aish.com > Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > Art of Revelation

Snakes and Staffs

Va'eira (Exodus 6:2-9:35 )

by Yoram and Meira Raanan

"Snakes and Staffs," 2014, acrylic on canvas, 80 x 100 cm.


Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Pharaoh summoned his wise men and magicians. They were able to do the same thing with their magic tricks. When each one of them threw down his staff, they became serpents. Aaron's staff then swallowed up their staffs. (Exodus 7:10-12)


God said to Moses, "Tell Aaron to take his staff and extend his hand over the waters of Egypt…over all their bodies of water - and [all the water] will turn into blood…(Exodus 7:19)

Executed with a limited palette of black, white and red, the painting reflects two pivotal moments at the start of the plagues. The mysterious human figures suggest Moses and Aaron challenging Pharaoh and his magicians. In the lower part of the painting, large snakes ? painted with broad streaks of color applied with the palm of the hand ? slink on the ground. At the top of the painting, a numinous snake, suggesting Aaron's rod, slithers in the sky with open mouth, as if to swallow up the magicians' evil snakes. This eerie snake in the sky also alludes to Aaron's rod stretched out over the Nile at the moment when the great river was turned into blood.



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