Gender-Specific Language of the Major Prophets in The Hebrew Bible: The Case of the First and Second Isaiah

By Iulia O. Basu-Zharku
2011, Vol. 3 No. 02 | pg. 1/1

Prophecy is one of the most important institutions in the Hebrew Bible. The prophet is regarded as the voice of the Lord, bringing God’s will and commandments to the people who often forget to follow the rigors of the Law. The prophets have, also, designated roles. Some are advisors to the king (in the way Samuel advises Saul and Nathan advises David), sometimes even admonishing the monarch. Others are mendicants, unattached to a specific court and living off of what people give them. They travel extensively, prophesize the word of God, and they also perform symbolic actions (Elijah and Ahijah are examples of mendicant prophets). The used by the prophets might differ but at times it is similar and makes use of specific terms, motifs and metaphors. In this context, I consider that one of its most interesting characteristics consists in the gendered associations used particularly in the books of the Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

The three Major Prophets arise at a turning point in the Judean history, and cover the pre-exilic time, during the Babylonian exile and the postexilic time. The Book of Isaiah covers the largest period of time, is evidently edited at a postexilic time and is divided into three large sections: First Isaiah comprises of oracles against various nations, especially Assyria and Babylon, oracles against , and important themes such as social justice and condemnation of pride1; Second Isaiah, in contrast to Fist Isaiah, focuses on consolation for Israel, and rebuke against Babylon, especially against its idolatry, while some of its major themes are the portrayal of suffering as positive and the prominent figure of the “servant of the Lord”-who could be Israel, the prophet or other individuals, such as Cyrus, king of Persia2; and Third Isaiah focuses on the problems of the post-exilic divided community, the prophecy of a new world, that will arise from universal destruction).3

The metaphors involving women abound in the lines attributed to different prophets in the Hebrew Bible and especially the three major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The female personifications found in Isaiah are different, making reference either to Israel, to individuals (usually comparing warriors with women), to people or to God. When one of these is presented as a woman, it usually emphasizes a particular phase or role from a woman’s life: daughter, wife, laboring mother, mother, virgin, harlot, widow. In addition, these metaphors can have positive or negative connotations. Tables 1 and 2 present a summary of these metaphors as they appear in the Book of Isaiah. This paper will focus on two of these metaphors, specifically metaphors that involve a comparison with a woman in labor and metaphors that compare enemies of Israel with women. In addition, a second analysis will focus on the way First Isaiah differs from Second Isaiah in the use of these metaphors.

Warriors Metaphorized as Women

In First Isaiah we find three instances of enemy cities portrayed as women and one instance of actual warriors portrayed as women. The latter instance has a specific meaning, which can be traced down to other Near Eastern sources. All these sources attribute certain characteristics, vestments and tools to women and the same to man, thus emphasizing the essential differences between the two.4 In general, in the Ancient Near East, a woman lived in the house of her father until she married. When she moved into the house of her husband, the marriage was official. She was supposed to produce male heirs. Their husbands could divorce them but a woman could be killed for leaving her husband. Thus, women were defined either as daughters or as wives.5

Nonetheless, women could practice trades and they could own property. Prominent for this were women who were not defined as daughters or wives of a man or another, and sometimes regarded as prostitutes: the hamritu. By and large, though, women were confined to the house, in their roles of mothers and wives, tending to the house chores.6 And even when they participated in activities that were done by men, as well, like production of textile, cultic tasks and making pottery, women did not engage in some activities which were regarded as strictly masculine, like warfare, hunting, fishing, carrying heavy loads and construction tasks.7 Archeological evidence (such as seals, statues and reliefs) shows that men were often portrayed naked or scantly clothed, compared to women. This was done so as to emphasize the physical strength and prowess of men, whereas female nudity would have sexual connotations.8 In this context, comparing a man to a woman invariably takes the connotation of portraying that man as a coward, a weak man9 so much so that it became “a standard curse against the enemy”10.

In Assyrian treaties these curses are explicit in the use of the “woman metaphor.” Thus, in the Treaty of Aššur-nerari V with Mati’-ilu, King of Arpad11:

“If Mati’-ilu sins against this treaty
with Aššur-nerari, king of Assyria, may Mati’-ilu
become a prostitute, his soldiers women, may
they receive (a gift) in the square of their
cities like any prostitute […]
may Ištar, the goddess of men, the lady of
women, take away their bow […].”

This curse makes ample references to women: the taking away of the bow, for example, is a symbolic gesture of transforming these warriors in women, since women did not use to carry arms. In addition, in the Assyrian world, the prostitutes plied their trade, and “the faithful mother continued to be the norm”12, taking care of the household, though women did have a certain legal status13. Women were supposed to produce and reproduce,14 were excluded from religious duties and their was restricted15.

Again, in Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty, Ištar is invoked in the curses against those who do not respect the oath16:

“May Ištar, lady of battle and war, smash
your bow in the thick of the bat[tle], may she
bind your arms, and have you crouch under
your enemy.”

In this curse, the crounching at the feet of the enemy and the binding of arms are symbolic actions, representing the defeat in battle, and thus a symbol of the warriors’ inability to be who they are supposed to be.

In yet a third instance, also in Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty, another curse includes the comparison of a warrior to a woman17:

“May all the gods who are called by
name in this treaty tablet spin you around
like a spindle-whorl, may they make you like
a woman before your enemy.”

A soldier’s oath in the Hittite language that invokes the same type of metaphor reads18:

“Whoever breaks these oaths…, let these oaths change him from a man into a woman! Let
them change his troops into women, let them dress in the fashion of women and cover
their heads with a length of cloth! Let them break the bows arrows (and) clubs in their
hands and [let them put] in their hands distaff and mirror!”

As these examples show, the comparison of warriors with women is done specifically in order to denigrate the warrior, since it involves the taking away of weapons and the replacement of these with objects specific to women-an action that symbolically represents their de-masculinization. Since women’s sphere of influence was restricted to the family and household, in spite of their having a certain legal status19, women were viewed as silent, working hard, weak (in the curse, the person is said to crouch at the enemy’s feet, this position being more fitted for a woman than for a man), and related to certain occupations, such as spinning (a spindle-whorl is an object specific to women, not to men) and beautifying activities (represented here by the mention of the mirror). Moreover, in the Babylonian and Persian world (626-332 B.C.E.), women in the public sphere were not viewed positively and queens were even considered “a bad omen in Mesopotamia”20.

