Collections OnlineSistine ChapelSouth wallStories of Moses

Legacy and death of Moses
L. Signorelli

Punishment of Korah, Dathan and Abiram
S. Botticelli

Handing over of the Tablets of the Law
C. Rosselli

Passage of the Red Sea
B. d'Antonio

Events in the life of Moses
S. Botticelli

Journey of Moses in Egypt
P. Perugino

The Stories of Moses, which originally included eight panels, each presented by a title in the upper frieze, began from the altar wall with the Birth and Finding of Moses by Perugino, a fresco that was lost when Michelangelo painted the Last Judgement. Thus today the Old Testament cycle starts from the Journey of Moses in Egypt, in which his farewell to his father-in-law Jethro (Exodus 4:18-20), his Return to Egypt with his family (Exodus 4:18-20) and the Circumcision of his second-born (Exodus 4:24-26) all appear in one picture. The second panel describes some Events in the life of Moses: the killing of the Egyptian (Exodus 2:11-15), the struggle with the shepherds to defend the daughters of Jethro (Exodus 2:16-22) and the sight of the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-12). The third fresco illustrates the Crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:5-31),which is followed by the Handing over of the Tablets of the Law. This simultaneously narrates Moses' Climbing of Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12-17; 31:18 ) to receive the Tablets of the Law, the Worship of the golden calf (Exodus 32:1-20), the Punishment of the idolatrous Jews (Exodus 32:25-35) and the return of the Prophet with the new Tablets of the Law (Exodus 34:1-4). The next panel illustrates a rather rare episode, that is to say the Punishment of Korah, Dathan e Abiram (Numbers 16:1-35), Jewish priests who denied Moses and Aaron civil and religious authority over the chosen people. They were for this swallowed up by the earth and consumed by an invisible fire together with their families. The last fresco shows the Legacy and death of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:34) when he is already within sight of the Promised Land. The cycle ends on the entrance wall with the Dispute over the body of Moses (Letter of Jude, 9).