A Metaphor for Zion Theology
The figure of Zion has attracted much feminist attention, with the literature either defending or criticizing YHWH’s violent treatment of YHWH’s metaphorical wife. Those who want to salvage the prophets’ theological message from its patriarchal medium point out that Zion is an adulteress spouse who deserves to be punished because, after all, she represents the idolatrous and faithless people of Judah. However, it is seldom recognized that Deutero-Isaiah (henceforth, DI) uses the metaphor of Zion differently because not only does he not condemn her, but he asserts her innocence and puts the blame on her people. This is undeniaby clear in Isa 50:1: “For your (the people’s) transgressions, your mother was sent away.” In his message of restoration, DI makes abundant reference to the people’s sin, albeit in a context of forgiveness, but he never points his finger at mother Zion except to defend her. It is the mother’s innocent suffering that evokes the readers’ empathy and that leads to YHWH’s promises of restoration. She is the focal point of YHWH’s reign and the exiles’ return. On what basis, then, does DI diverge from the usual prophetic condemnation of woman Zion? The answer to this question depends not just on a study of the prophetic imagery of personified Zion but also on a closer understanding of the Book of Isaiah itself, specifically regarding the theme of Zion. Recent scholarly interest in Isaianic studies has shifted away from the identity and role of the suffering servant to the feminine figure...
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