By Timothy Polk
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Additional info for The Prophetic Persona: Jeremiah and the Language of the Self (JSOT Supplement)
Everything that has gone before is distilled in this final statement. Thematically, everything is focused on the metaphorical heart. A physically referential reading of v. 19 would distort this focus. Also noteworthy in v. 18 is a series of ambiguities on which the recapitulation observed above has a bearing. It is not immediately obvious, for example, what the antecedents are for the relative 3. The 'Heart' in Context 51 pronouns 'elleh and zo't. e. e. evil in an ethical sense. Finally, what is the subject of naga't Perhaps the least ambiguous element is 'elleh, which most likely refers to 'besiegers' in v.
For there is no other way of interpreting the words which he groans: My innards, my innards! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep still. Apparently violent pain or constriction in the region of the heart is here producing a suffocating sense of fear. This is the way that the paroxysm is described which is one of the symptoms of angina pectoris. Perhaps, therefore, 'the walls' of the wildly beating heart are a reference, not so much to the chest as to the pericardium 'inside' the body, which feels as if it is going to burst when the heart is beating wildly with fear.
19 along with the ensuing statement: 19b For I have heard the sound of the trumpet, my soul the alarm of war. 20 Disaster follows hard upon disaster... It is in the face of this disaster, which besieges Jeremiah's heart as well as that of the people with whom he identifies, that the prophet must speak, or in his words 'cannot keep silent'. Now, the ambiguities observed in v. 18 permit a different, though not necessarily antithetical, resolution from the one just described. While the rhetorical play between w.