Yhwh, Israel and the Gods in the metaphorical language usage of the Book of Jeremiah.
Author(s)Boshoff, Andries Jonathan.
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AbstractThesis (Ph.D.)-University of Durban-Westville, 2000.
This study consists of three main aspects. Firstly, an overview of the major theories of
metaphor as proposed during the past two millennia was given. The overview concluded
with a summary of the most important aspects, which should be considered in the
interpretation of metaphor. It was Indicated that the conceptual theory of metaphor
provides an effective definition to identify and interpret metaphors.
Secondly, the most prominent problems pertaining to the exegesis of the book of Jeremiah,
which could influence the interpretation of metaphors, were identified and discussed. In
the light of these problems, a canonical approach of the book of Jeremiah was opted for in
order to focus on the theological significance of expressions, and passages.
Thirdly, the diction and metaphorical concepts pertaining to the relationship between
YHWH, Israel and the gods were identified. Selected terms, names/epithets of gods, and
worship details were discussed in order to compile a picture of the nature and extent of the
idolatrous involvement of Israel. Occurrences of these expressions elsewhere in the OT,
and information from extra-Biblical and archaeological sources were examined in order to
glean information for the interpretation of metaphors. Selected metaphors referring to the
gods were analysed, as well as the Jeremianic marriage metaphor.
This study showed that metaphor is the only way in which the devotee cognitively can
understand and experience the divine, and ultimately express himself/herself religiously.
The analyses of metaphors and related terminology indicated that the ANE theological
worldview constitutes an important factor in the interpretation of these metaphors. The
other deities were denigrated in pejorative language to the status of non-gods by the
Yahwistic prophet/author(s), and described as lifeless, worthless deceptions that are of no
benefit to Israel. In contrast, YHWH is exalted e.g. as the caring Husband, Leader,
Advisor and Rainmaker, the true, living God and King, worthy of his status and the
worshipping of Israel. Israel is described in accusatory language as the guilty party, and as
sufferer under the punitive measures of YHWH. The Yahwistic interpretation entailed that
Israel's involvement in idolatrous activities caused the fall of the Judean kingdom and the
exile. In this, YHWH is depicted as the Punisher who is actively involved in Israel's
disastrous circumstances and who employs nations to serve his goal. However, He was
also actively involved in preparations of a new future for the remnant of Israel.
It was concluded that the polemic against the other gods in the poetry was directed mainly
towards the images representing the deities, as well as the alliances formed by Israel with
foreign political powers and their gods. The images of the other gods and the foreign
powers were regarded as intruders in YHWH's territory, and as third parties meddling in
his relationship with Israel. The worthlessness of the other gods was viewed against the
ANE concept, namely that a deity worthy his status must provide security, agricultural
blessings and guidance to the devotees in his territory. Against this background, YHWH is
celebrated by the Yahwists as the incomparable, one and only, true and living God who is
worthy of his status as deity and is capable of helping Israel. Israel is called upon to trust
in Him to secure their future, and not in mortal beings and their human-made idols.