Warriors compared to women can be found in Greek ancient literature, as well. Herodotus (8, 91) quotes Xerxes as saying: “My men have become women on me, and my women, men!” on seeing Artemisia sinking a Greek ship21. The meaning is plain, especially considering the Greek view of women: they were supposed to be secluded, excluded from the public sphere, confined to the house22, often uneducated, and having little freedom and equality to men23. Plato reinforces these ideas when he talks about “the art of weaving, and the management of pancakes and preserves, in which womankind does really appear to be great”24, but rejects the idea of the women’s influence in the public sphere.

These examples from the ancient civilizations that were living and interacting with the ancient Hebrew civilization, are an insight in the significance of the same type of metaphors that are used in the Hebrew Bible. In First Isaiah 13:19-21, Babylon is personified as a woman:

“And Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms,
the glory and pride of the Chaldeans,
Shall be overthrown by God
like Sodom and Gomorrah.
She shall never be inhabited
Nor dwelt in, from age to age,”

whereas in First Isaiah 15:2, Dibon and Moab are personified as women:

“Up goes daughter Dibon
to the high places to weep;
Over Nebo and over Medeba
Moab wails.”

Further on, in First Isaiah 23:12, Sidon is the one personified:

“You shall exult no more, he says,
you who are now oppressed, virgin
daughter Sidon.
Arise, pass over to Kittim,
even there you shall find no rest,”

and again, in First Isaiah 23:15-17, Tyre is the one addressed:

“On that day, Tyre shall be forgotten for seventy years. With the days of another king, at the
end of seventy years, it shall be for Tyre as in the song about the harlot:
Take a harp, go about the city,
O forgotten harlot;
Pluck the strings skillfully, sing many
songs,
that they may remember you.”

Chapters 13-27 mostly consist in prophecies against foreign people (Babylon, Moab, Phoenician cities portray here but also against Philistia, Damascus, Ethiopia, Edom, Kedarite Arabs).25 But all these oracles have also a specific function, since they have been associated with warfare,26 and thus can be considered in the same context as the Near Eastern treatise curses exist. Oracles could have been associated with magical practices and expected to function in the same way the Near Eastern curses did. Isaiah 13-14 seems to have been a later addition, inserted to make sense of the clues that the history of Judah and Assyria provide about the Babylonian rise to .27 Isaiah 19-21, however, deals with the fate of Babylon, and specifically prophesizes its fall. The passage deals with a proclamation of punishment, both local and universal,28 and the terms used to describe Babylon (“jewel,” “pride,” “glory”) can be seen throughout Isaiah as employed in describing the divine reality and some aspects of earthly reality, though the latter is often portrayed with a measure of irony.29 But the comparison of Babylon with a jewel makes one think of a woman. In this particular case, though, this woman-Babylon-has lost everything: her jewels, her pride, her land-to which the comparison with Sodom and Gomorrah brings to the forefront the devastation, pollution and depopulation of the land.30

Another disaster (some interpret it as being a natural disaster,31 while others as being a military one32) is introduced in Isaiah 15:2, this time Moab being the one to suffer it. However, here Moab is not only portrayed as a woman in distress but also as a woman who is mourning. The cry of sorrow is structured through the familiar rituals that the community employs to deal with the disaster that affected it.33 The voices of the refugees are gathered into one-the voice of the wailing Moab-who lament aloud and give offerings on the “high-places.”34 Lamenting aloud is an instance of the domain of women in funerary rituals. Moreover, Moab is the mother who wails the loss of her children and the destruction of her land. Dibon, the capital city, is addressed with the appellative “daughter,” but this does not necessarily puts it on a better ground. Daughters can be unruly and Yahweh, as father, is the one to punish them.

Finally, the last examples from Isaiah are included in the context of a larger fragment, involving prophesies about Phoenician cities. It is actually a theological explanation for the Phoenician fall-God wanted to punish them for their pride.35 The future (to which Isaiah 23:12 refers) does not look bright, either. This time, though, Sidon is a “virgin daughter,” not just simply a “daughter,” as Dibon. However, this appellative seems to be assigned in complete contrast with the appellative that Tyre gets: “harlot.” It might be that this epithet is given just to emphasize the fact that a city renowned for its in the ancient world was also notorious for its brothels.36 Also, it may also be reminiscence of the hatred that Deuteronomy shows for the alliance between Judeans and Tyre.37 However, it should be noted that in a society where women were viewed as men’s property and their sexuality was regulated by them, a harlot was not looked upon with good eyes. A prostitute did have many other liberties that married women did not, but at the same time, raping a prostitute was not considered rape, since no man would take offense in it.38 Thus, she could be humiliated in public for her sexual freedom and the temptation she is for the men around her.39

Although the passages discussed above are excellent examples of gendered language, and although they do have some connection with the gendered language of the surrounding Near East, the reference in First Isaiah 19:16-17, seems taken from one of the curses included in the Neo-Assyrian treaties:

“On that day, the Egyptians shall be like women, trembling with fear, because of the Lord of
hosts shaking his fist at them.
And the land of Judah shall be a terror for the Egyptians."

It is the only place in the Hebrew Bible where warriors are compared to women. However, this comparison, largely found in ancient treaties, does not include additional comparisons with women’s attire or activities, as the other ancient texts do, supposedly because the comparison’s meaning was widely understood.40 It should be noted, however, that this is the only piece of bad news among a fragment full of good prophesies for Egypt.41 What this particular piece conveys is Egypt’s presence in front of Judah (who is the rod of God’s anger) and-more importantly-Yahweh.42

These feminine personifications of cities occur throughout the Near East, and seem to have sprung out of the conception of the capital cities as goddesses that were the wives of the patron god of the city.43 Another point to be remarked is that in most of these feminine personifications, the cities represent a “daughter,” or a “virgin daughter,” which brings in the mind of the reader, the picture of a young woman44. However, in the fragment about Tyre, the latter is presented as an old harlot, long forgotten and undesired. In this sense, the impression one gets is that of subordination of women to men, in a patriarchal society,45 and likewise, of the subordination of cities to their God and Lord: Yahweh, who, as a husband and/or father, has complete power over them. Moreover, this power is emphasized through Yahweh’s disposition toward punishing the cities.46 In return, the cities cannot do much more than to lament and suffer their destiny, since they have neither power nor choice. Similarly to their real inspiration, the women of the Near East, they have little legal rights in front of their fathers and/ or husbands and little choice in their own futures and destinies.

