They Played the Whore
Ezekiel 16 and 23 have provoked a number of feminist readings because of their sexually violent pornographic content.1 Nevertheless, because they focus primarily on gender and rhetoric, these studies have devoted little attention to situating the historical production of these extended metaphors2 within the system of colonial relations that eventually led to the conquest and exile of the Judean elite.3 By dehistoricizing the rhetoric of sexuality, these investigations overlook the "en-gendering" of these texts during brutal acts of empire. The pornography of these texts should be coded not simply as another form of patriarchal violence, but as colonial ethnic conflict framed as a sexualized encounter. The feminist critic must negotiate the "either/or" opposition between the colonized female body, symbolizing the nation, and the racialized male colonizer and conqueror constructed by the male prophet. In both texts the history of the nation is seen through the lens of a colonized male of the priestly elite during the final days of that nation and the exile of its upper-class sectors. The gender-specific metaphors of Ezekiel 16 and 23 are products of this personal and collective male experience of foreign colonization and conquest trauma.
In this chapter I focus on Ezekiel 23, because of its more detailed sexual descriptions of the foreign conquerors and its metaphor of promiscuous sisters for the nation, rather than that of the faithless wife.4 In my examinations of sexualized tropes of nationhood, I am particularly indebted to the insights of feminist posteolonial theory and trauma studies in trying to grasp the experiences of prophet and