 171, 173,
Numbers 27.5 120 181
3.36 120 27.20 50 10.16-26 171
4 121 28.23 120 10.16 170
4.6 120 28.26 56, 57 10.17 169
4.11 121 28.48 120 10.19 181
4.13 121 28.63 43,49 10.20 169, 170,
4.31 120 30.9 43 182
7 122 32.11 57, 58 10.22-25 182
7.15 122 32.18 73 10.24 111
8.4 121 32.39 135 10.25 177, 178
9.6 124 33.2 75 10.26 170, 182
9.7 124 33.25 120 10.27 169, 171
15.5 122 33.29 123 182
15.7 122 11.17 117
15.10 122 Joshua 12.7 117
15.38 120 1.4 117 13.5 117
19.6 120 3.10 96 20.4 201
19.11 124 5.1 45 24.11 96
19.13 124 6.19 120
21.8-9 120 6.24 120 Judges
21.9 121 9.1 117 3.3 117
28.14 122 10 175, 176, 3.9 168
31.7 57 178 3.15 168
31.40 124 10.1-27 164, 169, 4.3 168
31.46 124 180 4.15 167
31.55 124 10. 1-5 a 171 5 185
10.1-2 172 5.4 75
Deuteronomy 10.2 169, 170 5.8 122
1.7 117 10.2a 172 6.6-7 168
1.28 172 10.3-4 172, 180 6.11-24 74
3.11 120 10.4 170 6.37 124
3.25 117 10.5 173 9.15 117
4.13 120 10.5a 172, 180 9.21 165
4.32-38 169 10.5b 180 10.10 168
Index of References 205
20.18 167 23.3 123 14.24 145
14.25-27 145
Ruth 1 Kings 14.26-27 147
2.12 58 1-2 185 14.26 148
3.9 50 1.39 123 14.27 146
1.50 123 16.14 121
1 Samuel 2.28 123 17 148
1.14 122 5.13(4.33) 56 17.7-18 98
2.1-10 185 5.13 117 18.4 121
2.1 123, 156 5.20 117 19.21 56
2.6 135 5.23 117 19.23 117
2.10 123 5.28 117 19.31 56
4.7-8 167 6.7 120 19.32 122
14.18 167 6.18 120 22.5 120
14.41-42 167 6.20 121 25.17 121
16.1 123 6.30 121
16.13 123 7.2 117 I Chronicles
17.5-6 121 7.14-16 121 1 117
17.5 123 7.36 120 1.5 118
17.12 58 7.47 121 1.6 118
17.38 121 7.48 121 1.9 118
17.44 56 8.64 121 1.32 118
17.46 56 10.1 118 4.21 120
19-27 165 10.4 118 5.20 168
19.10 165 10.10 118 5.21 124
19.12 165 10.13 118 9.29 122
19.18 165 10.17 117, 123 15.27 120
21.10 165 10.21 117 16.27 123
22.17 165 11.12 165 18.8 121
23.2 167 11.40 165 22.3 121
24 166 12.18 121 22.14 120
26 166 13.4 166 22.16 120
27.4 165 14.26 123 25.5 123
14.27 123 29.2 120
2 Samuel 17.3 166
1.21 122 17.17-24 135 2 Chronicles
1.23 56 18.4a 166 1.5-6 121
2.6 136 18.4b-14 166 2.6 120
5.23 167 19.2 166 2.7 117
13 165 19.3 166 2.13 120
15.14 165 2.15 117
20 185 2 Kings 3.5 119
21-24 185 5.7 135 3.6 120
21.10 56-58 12.6-13 120 3.14 120, 121
22 185 4.1 121
22.3 123 14 146, 147, 6.13 121
22.31 123 149 7.7 121
22.36 123 14.9 117 9.1 118
206 Among the Prophets

9.3 118 18.31 123 72.16 117

9.9 118 18.36 123 76.4 122
9.12 118 19.6 43,49 76.13 107
9.16 117, 123 21.6 123 77.4 185
9.20 117 22.3 185 77.12 185
13.14 168 22.5 185 79.2 56
19.18 174 24 74 84 184
25.18 117 28.7 123 84.10 123
26.14 123 29.4 123 84.12 123
32.30 168 29.5-6 117 86.13 135
34.10 120 29.5 120 88.6(5) 133
30.4(3) 135 88.8 185
Ezra 30.10 185 88.18 185
3.7 117, 120 31.7 185 89.19 123
14 193 31.23 185 89.28 107
33.20 123 90.16 123
Nehemiah 35.2 123 91.4 58
4.10 123 35.9 43 92.13 117, 120
36.8(7) 58 93.4 107
Esther 40.17 43 96.6 123
1.6 120 42.7 185 97.5 45
4.11 136 42.8 185 102.16 107
6.1 121 45.4 123 102.22(21) 56
8.15 120, 121 45.5 123 104.1 75
46.3-4 107 104.16 117
Job 46.3 107 107.5 185
6.19 117 47.10 123 107.22 185
10.16 58 48.8 107. 117 110.2 123
12.7 56 50.9 122 111.3 123
14.26 123 51.20(18) 56 113.3 185
24.19-20 105 57.2(1) 139 115.9 123
28.2-8 56 57.5(4) 139 115.10 123
28.18 124 57.7(b) 139 115.11 123
31.34 44 59.12 123 116.17 185
35.11 56 61.5(4) 58 118.5 185
38.39-41 56 63.8(7) 58 118.27 123
39.21 43,49 66.15 122 119.14 43
40.10 123 68.3 45 119.114 123
41.7 123 68.4 43 119.162 43
68.16 117 120.5 117
Psalms 68.23 117 124.4-5 139
2.2 107 69 184 124.7 139
3.4 123 69.2 185 128.5 56
7.11 123 69.3 106 130.1 106, 185
8.6 123 69.15 106 131.2 73
17.8 58 70.5 43 132.17 123
18 185 72.10 117, 124 133.2 122
18.3 123 72.15 117 135.15 121
Index o f References 20 7

