Late 17th/Early 18th Century
The Israelites in the Wilderness Gathering Water from the Spring of Moses
Oil on canvas, within a painted oval
27 1/4 x 36 3/8 inches (69.2 x 92.5 cm)
This scene, which illustrates Numbers 20:11, shows Aaron, the brother of Moses (wearing a priestly mitre), supervising the Israelites as they gather water from a spring that Moses has just opened by striking a rock. Normally the dominant figure in paintings of this incident is Moses himself. His absence here suggests that there may have been another painting in this series showing the more dramatic moment of the prophet actually striking the rock. The small fire in the shrub at the lower left is probably an allusion to the miracle of the Burning Bush, while the mountain in the distance is based on Byzantine images representing Mount Sinai.
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