Jacob Jordaens, Moses and His Ethiopian Wife Zipporah (detail), oil painting, 1645–1650, Rubenshuis, Antwerp.

Like Rubens, Jordaens was an apprentice of Adam Van Noort, a protestant painter in Antwerp. After his apprenticeship, he married one of Van Noort’s daughters. Jordaens never became an internationally known artist like Rubens; he stayed in Antwerp, where he was employed by the local elite and assisted Rubens. Jordaens probably did not make the painting of Zipporah on commission but for a close friend or kept it for himself.

Jordaens may have encountered the tale of Moses’s wife in contemporary translations of the Bible and the writings of Josephus. He was probably familiar with other contemporary images of African women such as Rubens's The Four Rivers (1610) and Jan van den Hoecke's Sybil Agrippina (1630) and may have used such paintings as models for his painting of Zipporah.


A Jewish historian from the first century C.E. His works document the Jewish rebellions against Rome, giving background for early Jewish and Christian practices.

The third division of the Jewish canon, also called by the Hebrew name Ketuvim. The other two divisions are the Torah (Pentateuch) and Nevi'im (Prophets); together the three divisions create the acronym Tanakh, the Jewish term for the Hebrew Bible.

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