135.21 5 6 1.5-8(9 )1 3 5.1 2 16,25,27 ,

138.4 10 7 1.5- 63 7 29,3 2
142.4 18 5 1.50- 62 5 5.12 a1 6
142.23-31 18 5 1. 63 3 5.12b-13 a1 5
143.3-4 7 8 1. 7 14,2 5 5.1 3 16,26,2 9
143.4 18 5 1. 8 18.3 3 5.1 6 29,3 2
144.2 12 3 1. 9 13,9 8 5.18-1 9 15-1 7
145.5 12 3 1.10-1 51 3 5.1 8 15,16,25 ,
145.12 12 3 1.1 0 13 , 14, 16, 3 7
147.12 5 6 17,26,3 2 5.1 9 15-17,23 ,
148.10 5 6 1.11-1 5 29,3 7 25,27,29 ,
148.11 107 1.1 1 122 32,3 6
149.9 12 3 1.1 43 7 5.2 0 15,16,26 ,
1.15 3 32 9
Proverbs 1.16-2 0 13,1 4 5.2 1 15,26,2 9
2.7 12 3 1.16-1 71 6 5.2 2 15,27,2 8
5.15-20 5 0 1.1 6 13,3 7 5.23-2 41 5
6.11 12 3 1.1 73 7 5.2 33 7
9.13-18 5 0 1.1 8 13,1 6 5.2 4 14,16,17 ,
24.7 12 4 1.19-2 0 14,2 6 25,26,32 ,
24.34 12 3 1.1 9 14 , 17, 18, 3 7
30.5 12 3 23 , 25-27 5.29-3 05 7
1.20 13,14,1 7 6.1-1 3 18,21,22 ,
Canticles 1.2 19 7 24,26,30 ,
1.5 11 7 2.2- 45 2 35,36,4 0
3.9 11 7 2. 25 2 6.1- 7 19,22,24 ,
4.4 12 2 2. 35 6 25, 28,29,
4.6 11 7 2.7- 83 2 36,3 7
4.8 11 7 2.1 0 12 3 6. 1 19,22,2 4
4.11 11 7 2.1 3 11 7 6. 3 19,22,3 7
4.15 5 0 2.1 9 12 3 6. 42 2
5.15 11 7 2.2 1 12 3 6. 5 19,21,22 ,
7.5 11 7 3. 81 4 24,25,3 7
8.5 7 4 4. 35 6 6. 62 4
4.4 5 6 6. 7 21,22,2 9
Isaiah 5. 51 6 6. 8 19,21,22 ,
1-39 12,13,37 . 5.8-2 4 14,16-18 ,2 7
39,40 24-26,28 - 6.9-1 3 12,24,2 5
1.2-20 13,16-18 , 33,37,4 0 6.9-1 0 23,28,35 ,
24-27,29, 5.8-1 0 15 36
30,32,33, 5. 8 16,2 5 6. 9 12 , 18, 19,
37, 40 5. 9 16,25,2 7 21,23,2 5
1.2-4 12,1 4 5.11-1 71 5 6.1 0 18,19,23 ,
1.2-3 1 4 5.11-1 2 16,27,28 , 25,33,35 ,
1.2 13,14,2 13 23 7
1.3 16,25,2 7 5.11-12 a1 5 6.11-1 31 8
1.4 13,14,16 , 5.1 1 27,16 7 6.11-1 22 5
17,25,37 5.12-1 3 15,1 6 6.1 3 12 3
208 Among th e Prophets

