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image of Vetus Testamentum

Scholars typically assert that the punishment section of Ezekiel xvi includes several features that accurately depict the appropriate and lawful punishment for adultery in ancient Israel. This article refutes the standard scholarly interpretation in two ways. First, it demonstrates that the standard interpretation is based on a flawed understanding of the nature of metaphor. It concludes that, although scholars claim that they are reading metaphorically, in fact they are taking the language literally. Secondly, it reviews all of the biblical and extrabiblical evidence cited by scholars in support of asserting that four of the features of the depicted punishment reflect the lawful punishment for adultery. It concludes that the evidence cited does not support the assertion. Rather, the punishment depicted draws upon consequences threatened for breach of covenant, which is the transgression that the people of Jerusalem are accused of committing in Ezekiel xvi.

Affiliations: 1: Winnipeg


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