Moses and the Burning Bush

6th century
Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

Two mosaiced walls face each other across the space before the basilica's presbytery. This segment from the right wall illustrates Exodus 3:1-6. While tending his flock on Mount Horeb, Moses notices a bush that burns without being consumed. When he approaches, God tells him he is in a sacred place and must remove his sandals.

In the upper left corner of the mosaic the voice of God is pictured as a hand reaching from the sky. Actually, Exodus 3:4 says God spoke from the bush, but that would be hard to picture.

The bush itself is right of Moses' left arm, but other flames appear all over the mountaintop. This detail is not in scripture.

Below and to the right is the main lunette of the mosaic, with the sacrifices of Abel and Melchizedech. Right of the lunette, Isaiah is pictured. Facing the burning-bush mosaic on the left wall is a corresponding illustration of Moses receiving the Law from the hand of God. The segment corresponding to the flock on the right side pictures the twelve Apostles in liturgical garments, representing Christ's own "flock," the Church. But ironically, the action in the scene is the kiss of Judas.

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Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.