The Secrets of National Treasure III – Part 3 Secrets of Lot and his Family Fleeing Sodom, the Painting on the Back of the Haller Madonna

Copyright by Dr. Elizabeth Garner, all rights reserved worldwide, September 26, 2013



What you see below is the biggest enlargement I could find of Lot and his Family Fleeing Sodom that is painted by Dürers on the back of the 1498 Haller Madonna so that everyone could explore this painting in as much detail as they wished.

Lot and his family fleeing from sodom

From the Jewish Encyclopedia is the story of what happened to Lot and his Family, it’s not exactly a pretty story:

Biblical Data: Son of Haran, Abraham’s brother, and, consequently, nephew of Abraham; emigrated with his grandfather, Terah, from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran (Gen. xi. 31). Lot joined Abraham in the land of Canaan, and in the time of famine went with him to Egypt (ib.xii. 4, xiii. 1). Owing to Lot’s riches in flocks and tents a quarrel arose between his herdsmen and those of Abraham, the result of which was the separation of uncle and nephew.
The angels then announced to him that their mission was to destroy the guilty cities, and urged him to leave the place. Lot tried, but unsuccessfully, to persuade his sons-in-law to leave also. He himself hesitated to flee, and the angels took him, his wife, and his two daughters by the hand, “the Lord being merciful unto him,” and led him out of the city. The angels then enjoined him to flee to the mountain without looking behind him; but the mountain being so far off Lot requested them to spare the small city of Zoar in order that he might find refuge there; and his request was granted. During the flight to Zoar, Lot’s wife, who looked behind her, was turned into a pillar of salt (ib. xix. 4-22, 26).Lot, fearing that Zoar, also, might be destroyed eventually, went up to the mountain and dwelt in a cave, where, by an incestuous intercourse with his two daughters, he became the ancestor of the two nations Moab and Ammon (ib.xix. 30-38). Lot is twice mentioned in the expression “children of Lot,” applied to Ammon and Moab (Deut. ii. 19; Ps. lxxxiii. 8).
Genesis Rabbah (l. 14) concludes that Lot had at the time of the destruction of Sodom four daughters, two married and two betrothed, and that the latter escaped with their father. But he had previously had a daughter named Peloṭet, who was married to one of the inhabitants of Sodom. She secretly practised hospitality, but being one day discovered by the people of Sodom, was sentenced to be burned (Pirḳe R. El. l.c.; “Sefer ha-Yashar,” “Lek Leka,” ed. Leghorn, p. 23a).  So much for graciousness and hospitality .
Lot’s wife, called “‘Irit” or “‘Idit,” desirous to see whether her other two daughters followed her, looked behind her; but she then saw the back of the Shekinah and was accordingly punished for her imprudence (Pirḳe R. El. l.c.). She was turned into a pillar of salt because she had previously sinned by not giving salt to strangers.
Fenton, however (“Early Hebrew Life”), suggests that in a matriarchal state which Judaism follows, such unions would not be indecorous, since in social stages where descent was traced only through the mother the father would be no relation to the children.
Most people want to know where Lot’s wife is in the painting first, she is in the left hand side of the composition.  She apparently is not yet a pillar of salt unless the salt of that area was black, but she appears to be looking at the destruction happening  in the city of Sodom. Her head is outlined in the red box and the three arrows point to her eyes, her nose, and her mouth.  Again, if the salt was not black, she appears to have a black ethnic background, which is the first depiction of Lot’s wife I’ve seen in this manner. Perhaps someone else can inform me of Lot’s wife’s Idit ethnic background (her name is not stated in the Hebrew bible but was determined as such).
durer albrecht lot's wife pillar of salt
Lot’s Wife

But what’s really important is to focus on the three figures that are fleeing Sodom and the most important to start with is the red-headed woman in the middle with her hair in a bun, which is the co-artist Margret, Albrecht’s sister, #8 of 18, who supposedly died in childbirth according to the fake autobiography known as the Family Chronicle. The important clues have been annotated with boxes and arrows.

First, this woman is in charge of the household and we know this from what she is wearing, Nuremberg household dress, and the other clues about her.  First, she is definitely unmarried for two reasons.  She is carrying the all important spindle and distaff of the unmarried daughter who was responsible for “spinning” at home. But in the green box on the spindle, there appears to be an extra set of tools which are unidentifiable at this point.

Second her red hair is uncovered and I have never seen a depiction of a Jewish woman with her hair in a bun. Here is the Jewish information as to when, why and how Jewish women were supposed to cover their hair:

“Similarly, hair covering for a woman was a sign not only of rabbinic modesty but of her belonging to a particular man, and the veil had to be worn whenever she was in mixed company or went out in public (M.Ketubot 7:6). According to the Mishna, a woman going about with uncovered hair represented unacceptable conduct. In fact such behavior is so improper, that it is considered sufficient grounds for a husband to divorce his wife without benefit of compensatory financial support (ketubah). The Mishna states:

Hair covering in  the Middle Ages

By the time of the Middle Ages, covering of hair as a religious obligation was firmly entrenched. This is not surprising, since it was still the general societal practice for married women both in the Christian and Muslim world to cover their hair (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Ishut 24:12).

According to the Mishanic injunction, girls did not have to cover their hair until the wedding ceremony; indeed, if a Jewish girl went with uncovered head, it was presumptive evidence that she was unmarried.

