The warriors are chosen
Gideon rises early for battle
As in all of the pieces in this cycle, the scenes follow almost literally the story as related in the Old Testament. Even details such as the presence of the sun at sunrise are included, a reference to the fact that “Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all the men with him woke up early in the morning” (Judges 7, 1). Despite the apparent fragmentation of the tapestry into different areas, it is in fact a depiction of a single scene: the preparation of the army for combat.
Three hundred warriors are chosen
Gideon had managed to assemble a great army, but this displeased God lest “Israel boast against me, saying: ‘My own strength has saved me.’” The Lord ordered that all those afraid of combat withdraw, and according to the biblical story twenty-two thousand men left, but still ten thousand remained. This was still too many warriors for God, and so he ordered Gideon to lead the army to a river and to “separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Only three hundred men drank from cupped hands, a number which pleased God: “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands.” (Judges 7, 2-7). In the tapestry we can clearly see the difference between, on the one hand, those lying down and lapping up the water from their hands and, on the other hand, those who are kneeling and putting their heads to the water to drink or using their helmets to hold water.
Series Story of Gideon
Fourth tapestry in the series
Model Attributed to Maerten van Heemskerck
Manufacture Frans Geubels, Brussels, third quarter of the sixteenth century
Fabric Silk and wool
Size 371 x 481 cm
Location Diocesan Museum of the Cathedral of Albarracín (Teruel)
Origin Bequest of Bishop Vicente Roca de la Serna. In the cathedral since 1608.