Pornography or theology? The legal background, psychological reality, and theological import of Ezekiel 16.
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The description of the relationship between Yhwh and Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16 has troubled readers, ancient and modern. Here I argue that the problems are actually more severe than has been realized in recent scholarship. Against many readings, there is no "adoption" in this text, and Yhwh does nothing for Jerusalem's benefit at all; instead, Yhwh is depicted as saving Baby Jerusalem for his own sexual and emotional benefit. The revulsion that readers feel is Ezekiel's intention, and sensitivity to the rhetoric of the chapter shows that the (male) Israelite audience was meant to identify emotionally with the victim, Jerusalem, against Yhwh. The crucial interpretive question is why Ezekiel would describe the deity thus. I suggest that this is one part of Ezekiel's radical exilic theology, in which the obligations Israel has toward Yhwh are due not to love and mutual admiration but to an emotionless but overwhelming debt.
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