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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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111 CHAPTER FIVE THE BIRTH OF ZION’S CHILDREN Zion asks a perplexing question in Isa 49:21: “Who has borne ( ) for me these?” How could a mother not be aware of giving birth to her children? Scholars usually try to explain this incongruity as an expression of mother Zion’s confusion or forgetfulness, but I submit that in the context of Isa 49:14- 26, the implied answer is that it is YHWH rather than Zion who gave birth to the children. This may sound incredulous, but the logic of the metaphor is grounded in and governed by Zion theology. The basic tenet of Zion theology is that YHWH is the creator of the world, and this is evidenced by DI’s extensive descriptions of YHWH as the maker of Israel, the one who forms the servant/Jacob in the womb (43:1, 7, 21; 44:2, 21, 24; 45:11; 49:5). While such creation often uses the imagery of pottery, DI also employs the metaphor of birth for the return of the people from exile, e.g., in 42:14, YHWH saves the people like a woman in labor ( ), and in 46:3-4, YHWH carries Israel from the womb to old age. Reliance on Zion theology means that YHWH defeats Israel’s enemies like the forces of chaos, (re)establishes YHWH’s city, and (re)creates her inhabitants. Such divine creation is depicted by the metaphor of a birthing mother, which also highlights YHWH’s constant care and compassionate effort to give the oppressed people...

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