Also, since many of the women metaphors are found in military treaties and represent cities under siege, it is interesting to remark that even today, the military slang today still includes a combination of sex and violence, so much so that since the beginning of the training, the feminine appellatives are seen as despicable and dishonoring. The soldiers must fight the enemy and they are induced to see this combat as an “act of sexual violence.”47 The examples presented above do not include explicit sexual violence, but they do include military violence-since it is for this reason that the cities are destitute, lamenting their killed citizens-their children.

Nonetheless, Second Isaiah 47:1-10 is far more explicit, in the proclamation of the fall of Babylon:

“Come down, sit in the dust,
O virgin daughter Babylon;
Sit on the ground, dethroned,
O daughter of the Chaldeans.
No longer shall you be called
dainty and delicate.
Take the millstone and grind flour,
remove your veil;
Strip off your train, bare your legs,
pass through the streams.
Your nakedness shall be uncovered
and your shame be seen;
I will take vengeance,
I will yield to no entreaty,
says our redeemer.
Whose name is the Lord of hosts,
the Holy One of Israel.
Go into darkness and sit in silence,
O daughter of the Chaldeans,
No longer shall you be called
sovereign mistress of kingdoms.
Angry at my people,
I profaned my inheritance,
And I gave them into your hand;
but you shoed them no mercy.
And upon old men
you laid a very heavy yoke.
You said, ‘I shall remain always,
a sovereign mistress forever!’
But you did not lay these things to heart,
you disregarded their outcome.
Now hear this, voluptuous one,
enthroned securely,
Saying to yourself,
‘I, and no one else!
I shall never be a widow,
or suffer the loss of my children’-
Both these things shall come to you
suddenly, in a single day:
Complete bereavement and widowhood
shall come upon you
For your many sorceries
and the great number of your spells.”

This passage expresses a deep taunting of the conquered (Babylon) by the victor (Israel), a verbal ritual of humiliation.48 Through stereotypical phrases, Babylon is personified as a woman-a traditional way of personifying cities and people-but the images portrayed are on the verge of pornographic instances of the female body, with the scope of degrading Babylon in front of its enemies.49 Babylon, who is a “virgin daughter,” is to sit on the ground and labor hard, stripped off of her beauty, veils, luxury, elegance and carefree life,50 altogether an image of a queen reduced to the status of a slave girl.51 was accepted and the sexual exploitation of female slaves was common,52 as the most disturbing images in the verses show: the taunted former queen (who is a virgin, according to the appellative in the second verse) is to strip off her skirt, showing her nakedness (emphasized also by her going through a river, an instance when women would have to lift their skirts up to be able to go through). This image reflects a scene of rape,53 which is intensified by the following silence that is ordered to her-Babylon cannot even grieve her violation. However, reasons are given for this fate: Babylon did not show mercy to the people conquered and under her rule,54 and thus deserves to be punished for her egoistic and haughty manner.55

Military assaults are often depicted in terms of sexual violence in the Hebrew Bible56, and this is one instance of it. Babylon is reduced to a low status and treated as a war captive, being punished by being humiliated and raped.57 The woman in this context is a model of the victim. The beautiful queen is sexually humiliated; her beauty (“delicate,” “voluptuous one”) stirs the men’s desire and she becomes the victim of it.58 In the ancient Near East, a woman had little to say about her body and her sexual violation was an affront to her father or husband more than to her, because it overcomes the power of their men to defend them.59 Thus, sexual aggression on a woman or in a woman threatens her family’s honor.60 And this is so because, ultimately, a woman’s body and its needs are dangerous for patriarchy.61 This is why women are defined in terms of their sexuality62 and why an insatiable sexual appetite in the case of a woman is seen as monstrous.63

In the light of these considerations the punishment that continues has a very clear message. Not only is the virgin raped, but further on Babylon is portrayed as a mother and a widow, who is going to have even her children taken away from her. In the ancient Near East, security for a woman meant that she had a husband and children but in the above verses, the woman is to be stripped of her protection (she is a widow) and soon after of her children.64 This is even more dramatic as we consider the general trend in the Hebrew Bible of portraying the reproductive and protective roles of mothers. Mothers are portrayed in the Hebrew Bible as being very protective of their children and ready for any sacrifice on their behalf.65 Again, a reason is given, this time different from the haughtiness and heartlessness mentioned before: Babylon is accused of sorcery. It should be noted that magical formulas were especially used for defense (as curses were put in treaties as a safeguard on their violation), to safeguard the existence of a person or-in this particular case-of an empire.66 But this does not obscure the fact that magic is closely linked to women, the latter being the ones to practice it more often than men.67

All the passages from First Isaiah and Second Isaiah cited above are evidence that metaphorizing something as a woman is a form of disembodying the female subject.68 The women portrayed in these passages are humiliated and their sexuality denounced, namely because it is out of a man’s control.69 Moreover, the use of pornographic images depict female sexuality as negative relative to the male standard and under male control (since this type of imagery is used in a context of conquest and domination), and degrade women.70 However, the most disturbing consequence of the use of such metaphors is that, as these cities and people are deemed to be culpable for their own misfortunes, that they deserved the punishment, so are the women that are metaphorically representing these cities and people: guilty for their own misfortunes.71 The punishment of these cities/women is meant to elicit fear and disgust from the audience, and to this end the armies that violate the victims (cities/women) create victims that are monstrous72: queens that become slaves, virgins that are violated, mothers destitute of their children, harlots, with insatiable sexual appetite-in a word, women that transgress the ordinary roles and stations they are out into and thus contradict the norms.73 Of course, the reason why these images are put before the audience is that the latter has to reform its ways by rejecting the shameful and/or disgusting scenes/personages.74 On the other hand, First Isaiah differs from Second Isaiah inasmuch as it prophesizes what will happen to the cities and people who were disobedient to God, whereas Second Isaiah presents the actual punishment, and in general, the confirmation of older prophesies.75

The Woman in Labor Metaphor

A second metaphor largely employed in the Book of Isaiah is the metaphor of the woman (women) in labor. This type of metaphor is employed in the ancient Near Eastern texts. In a myth from Mesopotamia, Atrahasis, a curse says:

“Among the people the woman who gives birth yet
does
Not give birth (successfully).”76

The curse is evidently focused on the painful and life-threatening moment of a labor that cannot be ended in a healthy and secure birth, putting not only the baby’s life in peril but also the mother’s life.

