Hebrew University Humanities   Home Page   CJA


OBJ Gerasa Synagogue, mosaic floor, The Flood, Iconography & Reference
Category: Architecture, Ancient Art Object Document

Subject: The Flood

The lines marked in dark red indicate the specifications of the iconographical subject, which adorns the object at hand
Lexical Definition
Lexical Definition
Before God brought the Flood upon the earth, he commanded Noah, a righteous and blameless man, to build an Ark in order to save himself, his family and a pair from each kind of animal. The Flood lasted for forty days and forty nights. All living creatures outside the Ark, except for the fish, died. When the waters subsided and the Ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, Noah sent out a raven who failed to return. Then he sent a dove three times. At first, the dove came back; the second time it returned with an olive branch in its beak and on the third time, the dove failed to return. This was the sign that the Flood was over. God then ordered Noah, his family and the animals to descend from the Ark. Noah offered sacrifices to God who blessed him and his sons  (Genesis 6:1 - 9:19 ).
Surviving examples of ancient Jewish art featuring scenes of the Flood include two mosaic floors, one from the Gerasa synagogue in Jordan and the other from Mopsuestia (now Misis in Turkey). Coins were found in Apamea kibotoss (in Anatolia, now Turkey) where, according to the local tradition, parts of the Ark existed in the synagogue.
Scenes of the Flood illustrate Sephardi, Ashkenazi and Italian manuscripts from the Middle Ages on. These depictions were usually divided into several narrative scenes. Certain episodes, such as the building of the Ark, are rare in Jewish art. The story of the Flood also appears on wall paintings in synagogues from Eastern Europe from the 18th century onwards, while Ceremonial objects are rarely decorated with scenes of the Flood.
Modern Jewish art such as painting, ceramics and illustrations in children’s book also features several episodes. In addition to depictions of the narratives, separate elements such as the rainbow and the dove appear as independent symbols or in other contexts.

See also
Ark of the Covenant
Sanctuary ground plan
Sanctuary Implements
Iconographical components

The construction of the Ark (Gen. 7:5)

The Ark (Gen. 6: 14-16)


Noah entering the Ark (Gen 7:9)

Noah leaving the Ark (Gen. 8:15 - 19)



Additional people


During the Flood

“The water had subside from the face of the ground” (Gen. 8:5)

The raven

Noah sending forth the dove (Gen.8 : 8 - 12)

The dove

Noah’s sacrifice (Gen. 8:20-21)

The Rainbow in the Clouds

Accompanied by

Gen. 6 - 9: 19
Function: Name: Date:
Computer reconstructioner    
Researcher Levana Tsfania 1999
Section Head Orit Sehayek 1999
Editor Gila Pollack 1999
IJA No.:    


Mount Scopus, Humanities Building, Jerusalem 91905, Israel
Tel.: (972-2) 5882281 |  Fax.: (972-2) 5400105
E-mail: cja@mail.huji.ac.il
      All rights reserved to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem©
Last Updated: 21 October, 2014
For comments: To Webmaster
Page Up