‘You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.’
The narrative elements of the text fit with Moyaert’s painting, whose military aspect is likewise satisfyingly explained. The ruler on the white horse is Joshua, with the Judean Lion on his shield, the symbol of the Israelites. The town on the top of the hill must therefore be Jericho. Pictorial tradition usually shows Jericho already falling. Presumably, Moyaert wanted to emphasize the aspect of putting trust in God, of obedience and following His divine will, rather than showing the immediate proof of His will through its falling.
The actual result of steadfastness and perseverance in God’s word, then, is the theme of the pendant, which depicts the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel as told in 1 Kings 18, an episode that takes place centuries later. It is crucial here to understand that the words spoken by Joshua upon Jericho’s destruction – ‘Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates’ (Joshua 6:26) – are directly relatable to this later episode, thus providing the connection between Moyaert’s pendants that was unclear until now.
In the latter scene, staged at Mount Carmel, Elijah confronts those gathered, asking of them: ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). He then challenges Baal’s prophets to a sacrificial contest: both prepare a bull, on the condition that no fire is lit, but that each will call upon his God to set fire to the offering. The prophets of Baal – mocked by Elijah – limped around the altar from morning until noon, crying ‘Oh Baal, answer us! […] and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them’ (1 Kings 18:26-28), but nothing happened. Then it was Elijah’s turn. After calling all the people to come near, preparing the bull and repairing the altar with twelve stones ‘according to the number of the tribes of Israel’, he commanded three times to pour water over the offering and the wood. This being done, he called upon God, who instantaneously set fire to the offering, bewildering those gathered, saying ‘The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God!’ (1 Kings 18:39). Moyaert shows us the false prophets of Baal on the top of the hill, calling in vain upon their god. In the foreground, Elijah outspreads his arms, while behind him the shocked king Ahab, on horseback, fearfully observes God’s miracle. While three men with buckets pour water on the altar, the Lord’s lightning sets fire to the offering, astonishing the people of precarious faith, who are consequently re-affirmed in their true belief.
1. Tümpel 1974, cat. nos. 70, 83 (the present pendants, 1648); 75, 76 (two works depicting Bathseba, mentioned in the death inventory of Balthasar Schouten of 1682);
163, C2/C3 (two works depicting Mercury, Argos and Io, before 1624); 186, 187 (The
Funeral of a Heathen King and The Baptism of Harald Bluetooth, painted for Christian
IV, 1643); 292, 295 (deathbed portraits of Leonardus Marius and Nicolaes Verwer (as
Joan Banningh Wuytiers) on their respective deathbeds 1652, 1647). Moiso-Diekamp
1987, p. 395, no. C1 mentions a set of two Bacchic Scenes in the collection of
Sir Francis Dashwood at West Wycombe Park (Buckinghamshire), without further
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.