Yahweh as Maternal Vampire in Second Isaiah: Reading from Violence to Fluid Possibility with Luce Irigaray


Second Isaiah (Isaiah 40–55) contains significant maternal and birth imagery, much of it applied to the Hebrew God Yahweh. Because Yahweh is typically associated with masculinity and violence, this imagery is sometimes read as a nonviolent and/or feminizing (or even feminist) alternative. However, Graybill demonstrates that the maternity of Yahweh is in fact appropriative misogyny. Yahweh’s role is that of vampire, at once threatening the female body and drawing substance from it. In constructing this reading, the author draws from Luce Irigaray. Irigaray’s work on the elements and on fluidity, in particular, also enables a move beyond the violent and appropriative masculinity that Yahweh represents in the text. Thus, Graybill dissociates images of Yahweh as mother from other novel representations of fluidity, generativity, and creation.