In 1902, Bialik wrote The Desert Dead (Metey Midbar). The poem speaks of Jewish national revival. It embodies the sharp contradictions of early Zionist nationalism and calls for the mobilization of the dead giants of Jewish history, while expressing contempt for the God of the Israelites.
Ira Jan's command of Hebrew was minimal at the time she created the illustrations for Bialik's poems. Her opening page to his Poems of Fury may point to her visual interpretation process for Bialik's poems; the latter would explain to her (in Russian) the contents of certain poems and she would, in turn, use her vast visual image vocabulary of the Symbolist style.
Her illustration for the Title Page of Bialik's Poems of Fury comprises of a frame, made of snake and a plant motifs, crowned with a lion's head; fingers of two hands, popping behind it signify the Jewish Priestly blessing (Numbers, 6, 24-26), probably dictated by the poet. By including the Priestly blessing, the artist enriched her illustration with symbolic meanings, linking a traditional Jewish blessing with a modern, secular text.
Various Jewish prayers include the Priestly blessing: it is recited at night, before going to sleep, and during the citation of 'Hear, o Israel' (Shema Israel). The Kabbalah significance given to this blessing stems from its link to two verses from Song of Songs that precede it:
Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.
They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night (Song of Songs, 3, 7-8).
The guards, 'valiant men', traditionally interpreted as an expression of King Solomon's weakness; though he was the wisest of men, rich and powerful, he sinned. The King feared night and surrounded himself with sixty heroes whose swords, drawn at all times for his protection. Another interpretation for the sixty heroes, regards them as representatives of the sixty letters comprising the priestly blessing. It is possible that Bialik himself conceived a parallel between his The Desert Dead and King Solomon's heroes and thus, after explaining this link to Ira Jan, he might have encouraged her to add the visual motif of the Priestly blessing to the title page she made for his Poems of Fury.