In another famous Mesopotamian myth, The Epic of Gilgamesh, the context of the flood that was sent by the gods over the earth is described as such:

“Ishtar screames like a woman giving birth;
The Mistress of the Gods, sweet of voice, was
wailing,
‘Has the time really returned to clay,
Because I spoke evil in the gods’
assembly?
I should have ordered a battle to destroy my
people;
I myself gave birth (to them), they are my own
people,
Yet they fill the sea like fish spawn!’
The gods of the Annunaki were weeping with
her.
The gods, humbled, sat there weeping.
Their lips were closed and covered with scab.
For six days and [seven (?)] nights
The wind blew, flood and tempest overwhelmed
the land;
When the seventh day arrived the tempest, flood
and onslaught
Which had struggled like a woman in labor,
blew themselves out.”77

In this case, there are two instances when the metaphor is used: once the metaphor is applied to a goddess, the other time to elements of nature, and emphasizes clearly the critical situation in which the very nature is. In yet another myth, about Innana, a goddess of Sumer, we read another instance of a goddess finding herself in a pain similar to the one of labor:

“Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld, is moaning
With the cries of a woman about to give birth.
No linen is spread over her body.
Her breasts are uncovered.
Her hair swirls about her head like leeks.”78

This fragment has a very detailed description of what the experience of labor is/could be: the woman, usually covered from the eyes of the rest of the people around, is in this case naked, and thus even more vulnerable, almost pornographic. But what gives a sense of horror is Ereshkigal’s hair: swirled like leeks, which would make the Western reader think of Medusa, certainly not of a future mother. Thus, the sweat-wet hair of a laboring woman is compared with leeks in this fragment, giving the passage an element of terror, and even more so since Ereshkigal is the goddess of the Underworld.

Thirdly, in a Middle Assyrian medical text, a woman in labor is described as such:

“The woman in childbirth has pains at delivery,… The mother is enveloped in the dust of death. Like a chariot, she is enveloped in the dust of battle, like a plough, she is enveloped in the dust of the woods, like a warrior in the fray, she is cast down in her blood.”79

This fragment links the pains and dangers of labor with the pains and dangers of war: getting wounded, bleeding, and getting killed.

Finally, even ancient Greece had its share of gods and goddesses giving birth. One of the most interesting of these is that of a god giving birth: Zeus giving birth to Athena, in a most surprising way. As Apollodorus 1.3.6 recounts:

“Zeus had intercourse with Metis, who turned into many shapes in order to avoid his embraces. When she was with child, Zeus, taking time by the forelock, swallowed her, because Earth said that, after giving birth to the maiden who was then in her womb, Metis would bear a son who should be the lord of heaven. From fear of that Zeus swallowed her. And when the time came for the birth to take place, Prometheus or, as others say, Hephaestus, smote the head of Zeus with an axe, and Athena, fully armed, leaped up from the top of his head at the river Triton.”80

Similarly, in First Isaiah we encounter this type of metaphor of a woman in labor applied to warriors, enemies, people facing God and as a sign. Thus, in Isaiah 13:6-9, warriors are portrayed as women in labor:

“Therefore all hands fall helpless,
the bows of the young men fall from
their hands.
Every man’s heart melts in terror.
Pangs and sorrows take hold of them,
like a woman in labor they writhe;
They look aghast at each other,
Their faces aflame.”

While the previous passage referred to the pain of Israeli men at the sight of the destruction81, Isaiah 21:3 emphasizes the terror experienced by the author at the sight of Babylon’s destruction82:

“Therefore my loins are filled with anguish,
pangs have seized me like those of a
woman in labor.
I am too bewildered to hear,
too dismayed to look.”

Furthermore, in Isaiah 23: 4, enemies (this time the Phoenicians) are presented in dismay:

“Shame, O Sidon, fortress on the sea,
for the sea has spoken.
‘I have not been in labor, nor given birth,
nor raised young men,
nor reared virgins.’”

Besides being just a hyperbolic way of facing the horrible experience of conquest and ruin83 and the fact that this violence was typical to the agrarian societies of the day and the war-torn world in which the author(s) of the Book of Isaiah lived in,84 the metaphor is used primarily because of the similitude between the onslaught of a battle or events that change the world as we know it and the experience of giving birth: both involve screaming, suffering, pain, blood, feelings of fear, uncertainty, terror, and discourage.85 These two frightening experiences (war and birth), both involve fear and trembling, blood and pain, and thus the people found in the midst of either of these experiences is part of a crisis.86 The warriors no longer have weapons in their hands, but are captured by a feeling of terror, because of the life-threatening situation in which they find themselves. This type of situation is similar to that of a woman giving birth-the same struggle but also the same risk of dying, this time in labor. Childbirth involves the risk that the mother will die, as the crisis of being conquered involves the risk of dying, of being treated ill and so on.87 Danger lurks around the corner in both cases but the protagonists have to endure and wait. Moreover, the metaphor encompasses the common fact of both situations that this danger is imminent and unstoppable.88 The warriors or people cannot change their upcoming fate, as the woman in labor cannot reverse the process in any way.

The difference between such a metaphor and the previous type, when warriors or people were mockingly compared to women is that in the woman-in-labor metaphor, there is no more mocking but the tone becomes quite serious. Women in labor are like warriors that struggle in battle, and know when they should let go, since they know their fate is sealed. Maybe the crisis is historical or eschatological,89 but it may even lead to something good, to a new future, to hope, just as labor can end in giving birth to a healthy child and the mother survives. Moreover, the passage in Isaiah 23:4 clearly shows that this type of metaphor is far from a mocking. Here, Sidon (representing the Phoenicians) is unfortunate precisely because she cannot bear children!

Nonetheless, because it portrays a crisis, this metaphor is supposed to provoke a feeling of horror in those who read it. Isaiah 13:7-9 and Isaiah 21:3 are perfect examples but even more so is Isaiah 26:16-19:

“O Lord, oppressed by your punishment,
we cried out in anguish under your
chastising.
As a woman about to give birth
writhes and cries out in her pains,
so were we in your presence,
O Lord.
We conceived and writhed in pain,
giving birth to wind;
Salvation we have not achieved for the
earth,
the inhabitants of the world cannot
bring it forth.”

