Metaphors Connecting Jeremiah and Jezebel: The Case of domen

Naomi Graetz


domen [Dung] symbolizes utter destruction, reduction, and flattening of nations, rulers, and populations to an excreted substance, cast out of the body as a symbol of revulsion. But, if seen from the point of view of an association with God’s will, it may be seen as a powerful metaphor of God’s rejection and condemnation of evil-doers. What can be worse than dogs devouring the flesh of a former Queen, Jezebel, and her carcass turned into a thing, excrement! Dung as a metaphor is part of the plant imagery used by the prophet to condemn the nation. Metaphor Theory helps to understand the four direct references to dung in Jeremiah (8:2; 9:21; 16:4; 25:33) and in II Kings (9:37). Since dung can be used as fertilizer (zevel) one could posit that Jeremiah prophesizes a similar fate for King Jehoiakim of Judah whose line also will end and whose corpse be exposed (Jer. 36:30), dragged out and left lying outside the gates (22:19). This will be the fate of the nation, depicted often as female, with the earth strewn with slain bodies, turned into dung (Jer. 25:33). By using the metaphor of dung, which alludes to Jezebel, associated with Jezreel, the prophet makes clear that “female” sinners deserve their fate for having betrayed the male god. The biblical Jezebel is depicted as utterly evil, however, her image has changed today, and she has been “recomposed” with a positive afterlife.  

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