Raphael 1483 – 1520

Isaac and Rebecca spied upon by Abimelech

fresco — 1518-19 Museum Stanze e Loggia di Raffaello, Vatican City

Raphael biography

This work is linked to Genesis 26:8

Tags: Isaac

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During a famine Isaac and his wife Rebecca lived in the city of Gerar, where the Philistine Abimelech was king. Rebecca was very attractive, and Isaac feared the jealousy of his neighbours, who might kill him and then take his widow. He therefore presented her as his sister.

In this fresco, made by Raphael's assistants, Abimelech catches the pair cuddling. With some difficulty he can be seen watching from the window in the top right from the center.

The king summoned Isaac before him, who explained the situation. Abimelech then ordered that anyone who touched Isaac or Rebecca was to be put to death.

For a biblical scene the couple's entangled legs are quite frivolous.

The fresco is part of a series on stories from the Old Testament. It was made in a loggia on the second floor of the Pope's palace.

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