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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919


WESSELS, Wilhelm J.. Subversion of power: Exploring the Lion metaphor in Nahum 2:12-14. Old testam. essays [online]. 2014, vol.27, n.2, pp.703-721. ISSN 2312-3621.

The short book of Nahum has posed many questions to the scholarly community. For many the book represents an unacceptable display of nationalism and for others the violence in Nahum is too much to bear. The book also stirs emotions with its humiliating references to women to depict weakness and rejection. The book of Nahum also raises the question of YHWH as the aggressor committing acts of violence. These issues are all valid concerns that need to be entertained by scholars. However, the poetic nature of the Nahum text cannot go unnoticed. The view taken is that Nahum should be read as "resistance poetry " similar to struggle poems and songs that function in oppressive contexts. The argument promoted in this article is that the rhetoric of the book serves the purpose of enticing the Judean people to imagine victory in spite of their oppression and victimisation by the Assyrian forces. The text of Nahum is an excellent display of power battles with the sovereign power YHWH overpowering the Assyrian powers with Nineveh and the Assyrian king as symbols of power. YHWH acts on behalf of the Judean people, who feel powerless in their confrontation with the Assyrians. With this in mind, it will be illustrated that some metaphors in Nahum are used as a means to undermine the power of the enemy. A case will be put forward that the metaphor of the lion, which represents power par excellence, is used in Nah 2:12-14 in a taunt song to subvert the idea of power inherent in this very image. The idea is to illustrate how a metaphor depicting power is used creatively to achieve the exact opposite by subverting that power.

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