J.Cheryl Exum in her article titled “The Ethics ofBiblical Violence Against Women” proposes a ‘threefold interpretivestrategy’ for dealing with rhetorical violence against women in the propheticliterature.1Exum’s proposal involves recognising thediffering claims made by male and femalereaders, exposing ‘prophetic pornography’ for what it is, and identifyingcompeting discourses.2Although Exum’s proposal focuses on the interpretation of texts such as Ezek16, Hosea 1-3, that contains metaphorical descriptions of violent acts women,it works well in interpreting any biblical text in a cultural context of maleviolence against women.
Accordingto Exum, prophetic texts make different claims upon male and female readers.Exum says male readers and identify with and defend ‘a righteous andlong-suffering God for punishing a wayward and headstrong nation’.*249However,if the females adopt the male point ofview, we must ‘read these texts against our interests’, and that means ‘acceptance, if not of guilt, then at least of theindictment of our sex that these texts represent’.*249-250Exum encourages the identification of the gender-related ‘rhetoricalstrategies’ in these texts and how they ‘affect what is at stake for female andmale readers’. *266Up tillthis present day, the explanation of the levirate law on marriage is from the man’s perspective within itshistorical context, that is, as a means of providing for the widow. A female, if given the opportunity to shape herperspective today, would probably prefer to inherit her husband’s estate orseek legitimate employment. 1 J Cheryl Exum,”The Ethics Of Biblical Violence Against Women”, in Bible In Ethics: The Second Sheffield Colloquium(Journal For The Study Of The Old Testament Supplement) (Sheffield:Sheffield Academic Press Ltd, 1995), pp. 248-271.
2 J Cheryl Exum,”The Ethics Of Biblical Violence Against Women”, in Bible In Ethics: The Second Sheffield Colloquium(Journal For The Study Of The Old Testament Supplement) (Sheffield:Sheffield Academic Press Ltd, 1995), pp. 248-271.