Description author is Alec Mishory.
Jan's approach to Bialik's poem, is allegoric. Her illustration is comprised of a frame, made of snake and a plant motifs, crowned with a lion's head. The fingers of two hands, popping behind the lion's head, signify the Jewish Priestly blessing:
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Numbers, 6, 24-26).
The poet must have dictated this motif to Jan. The Priestly blessing is included in various Jewish prayers; 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 that precede it, in The Song of Songs:
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. (The Song of Songs, 3, 7-8).
These guards, or 'valiant men' are traditionally interpreted as expressing 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 were drawn at all times for his protection. Another interpretation for the sixty heroes surrounding the King regards them as representatives of the sixty letters comprising the Priestly blessing. It is possible that Bialik conceived a parallel between his poem 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 opening page she made for his poem.
Lion, snake and eagle, animals that suddenly appear in the desert, in Bialik's poem are used by the poet as means for contrasting the momentary with the eternal; they look at the heroes lying on the desert ground, and then they turn around and leave the scene. Jan turned them into metaphoric symbolist icons.