Friday, June 05, 2009

David Spares Saul, again!

David spares Saul
A few years ago I drew a picture of King Saul asleep in a cave, while David, who was hiding in the same cave with his men, cut off the corner of Saul's cloak while he slept. I'm not the only Bible artist who has depicted this scene in this way. I've seen a number of pictures like this over the years by different artists. (See samples 1, 2.)
So what did we all do wrong? Well, we all got our Bible stories mixed up! In 1 Samuel 24, Saul didn't go into the cave to sleep, he went in to use the toilet! This is probably why we don't see that many pictures depicting this scene, although Annie Vallotton managed to illustrate this scene both accurately and discreetly.

Mistakes like this stem from the fact that there are a number of Bible stories which are very similar, but not the same. This is another reason why we need to read each story very carefully before illustrating it! The picture above is from a very similar story when King Saul was again hunting down David. It's found in 1 Samuel 26. In this story David and Abishai go down into Saul's camp at night and they take Saul's spear and water jug from his side while he sleeps. Abishai wants to kill Saul with his spear while they have the chance, but David will not allow him to because Saul had been appointed by God.

The best way that David could show Saul that he meant him no harm was by taking Saul's belongings from his side while he slept. This clearly displayed to Saul that David could easily have killed him if he had wanted to. Just as David had done previously in 1 Samuel 24 when he cut off the corner of Saul's cloak. I've drawn Saul's bodyguard Abner soundly snoring in the foreground.
As always, all comments welcome!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bible pictures of Esther

Bible pictures of Esther
On the right is a recently finished picture of Esther for our up-coming children's Bible. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was so impressed to read how Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema would visit the British Museum to sketch Egyptian artifacts to include in his Bible pictures, that I decided to visit the British Museum website myself! All the ornate golden cups, the ceramic pot and the golden jug in the picture are based on actual ancient Persian artifacts which are on display at the British museum.

I was amazed, when researching the Persian army, to find how ornate their uniforms were. They wore highly patterned tunics and trousers which you can see on the soldier in the background. I would hate to illustrate a Persian battle scene! There has been some criticism of the depiction of these Persian soldiers in the movie '300' but apart from the silver masks, they were not far out. I would have to say though that the depiction of King Xerxes was way off! We have ancient carvings of King Xerxes in the ruins of Persepolis that give us some idea of what Xerxes looked like.

In the picture, Esther is pointing an accusing finger at Haman, identifying him as the evil schemer plotting to destroy her people. The story of Esther, (the events of which took place around 483-471 B.C.) is still remembered and celebrated today in the Jewish holiday of Purim. It's a fun time when all the children dress up as characters from the story.

I attended a presentation last Sunday evening, held at Mills Hill Baptist church, on all of the Jewish feasts. This has been a fascinating study held over four weeks. The presentation was given by a Jewish friend of mine, and he mentioned last Sunday, in passing, that although God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, in the Hebrew scrolls of Esther all the names of God can be found written vertically or diagonally, in the same way that we find words hidden in a word-search!

There's a timely reminder in the story of Esther for our world leaders today, and it is this; There are consequences when meddling in the affairs of Israel!
My attention was drawn this week to Zechariah chapter 12 and particularly verse 10.