Do you recognize this biblical scene?
1. Let My People Go
2. Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
3. Saul Frightened by the Shadow of Samuel
4. Christ at the Mount of Olives
5. The Burning Bush
James Lesesne Wells
Let My People Go, painted on masonite—a type of hardboard—by the American artist Aaron Douglas (1899–1979), was originally created as one of eight illustrations for James Weldon Johnson’s 1926 book God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. Douglas subsequently enlarged and revised these illustrations into separate paintings, including Let My People Go.
The painting depicts a submissive Moses, kneeling in response to God’s command to lead his people out of Egypt (Exodus 3). It is filled with symbolism: The rays of light depict God’s command, the three pyramids of Giza (behind Moses) represent the masses of enslaved Israelites, and stylized waves evoke the parting of the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s army, brandishing spears and riding in chariots, can be seen on the left.
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