Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

Gazing back on Midian, his adopted home, Moses heads off to Egypt on a donkey’s back. His wife and their two young sons accompany him on the journey, as depicted in this 14th-century stained-glass window from the Abbey of Klosterneuburg, Austria. Although Moses accepts God’s command to return to Egypt and free the Israelites, he has not yet made a clean break with Midian. He even asks Jethro, the priestly patriarch of the Midianite family, for permission to go: “Let me go back to my kinsmen in Egypt and see how they are faring,” he says (Exodus 4:18).

The Latin inscription above the image reads: “Before the law, Moses [was sent] into Egypt”; the text surrounding the scene follows with “a leader, to redeem a nation groaning under Pharaoh.” Moses and his elder son wear the pointed caps used to distinguish Jews in Gothic art.