7.1-9 45 21.5 122 28.15 19, 27, 30,

7.1-6 47 21.11-12 105 38
7.8-9 168 22.1-8a 16 28.17 19, 38
8.1-4 . 51 22.6 122 28.17b-18 38
8.5-8 42, 51 22.8b-14 16-18,24, 28.17b-19 21
8.6-8 49, 50, 52 25, 27, 30- 28.18 19, 22, 27
8.6-7 51, 52 33,40 28.19 19-21, 27
8.6 42-46, 48- 22.8b-ll 16 28.21 21, 22, 27
52 22.8b 31 28.22 19,21,22,
8.7 44, 45, 49 22.11 16, 17, 27, 27, 38
8.8 50-52 29, 31, 32 28.22a 21
8.17 33 22. lib 31 28.23-29 19,21,22,
9.2 43 22.12-14 16 27
9.7 47 22.12-13 38 28.26 19,21,26
10.1-4 15 22.13 16, 27, 28, 28.27-28 21
10.5 149 122 28.29 19,21,22,
10.6 47 22.14 16, 17,27 27
10.12 56 23.2-3 107 29.7 57
10.15-19 198 24.23 56 29.8 57
10.18 44 24.33 56 29.9-16 22, 24, 28,
10.32 56 27.8 107 30, 35, 36,
10.34 117 28.1-29 19, 24, 26- 40
11.15 107 28, 30, 35, 29.9-12 22, 28
13-23 105 36, 40 29.9-11 36
13.2 120 28.1-8 19, 21,27 29.9-10 36
13.5 149 28.1-4 37 29.9a 23
14 106 28.1 27 29. 9b 23
14.1 141 28.2-4 19, 20 29.9 35
14.8 117, 120 28.2 19, 20, 38 29.10 23, 35
14.9-11 125 28.5 37 29.11 22, 28
14.9 107 28.7-8 27-29 29.13-16 22
14.11 107, 121 28.7 27, 32, 38 29.13-14 22
14.12 107 28.9-29 22 29.13 22, 29, 30
14.13 37, 107 28.9-13 19,21,22, 29.14-16 22
14.15 107, 110, 36 29.14 22, 29, 30
116 28.9-11 20 29.15-16 22, 29
14.18 107 28.9-10 20 29.15 22, 29, 30
14.19 107 28.9 19-21, 26 29.16 22, 29
16.10 122 28.9a 19,20 29.17-21 34-36, 39,
17.1-6 45 28.9b-10 19, 20 40
17.4-5 33 28.11-13 20 29.17-18 36
17.7-8 30-33, 41 28.11 19-22, 28, 29.17 34, 35, 117
17.7 31 34 29.18-19 31, 34
17.12 107 28.12 19, 20, 26 29.18 35
17.13 107 28.13 20, 28 29.19-21 35
18.2 107 28.14-22 19, 20, 22, 29.19 35
18.3 120 37 29.20-21 34
18.6 56 28.14 19, 22, 38 29.20 38
Index o f References 20 9

29.21 37 31.9 56 38.13 58

29.22-24 30-33, 4 0 32.1-8 34, 35 , 37, 48.14 200
29.22 31, 3 3 39,40 40-66 78, 8 1
29.23 32 32.1-2 34, 3 8 40-55 13
29.24 31, 3 2 32.3 34-36 40.8 63
30.1-7 17 32.4-8 34 40.9 56, 7 0
30.1 14, 17 , 29, 32.4 35, 3 6 40.10 75
38 32.6-8 38 40.16 117
30.1-2 17 32.6-7 35 41.18 73
30.3-7 17 32.6 36, 3 8 41.27 56
30.3-5 33 32.7-8 38 42.1 68
30.3 33 33.7 37 42.6 68
30.5 33 33.9 39, 1 17, 20 0 42.7 64, 6 8
30.7 28 33.17-24 34, 36 , 38 - 42.14 72, 73 , 79,
30.8-17 17, 18,24 , 40 81
27, 30-33 , 33.17-19 34 42.18-20 64
40 33.17 36 42.19 68
30.8-14 17 33.18 35 43.8 64
30.8 17 33.19 20, 3 4 43.24 65, 12 2
30.9-16 29 33.20-21 34 44.14 120, 12 3
30.9-11 28, 3 2 33.20 37, 5 6 45.23 77
30.9 14, 17 , 18 , 33.21 38 46.3-4 73, 8 1
26 33.22 34, 3 6 48.1 77
30.10-14 17 33.24 34, 36 , 3 7 48.8 14
30.10-11 17 34 39 49.1-6 60, 62, 67,
30.11 17 34.3 45 68
30.12 17 34.6 122 49.1 62, 6 5
30.13-14 17 34.8 39 49.2 63, 68 , 70
30.13 17,22 35 35, 3 9 49.3 64, 6 7
30.14 33 35.1-7 36 49.4 64, 65, 68,
30.15-17 17 35.1-2 34 69
30.15 17, 18 , 26 - 35.1 43 49.5 64, 6 7
28 35.2 35, 117 , 12 3 49.6 64, 65, 67,
30.16 27 35.3-4 34 68
30.17 18, 3 3 35.4 39 49.8 68
30.18-26 30-33, 39 , 35.5-6 34, 36, 41 49.13-14 80
40 35.5-6a 34 49.14-15 81
30.18-19 33, 3 4 35.5 35, 3 9 49.15 73
30.19 56 35.6 35 49.23 70
30.20-21 33 35.6b-7 34 50.1-3 70
30.20 33 35.8-10 34 50.2 107
30.22 37 35.8 37, 3 8 50.4-9 60, 6 6
30.26 25, 3 3 35.9 39 50.4-5 66
30.28 107 37.22 56 50.6-9 65
31.1-3 24 37.24 117 50.7 67
31.4-5 55-59 37.32 56 50.8 68
31.5 73 37.33 122 50.9 67
31.8-9 39 38.13-14 56 50.10 68
210 Among the Prophets

