Excerpt from another Final Paper

Thus far, we have avoided gender issues concerning the book of Ezekiel, so let us now turn to Katheryn Pfisterer Darr. In the Women’s Bible Commentary, she analyzes Ezekiel for its use of female imagery, and she concludes that “the violence frequently attending Ezekiel’s use of female imagery, his presuppositions about women’s ritual impurity, and his characterization and utter condemnation of certain religious practices raise serious questions for readers.” Darr does however assert that in chapters 47:1-12, female imagery is implicit as “ground water is an image of female fertility.” Though Darr is quite correct in her conclusion concerning the language found throughout Ezekiel, she misses the rich feminine imagery found in 17:22-24. Here we find words like sprig, tender one, young twigs, produce boughs and bear fruit, nest, and flourish which bring to mind ripeness, protection, nurturing and nourishing. Even our word addir (used in feminine form to describe the vine in 17:8) implies wideness and ampleness rather than phallic highness. In fact, if we consider our passage as a creation story, and that the wide tree is planted on top of high mountain in Israel, we have a beautiful metaphor of creative sexuality that does not privilege one gender over the other. Darr correctly states that “[r]ejecting aspects of Ezekiel’s message does not mean, however, that one should excise offending passages from the canon,” and we should also open up new possibilities for what is feminine imagery. Seeing the feminine solely in issues of human femaleness or women’s issues closes us off to interpretations that would otherwise be considered gender neutral. As we see in Ezekiel 17:22-24, the feminine is actually quite explicit, and though other places in Ezekiel can be criticized as misogynist, here we find a celebration. And of great importance, this celebration is a promise that harkens back to the intention of creation.


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