The woman in this painting cradles a jug close to her body. In a literal sense, she waits to fill that jug with water at Shiloah, or Siloam, a pool in Jerusalem fed by a spring outside the city walls. However, symbolically, the woman is seeking the knowledge and light of the Lord. “As the only source of fresh water in the area, the waters of Shiloah have long been a symbol of God’s protection and sustaining power. . . [T]his woman is seeking the fresh waters of Shiloah—hence symbolically seeking God’s ongoing love and protection.”1
The color palate in this painting is muted, with grays and creams dominating, lending the painting a quiet, contemplative feel. The light that illuminates the woman represents the light of the world, Jesus Christ, who once anointed a blind man’s eyes and, symbolically, sent him to wash in the waters of Shiloah.2
Artist Joseph Brickey wrote this about the painting: “The word ‘Shiloah’ has the same Hebrew root as the common greeting ‘shalom’ (meaning peace), and also related to ‘Salem’ (Jerusalem means the City of Peace), and to ‘Shiloh,’ the prophetic title in the Old Testament referring to Christ (Genesis 49:10).
“This maiden represents all who await the kind of peace only Christ can offer. All those who thirst for such may be filled with that ‘peace of God, which passeth all understanding’ (Philippians 4:7). Then shall their ‘peace [be] as a river’ (Isaiah 48:18) and ‘with joy shall [they] draw water out of the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3) if they come with open and ready receptacles to receive ‘the waters of Shiloah that go softly’ (Isaiah 8:6).”3
Further reading: “Seek and Ye Shall Find”
- John 9:11
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