50.11 67, 68 63.3 77 18.17 107

51.2 71 63.4 80 19.5 97
51.4 68 63.5 78-80 19.7 56
51.6 68 63.6 81 20.9 166
51.9 71 63.9 72, 8 0 20.10 166
51.10 106 63.10 81 22.6 117
51.12-16 70 64.9(10) 56 22.20 117
51.13 68, 6 9 65.5 22.23 117
51.14 69, 70, 76 65.19 25.23 118
51.16 68, 7 0 66.7-9 50 25.38 58
52 198 66.9 72, 79 , 81 26 166
52.1 56 66.10-14 42, 43, 49, 26.18 56
52.2 56, 19 8 50,52 26.21 165, 16 6
52.4 198 66.10-11 49 27.11 141
52.7 70, 19 8 66.10 44,50,51 32.35 97
52.8 75 66.13 73 32.41 43
53 81 66.19 118 33.22 43
54.7-8 72 34.20 56
54.12 124 Jeremiah 37.14-15 166
52.13 69, 7 1 1.1-2 166 39.4 165
52.14 70 1.4-8 166 46-5 1 105
52.15 70, 7 1 1.5 68 46.3 122
53 60, 62, 69, 1.9-10 70 46.4 123
70 1.10 68, 13 7 46.9 122
53.1 71 1.13-14 133 46.11 124
53.2 71 2.20 76,97 48.11 201
53.3 69 2.34 97 48.12 76
53.4 68 3.2 97 48.25 123
53.5 71 3.6 97 48.33 122
53.8 69 3.13 14 49.19 58
53.10 69, 7 1 3.19 96 49.36 107
53.11 69 3.20 97 50.2 120
53.12 69 3.24 97 50.19 200
54.16 124 7.31 97 50.44 58
55.10-11 63 7.33 56, 5 7 51.1 107
57.8 97 8.22 124 51.7 122
59.16 78, 7 9 9.9(10) 56 51.8 124
59.17 123 9.12 14 51.12 120
60.13 117 10.9 120, 12 1 51.40 122
61 71 12.4 56 51.35 56
62.5 43,49,51 12.8-9 56
62.11-12 80 12.9 56 Lamentations
63 72,76 15.3 56 1.15 77, 7 9
63.1-6 72, 73, 79 16.4 56 1.17 56
63.1-2 79 18 151 2.10 56
63.1 74-77, 7 9 18.7-9 68 2.13 56
63.2 74, 76, 77 18.7-8 150 3.10 58
63.3-6 77 18.14 117 4.12 107
Index o f References 21 1
Eiekiel 16.40 90, 98 , UK ) 26.7 98
1.7 121 16.41 90, 10 0 27 105-107,
3.1-3 134 16.43 90, 92, 93 114, 116 -
9.2 121 16.44 90, 91, 93, 19, 123,
9.16 134 94, 10 0 125, 13 6
11.1-13 134 16.45 90 27.3 106, 107,
11.4-12 137 16.46 90,95 114, 12 6
16.1 85, 87, 93 16.47 91,93 27.4 106, 107,
16.2 87, 93, 96 16.48 91-93 114, 11 5
16.3 87, 90, 93, 16.49 91, 98 , 10 3 27.5-11 116
95 16.51 91,92,99 27.5-7 114
16.4 87 16.52 91 27.5 116, 117,
16.5 87 16.53 86,91,99 119, 12 0
16.6 85, 88 , 90 16.54 91,92 27.6 106, 117,
16.7 85, 87, 94, 16.55 91 119, 120,
96 16.56 91 123
16.8 50, 87, 92, 16.57 86 27.7 117, 119-2 1
96, 10 1 16.58 91,93 27.8-11 114
16.9 88 16.59 91-93 27.8 107
16.10 88 16.60 92,97 27.9-24 115
16.12 88 16.61 86, 92, 95, 27.9 107, 11 5
16.14 87, 88, 93 103 27.9b-24 115
16.15 85, 88, 93 16.62 92, 93, 95, 27.9b 114
16.16 88,94 99, 100 , 103 27.10 118, 122,
16.17 88,94 16.63 85, 92, 93 123
16.18 88 17.2 117 27.11 114, 11 8
16.19 88,93 17.10 107 27.12-24 114
16.20 88, 9 5 17.13-19 97, 10 1 27.12-23 116
16.21 88, 8 9 17.17 98 27.12 115, 117,
16.22 87, 88 , 92 17.23 (LXX) 56 118, 120,
16.23 86, 89, 93 19.12 107 121, 12 3
16.24 86 20.10-26 100 27.13 115, 117,
16.25 88, 8 9 20.37 97 118, 121,
16.26 88, 8 9 21.16(11) 134 124
16.27 89 23.3 97 27.14 115, 117-1 9
16.28 88, 8 9 23.6 120 27.15 115, 118,
16.29 86, 88 , 8 9 23.8 97 119, 123,
16.30 88 23.10 134 124
16.31 88 23.11 97 27.16 115, 119,
16.32 89 23.12 97 120, 122,
16.33 88 23.24 123 124
16.34 88, 89, 93 23.47 134 27.17 115, 122,
16.35 89, 93, 94 25-32 105 124
16.36 89, 90, 93, 25 105 27.18 115, 118,
97 25.12 86 122, 12 4
16.37 89, 90, 94 25.13 118 27.19 115, 117,
16.38 90,97 26.1-28.19 106 118, 12 2
16.39 90, 98 26.6 98 27.20 118
212 Among th e Prophets

