BR 14:05, Oct 1998
The destruction of the tablets
Massive stone blocks hover in the air above a desolate landscape, seeming to crack under an internal strain. Hebrew letters peel off into the void.
These are the tablets of the covenant given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai, as depicted by Schmuel Bak, a Jewish painter born in 1933. Unlike earlier painters, Bak shows the tablets in isolation: They are not protected by Moses embrace or gazed upon in wonder by the Israelites camped at the base of Mt. Sinai. Instead, Bak paints them at the moment God tells Moses, Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it, and sacrificed to it, and said, These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt! (Exodus 32:78).