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"The Prayer of Hannah"
(With the Birth of Shmuel and Early Life of David)
By Barbara Mendes
Details of the Painting below:

This painting revels in the stories found in the Biblical Book Shmuel Aleph, or Samuel I. The book begins with the story of Hannah and her famous prayer, and goes on to tell of the Prophet Shmuel, King Shaul and King David.

The narrative begins in the inner circle around the Queenly central figure. We see Hannah, the childless wife of Elkenon, whose other wife Penina does have children, and taunts Hannah. The family goes up to Shilo to bring sacrifices to the Mishkan, (or Tabernacle). Hannah is very sad, and goes to the entrance to the Mishkan, where the High Priest Eli is sitting. Hannah prays to Hashem (G*d) and promises that if she has a son she will dedicate him to Hashem. Her lips move as she prays, and she weeps. Eli the High Priest acuses her of being drunk, but when she explains that she is praying for a child, he tells her that her wish will be granted. She goes home with a new look of happiness, and that year gives birth to a son, Shmuel. After Shmuel is weaned, Hannah brings him to the High Priest to serve Hashem. Then she exults in her famous prayer, the Prayer of Hannah.

In the painting, the dress of the the central figure contains all the lines from “the Prayer of Hannah”. Hannah says that her heart exults in Hashem and her mouth is open wide against her enemies, that Hashem is a Rock, and that one should not be haughty because Hashem raises up and Hashem lowers down. Other favorite lines you can see in the lower dress are: the bow of the mighty is broken while the humble are girded with strength, a barren woman gives birth to seven while the mother of many becomes bereft, Hashem gives life and also death, He lowers in the grave and rises up. The humble will be lifted up from the trash heap to sit with the nobles. The paths of the righteous are lit, while the wicked are stilled in darkness.

The narrative of the painting continues in the two rows of small circles surrounding the large inner circle. These circles continue the story with Shmuel as a Prophet annointing first King Shaul, and later the shepherd David. When Shaul is depressed, David is summoned to play the harp for him. The giant Goliath threatens, and David slays him. Shaul's son Jonathan likes David very much and gives him his armor and clothing. David has great successes in battle and is much loved: Shaul becomes jealous, and tries to kill him. Jonathan reminds Shaul of David's good services, and once again David plays the harp for the King, and also continues to win many battles. Shaul again hurls his spear at David- this time David escapes. His wife (Shaul's daughter) hides him and helps him escape. David seeks out Shmuel the Prophet. King Shaul learns this and follows in persuit. When he reaches Shmuel the Prophet, he begins prophesizing with all the prophets, and David escapes. David meets Jonathan in a field and they arrange a signal to let David know if the King still wants him killed. (This is the Haftorah for Rosh Hodesh) David and Jonathan part in the field. David goes to the Mishkan for a sword and some food, and receives the sword of Goliath and the holy bread. This is the last small circle. Behind the large central figure, inside the big circle, we see King Shaul and his army chasing through the forest after David and his followers.

It is from Hannah that we learn to pray the Amidah silently, with our lips moving.

The Queenly dress and crown I've given the large central Hannah in my painting is symbolic of the glory and beauty of her story and her Prayer.


See Collecting Art and Work in Progress for more paintings


Copyright 2003 Barbara Mendes. World Rights Reserved / Site by Mosser Design