I identify strongly with roots and to me the Jewish identity rests on very deep roots. That is why I chose in this work to focus on the Pentateuch and to portray five major Patriarchs in a post and lintel format. This strong and ancient supportive building convention derives in a real sense from the megalithic stone circles of antiquity. I will elaborate on this later when I describe the meaning the piles of stones which appear in this artwork.

The Act of Creation was the beginning of everything, but what I feel made Adam the first Patriarch, very different from all life forms created before, was his human DNA. I have exercised some artistic licence here to combine the classical Serpent, which is inseparable from Adam, with the helical spiral form of DNA and I sometimes wonder whether the age old depictions of entwined serpents, did not perhaps reflect this. Adam's column also has engraved on it a Flame, similar to the flames on the Menorah. Adam carried within him the Light and Life of God, the Creator and each of the Patriarchs displays the same Flame.

Noah, the second patriarch, sent out a raven and a dove. Both returned to the ark. Later he released a dove which did bring back a leaf and finally, did not return at all. When the lands started to dry out after the flood had ended (the first meaning of the pile of stones) Noah planted a vineyard. I do believe that there is some archaeological evidence that the first cultivated crops to have appeared in the post flood world, did originate from the region of Mount Ararat, and were indeed vines. Noah was also appointed by God to be the saviour of all species of life and in my portrayal, Noah is passing this gift on to future generations in the form of a zodiac. This zodiac I remembered, has sometimes been found on the floors of ancient synagogues and this particular one, I found on a set of Israeli postage stamps. I recall reading somewhere that the word Mazal-tov had a deeper meaning than just 'Good Luck' in that it may have derived from the first Semitic language, Akkadan, in which the word Manzalu meant a 'good or favourable station'. In other words, may the day of a birth or circumcision be a day of 'favourable station' in the stars. Not important for this work, perhaps, but interesting I think.

Abraham, the third Patriach in my portrayal, is saved by the Angel Gabriel from sacrificing his son, and offers the ram caught in the thicket in his place. The papyrus at Abraham's feet tell of his Mesopotamian origin. The following information is not portrayed in the mural but I find it interesting - British Museum records, translated from Sumerian cuneiform tablets record that Terah, Abram's father was a priest from Nippur. A priest in Sumerian is Tirhu. Abram was transferred to Ur and later to Harran, from which he, his family, and Lot were sent by God to Canaan. The Sumerian word for Nippur apparently is NI.IBRU, which would make Terah's family people of IBRU. (Hebrew perhaps?) The Sumerian calendar which originated in a city called Nippur in 3760 B.C., may be the origin of the Jewish calendar used today.

Moses the fifth Patriach has at his feet the Ark of the Covenant. The Menorah, the broken tablets of the Ten Commandments and God's command to Moses to "make a fiery serpent and set it upon a pole", are straight forwardly portrayed, but my rendering of Jacob, the fourth patriach is more complex. The Menorah is associated with Moses and also with the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Jacob has at his feet his twelve sons, precursors of the twelve tribes and between them is a another pile of stones. It is to these stones that I referred earlier. To me they have three layers of meaning. The first refers to a huge circle of megalithic stones discovered by the Israeli army after the six day war, on the newly captured territory of the Golan Heights. Archaeologists feel that the ruler Og may have built them, and they apparently are similar to Stonehenge in that they may have been used for astronomical observations. In the time of the Patriachs after Jacob had left Harran with his eleven sons and daughter Dinah and returned to Canaan with Laban in pursuit, he and Laban met in the vicinity of Mount Gilead and had a hostile encounter, a territorial dispute. An agreement was reached and a witnessing pillar of stones was erected on the site - the 'stone heap of the witnessing'. Jacob in the Bible, also described the site as Mizpah, which may well refer to an observatory. He renamed the site from Gilad to Galed. (perhaps from 'the everlasting stone heap' to the 'stone heap of witnessing') I have placed the eye on the top stone in the pile as witness to this pact, which in a way I personally feel, might be the first occasion on which the Hebrews formerly laid claim to the territory of Israel. The third incident referring to the stones was when Joshua, after crossing the Jordan and leading the Israelites into the promised land, erected a stone memorial of gratitude. This could have been at the same site, as Moses, before Joshua's departure for Israel, looked down from the plains of Moab onto Gilead.

The falling and the rising tears are the manna which both fell from heaven and fed the Israelites in the Sinai Desert, and which symbolically ever since, has sustained the Jewish nation during times of tears. Finally, the tumbling characters of the Sofer Torah script form a curtain or backdrop, reflecting the blueprint on which the Creation was based.

I am not an academic or a historian, but I find a magic in this history and I have attempted to impart that magic to a work of art. Note that I have used in this mural only verifiable artefacts which may be found in the scriptures.

Raymond Andrews 2008