A city and a mother in Israel
In response to the study of Isaiah in Greek, I will try to dash off a few words. But I don’t expect to be converted to facebook overnight. Of course, I do use facebook, but only as a mother. I am, in fact, a “mother in facebook” It is the way I can lurk on my kids activities. I know they are alive without having to phone them every single night. But I don’t used facebook for much else.
Anyway, I noticed that in Isaiah 1:26, there is an expression μητροπολις πιστη σιων the “faithful metropolis of Zion.” But it is much better translated as “the mother city of Zion” as is done in the NETS, since this ties it in with the notion of both the city and the people as being the “mother.” In 2 Samuel 8:1, there is a phrase, not a place, but a phrase metheg ammah, the “bridle of the mother” understood by some translators as the “capital city.” Often Jerusalem is the “mother,” sometimes the divorced “mother” or the “adulterous” mother – unfortunately. But also Deborah is a “mother in Israel” bringing peace and justice, as prophet and judge.
The expression has lasted over the millennia, and today there is still the expression,
ir va’ em be’yisrael
עיר ואם בישראל
a city and mother in Israel
The symbol of “mother” does not mean that every woman must be a mother. Many famous women in the Hebrew Bible were not. Nor is it that women are the matriarchal original leaders. It is about metaphor, and understanding that metaphor is just that, metaphor. It is also about how powerful gender, and grammatical gender, are in the poetry of a language.
When being a woman no longer means that some Christians somewhere are busy trying to build a wall around you, then I will dance with the poetry of language. Take me up on it!
Yesterday, William Verner mentioned that 2 Samuel 20:19 has the expression “a city and mother in Israel.” Thank you.
יט אָנֹכִי, שְׁלֻמֵי אֱמוּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל;
אַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ, לְהָמִית עִיר וְאֵם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל–
לָמָּה תְבַלַּע, נַחֲלַת יְהוָה
We are of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel;
seekest thou to destroy a city and a mother in Israel?
why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD? JPS