Erich Lessing

“The Egyptians … made life bitter for [the Israelites] in hard work with mortar and bricks” (Exodus 1:13–14). The Hebrews’ labors for Pharaoh would have been similar to these realistic scenes painted on the walls of the tomb of Rekhmire, the Egyptian vizier (or prime minister) in the mid-15th century B.C.E. Workmen with hoes (lower left) knead clay moistened with water; a kneeling figure (right of center) tightens his hoe. Other workers (center) pass buckets of wet clay to two brick makers (upper right), who use molds to form the bricks. At top left, a worker constructs a wall with the newly manufactured bricks. The accompanying inscription declares that the workers are “making bricks to build anew the workshops in Karnak.”