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December 03, 2012


Bob MacDonald

I wonder what the provenance of this is - 1937 being a difficult date in history for the Jews. Was any history supplied?

Jim Gordon

Hello again Bob - the same thought ocurred to me. Indeed one or two have wondered what the story is that lies behind such an unusual, and to the two people, precious memento. It's mainly brass so its value is human rather than commercial. Inverurie in the North East of Scotland is an unlikely provenance. Because I don't have Hebrew I can't read the inscription. I'll photograph them close-up and email them to you and see what you make of them. But it is a poignant reminder of love, mortality and the significance of our individual stories within the larger narrative of God's people.

Robert Parkinson

Hi Jim,
This is a beautiful item. I would make a couple of observations that might revise your interpretation of it. I notice that the inscription beneath the central relief says Rebekah and Eliezer so I think the detail pictures Rebekah drawing water for Abraham's servant rather than Jacob meeting Rachel. Also the names at the top read Jerusalem (on the left) and Bezalel (I think) on the right. I am not sure what to make of Bezalel. Is this the artificer of the Tabernacle or is it to be read as a string of words (in the shadow of God)? If it is to be read as the name, I wonder whether it relates simply to the fact that this is a fine vessel. Could it be an offering plate? The pictorial detail looks European to me but I am hardly an expert. Intriguing. I wonder if some of your Jewish friends could throw more light on it.

Jim Gordon

Robert thanks for this clarification. I agree, having read the story of Rebekah, especially watering the camels, which is a prominent motif on the central panel. I am happy to have others offer their knowledge and insights and will revise the post once some contributions have come in. Definitely not Jacob and Rachel.
Bezalel as the master craftsman of the Tabernacle has long been a favourite of mine for the person whose gifts and skills are on offer for the worship and service of God. I also like the idea of Jerusalem in the shadow of God. Happy to hear from others, but thank you very much Robert.

Robert Parkinson

It appears there is a Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bezalel_Academy_of_Art_and_Design). I think this must be the source of your plate and would explain the inscriptions Bezalel and Jerusalem.

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