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Foul Grapes: Figurative Smells and the Message of the Song of the Vineyard (Isa 5:1-7)

In: Vetus Testamentum
Author: Yael Avrahami1
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  • 1 Oranim: Academic College of Education, Israel
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This article demonstrates that a semantic analysis of the word beʾushim deepens and nuances our understanding of the Song of the Vineyard (Isa 5:1-7). The article discusses the literal meaning of the root bʾš, ‘to have a bad smell’, as well as the its array of derived meanings. Then it applies this network of meanings in an exegesis of the rhetoric and message of the song. Furthermore, this article argues that the attribution of bad smells in prophetic literature is part of a larger scheme of retribution. Bad smells serve as a metaphor for punishment while good smells signify restoration.

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