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Metaphor and Masculinity in Hosea


Susan E. Haddox

The metaphors in Hosea are rich and varied, comprising both gendered and non-gendered image fields. This book examines the use of metaphor in Hosea through the lens of masculinity studies, which provides a means to elucidate connections between the images and to analyze their cumulative rhetorical effect. The rhetoric of both the gendered and non-gendered imagery is analyzed using a model from cognitive anthropology, which divides social space along three axes: activity, potency, and goodness. People use metaphors to position and to move one another within this space. These axes reveal how the metaphors in Hosea rhetorically relate the audience, represented by Ephraim/Israel, and YHWH to a particular construction of masculinity. Hosea uses the imagery of Assyrian treaty curses to reinforce YHWH’s masculinity and dominance, while undermining the masculinity of the audience. The rhetoric of the text attempts to bring the audience into an appropriately subordinate position with respect to YHWH and to shape its members’ actions and attitudes accordingly.


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Natural Phenomena Imagery 127


Predications of Non-Gender-Based Imagery 127 as more protection from the sun and from herbivores. The water in this case is provided by YHWH, who acts as dew for them. All of the activity is thus under the control of YHWH, who can provide or withhold the moisture necessary for growth. Because YHWH is overseeing the growth, it moves in the right direction, towards goodness. YHWH is identified as a cypress, a symbol of strength and majesty. While the cypress is not particularly active, it does represent strength. This tree also provides fruit for Ephraim, showing not only its power to sustain life, but also its positive care. The references to plants not attributed to Ephraim or YHWH also show interesting features. They are relatively active and almost personi- fied. The poison weeds break out, the thorns and thistles grow up over tents and altars. They appear powerful, in that neither the tents/altars, nor the people supposedly caring for them are able to stop them. Pre- sumably the people have been taken away, but even so, they lack the ability to protect their homes, possessions, and religious sites. While the actions of these plants carry out YHWH‘s judgment on Ephraim, the im- ages themselves are quite negative. Natural Phenomena Imagery Several images drawn from the inanimate natural world signify YHWH and Israel/Ephraim throughout Hosea. The most common is water and dew, which is quite understandable in a dry land. Other images are re- lated to light and wind. Most of...

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