This figure has transmuted into an orthodox priest, his two companions are being prepared for their new role as rabbi and mohammedan. The overall panel will examine the family links that underlie these three great faiths.
I intend to paint a panorama of Jerusalem along the top. This city has a temporal earthly manifestation together with a spiritual dream, a heavenly residence. To all three faiths Jerusalem is at the centre, it is the place where the world will end.
Above the rabbi I have sketched in a picture of the tower of david. David is said to have founded the city, a small fortress initially, where he could lead a struggle against powerful neighbours.
My reference for this frieze has been the wonderful pictures by David Roberts, which I will adapt to conform to the needs of the picture in the future.
Above the priest I have brushed in a view of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to represent the many holy sites for the Christians. Here is the tomb of Jesus.
Above the mullah, or sherif I will probably add a view of the dome of the rock, where the mohammedans believe the prophet ascended into heaven.
I will seek to find a way of painting a visionary view of this extraordinary city. The priest, as you can see is asleep, his eyelids closed. All the men will be like that, in a hall of sleepers. Jerusalem is part of the dream of these great religions. As I paint this panel I am listening to a reading of ‘Jerusalem the Biography’ by Simon Sebag Montefiore, who recounts the arrival of the Jews under David. (Joshua’s headquarters had been north of Jerusalem at Shechem) when Jerusalem was inhabited by Jebusites. The king Adonisadec (a name which suggests a priest king) was defeated, but the Jebusites were too numerous to drive out and the sons of Judah began to live beside them in the city. The beginning of a very familiar pattern.
This was happening (1200 BC) at the time of the attacks of the people of the sea (possibly Achaean Greeks and tribes like them being displaced on mainland Greece by the Dorian tribes from the north. The Philistines, who crop up in the old testament may have been such people, Goliath may have been apparelled in similar armour to Achilles when he was felled by David.
The whole region was thrown into flux by these restless invasions. We get an inkling of the warrior sailor adventurer’s life from the pages of Homer. Viking raider-like they caused turmoil in the region, coming from the Aegean into the eastern mediterranean. Reports of unrest crop up in the delta of Egypt. The Pharaoh raided Canaan to restore order and when he returns home to Egypt he inscribed a plack on the temple in Thebes declaring that he had defeated the sea people, recaptured Ashkelon and massacred a people who appear for the first time: ‘Israel is laid waste and his seed is not’.
Not so, it appears. A rough association of Jewish tribes in the hills of Judah, each lead by a priestly chief finally coalesced under the kingship of David in order to take on the sophisticated warriors of the sea people. His success led to the founding of the Jewish holy city, when the arc of the covenant was moved into the city to find a permanent home.