The Sarcophagus of the Red Sea Passage, end of the 4th cent.

End of the 4th century
Pio-Christian Museum, The Vatican

The image draws of course from Exodus 14. On the left a charioteer leads the Egyptian army in pursuit of the Israelites. In the middle the soldiers drown in the Red Sea when Moses stretches out his rod over the water (14:16). On the right, Miriam leads a song of victory with her tambourine (14:20-21). The two men between Moses and Miriam probably stand for the whole of the Israelite people, although the one at Moses' shoulder could be Aaron.

To Miriam's left a boy looks to the sea and grasps a man's tunic. This may refer to the previous chapter, where God told Moses, "when thy son shall ask thee tomorrow, saying: What is this? thou shalt answer him: With a strong hand did the Lord bring us forth out of the land of Egypt. out of the house of bondage" (13:14).

The burden the man is carrying draws from 12:34, "The people therefore took dough before it was leavened: and tying it in their cloaks, put it on their shoulders."

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