27.21 115, 117, 34.25 97 37.10 128, 131,

122 36.5 86 132, 134,
27.22 115, 117, 36.16-32 134 141
118, 120-22 36.23-38 140 37.11-14 128, 129,
27.23 115-18 36.24-28 140 131
27.24 115, 119, 36.24 140, 141 37.11-13 139, 141
120 36.26-28 138 37.11 128, 129,
27.25-26 107 36.27 127, 139-42 131, 133,
27.25 114 36.36 137 135, 136,
27.26-27 115 37.1-14 127, 128, 138, 139
27.26 106, 107 134, 135, 37.11b-13a 135
27.27 98, 106, 137, 140 37.12-14 129, 139,
107, 115 37.1-10 127, 129, 141
27.28 107, 115 130, 135, 37.12-13 128, 131,
27.29-36 125 138 132, 136,
27.29 107, 116 37.1-13 140, 141 138
27.32 106 37.1b-8a 129-31 37.122 132, 133
27.33 107, 115 37.1-3 129, 130 37.13b-14 139
27.33-34 106 37.1-2 128 37.14 128, 131,
27.34 98 37.1 129, 132, 132, 134,
27.34 107, 115 141 136, 138,
27.35 107, 118 37.1b-2 129-31 140, 141
27.36 115 37.2-6 128 37.15-23 140
28 106, 136 37.2 129-33, 138 37.16 134
28.12 107 37.3-10 128 37.19 134
28.133 120, 122 37.3-8 128 37.211 133, 134
28.17 107 37.3 131, 135 37.24-28 140
28.19 116 37.3a 129, 130 37.24 140
29 136 37.3b 130 37.26 97
29.5 56 37.4-8a 129. 130 38.4 98, 122
29.21 123 37.4-6 130 38.5 122, 123
30.18 98 37.4 129-31, 38.6 117
31 106 133, 138, 38 7 98
31.3 107, 117, 141 38.133 98
120 37.5-6 131, 132 38.155 98
31.6 56 37.5 129-32, 136 38 20 56
31.12 107 37.6 132, 136, 394 56
31.13 56, 58, 107 141, 138, 39.17 56
31.14-17 107 140 39.18 122
31.15 117, 125 37.7b-8a 131 40.3 121
31.16 107 37.7 128-30, 132 43.15 123
32 136 37.8 128, 130, 43.23 122
32.2 107 132, 141 43.25 122
32.3 98 37.8b-10 129-32 44.7 97
32.4 56, 58 37.9-10 128, 129, 44.17 124
32.22 98 133 44.21 122
32.26 118 37.9 128, 130- 45.13 122
33.10 136 32, 134 45.24 122
Index of References 213

46.5 122 1.12 200 169, 170,

46.6 122 1.20 161 175
46.7 122 2.1 161 1.4a 173
46.11 122 2.12-14 161 1.5 167, 170,
46.14 122 2.13-14 160 172, 173
2.13 200 1.6 151, 168,
Daniel 2.14 155, 161 173, 181
2.38 56 2.15-17 161 1.7-10 173
4.12(9) 56 2.19 161 1.10 169, 170,
4.14(11) 56 3.5(2.32) 56 174
4.21(18) 56 4 202 1.11-14 174
7.15-16 75 4.13 79 1.11 167
8.17 78 4.16(3.16) 56 1.12 156, 169,
8.27 78 4.17(3.17) 56 170
10.6 121 4.21 200 1.13 167
1.15-16 181
Hosea Amos 1.15 156, 170,
1.1 201 1.1 201 173, 175
1.2 97 1.2 56 1.16 169, 170,
2.2 96 3.4-5 56 175
2.18-25 161 3.14 123 1.17-2.10 171, 176,
2.18 56 4.11 98 181
2.23 73 5.6 148 2 156, 195
2.24 161 6.4 147 2.1 151, 169
2.25 70 6.13 147 2.2 156, 186,
4.3 56 7.9 146 187
4.13 123 7.11-13 166 2.3-10 183, 184,
4.18 123 7.11 146 189
5.14 58 9.11-15 195 2.3-4 145
6.5 137 2.3 185
11.10 58 Obadiah 2.4 107, 163,
13-14 161 16-21 195 170, 175,
13.1-6 161 185
13.7-11 161 Jonah 2.5 184, 185
13.7 58 1-2 151, 163, 2.6-7 177
13.8 58 168, 169 2.6 170, 172,
13.12-15 161 1.1-2.2 186 185
13.15-14.1 161 1.1 172, 180, 2.7 177, 185
13.15 107 201 2.8 184, 185
14.2-4 161 1.2 153, 169, 2.9 177, 184-86
14.3 160 172, 180 2.10 152, 156,
14.5-9 161 1.3 170, 172, 171, 184,
14.5 160 180 185, 187
14.6-8 117 1.3b-4a 180 2.11 153, 187
1.4-16 171 3-4 144, 149,
Joel 1.4-15 173 152, 171
1.1 201 1.4-11 181 3.1 156
1.10 200 1.4 151, 167, 3.2-5 181
214 Among the Prophets

