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Mother Zion in Deutero-Isaiah

A Metaphor for Zion Theology


Maggie Low

Mother Zion in Deutero-Isaiah: A Metaphor for Zion Theology offers the unique perspective that personified mother Zion in Deutero-Isaiah is not just a metaphor used for a rhetorical purpose but a cognitive metaphor representing Zion theology, a central theme in the Book of Isaiah. The author deftly combines the methods of metaphor theory and intertextuality to explain the vital but often overlooked conundrum that Zion in Deutero-Isaiah is an innocent mother, unlike the adulterous wife in other prophetic books. This interpretation offers a vital corrective to the view of women in the biblical context. As a result of this usage, Deutero-Isaiah paradoxically presents Yahweh the Creator as the one who gives birth to the people, not mother Zion. This understanding explains the concentration of gynomorphic imagery used for God in this prophetic book, providing a counterbalance to patriarchal perspectives of God. Finally, a fresh insight is offered into the ongoing debate between universalism and nationalism in Deutero-Isaiah, based on the premise that as a symbol of Zion theology, mother Zion represents Yahweh’s universal sovereignty rather than a nationalistic ethnicity. Mother Zion in Deutero-Isaiah is an invaluable resource in courses that deal with issues in Isaiah, biblical interpretation, and feminist hermeneutics, especially regarding the feminine personification of Zion and the maternal imagery of God.


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53 CHAPTER THREE A SURVEY OF PERSONIFIED ZION: PEOPLE OR PLACE? This chapter will explore the personification of Zion as a woman in its ancient Near Eastern context and survey its usage in the prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible. Since my study seeks to determine how DI transforms previous ideas about Zion, only the corpora that he alludes to as discussed in Chapter One (i.e., Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Lamentations, PI, and DI) will be covered. After exploring the possible origins for the female personification of cities in the first part, the main focus will be on the target of the metaphor and the issue of her culpability, both of which will be shown to vary in the different literature. In Jeremiah and Ezekiel, she is the people who are indicted for their sins; in Lamentations, she represents both the city and the inhabitants and so, both are held guilty for their destruction; and finally in PI and DI, she is YHWH’s dwelling place with the blame directed only at her rebellious citizenry rather than at God’s royal city. I. ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN CONTEXT The phrase bat-PN (where PN is the name of a city or nation) is generally understood as an appositional genitive, referring not to the daughter of some city but to the city itself, i.e., it is better translated as “daughter Zion” rather than “daughter of Zion.”1 This is despite a recent attempt to revive the objective genitive intepretation by Michael H. Floyd, who argues that the...

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