Page 61 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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HEYD / ISAAC S SACRIFICE
55
1914. In 1917 he travelled to the United States where the Ameri­
can Federation of Museums organized exhibitions of his works.
In 1921 Pann returned to Palestine where he executed part of his
grand plan of issuing the “Bible in Pictures.”
The traditional representation of the theme of Isaac’s sacrifice
naturally selects the most dramatic moment in the story: Ab­
raham raises his hand to slaughter his son, while the angel ap­
pears in order to prevent the deed just in time. The moment of
sacrifice is the most relevant from the Christian point of view,
since it is interpreted as a prefiguration of the crucifixion. Lilien,
however, chose a less common theme. He depicted Abraham and
Isaac walking on the way to Mount Moriah (fig. 1). A first glance
at the black-and-white illustration may create the impression of a
genre scene depicting a youngster leading an old bearded man
who is kissing the youngster’s hand as if in gratitude. Yet, the
bundle of wood and the vessel containing fire (which in the
biblical story is held by Abraham but is here carried by the youth)
clearly associate the scene with the verse “And the two walked off
together” (Genesis 22:6). The knife, which is explicitly mentioned
in the Bible as held by Abraham, is conspicuously absent, a fact
which emphasizes the innocuous character of the scene depicted
in the picture. This expresses the attempt of the original story to
conceal the drama in Abraham’s soul from Isaac’s eyes. The boy
asks: “Here is the firestone and the wood; but where is the sheep
for the burnt offering?” (Gen. 22:7). Isaac does not mention the
knife.
EURO PEAN PARALLELS
An analysis of two European iconographical sources of the
illustration will demonstrate its complexity and its interrelations
with Christian art. Gustave Dore’s Bible illustrations were widely
known throughout the western world. They appear in Jewish
books, for instance in late nineteenth century Haggadahs. Dore’s
depiction of the scene of
The Sacrifice o f Isaac
(fig. 2) is one of the
sources of Lilien’s picture. Both Abraham and Lilien depict the
preclimactic moment in the story and try to render the figures in
what they consider to be their original setting and dress. Being a
Zionist artist, Lilien is interested in his ancestors’roots and visual­
izes them: Abraham wears oriental clothes, a typical Arab galabia
and kefia! Lilien chose the galabia as a suitable symbol of con­