3.2-3 172 1.1 201 1.12b, 1 3 198

3.3-4 153 1.2-5 202 1.13 198, 20 1
3.4 145, 15 3 1.4 45 1.14 197, 19 8
3.5 153 2.9 123 2-3 198
3.5-10 154 3.10 56 2.1-3 197, 19 8
3.5-8 147 3.12 56 2.1 198
3.5a 182 4.2 56 2.4-14 198
3.6-10 182 4.8 56 2.4 122
3.6 155, 17 7 7 198 3.8 107
3.7-8 111 7.1-7 202 3.1-15 198
3.8-9 178 7.8-20 197, 198 , 3.15b-19 198
3.8 155 202 3.16-17 198
3.8-4.2 160 7.8 197 3.15ab, 16 b 202
3.9 148, 151, 7.10 197 3.18-19 198
154, 155 , 7.11 197
177 7.12 197 Habakkuk
3.10 145, 148 , 7.13 197 2.17 117
156, 157 , 7.14 197, 20 0 3.3 75
159 7.17 197 3.4 123
4 168, 191 , 7.18-20 160, 16 3 3.11 201
195 7.18 163, 19 7
4.1 149, 15 3 7.19 163 Zephaniah
4.2-6 154 7.20 163 1.1 201
4.2-3 154 3.9-20 195
4.2 148, 153, Nahiim 3.9 63
157, 165, 1 193, 197 , 3.14 56
170 201 3.17 43, 49
4.3 154, 15 8 1.1 197
4.5 152, 15 5 1.2-8 197-99 Haggoi
4.6 153, 155 , 1.2-3 160 1.1 201
158 1.2 197
4.7-9 159 1.2b-3a 199, 200, Zechariah
4.7-8 170, 18 2 202 1.1 201
4.7 151, 155 , 1.3-4 163 1.14 56
158 1.3 163, 19 7 1.17 56
4.8 107, 151, 1.4 117, 197, 4.10 123
155, 15 7 200 6.1 121
4.9 158 1.5 197 8.3 56
4.10-11 157, 15 9 1.6 197 9-14 194
4.10 153, 157, .181 197 9.9 56
158 1.9-14 197 10.10 117
4.11 147, 148 , 1.9-10 197, 19 8 11.1 117
157, 158, 1.ll-12a 197, 19 8 14 195
171, 172, 1.11 197 14.12 57
182 1.11 197
1.12-14 197 Malaclii
Micah 1.12-13 197, 19 8 1 195
1 195 1.12 198
Index of References 215


Apocrypha Ancient Nea r Eastern Text s pp. 139-4 0 11 2
Sirach Amduat (Brcmner-Rhin d p. 14 5 11 3
49.12 19 3 Papyrus, e d E . Hornung ) p. 15 4 11 4
p. 2, p. 154 , 11 . 7- 8 11 4
New Testament title, 11. 7- 9 10 9 p. 15 6 10 8
John p. 1 7 11 3 p. 16 7 11 0
15.133 73 p. 33 , 1.58 110 , 11 3 pp. 180-8 1 11 3
p. 33 , 1.76 11 0 pp. 180-81 ,
Revelation pp. 55-5 6 11 3 11. 8-9 11 3
19.13-15 8 2 p. 64 , 11 . 2- 6 11 0 p. 181 ,
19.15 7 7 p. 6 4 10 9 11. 18-1 9 113 , 11 4
p. 64, 1.6 11 0 p. 18 4 11 0
Josephus p. 7 1 11 0 p. 184 , 1. 5 11 3
Apion p. 7 4 11 3 p. 186,1 . 7 10 9
1.40 19 3 p. 8 6 108 , 10 9 p. 18 9 109 , 11 3
p. 9 8 11 0 p. 19 1 11 3
Rabbinic Literature p. 98 , 11 . 3-1 1 11 0
b. B. Bat. p. 10 1 11 3 Baal 2.i (CML,
13b-15a 19 3 p. 10 4 11 1 pp. 40-43 ) 10 7
p. 11 6 10 9
b. Ber. p. 11 8 11 3 Descent of I star
7a 14 6 p. 12 1 11 1 11. 28-3 7 12 5
p. 122 , 11. 4- 6 11 1
b. Sab. p. 12 5 10 9 UT
51a 14 6 p- 125 , 68 12 4
11. 11-1 2 11 1 129 12 4
T. d. Eliyy. p. 12 7 11 1 137 12 4
17 14 6 p. 127 , 2106.1-2 12 4
11.5-8 11 1 2102.6 11 9
p. 12 8 11 1
pp. 131-3 2 11 2 UT 'nt 111
p. 132 , 11. 6-9 11 2 1-2 12 4
p. 13 2 11 2

