Friday, November 14, 2014

Moses Comes Down From the Mountain

Moses Comes Down From the Mountain  24 x 36 inches, Acrylic on Illustration Board on Panel, 2014

Inspired by my translation of the Bible (the first volume of the Anderson Revisionist Bible featuring Genesis and Exodus was published earlier in the year), I have been at work on tableaux from the Old Testament.  Moses, of course, commands major attention.  His dramatic return from the holy mountain with the tablets containing the Ten Commandments is an irresistible idea, although the composition was very difficult.  I decided to present a foreground with Moses carrying the tablet and his protege, Joshua, who is calling his attention to the merrymaking in camp and the Golden Calf idol his people are worshiping.  Aaron, Moses' brother who crafted the Golden Calf is the larger figure to the right.  I chose to depict the Israelites with representative figures rather than with a crowd.  --- I'm pretty sure I will another scene with the Golden Calf in the foreground, in order to capture the other side of the story.

Although the biblical text claims that Moses was 80 years old when he returned to Egypt from Midian, that seems to be merely an adjustment to make him the desired 120 years when he died.  Since he still had small children with him when he returned, he must have been a fairly young man.  He is characterized as an inexperienced and sometimes clueless leader, a man of passion and anger, more callow than imbued with the wisdom of age.  Consequently, I have painted him as a man approaching middle age with a beard just beginning to gray.  The tablets would have been rectangular, definitely not rounded on the top and since they were stone, they couldn't have been too large or Moses wouldn't have been able to carry them.  There is some tradition that they might have been made of the blue stone that Jehovah's throne was composed of.  Older Bibles refer to the stone as sapphire, but sapphires were unknown at that time, so it was probably lapis lazuli, which was used extensively in ancient Egypt.  If they were to be readable to the men of the time, the writing on them could only have been Egyptian hieroglyphics, perhaps hieratic script in the Sinaitic dialect.  (No matter how recent the Exodus is dated, it is long before the invention of alphabets or the Hebrew language.)

One is referred to my translation of Exodus which is online at

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