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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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71 CHAPTER FOUR MOTHER ZION’S INNOCENCE Most scholars attribute Zion’s destruction to her own idolatry and foreign alliances. Kamila Blessing writes that “it is noteworthy that all of the texts which make use of the mother-city metaphor demonstrate that guilt is the source of the desolation,” and Galambush believes that “condemnation of the city’s ‘adultery’ is virtually the only reason the metaphor is employed in depicting the cities of Israel.” Regarding Zion in DI, Galambush notes that “Daughter Zion” has been punished with bereavement of her children (51:18), forced drunkenness (51:17, 21-22), shameful widowhood (54:4), and God’s anger.1 Yet, other scholars such as Leland E. Wilshire, John F. A. Sawyer, Knud Jeppesen, Willey, Darr, and Dille argue for Zion’s innocence in DI.2 Wilshire and Sawyer identify mother Zion with the servant figure and point out that both are innocent. I will not enter into the debate of the identity of the servant but will only discuss his comparison with Zion. Wilshire points out, among other things, that just as the Servant is depicted as a vicarious sufferer (53:9), so Zion as a cult-center is an innocent representative sufferer for the people. He writes: The idea that Jerusalem has served its sentence and received “double for its sins” (40:2) is unique to this passage and is difficult to interpret. The word for sin (hatta’t) is not used elsewhere in Deutero-Isaiah to refer to Zion-Jerusalem and is found in this book only in a few references to...

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