Micah

55x50”              OIL ON CANVAS/WOOD     2009

We encounter Micah in the Book of Exodus when  Pharaoh intensified the labor of the Israelite slaves.The Midrash explains that when the Israelites could no longer meet their daily quota of construction bricks,  their infants were used to fill the spaces of the walls.

Moses protested to God who answered  that the  infants being placed in the walls were destined  to be  wicked . However, if Moses desired, he could see for himself and  take one out from between the bricks. Moses did this, and the child was called Micah (meaning the crushed one).

The next reference we have to Micah is in the commentary on Exodus.

When  the Israelites were ready to leave Egypt , Moses  attempted to fulfill his promise to Joseph to bring his bones. which had been sunk into the Nile in an iron coffin, to burial in the promised land.

To raise the coffin, God gave Moses  a tablet  inscribed with the words  ”Arise Ox”, ( transliterated from Hebrew as “Aleh Shor”), a reference to Joseph. . Micah then stole  the  tablet  and carried it into  the desert as the Jews traveled.

At Mt. Sinai, the  Israelites, fearing Moses’ prolonged absence,  demanded that Aaron make them a God to lead them.  Aaron, stalling for time, asked the people for their gold ornaments. When the ornaments were thrown into the fire, Micah  also threw in the stolen tablet, and immediately, a golden calf emerged.

In the lunette of the painting, the babies are shown in the bricks. A single vacant area indicates the removal of Micah.  The Hebrew words for

“Arise Ox” can be seen at the bottom of the image of the burning calf.

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