The Hebrew Prophets Are Filled With Varied Imagery And

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The Hebrew prophets are filled with varied imagery and language, from the colorful language of the visions Ezekiel’s Temple (Ez. 40-48), to the literary techniques of judgement oracles (Isa. 13), to the laments of Jeremiah (Jer. 12). However, no other rhetorical device should cause its audiences, both original and modern, to squirm with discomfort more than the prophetic metaphors that speak negatively of feminine sexuality and propagate misogynistic abuse towards women. These metaphors, graphic and violent, often portray the people of Israel as dishonored, sexually promiscuous women who have shamed their husbands. As an African-American woman and Old Testament scholar, Renita J. Weems deals with these difficult metaphors to understand…show more content…
An attitude of patriarchy places a high expectation on the oldest male in the household as the authority of the household, his wife (or wives) included. With this, a woman’s sexual experience was owned by the man in authority over her. Any illicit sexual activity of a woman under the authority of a man would have been a slight towards the patriarchal expectations and would be considered shameful for the man, his household, and the woman involved. As a result, ancient society would have expected the husband to act violently in response to any such dishonor put brought upon him by his wife. With these cultural mores in mind, the Prophets’ choice in a marriage metaphor would have been a valuable tool in their rhetorical aim. Weems states:
After all, marriage and family norms were central to maintaining and perpetuating Israel’s Patriarchal culture, and dismantling the marriage relationship, as surely a wife’s adultery threatened to do, posed a threat to every patriarchal household… [the prophets] attempted to find an angle of vision that could tap into the most cherished interests and values of their audience.

However, Weems argues that the shocking part of these metaphors is not the misogynistic violence towards the women. Instead, it is the prophetic connection between the actions of Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem and the actions of these culturally dishonorable women. The prophet’s undoubtedly

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