Original Research - Special Collection: Theology and Economy and Environment

Rain, dew, flourishing plants as images of monolatry and righteousness: The weather imagery and its meaning in Hosea

Szabolcs-Ferencz Kató
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6670 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6670 | © 2021 Szabolcs-Ferencz Kató | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 March 2021 | Published: 25 August 2021

About the author(s)

Szabolcs-Ferencz Kató, Department of Old Testament Studies and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Old Testament, Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, Romania


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Abstract

Weather imagery plays a major role in Hosea. Hosea 2 recalls the image of an unfaithful wife; Hosea 4:2–3 describes the withering of the land; in 6:3; 10:12; 14:6, the several types of precipitation draw attention to the utterance of YHWH or the requested righteousness; in 9:10.13.16; 10:1; 13:5; 14:6.8, Israel is symbolised by different plants that blossom and wither, depending on their relation to Yhwh. In all of these instances, weather phenomena contribute to these images. In this article, I try to catalogue and evaluate the metaphors and concepts to look at how meteorological images convey theological and historical messages, and vice versa how historical events or sociological procedures demonstrate their consequences in nature, especially in the weather. It seems that weather imagery is used to describe the consequences of idolatry, injustice and false politics. These cause drought and famine in a concrete sense, but the withering of Israel figuratively, the last word of the book is a call for repentance that could ensure Israel’s well-being once again. With these metaphors, Hosea explicitly delivers a plea for monolatry and righteousness, as well as for equality, in an implicit way. These pieces of evidence can provide a basis for further interpretation from the hermeneutical perspective of the notion called ‘interconnectedness’.

Contribution: This article analyses the weather imagery of the Book of Hosea and contributes to a better understanding of the use of these metaphors in prophetic discourses.


Keywords

imagery; metaphor; Polemic; justice; Ba’al-cult

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