Publication details [#9234]

Riede, Peter. 2005. Die Sprache der Bilder: Zur Bedeutung und Funktion der Metaphorik in den Feindpsalmen des Alten Testaments am Beispiel der Psalmen 57 und 59 In Van Hecke, Pierre. Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 187). Leuven, Belgium: Peeters. pp. 1–18. 18 pp.
Publication type
Article in book  
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Leuven, Belgium: Peeters


The author treats the enemy images occurring in Ps 57 and 59. In these analyses, the author shows, first of all, how, in one single poem, several metaphors of different origin can operate together. In the metaphoric description of the enemies of the individual praying in Ps 57, the three typical forms of enemy images (hunting, war and animals) are present, but also the topos of the night is indirectly mentioned, the author demonstrates. These different levels of imagery are artfully combined in the psalm to create a powerful depiction of the enemies. In a second paragraph, the author makes clear that in some cases image and counter-image originate from the same realm. On the basis of the analysis of Ps 57, but more importantly of Ps 59, it is shown that the images used for the threat menacing the praying individual, are also brought into play when the protection and security from threat are described. One of the striking examples of this phenomenon the author adduces, is the imagery of the city: whereas the supplicant first describes himself as inhabiting a besieged city out of which no fleeing is possible, he subsequently calls on God to be precisely his protecting city. In a concluding paragraph, Riede underlines the importance of relating metaphors to the world-views that were in vigour at the time of their composition. The fact that images taken from the realms of war, hunting and wild animal life are used typically in the description of enemies should come as no surprise in a society in which the city was the safe haven of human order and civilization which needed constant protection against the invasion of the threatening chaotic outer world where marauders and wild animals had free play. Metaphors, the author concludes, are expressions of the way in which people understood their own reality that cannot be disposed of without loss of content. (Pierre Van Hecke)