Also, Isaiah 37:3 has a similar example:

“Thus says Hezekiah: ‘This is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace. Children are at the point of birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth.”

Although Isaiah 26:16-19 expresses a note of regret because of the foreign domination and a hope that God will intervene on behalf of His people in this distressing situation,90 and Isaiah 37:3 is a passage in the context of the delegation that comes to Isaiah to intercede on behalf of those in Jerusalem and Isaiah promises that the city will not be conquered by the Assyrians,91 so that the foreign domination is only feared but not a reality, the two passages allude to the same metaphor: that of a woman in labor that struggles to give birth but cannot do it. Specifically, in the first case, the process of labor ends in a birth, but not a normal one, since the offspring is the wind. This metaphor for the passionate prayer towards God, mingled with the suffering that provoked this prayer92 and a wait for vindication93 is put in verses that almost sound as a psalm.94 Eventually the prayers come to naught: there is no future, the prayers are futile and the will of God will happen even against all these prayers. In the second case, the process of labor is still happening. We find ourselves in the midst of it but it seems like the child cannot be born, since the mother has no strength to do it. This situation is very similar to the previous images, when the warriors or enemies were “writhing in pain,” just about to give birth but the outcome is still undecided.

What is common, though, to all of these passages is the image of a woman in labor which is used to provoke fear, terror and horror in the audience. The text of Isaiah 13:6-9 compares warriors with women in labor, similar to the Middle Assyrian medical text. This usage of the metaphor is a strategy, frequently employed in the horror genre, of cross-gender identification.95 The audience of the Hebrew Bible seems to have been mostly a male one, and the metaphors are, accordingly, comparing them to women. Warriors behave as women in labor in the context of an invasion, and conversely, women in labor seem to have the appearance of a distraught and bloody warrior, fighting for his own life but also for other’s life, just like a woman in labor does: she fights for herself but also for the unborn child. In that sense, the birthing woman has a “mirror-effect,”96 since it cues the audience on how to behave. It is a good mirror for a manly activity-war-that is full of horror and terror, that can haunt one long after the war has ended, expressed in the terms of a womanly activity-giving birth-which is full of perils, just like a battle in a war. From this point of view, the metaphor implies some vulnerability on the part of the woman, but-in contrast to the previous type of metaphor-it brings women and men on a more equal step. Thus, they both can experience pain and danger, they both have a role in protecting themselves and others and they can both relate at this level.

Moreover, Isaiah 21:3 emphasizes the emotional state of the woman in labor: fear and confusion being the predominant tones.97 This shows, even more than Isaiah 13:6-9, the sense of vulnerability, of weakness, in front of this experience that the woman cannot control at all, especially in those times when medicine was not at the level that is today.98 A woman faced with a difficult birth, like the curse in Atrahasis myth wishes, would have been faced with death most certainly in those days. Similarly, in front of an overwhelming military power, the feeling of being conquered is filled with fear, confusion and helplessness. Warriors facing the fate of becoming prisoners of war, of losing the land and families they have been fighting for must feel the same and these travails are very well described by the birthing woman metaphor. In a sense, both the warriors losing a war (and facing a military invasion) and the birthing woman have to submit to their fate, and the fact that there is not much any of them can do to change it adds up to the sentiment of terror.99

Nonetheless, there seems to be an element of irony in this metaphor:100 while a woman in labor has a joyful end in her travail, that of giving life to a child, the warrior in the midst of an invasion lacks exactly that-the hope of a new, blessed life. Isaiah 26:16-19 and Isaiah 37:3 capture exactly this point: the birthing of the wind in the first case expresses the hopelessness of the warriors’ situation, while the incapacity of giving birth in the second case expresses the lack of a future, even beyond the crisis. Indeed, horror is comprised of sentiments of fear and shame, in response to a threatening situation and/or person.101 The audience of these passages in the Bible is to be reminded of their own weakness and warned that they could suffer the fate of an invasion, too. The question is, why would this cross-gendered metaphor, which can even have an ironical twist, to express the horrifying experience of being conquered?

In more general terms, something is abject not only because it threatens the laws we are used to but also because it is ambiguous, but also abstruse.102 For a male audience the maternal body is something they will never experience and subsequently never fully understand. There are no clear-cut boundaries in the maternal body’s case: the baby is not dead but is not living on its own either, the mother is herself yet she is somebody else, that contains a different being in herself. Iris Young emphasizes this in her essay, but contradicts the typical prophetic view of pregnancy. The pregnant woman feels a change in her body that is related to it but at the same time connected to the baby. She also experiences the moves of the baby as coming from within her own body but at the same time being done by another.103 Because of this, the boundaries between what is her own body and what is the baby’s organism are very fluid.104

Moreover, when a woman enters labor, blood and tissue comes out of her body, without killing her.105 In normal cases, such a scenario would at least entail the potential danger of dying. But the maternal body does not experience death; it even gives birth to a new life! The spewing of blood and tissue is common in wars, and warriors experience it, but for them the end result is most often death, which does not necessarily happen in the case of a birthing woman, though of course she has a risk of dying while giving birth if complications arise. From this point of view the image is abject and it forces the male audience to reject it, and thus is in line with the previous metaphor, that creates the same feelings in the male audience, which has to relate to being a woman and thus weak, vulnerable and in danger of being raped. Thus, both metaphors work in calling Israel to reformation and improvement of their relationship with God.106

However, because of the fact that a woman in labor is going to bring forth a new life (whereas when warriors are conquered, there is little for them to hope for), this metaphor can also be a sign of hope, a subtle way of God (through His prophet) to announce that even though times and situations seem hopeless, the future holds good things in store. Thus, the fact that the metaphor of a birthing woman is qualitatively different from that of a comparing a man to a woman, is shown not only in the verses above but even more so in the ones of Isaiah 42:14-17, when God declares:

“I have looked away and kept silence,
I have said nothing, holding myself in;
But now, I cry out as a woman in labor,
gasping and panting.
I will lay waste mountains and hills,
all their herbage I will dry up;
I will turn the rivers into marshes,
and the marshes I will dry up.
I will lead the blind on their journey;
by paths unknowm I will guide them.
I will turn darkness into light before
them,
and make crooked ways straight.
These things I do for them,
and I will not forsake them.”

