Ezekiel and the politics of Yahweh : a study in the kingship of God
Bechtel, Christopher Ronald
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The book of Ezekiel, like much of the Hebrew Bible, depicts Yahweh as a king. However, Ezekiel’s presentation of Yahweh’s kingship has been largely ignored by modern scholarship, and, when it has been addressed, has been categorized as a grand metaphor for Yahweh’s divine superiority. In contrast, this study argues that Yahweh’s kingship is a genuine political force, not merely a cipher for the exalted status of Israel’s deity. To answer the objection that ‘Yahweh is king’ is a metaphor, Chapter 2 shows that the approach to metaphors so commonly applied in Biblical Studies is deficient. A new approach is thus warranted and provided, enabling utterances such as ‘Yahweh is king’ to function within a spectrum literality. To show that Ezekiel’s presentation of Yahweh’s kingship merits consideration as a literal claim, Chapters 3-7 offer a close reading of the five texts that overtly hail Yahweh as king: Ezekiel 1-5, 8-11, 20, 34, 40-48. The political ramifications of Yahweh’s kingship are shown to be of such importance that Yahweh’s kingship is best understood as a claim for Yahweh himself to govern his people as a political, not merely religious, king. Chapter 8 briskly traces several key themes throughout the book confirming that Ezekiel presents Yahweh’s kingship in order to establish divine rule over all human affairs. And Chapter 9, as a conclusion, ties together the previous chapters while also demonstrating the value of the thesis both for scholarship on the book of Ezekiel and for the broader question of the kingship of God.