The Metaphor of the Divine as Planter of the People in the Hebrew Bible
In the Hebrew Bible, the God of ancient Israel, YHWH, is almost always portrayed metaphorically. He is likened to a warrior, a king, a shepherd, a rock, a bride-groom, a husband, and a master gardener, to name just a few. This study examines the emergence of the conceptual metaphor YHWH IS THE PLANTER OF THE PEOPLE in order to demonstrate that biblical literature portrays the divine/human relationship as a reflection of the natural environment. Ancient Israel was an agrarian society in which the association between the land and the religion was intertwined. The aim of this study is to trace the emergence of this specific metaphorical discourse in ancient Hebrew poetry and follow its development throughout biblical history, in order to illustrate how the deep connection to the land shaped ancient thought and belief. Within this broader, primary metaphor, the complex metaphor YHWH IS THE VINTNER OF ISRAEL will also be analyzed as an image predominant in the pre-exilic prophetic literature. Viticulture became a powerful icon of the developing nation, providing rich imagery for eighth century prophetic concerns. Finally, this study will investigate how the metaphorical depiction of the people as plants was re-interpreted in exilic and post-exilic literature in response to the Babylonian campaigns in the early sixth century B.C.E., which forced many people out of the land. Recent advances in cognitive linguistics, coupled with traditional historical-critical methods, as well as a survey of the material culture, will illuminate one snapshot of ancient Israel's conception of the divine.