Tobacco box


Not on view

The box is oval. The octagonal panel on the lid is engraved with a scene of Moses and the brazen serpent. Three worshippers are looking at the serpent. The panel is framed by leaf scrolls and is flanked by the inscription: Siet moses in de wostijn den slang hoog doet verheve / op dat die het soude sien behoude sij en leve (See how Moses holds high the serpent in the desert/ so that they who behold this will be saved and live). The passage illustrated is found in the Bible in Numbers 21:8-9. Moses is portrayed with horns. This tradition derived from the misinterpretation of the word cornutam, which in the Vulgate describes Moses' face at the moment he descended from Mount Sinai with the tablets of the Law. The word was intended to indicate that rays of light shone out from Moses' head, but it also means "horned." See James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art (New York, 1979) p. 213. This representation expresses belief in deliverance.

In the panel on the underside Abner stabs Asahel, an incident described in 2 Samuel 2:23. The inscription reads: In scheijn van vrindshap boos en fel/doorsteekt abner ahasael zeer snel (In pretext of friendship, angry and fierce/ Abner stabs Asahel very quickly).

With lined rims. Leaf scrolls are found on the border and sides.

Tobacco box, Brass, Dutch

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