Mosaic of Biblical Saints Found in Old Synagogue (4th-5th c.), Confirming Once Again Iconographic Tradition

Originally appeared at: Orthodox Christianity

Left: The Israelite commander Barak depicted in the Huqoq synagogue mosaic. Right: Fox eating grapes depicted in Huqoq synagogue mosaic. Photos by Jim Haberman

The earliest known images of two Biblical heroines were recently discovered by a team of archeologists at the ancient synagogue at Huqoq in Lower Galilee.

The Huqoq Excavation Project is now in its 10th season. Among the notable discoveries made this year are 4th-5th-century images of the Biblical heroines Deborah and Jael from the book of Judges, reports the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, whose professor Jodi Magness heads up the archeologic team.

In particular, the dig unearthed a large mosaic panel on the floor divided into three horizontal strips depicting an episode from Judges 4, when the Israelite forces, led by the prophetess Deborah and the military commander Barak, were victorious over the Canaanite army led by the general Sisera. After the battle, Sisera took refuge in the tent of a Kenite woman, Jael, who drove a tent spike through his temple as he slept.

The uppermost strip shows Deborah under a palm tree, looking at Barak. The middle strip is not as well preserved, but appears to show Sisera seated. The lowest strip shows Sisera lying dead and bleeding as Jael hammers the stake through his head.

“This is the first depiction of this episode and the first time we’ve seen a depiction of the biblical heroines Deborah and Jael in ancient Jewish art,” Magness said. “Looking at the book of Joshua chapter 19, we can see how the story might have had special resonance for the Jewish community at Huqoq, as it is described as taking place in the same geographical region—the territory of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulon.”

Earlier discoveries at Huqoq include various depictions of Samson, the spies sent out by Moses to explore Canaan, Noah’s Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah being swallowed by the whale, the building of the Tower of Babel, the four beasts from Daniel 7, and much more.

For more great memes like this one, follow Global Orthodox News on Telegram:

  • Shqip
  • العربية
  • English
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Bahasa Indonesia
  • Italiano
  • Português
  • Русский
  • Español