The redhead with the bun has a thumb also that shows the genetic thumb deformity that Albrecht had (in the blue box below the distaff and spindle).  But even more important is what is shown in the middle of her dress, a Nuremberg dress style.  This woman is sporting the purse and the keys that the mistress of the Nuremberg house wore on a regular basis in Nuremberg, as we see in the green oval, so she is definitely the woman in charge.  What is odder is that she displays possessing two real keys, but as the green arrow points to the third “key,” this key does not appear to be a key at all, it appears to be something that looks like an “S” tool, a “5” or even possibly a “9,”  Margret’s code for herself. We’ve also seen this symbol in the Seven Trumpets of the Apocalypse.  When we look at her shoes we know she is the older of the two females, for she wears the pointed shoes that were in fashion in 1495 as we see in the 1498 Print of the Promenade (the married woman wears old style shoes, the lover wears “modern” 1498 shoes):

durer albrecht promenade sex trysting affairs renaissance Nuremberg embedded codes
The pointed shoes on the woman went out of style after 1495


Coat of arms painting by Albrecht Durer

This woman is also carrying the strongbox with whatever precious possessions this family could grab to leave in such a hurry.  But the shadow in the fold of her dress,  right in the middle, which is where Dürer almost always leaves an important clue, appears to be a foreshortened example of her mother Barbara’s coat of arms, the Steinbok, aka the goat-antelope, which is the only clue we have as to Barbara Dürerin’s real maiden name.  If you want to see what the steinbok looks like again in the 1490 Dürer coat of arms:

Also, as I have explained previously, their were Hungarian political connections that were described as either “Black” or “White” and we see that  Albrecht’s father’s coat or arms indicates he was “Black Hungarian.”  Perhaps Barbara, who could only be Lot’s wife in this composition, is black for the same reasons, indicating she was “Black Hungarian.”

Next we have the woman on the left and we know for a fact that she is unmarried because she sports the maiden braids that unmarried women did in Nuremberg.  Her shoe is of a later style which indicates that she is younger than the middle woman, Margret.  There were only 7 female siblings born to mother Barbara, child number 7 and 8 were the twins Agnes I, who was born first, and child number 8, Margret.  Agnes I did not survive childhood according to the Nuremberg Death registries.  The oldest, Barbara was married. Dürer tells us that Catherine was dead by 1495, which only left Christina, Urusula and Agnes II.  What would make the most sense to depict would be Agnes II, as the stand in for the original twin to Margret. This woman is also wearing Nuremberg clothing, but she sports a bracelet on her right arm which is shown in the blue box.  Why she carries such an enormous blue bag (obviously with the family’s clothing inside-or maybe not) remains a mystery.

Secrets in Coat of arms by Albrecht Durer

And now we get to Lot.

Durer Albrecht Lot fleeing sodom Haller madonna sex nuremberg

Lot is not depicted as a poor man, in fact he is wearing a rather expensive fur-lined sleeveless coat that is blown open to reveal clues.  He also has a shoe buckle on his right shoe, which was not cheap on a shoe (the blue arrow).  The shirt that Lot is wearing under his coat is fringed, and fringing on clothing was expensive, ( the orange  box). It may also indicate the fringing of “tallit” that Jewish men are required to wear. I believe that there is another clue directly in the middle as indicated by the orange oval but I can not decode what it is yet.  Perhaps someone has better eyes.

Lot sports the beard of Hungarians, Dürer’s ancestors, the turban that would have been worn in Hungary and a yellow arrow points to the very weird green object in the middle of Lot’s headdress-it looks like a melon to eat, it may signify something else. Lot carries a basket of eggs, representing fertility but I also find it strange that the only other thing he carries on his walking stick is a canteen for water.

The two weirdest clues are in the blue part of the back of Lot’s coat, pointed out by the two arrows.  The first points to what appears to be an insect on Lot’s blue coat when enlarged enough to see it clearly.  It is a very strange clue but this same clue appears in the edge of the book binding in the painting Christ Among the Doctors, that actually has Dürer’s monogram hanging out of that book.  The other strange thing is what appears to be either a comet that is pushing thru the blue coat (see the arrow) or a very strange depiction of a penis.

We have to remember what was the outcome of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the saving of Lot and his previously betrothed daughters:

Genesis 19:30-38: And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in,and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.


The older daughter conceived Moab (Hebrew, lit., “from the father” [meh-Av]), father of the Moabites, the younger conceived Ben-Ammi (Hebrew, lit., “Son of my people”), father of the Ammonites.  Dürer always uses an ammonite shell as a clue for  homosexuality.

The presumptive incest between Lot and his daughters has raised many questions, debates, and theories as to what the real motives were, who really was at fault. Therefore, it surely mattered to the lawgiver how the issues of incest pertained to these patriarchs and they are the basis for the laws of the Book of Leviticus , chapters 18 and 20.
And so we know  from this painting most likely done by the three Dürers depicted, that the Jews would be saved by God but there is an unanswered question.  Is Albrecht giving us a message that he was committing incest with his sister to save the Dürer line(age) since it was obvious there would be no children of the marriage with his wife Agnes Freyin Dürerin and no issue from his brother’s marriages had survived either?
More to come.
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