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Capital letter A. Numbers 31:32

CAT 41 Capital letter A.  Numbers 31.32.  Taferelen.  BA 61.jpg

CAT 40. Capital letter A. Printed as the first letter of Tableau 10 (from Numbers [31]:31) in Taferelen der voornaamste geschiedenissen van het Oude en Nieuwe Testament. The Hague: Pieter de Hondt, 1728, 1:141. Melville Memorial Room, Berkshire Athenaeum.

Numbers 30 has no verse 31. The intended chapter and verse for this engraving must have been Numbers 31: 31.  Numbers 31:  “[25] The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, [26] Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of beast . . . [27] And divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon on them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation . . . [31] And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses. [32] And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep, [33] And threescore and twelve thousand beeves, [34] And threescore and one thousand asses, [35] and thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.”

Separated by the letter A are the victorious warriors and the congregation to which they have returned. As a commander points to his spoils, Moses speaks and the man before him records the command. The large bull and the demure sheep represent the themes of war and peace among the booty, but the young, innocent captive women are not depicted. The scene takes place at the camp on the plains of Moab near the Jordan at Jericho, the bounty being from the battle with the Midianites. Father Saurin’s commentary declares that the gift from the generals to the people was in part to redeem the men of the army for the “sin” of having “slept with the Midianite women.” The word “offeraars” on the verso of Melville’s engraving denotes “those who bring offerings.”