God is now the one who gives birth, this instance being comparable with Ishtar’s and Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld’s pains of birth-both of which were goddesses, and with Zeus’ labor, though in this case the comparison is only because of the fact that they are both male gods but the way of giving birth is different (Zeus is aided by Hephaistos while Yahweh is creating by himself, Zeus gives birth to Athena through his head while Yahweh’s method of giving birth seems similar to the natural one but is not explicit). Thus, the motif of a god/goddess giving birth is thus employed in both ancient Assyrian and Greek texts as well as in the Hebrew Bible. The scene put before the audience is one of destruction, and mostly an ecological destruction which, however, is the starting point for God’s plan of salvation.107 This oracle of salvation108 presents an attitude of God that is changing from inactivity by this cry of labor, and God intervenes in the order of things so that the consequence of this intervention will ultimately be the salvation of the world.109 God’s intervention here is paralleled with Israel’s mission that is revealed all throughout the books of the prophets: Israel should open the eyes of the world, should bring light to the world that lies in darkness.110 But this intervention is, at least at first, destructive: the world, as we know it, is to be laid waste in order for God’s pregnancy to bring forth a new, better world and for the light to be brought forth. This energy that is about to be released111 is very important in delineating the fact that the metaphor of a birthing woman is much more positive than the first metaphor discussed in this paper.

Indeed, traces of horror exist even in this metaphor, as mentioned before, since the maternal body112 does not have clear cut boundaries and it encapsulates both signs of life (baby) and death (blood, tissue, waste) so that it appears to be classified in the same category of monstrous females.113 It is to be noted that especially the Ereshkigal’s labor inspires terror by the way the goddess looks, so that this type of usage for the birthing woman metaphor was not new in the ancient world. A healthy body is seen by doctors and people in terms of stability and unchanging body (which is the state of mature men, in general), but this does not apply to women, and especially pregnant women.114 Starting at puberty, with the coming of menstruation (which repeats itself monthly, and thus could be viewed as an “unhealthy” period, when the woman spews blood, without any apparent/external reason), and finishing with menopause (again, a period of transformations for which there is no male complement), a woman’s life is marked by continuous changes, and pregnancy is probably the most important and critical of all: this time a woman’s body changes visibly and its functions are altered (for example, she becomes able to breast-feed), all so that in the end it will (again) spew blood and waste in order to bring forth to light a new human being. If a healthy body is seen as one that mostly does not change, then a woman’s body would hardly be seen as healthy, and this all throughout her life.

Also, the way in which a pregnant woman is viewed, could be explained as deriving from this horror perception. A pregnant woman is seen with a degree of admiration, but hardly ever in a sexual way (that is, the “normal way,” as seen with the first metaphor presented in this paper).115 The fact that the conception of a child cannot come (at least naturally) otherwise but through sexual intercourse is surpassed, since the fact of a pregnant body is now desexualized, especially through the means of a society that is obsessed with the image of slender, tall and fashionable women.116 A pregnant woman can be fashionable but fist of all has to be comfortable, and more so because her body is ever-changing throughout the nine months. She could be tall but even if she was slender, she will gain a good deal of pounds during the pregnancy, so that all these transformations may in the end make her feel as if she is somewhat ugly and this new and temporary body as being alien to her.117 Moreover, when a pregnant woman has to see the doctor (most of the time, a man) the check-ups have to have an air of matter-of-factness and completely desexualized.118

These points, however, are not only related to the perception of a pregnant woman as being unnatural, not normal, and therefore somehow monstrous, and perfect for eliciting a horror experience from the audience. These mentions of the desexualization of a pregnant woman can be seen in a favorable light, as well, since if the woman is not viewed in terms of her sexuality anymore, most of the conclusions drawn from the analysis of the metaphor of warriors (or men) as women, discussed above, does not apply to this instance as well. A pregnant woman is not, anymore, the instrument of a man’s desire, but can even attract the admiration, respect and approval of these, along with a sense of stability and power, of recognition of self that the woman experiences for herself.119

In addition, it is obvious that in Second Isaiah, compared with First Isaiah, the birthing process is positive and productive.120 When God holds back, he seems to put a lot effort into it and only when he changes from inactivity to activity, does the new beginning come forth, through a woman-like labor.121 Pregnancy roots one to the earth, to the consciousness of one’s movements, actions because of the new resistance and limits that the body is posing to the pregnant woman.122 But this does not impress on the pregnant woman as something simply heavy, an obstacle to be dealt with as gently as possibly, nor as a weakness. On the contrary, the overall sentiment is one of “power, solidity, and validity,”123 of stability and sense of control. God is now in control, creating a new world. Nonetheless, pregnancy is not a time of passive expectancy, when a woman is waiting for the fetus to develop and the labor to come upon her so that she might give life to her baby.124 The reality is that of movement, constant change, and adaptation to an ever and fast-changing body.125 The fetus is growing and with it the body of the woman changes too and has to experience new sensations and states many a time during the nine months. And all these processes are happening inside the woman, so that she can feel at as if it was herself who was the very process.126 This point is essential, since the state of the prophet can be compared with the state of a pregnant woman: a prophet is changed by the spirit of God working inside him and changing him in ways he, by his own powers, would not be able to do it. However, these changes are happening to the prophet, in him, and even at his own will, for without his consent, God might not effect these changes. There is a communion between God and the prophet.

Moreover, just as the pregnant woman comes to the conclusion of the nine months, close to the moment when labor will begin, with the feeling that a new beginning will start (that of the baby inside her) but also with the feeling of a conclusion (that of her pregnancy),127 so the prophet experiences a state of awe and a state of momentarily burst forth of prophecy from himself. The anticipated labor determines a state of both fear and desire but when a woman enters labor, time seems to be suspended in a pain that has to be endured and forced under the will of the woman so that she might come out of it alive and also bring forth the child in her.128 Similarly, the prophet is in a state of expectancy of the imminent power of God that will be channeled through him. And when the prophecy erupts from the lips of the prophet, he is no longer his own master: he has emptied himself of all will but that of letting God do His bidding. Thus, if the metaphor of a birthing woman is looked at from this point of view, it is clear that it is qualitatively different from the first metaphor analyzed earlier in the paper. Specifically, even though this metaphor contains elements of horror and is targeting the same predominantly male audience, it does not show the same measure of scorn and disrespect towards women, but instead admiration, respect and even a sense of awe in the face of the cumbersome task of giving birth through which only women go.

