Gideon and the angel

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Gideon and the angel
This tapestry, the smallest in the series, depicts the apparition of an angel of the Lord to Gideon in the foreground. The bright colours successfully employed by the weavers make obvious Gideon’s surprise. The border was modified in the lower part after an original fragment was lost, although the B▼B mark can still be identified, telling us that the tapestry was manufactured in Brussels.

The Chosen People forget their God When the Israelites reached the Promised Land, they quickly forgot the suffering they had endured under slavery in Egypt and began to disobey Yahweh. He thus decided to punish them and gave them into the hands of the Midianites, who pillaged their flocks and destroyed their harvests. But Yahweh was took pity on his people and decided that their path to freedom would be led by Gideon, to whom He communicated through a divine envoy.

Faithful to the Bible The story follows literally the one told in the Old Testament (Judges 6, 11-24). Gideon, “who was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites”, is thus shown with the cane in his hand and a large basket behind him, beside a building which appears to be the winepress. The angel visits him and says: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Gideon, who is depicted wearing a cuirass to show his status as warrior, appears surprised and even doubts being chosen, since “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” When the angel insisted he was the chosen one, Gideon requested a proof, and asked the Lord not to move away from the place until Gideon had prepared a sacrifice made up of a kid and unleavened bread.

The apparition of the angel prefigures the New Testament The angel did not move, and when Gideon had prepared the sacrifice the former told the latter to put the offerings on a rock, “Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread.” The scene is perfectly visible in the background, even to the point of including the angel’s action and Gideon’s submission to the divine plan. The angel’s immediate disappearance is also shown in the tapestry, rising up with his wings spread open. The apparition of the angel to Gideon prefigures two episodes from the New Testament – the Annunciation and the Agony in the Garden – which both include angels sent by God.

Series Story of Gideon

First 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 270 cm

Location Diocesan Museum of the Cathedral of Albarracín (Teruel)

Origin Bequest of Bishop Vicente Roca de la Serna. In the cathedral since 1608.


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