Abstract

Abstract:

Isaiah 11:6–8 is commonly interpreted as an allusion to a creation paradise characterized by peace among the animals. In this article I offer three arguments to counter such an allusion. First, a blessing that depicts cosmic changes does not fit well with the royal prophecy in verses 1–5, which focus on judicial changes. Based on parallel texts found elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East, this-worldly blessings are expected in the context of a royal prophecy. Second, there are no creational texts in the Hebrew Bible or the ancient Near East similar enough in their descriptions to form the background for an allusion in Isa 11:6–8. I will evaluate the various parallels cited by commentators and question their relevance. Third, the imagery of Isa 11:6–8 does not fit with a creational animal peace theme. A close reading indicates that these verses focus on security for human interests, not animal peace in general, with the wild animals described as domesticated, not just peaceful. Further, there is no indication of a return to vegetarianism for humans. Thus, I suggest that the focus of the imagery is not on a restored creation but on the absence of divinely implemented curses. It is a portrayal of blessedness through the removal of the curse of devouring animals. In contrast to similar blessings elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, the animals themselves are not removed. Instead, in a unique hyperbolic turn, the animals formerly feared by humans are described as domesticated, providing a poignant image of safety and security for Israel.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-3876
Print ISSN
0021-9231
Pages
pp. 319-337
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-26
Open Access
No
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