Conclusion

To sum up, the Hebrew Bible was not written in a vacuum. The great civilizations and Empires that surrounded Palestine-and some even went on to conquer it-had an influential , so that it is possible to assume that the Israelites did import some of the language idioms and styles of writings from these neighbors and/or conquerors.129 For one, the form in which treaties were written is found in the Hebrew Bible, as well.130 Deuteronomy is one of the best examples for the adaptation of these treaties’ structure, with the main annotation that while the treaties were loyalty oaths to the king, Deuteronomy states and restates the loyalty of Israel towards God.131 In addition, specific parts of the structure of these treaties were retained by themselves in the Hebrew Bible. The most prevalent is the curse. Among these curses, though, the most striking is the gendered one. Specifically, when warriors are compared to women, it is supposed to depreciate those men’s position and discredit them,132 forming a curse that was largely employed by the editors of the Hebrew Bible.

This exact type of curse is only once employed in First Isaiah, in relation to Egyptian warriors, but the use of comparing men to women is retained in the images of cities and people personified as women and the consequences of these personifications. The strong, disturbing images of humiliation and rape that these cities/women suffer due to military invasion/violation reach a pornographic stage, especially in Second Isaiah, that serve the purposes of explaining military defeat in theological terms133 and inspiring horror in the audience an thus solicits the audience’s rejection of these images in order to reform its attitude towards God. In addition, the use of such a metaphor was certainly ideological in the case of the ancient Near Eastern texts and it must be so for the biblical texts, as well. In this sense, the biblical authors present the history in a specific light, that they want their audience to perceive and accept.134 However, they do this by employing a gendered language, in which the reference to a woman will signify weakness, cowardice,135 and even improper behavior, while a reference to a man (not compared to a woman) will signify valor, honor, athleticism, power and courage. Thus, the use of this gendered language serves not only the purposes stated above but also a different kind of ideological purpose-that of a patriarchal society, that would have ensured in this way the supremacy of men over women.

Nonetheless, it is to be remarked that in the case of the birthing woman metaphor, the trend of depreciation of women observed in the previous metaphor is no longer at work or not with the same power. This metaphor does not appear in a vacuum, either, but can be found in ancient Near Eastern texts, as well. Also, certain features of the birthing woman metaphor are reminiscent of gendered metaphors, such as the use of explicit language to create a sense of horror: the process of birthing, involving blood and exposing the woman to the threat of a possible death. Of course, the horror plays the same role of soliciting the audience’s rejection of these images in order to reform its attitude towards God. However, this metaphor is qualitatively different, since the laboring woman is a compared to warriors in the hard position of being defeated, and thus in a possible lethal situation. This comparison does not emphasize the weakness or cowardice of a woman or man, but the imminent life-threatening event and the fact that both a man in a war and a woman in labor do not have any other choice but to wait patiently and try to endure with patience and courage the travails they have to go through. Moreover, Second Isaiah present a really optimist view of a birthing process, the one giving birth in this case being God. While the labor as such produces destruction, the “baby” is a new, better world, just as in the case of a successful birth in the case of a woman: the result being a healthy baby.

Indeed, while some of these metaphors, such as the one comparing warriors to women, can be powerful ideological tools (both in a theological way but also in a societal way) and situate women on a lower step than men, other metaphors, such as the woman in labor metaphor, can be seen as a more positive one from a feminist point of view and a starting point towards a recognition of the women’s role and status from the prophetic literature.


Bibliography

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1.) John J. Collins, A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007): 164-172.

2.) Ibid., 198-203.

3.) Ibid., 204-207.

4.) Claudia Bergmann, “We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Only a ‘She’: The Portrayal of Warriors as Women,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69, (2007): 654.

5.) Saana Teppo, “Women and Their Agency in the Neo-Assyrian Empire,” E-Thesis. University of Helsinki. http://ethesis.helsinki.fi/julkaisut/hum/aasia/pg/teppo/womenand.pdf

[6] Ibid.

7.) Diane Bolger, Gender Throughout Time in the Ancient Near East (Lanham, AltaMira Press, 2008), 136-137.

8.) Ibid., 139.

9.) Claudia Bergmann, “We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Only a ‘She’: The Portrayal of Warriors as Women,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69, (2007), 651.

10.) William L. Holladay, as qtd. in Claudia Bergmann, “We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Only a ‘She’: The Portrayal of Warriors as Women,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69, (2007), 651.

11.) Simo Parpola and Kazuko Watanabe, ed., Neo-Assyrian Treaties and Loyalty Oaths (Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 1988), 12.

12.) Daniel C. Snell, Life in the Ancient Near East 3100-332 B.C.E. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 82.

13.) Ibid., 89.

14.) Carol Meyers, “Women and the Domestic Economy of Early Israel,” in Women in the Hebrew Bible, ed. Alice Bach (New York: Routledge, 1999), 33.

15.) Daniel C. Snell, Life in the Ancient Near East 3100-332 B.C.E. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 90.

16.) Simo Parpola and Kazuko Watanabe, ed., Neo-Assyrian Treaties and Loyalty Oaths (Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 1988), 48.

17.) Ibid., 56.

18.) As qtd. in Claudia Bergmann, “We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Only a ‘She’: The Portrayal of Warriors as Women,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69, (2007): 665.

19.) Daniel C. Snell, Life in the Ancient Near East 3100-332 B.C.E. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 122.

20.) Ibid., 122.

21.) Herodotus, The Histories, transl. and ed. by Walter Blanco, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1992: 223. The same line is quoted by Claudia Bergmann, “We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Only a ‘She’: The Portrayal of Warriors as Women,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69, (2007):667.

22.) Marilyn Katz, ”Ideology and ‘The Status of Women in Ancient Greece’”, History and Theory 31, no.4 (1992): 72.

23.) Ibid., 74.

24.) Plato, The Republic, http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html.

25.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 271.

26.) Ibid., 273.

27.) Ibid., 272.

28.) The New Interpreter's Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, vol. VI (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 156.

29.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 280.

30.) Ibid., 280.

31.) Ibid., 298.

32.) The New Interpreter's Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, vol. VI (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 168.

33.) Ibid., 168. 

34.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 299.

35.) The New Interpreter's Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, vol. VI (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 202.

36.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 345.

37.) Ibid., 343.

