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Truly Mosaic Beard
Boy, has this Scriptural figure ever doubled down!
Not only does he have a truly Mosaic beard — as it is indeed sprouting from the lower edge of the face of none other than Moses — but he also has a truly mosaic beard — as in one clearly configured by an assemblage or pattern of multiple small multicolored pieces of inlaid stone, glass, etc.
But, to be sure, it was no easy task assembling that chinly appended assemblage — no, sirree!
As you might well imagine, one can wander lost among the Middle Eastern sand dunes of antiquity for year upon year and almost never encounter even one stone or bit of glass (or nut or seed or bead, for that matter). And forget buttons; they had only recently been invented in the Indus Valley, and weren’t at all common yet in the world of the Arabs and the Jews.
Luckily, though, any leftover manna that might have happened to fall from the heavens, once exposed to the dry Judean desert air for 40 days and 40 nights, becomes only slightly less hard than the strongest granite, making it eminently suitable for carving into tiny cubic tiles of almost any design one might envision.
And, if one happens to have a burning bush about, it becomes a relatively easy task to “fire” those dried manna tiles (or, more accurately, “toast” them) to a flinty durable density. Voila! Mosaic mosaic tiles aplenty! All that remains is to create some variety of color, pattern, style and art.
Not a problem for M. Few Biblical scholars realize just how artsy-craftsy this Judaic figure was. (If you were to try living for 120 years in the days before television, lending libraries, sushi bars, Friday night football, and cell phones, you too would have a whole heck of a lot time to put your efforts to macramé or smelting or amateur carpentry or stone carving or some such!)
Once God gave him Ten Commandments, it was Mo’s idea to arrange them in etched calligraphy on two paired stone tablets of arched shape — the better to make them appear formal and imposing and timeless to all who would follow. Worked, didn’t it?
That off-the-shoulder draped toga look was one Moses had pioneered in his youth, when he was still dabbling with the idea of becoming haberdasher to the Pharaoh’s court, before going the prophet route. Though Charlton Heston’s make-up artist tried her best, there was no way that the actor could do justice onscreen to the real Moses’ dramatically awe-inspiring curlicue highlighted twisted braiding of hair, sideburns and beard.
Moses’ arty side carried over to his leadership theatrics as well. I mean, seriously, how many other historical figures have come down from the mountains with anything other than sore feet and thirst? Or visited even one plague on their enemy? Or spoken to a flaming shrub? Or cast aside the waves of the sea? Or taken their walking staff to the nearest gilded calf?
Man, you’ve gotta hand it to him, this guy had style!
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