The Louvre/Scala/Art Resource, NY

The goddess Inanna. Gold and gems decorate this delicate fourth-century B.C.E. alabaster statuette of the Sumerian deity. In late-third- to early-second-millennium B.C.E. Sumerian love songs, Inanna describes herself as a “well-watered field” in need of “plowing.” The same sexual metaphor is used of God’s wife Israel in the closing lines of Zephaniah—although most modern translations mangle the verse. In Zephaniah 3:14, the prophet tells Israel to exult because the Lord “has taken away the judgments against [it].” He promises Israel: “The Lord, your God … will rejoice over you with gladness, he will plow in his love” (Zephaniah 3:17). The relationship between God and his wife, Israel, has been fully and intimately restored.