38.) F. Rachel Magdalene, “Ancient Near Eastern Treaty-Curses and the Ultimate Texts of Terror: A Study of the Language of Divine Sexual Abuse in the Prophetic Corpus,” in A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 340.

39.) Ibid., 341.

40.) Claudia Bergmann, “We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Only a ‘She’: The Portrayal of Warriors as Women,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69, (2007): 669.

35 The New Interpreter's Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, vol. VI (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994),181.

42.) Ibid., 181.

43.) Pamela Gordon and Harold C. Washington, “Rape as a Military Metaphor in The Hebrew Bible,” in A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets, ed. Athalya Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995): 318.

44.) Ibid., 318.

45.) Ibid., 317.

46.) Ibid., 318.

47.) Ibid., 309.

48.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 278.

49.) Ibid., 280.

50.) Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40-66 (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969), 190.

51.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 40-55, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 280.

52.) Carole E. Fontaine, “A Heifer from Thy Stable: On Goddesses and the Status of Women in the Ancient Near East,” in Women in the Hebrew Bible, ed. Alice Bach (New York: Routhledge, 1999), 175.

53.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 40-55, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 280.

54.) The New Interpreter's Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, vol. VI (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 412.

55.) Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40-66 (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969), 191.

56.) Pamela Gordon and Harold C. Washington, “Rape as a Military Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible,” in A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets, ed. by Athalya Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 314.

57.) Ibid., 315.

58.) Ibid., 318-319.

59.) F. Rachel Magdalene, “Ancient Near Eastern Treaty-Curses and the Ultimate Texts of Terror: A Study of the Language of Divine Sexual Abuse in the Prophetic Corpus,” in A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets, ed. Athalya Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 338-339.

60.) Amy Kalmanofsky, “The Monstrous-Feminine in the Book of Jeremiah,” Lectio Difficilior 1(2009), 8.

61.) Ibid., 5.

62.) Ibid., 6.

63.) Ibid., 7.

64.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 40-55, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 282.

65.) Ester Fuchs, “The Literary Characterization of Mothers and Sexual Politics in the Hebrew Bible,” in Women in the Hebrew Bible, ed. Alice Bach (New York: Routledge, 1999), 136.

66.) Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40-66 (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969), 193.

67.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 282.

68.) Fokkelein van Dijk-Hemmees, “The Metaphorization of Woman in Prophetic Speech: An Analysis of Ezekiel 23,” in A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets, ed. Athalya Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 244.

69.) Fokkelein van Dijk-Hemmees, “The Metaphorization of Woman in Prophetic Speech: An Analysis of Ezekiel 23,” in A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets, ed. Athalya Brenner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 253.

70.) Ibid., 248.

71.) Ibid., 251.

72.) Amy Kalmanofsky, “The Monstrous-Feminine in the Book of Jeremiah,” Lectio Difficilior 1(2009), 3.

73.) Ibid., 5.

74.) Ibid., 11.

75.) Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), 328.

76.) Stephanie Dalley, ed., Myths From Mesopotamia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 35.

77.) Ibid., 113.

78.) Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer, Innana, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer (New York: Harper and Row, 1983), 64.

79.) As qtd. in Claudia Bergmann, “We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Only a ‘She’: The Portrayal of Warriors as Women,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69, (2007): 656.

80.) Apollodorus, The Library, http://www.theoi.com/Text/Apollodorus1.html.

81.) The New Interpreter's Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, vol. VI (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 156-157.

82.) Ibid., 186.

83.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 40-55, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 279.

84.) Ibid., 327.

85.) Claudia Bergmann, “We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Only a ‘She’: The Portrayal of Warriors as Women,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69, (2007), 657-658.

86.) Ibid., 659.

87.) Ibid., 663.

88.) Ibid., 663.

89.) Ibid., 664.

90.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 368-370.

91.) The New Interpreter's Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, vol. VI (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 293.

92.) Ibid., 222.

93.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1-39, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 369.

94.) Ibid., 371.

95.) Amy Kalmanofsky, “Israel’s Baby: The Horror of Childbirth in the Biblical Prophets,” Biblical Interpretation 16 (2008): 60.

96.) Ibid., 65.

97.) Ibid., 65-66.

98.) Ibid., 66.

99.) Ibid., 67.

100.) Ibid., 67.

101.) Ibid., 75.

102.) Ibid., 78.

103.) Iris Young, “Pregnant embodiment,” in Body and Flesh, ed. Donn Welton (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, 1998), 276.

104.) Ibid., 276.

105.) Amy Kalmanofsky, “Israel’s Baby: The Horror of Childbirth in the Biblical Prophets,” Biblical Interpretation 16 (2008): 79.

106.) Ibid., 82.

107.) Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 40-55, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 215.

108.) The New Interpreter's Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, vol. VI (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 369.

109.) Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40-66 (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969), 106.

110.) The New Interpreter's Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, vol. VI (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 369.

111.) Ibid., 369.

112.) Amy Kalmanofsky, “The Monstrous-Feminine in the Book of Jeremiah,” Lectio Difficilior 1(2009), 7.

113.) Ibid., 12.

114.) Iris Young, “Pregnant embodiment,” in Body and Flesh, ed. Donn Welton (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, 1998), 282.

115.) Ibid., 279.

116.) Ibid., 279.

117.) Ibid., 279.

118.) Ibid., 283.

119.) Ibid., 279.

120.) Claudia Bergmann, “We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Only a ‘She’: The Portrayal of Warriors as Women,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 69, (2007), 661.

121.) Ibid., 662.

122.) Iris Young, “Pregnant embodiment,” in Body and Flesh, ed. Donn Welton (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, 1998), 278.

123.) Ibid., 279.

124.) Ibid., 280.

125.) Ibid., 280.

126.) Ibid., 280.

127.) Ibid., 280.

128.) Ibid., 280.

129.) Cynthia Chapman, The Gendered Language of Warfare in The Israelite-Assyrian Encounter, (Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2004): 2-3.

130.) John J. Collins, A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007): 85.

131.) Ibid., pg. 85. Also, see Cynthia Chapman, The Gendered Language of Warfare in The Israelite-Assyrian Encounter, (Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2004): 3.

132.) Cynthia Chapman, The Gendered Language of Warfare in The Israelite-Assyrian Encounter, (Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2004): 7.

133.) Ibid., 167.

134.) Ibid., 8-9.

135.) Ibid., 10.

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