Fine Art Photographic Library, London/Art Resource, NY

Having survived the flood, the patriarch Noah, surrounded by his family (left), offers a sacrifice to the Lord, as the animals leave the ark (center) to repopulate the earth, in this late-17th-century painting by the Flemish artist Jacob Bouttats. In ancient Israel, religion was a family affair, centered on the household—the beth av or “house of the father.” The father was the leader of the family cult, directing sacrifices to mark family events like births and deaths, to petition God’s favor or, as in this case, to commemorate divine providence.