The Israelites hand their portion of the booty to Gideon

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The Israelites hand their portion of the booty to Gideon
This is the last of the seven extant tapestries, and probably the final one of the series as a whole, since it represents the last episode of the Story of Gideon. The panel depicts the Israelites handing over to Gideon the booty which they had obtained from their conquered enemies. The arrangement of the characters in a fertile setting – very distant from the reality of Palestine – and the very wide border are the same as in the rest of the tapestries. The Brussels mark, B▼B, and the mark of the weaver are visible in the selvage.

Gideon declines to govern the Israelites

After obtaining victory over the Midianites and their allies, the Sons of Israel asked Gideon to govern them and even to establish his own dynasty: “Rule over us — you, your son and your grandson — because you have saved us from the hand of Midian” (Judges 8, 22-27.) Gideon refused, believing that “only the Lord will rule over you”. However, he did want a reward for having led them to victory, and requested “‘that each of you give me a ring from your share of the plunder.’ For it was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold rings.”

The rings are handed over

All the Israelites agreed to the request and “so they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it. The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks.” This is the moment depicted in the tapestry: Gideon has spread out the garment, which is surrounded by four children, and the pieces of gold are being placed on it. In the biblical story, we are told they came in total to no less than one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold. At that time, a shekel was a coin weighing between ten and fifteen grams, which would suggest some two hundred kilograms of gold just in rings.

Series Story of Gideon

Seventh 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 406 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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