Abravanel, I. 145 , 149 , 15 7 Christensen, D.L . 179 , 199 , 20 0

Ackermann, J.S . 147 , 154 , 15 5 Clark, D.R. 100 , 10 3
Alexander, T.D . 166 , 17 9 Clements, R.E. 13,44,45,49,53,61 ,
Alonso Schokel, L. 60 , 72, 74, 76, 81 64
Al-Qumisi, D. 15 0 Clines, D . 60-6 2
Alshekh, M . 14 6 Cogan, M . 146 , 14 7
Alter, A . 14 7 Cohn, G.H . 151 , 152 , 154 , 15 5
Cooke, G.A . 11 5
Baltzer, D . 132 , 134 , 138-4 0 Craigie, P.C. 13 0
BartMlemy, D. 44 , 46, 52
Bartelmus, R . 13 9 Daly, M . 7 3
Beaugency, E . de 156 , 15 7 Darr, K.P . 151 , 15 6
Ben-Yosef, LA . 175 , 17 9 Davidson, A.B. 7 8
Bertholet, A . 13 8 Delitzsch, F . 76 , 194
Beuken, W. 49 , 52 Dijk, H.J . van 106 , 107 , 114 , 118 , 119 ,
Bickerman, E. 146 , 151 , 156 , 157 124
Blenkinsopp, J. 150 , 151 , 194 , 19 5 Dozeman, T.B . 148 , 15 5
Bonnard, P.-E . 76-78 , 8 0 Duhm, B. 44 , 45, 53, 66, 74, 78
Bosshard, E. 194 , 19 5
Box, G.H . 74 , 75, 78 Eagleton, T. 147 , 15 9
Braude. W.G . 14 6 Eichrodt, W. 94 , 96-98, 100 , 10 3
Bredenkamp, C.J . 44 , 45, 52 Elat, M . 11 8
Brenner, A . 70 , 19 2 Even-Shosham, A . 7 6
Brock, S . 48 , 5 2 Ewald, H . 19 4
Brockington, L.H . 10 6 Exum, J.C . 5 6
Brownlee, W.H . 4 6
Broylcs, C.C. 13 5 Fey, R . 5 7
Brueggemann, W. 49 , 52 Finkelstein, L . 43 , 53
Budde, K . 45 , 52 , 19 4 Fishbane, M . 89 , 90, 96, 101-103 , 128 ,
Burden, J.J . 10 3 129, 132 , 141 , 14 8
Burrows, M. 46 , 52 Fohrer, G . 57 , 13 8
Fox, M.V . 136 , 137 , 14 1
Calvin,J. 8 2 Fretheim, T.E . 14 9
Carroll, R.P . 183 , 184 , 19 2 Friedman, R.E . 145 , 15 3
Cassuto, U . 19 4 Fuhs, H.F. 85 , 86, 88, 94, 96, 99, 101 ,
Childs, B.S. 49 , 53, 148 , 185 , 19 2 103
Cheyne, T.K. 75 , 76, 79 Fullerton, K. 45 , 5 3
Index of Authors 217
Gallico, P . 13 7 Lacocque, A . 151 , 155 , 158 , 162 , 164 ,
Garner, D.W . 94 , 10 3 170, 17 9
Garscha, J . 138-4 0 Lacocque, P.-E . 162 , 183 , 19 2
Gershom, Lev i be n 14 6 Lack, R. 49 , 5 3
Gese, H . 14 9 Lakoff, G . 14 5
Gesenius, W. 43 , 53, 76 Lambert, W.G . 5 9
Geyer, J.B . 10 5 Lang, B . 85 , 100 , 10 4
Giesebrecht, F . 44 , 45, 53 Lee, Y.A . 19 4
Good, E.M . 145 , 15 3 Leichty, E. 5 9
Gosse, B . 10 7 Lemke, W.E. 84 , 85, 104 , 13 0
Gowan, D.E . 84 , 10 3 Levenson, J.D . 14 7
Graffy, A . 138 , 13 9 Levine, B. 6 9
Greenberg, M . 85-92 , 94-98 , 103 , 10 4 Licht, J. 147 , 14 8
Greenstein, E . 14 7 Lindblom, J. 20 , 45, 53 , 137
Gr0nba2k, J.H . 168 , 17 9 Loades, A . 7 3
Lohfink, N . 15 2
Halpern, B . 147 , 15 3 Le Roux , J.H . 89 , 100 , 10 4
Hanson, P.D . 15 0 Lowth, R . 7 5
Mauser, A.J . 15 7 Luc, A . 94 , 101 , 103 , 10 4
Hermisson, H.J . 65 , 67
