The Family Jacobowitz: Hidden Faces

The Family Jacobowitz: Hidden Faces
Type: Oil
Dimensions: Width/Height (in inches) 60/48
Year: 2005

This painting portrays the psychological origins of Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers. Joseph is portrayed in Egytpian Pharoic dress which he wears after he is anointed Prime Vizier. Tefillin are placed between his eyes instead of an Egyptian scorpion-deity image (uraeus) traditionally worn by the Pharaohs. One wonders if the word Totefot (Head phylactery) was linguistically derived and spiritually transformed from the combined Egyptian deities named Tot and Ptah (Tot-Ptah). In the backdrop is a pyramid representing the slave labor performed by Israel. If you look closely, the entire painting is divided into series and layers of triangles representing the pyramidal theme of the Egyptian sojourn.

Joseph is the master of dreams, and one senses he foresees the plots and intrigues of his brothers as well as Potiphar’s wife who is portrayed as emanating from his dreamscape mind. Just like Joseph’s brothers tore away his coat of many colors, Potiphar’s wife removed his Egyptian coat. This painting fuses these coats thereby bridging Joseph’s Egyptian and Hebrew worlds. Jacob and his children as well as Potiphar’s wife are holding on to Joseph’s goat bloodied coat which represents his Jewish soul, and his Egyptian ka, which has been trampled on and incorrectly presumed destroyed by both his Hebrew family and Mrs. Potiphar alike. His father Jacob is grieved beyond measure. The different names of Joseph are written in both ancient and modern Hebrew, and phonetic Egyptian Hieroglyphics providing a miniature Rosetta stone for these languages. Through these languages you experience Joseph’s world through his visual-literary prism which seamlessly blends his two cultures, Hebrew and Egyptian.

Again the multiple textual and image nuances are too plentiful to discuss in this brief space.