It's so easy to miss those small details when illustrating a Bible story. The little details that we often skim over in our Bible reading are often the ones essential to the Bible artist. The Bible illustrator is looking for all those little visual details because they have to recreate a particular scene. Does the text mention a table? or a chair? How many people are in the room? What type of room is it? Is it light outside or dark? Is a certain type of tree mentioned? All these snipits of information, that are of less importance in a Bible study, help the artist to recreate the scene accurately.
Back in 2009 I illustrated a 'one off' picture from the life of Elijah for a proposed children's Bible (that didn't materialise). The picture was from the biblical account of Elijah vs the Prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18). Before I started this picture I wanted to get some idea of what Mt Carmel looked like so I went to one of my favourite sites - Bibleplaces.com!
There are 6 pictures in this new set retelling the story of Elijah vs the prophets of Baal. As I was illustrating the picture depicting the 12 jars of water being poured over the sacrificial bull, I realised just how precious this water would have been at the time of a severe drought! So I illustrated the crowd looking on in horror at this apparent waste! I was reminded of the scene in Mark 14:3 of Mary and the alabaster pot of very expensive perfume being broken over the head of Jesus. The disciples looked on in horror and complained that this ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor. There's also another similarity in these two accounts. Jesus was also being prepared, like the bull in 1 Kings 18, to come under the fiery judgement of God for sins not His own.
The second mistake I made in 2009 was in the way I had depicted Elijah. The problem is, you don't find a physical description of Elijah until 2 Kings ch 1! From this description you can see why some of those in Jesus' day, (who would have been familiar with 2 Kings ch 1), thought that John the Baptist was Elijah! (John 1:21) Both men do sound very much alike in appearance! In fact, Zechariah 13:4, does seem to suggest that there was a certain dress code for prophets - almost like a badge of their profession!
In some versions, 2 Kings 1:8 is translated 'He was a hairy man', but most versions translate verse 8 as 'He wore a garment of hair.' Just to play it safe I've depicted Elijah as a hairy man and wearing clothes woven from hair!
This Bible picture set, along with many others, is available from foundationmatters.org
Photo © Bibleplaces.com 2015