Hitzig, F. 44,45,5 3 McCarthy, D.J . 150 , 15 2
Ho'ffken, P . 130 , 132 , 134 , 14 1 McFague, S. 72 , 73, 81 , 82
Holladay, W.L. 43 , 53 McKane, W. 12 4
Hossfeld, F . 134 , 135 , 138-4 1 McKeating, H . 87 , 10 4
House, P. 159 , 19 4 McKenzie, J.L . 74 , 75, 78
Hurvitz, A . 183 , 186 , 19 2 Magonet, J. 146 , 150 , 154 , 164 , 166 ,
174, 180 , 183 , 185 , 19 2
Illman, K.-J . 135 , 13 6 Margalit, B. 6 3
Irvine, S. 42,51,5 3 Marti, K . 45 , 5 3
May, H.C . 10 6
Jacobsen, T. 151 , 168 , 17 9 Mayes, A.D.H . 13 5
Jahn, G . 13 8 Mayo, J . 101 , 10 4
Jastrow, M. 49 , 53 Meredino, R.P . 61 , 63, 67
Jepsen, A . 153 , 15 4 Middleton, D.F . 7 3
Jeremias, J . 19 7 Miles, J.A . 147 , 184 , 188 , 189 , 19 2
Jones, G.H . 167 , 169 , 17 9
Newsom, C.A. 13 6
Kaiser, O . 20 , 44, 53, 57 Nogalski, J . 159 , 19 3
Kang, S.-M . 166-69 , 17 9 Odeberg, H . 49 , 5 3
Kapstein, I.J . 14 6
Kellermann, U . 97 , 10 4 Paton-Williams, P. 6 4
Kermode, A . 14 7 Parunak, H . va n dyke 100, 101 , 104 ,
Klein, H. 45 , 53 128, 129 , 13 2
Kuan, J.K . 11 9 Presho, C. 100 , 10 4
Klein, R.W . 13 7 Polk, T . 6 4
KraSovec, J. 13 5 Preminger, A . 14 7
Kuhl, C . 19 4 Prinsloo, W.S. 10 3
218 Among the Prophets
Rabenan, K . vo n 87 , 92, 100 , 10 4 Swanepoel, M.G . 95 , 10 4
Rad, G. vo n 167 , 168 , 18 0 Sweeney, M.A . 49 , 54
Rembaum, J.E . 6 2
Rendtorff, R . 13,49,54 , 131 Tadmor, H . 146 , 14 7
Rignell, L.C. 51,5 4 Talmon, S . 14 0
Rudolph, W. 43 , 54 , 153 , 19 4 Trever, J.C . 4 6
Ruether, R.R . 73 , 8 1 Trible, P . 73 , 81
Russell, L.M . 7 3
Vermeylen, J . 49 , 5 4
Sasson, J.M . 164 , 166 , 168 , 170 , 174 , Vries, J. de 19 9
177, 18 0
Sawyer, J.F.A. 61 , 70, 78, 81 , 82 Watkins, F.C. 12 7
Schmidt, L . 146 , 15 0 Weber, R . 48 , 54
Schneider, D . 159 , 193 , 19 4 Weimer, P. 19 4
Schoors, A . 5 7 Weinfeld, M . 166 , 175 , 18 0
Schroeder, O . 5 4 Westermann, C. 74 , 75, 79, 80 , 82, 129
Schulz, H . 19 7 Wevers, J.W . 86-88 , 90 , 98, 100 , 104 ,
Selms, A . vo n 124 , 12 5 138
Seybold, K . 19 7 Whybray, R.N . 65 , 68, 74, 77, 78, 8 0
Skinner, J . 76 , 78, 80 , 82 Wilcox, P. 6 4
Slotki, I.W . 8 1 Wildberger, H . 44 , 45, 54 , 57
Smith, G.A. 75 , 81 , 82 Wolff, H.W . 145 , 147 , 150-53 , 174 ,
Smith, R.P. 58 , 19 9 180, 19 4
Sperber, A . 47 , 5 4 Wolfe, R.E . 19 4
Sperling, S.D . 15 0
Steck, O.H . 49 , 54 , 70 Ziegler, J. 47 , 5 4
Sternberg, M . 156 , 166 , 18 0 Zimmerli, W. 85 , 87-92, 95 , 100 , 102 ,
Steuernagel, C . 19 4 104, 106 , 114 , 129 , 134 , 137 ,
Stewart, S. 144 , 145 , 15 2 138-41
Stuhlmueller, C. 61 , 74

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