Animal metaphors and similes in biblical prophecies and royal Mesopotamian inscriptions

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This article examines the use of faunal images to describe enemies in the biblical prophetic literature and Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions. Both sets of texts reflect the close interaction between humans and animals during this period, the prophets adopting metaphors from nature in order to depict the threat of invasion if Israel remains unrepentant and the Mesopotamian scribes employing them in order to present their masters as great warlords in the eyes of the gods and elite. The findings suggest that – as might be expected – those animals that pose a danger to human beings (lions, wild oxen, wolves, leopards, snakes, raptors, etc.) symbolize the imperial armies, those perceived as weaker (sheep, goats) their victims. Likewise, those who flee (e.g., mongooses, foxes, fish, birds, etc.) represent adversaries on the run.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-45
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Northwest Semitic Languages
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

RAMBI Publications

  • RAMBI Publications
  • Bible -- Comparative studies
  • Metaphor in the Bible
  • Animals in the Bible
  • Enemy in the Bible
  • Assyro-Babylonian literature -- Relation to the Bible


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