Friday, December 21, 2012

Sexed language of Isaiah 3:17 - Is it sexist? What's it mean?

In 3:17, there seems to be something explicitly sexual: τὸ σχῆμα αὐτῶν in reference to θυγατέρας Σιών. At first glance, it might appear that the Hebrew is more suggestive (if ambiguous), having HaShem "lay bare / discover their secret parts" (JPS / KJV - that is, פת of בנות ציון). But the Greek translator has κύριος ἀποκαλύψει τὸ σχῆμα αὐτῶν. And in Aristotle's writings (Hist. of Animals, 579b 20), the biologist is comparing visible male and female parts and discusses τῷ σχήματι τῷ τοῦ θήλεος (or as D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson renders it "the female organ"). What is Isaiah in Hebrew and in Greek saying here? How must we interpret the sexed language?

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