Jacob Meets Rachel and Laban

5th century, with medieval and modern restorations
Nave, Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

See Genesis 29:1-14. Upper register: Rachel (in the red dress) announces to her father Laban (far left) the arrival of her cousin Jacob. The woman in blue is probably Rachel's sister Leah; she reappears twice in the lower register. The men on the right in the upper image are the shepherds whom Jacob first questioned about Laban upon his arrival in Mesopotamia.

Lower register: On the left side Laban embraces Jacob while Leah looks on from the left. On the right side, Laban leads Jacob to his house. Rachel is at the door greeting them. Leah is the woman in blue behind Laban. The gray of her coif or headscarf may be the mosaicist's way of reminding the viewer that she was the older sister of Leah, whose coif or headscarf is dark. Her position looking on from a position alone on the far left may relate to Jacob's favoring Rachel over her.

This is part of the extensive series of Old Testament scenes portrayed in mosaics along the two walls of the nave. To view the other scenes follow this link.

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Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.