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Virgin and Child in Egypt
The third of the group of four paintings Blake created for Thomas Butts in 1810 is called Virgin and Child in Egypt. In Blake's system the third stage is Generation: participation in the sexual world in which man lives in Time and Space and has a physical body. The mother and child represent procreation, the characteristic of the natural world which, along with death, typifies the stage of generation. The other prominent features of the picture are the symbols of the location in Egypt: the palm tree, the pyramids and the palace. For the Hebrews the significance of Egypt is the bondage from which they were released under the leadership of Moses. Blake is suggesting that the stage of generation is a bondage from which man seeks release.
Christians consider that the ministry of Jesus represented a second Exodus providing release from the bondage to sin and death. Jesus came to introduce the stage of development where each man knows his own spiritual nature and learns to give expression to the God within his own heart, and mind, and soul, and body.
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Plate 52, (E 30)
"To Tirzah Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth, Must be consumed with the Earth To rise from Generation free; Then what have I to do with thee? The Sexes sprung from Shame & Pride Blow'd in the morn: in evening died But Mercy changd Death into Sleep; The Sexes rose to work & weep. Thou Mother of my Mortal part. With cruelty didst mould my Heart. And with false self-decieving tears, Didst bind my Nostrils Eyes & Ears. Didst close my Tongue in senseless clay And me to Mortal Life betray: The Death of Jesus set me free, Then what have I to do with thee? [text on illustration: It is Raised a Spiritual Body]
Milton, Plate 24 , (E 120) "And Palamabron thou rememberest when Joseph an infant; Stolen from his nurses cradle wrapd in needle-work Of emblematic texture, was sold to the Amalekite, Who carried him down into Egypt where Ephraim & Menassheh Gatherd my Sons together in the Sands of Midian And if you also flee away and leave your Fathers side, Following Milton into Ulro, altho your power is great Surely you also shall become poor mortal vegetations Beneath the Moon of Ulro: pity then your Fathers tears"
 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar, to Abim'elech king of the Philistines.
 And the LORD appeared to him, and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you.
 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfil the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.
 I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give to your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves:
 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."
 So Isaac dwelt in Gerar.
 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore;
 and they took him and cast him into a pit. The pit was empty, there was no water in it.
 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ish'maelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.
 Then Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood?
 Come, let us sell him to the Ish'maelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers heeded him.
 Then Mid'ianite traders passed by; and they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ish'maelites for twenty shekels of silver; and they took Joseph to Egypt.
 And I will dwell among the people of Israel, and will be their God.
 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them; I am the LORD their God.
 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."
 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt,
 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son."