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Metaphor and Masculinity in Hosea

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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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130 Metaphor and Masculinity in Hosea Analysis of Natural Phenomena Imagery With the nature imagery, YHWH is more frequently the subject than is Ephraim. The largest set of images in this category is water. YHWH ap- pears as the one who causes rain in 5:10, 6:3, and 10:12, and possibly 2:25. As the one able to control the rain, YHWH shows ultimate pow- er.165 YHWH acts like the dew in 14:6, providing nourishment for the young plant Israel. Most of these references are positive, though 5:10 represents YHWH‘s presumably justified wrath. Israel/Ephraim is only pictured as clouds and dew, and not very good ones at that, because they dissipate early without giving much moisture. Their action and power disperses into the air without result. Their king is carried away by water in 10:7, shown thus as passive and powerless. YHWH is also likened to the wind, exercising judgment on the people and the land and drying up and sweeping them away. This wind is powerful and active, unpredictable and unable to be controlled. The people are the objects of this wind, unable to resist. The imagery as a whole shows YHWH to be in control of nature, using it to enforce his judgment on the people, whereas the people are generally subject to the forces of nature, unable to stand up against their power. When humans are portrayed as natural substances, it is as transitory phenomena. The dew passively condenses out of...

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