With the end of the Israelites’ voyage to the Promised Land, Deuteronomy seals the Pentateuch. It is also the conclusion of this artistic undertaking. It is the book that brings it all together.

Deuteronomy – Devarim in Hebrew – is mainly a recap. It restates the rules that God handed down to His chosen people, and retells the trials that they endured on the long path to the land of Canaan.

Biblical language is economical, saying only what is necessary. Repetition does not create redundancy, but builds concepts and breeds symbolism. This is echoed in the art, as the images I created from Genesis and on expanded from visual interpretations of events to symbolism. Each reiteration added another layer of meaning, and those in Deuteronomy contain all those that accumulated from the very beginning.

The journey from Genesis to Deuteronomy is a passage. It is the transformation of one individual, Abraham, into a nation whose members are bonded by a shared narrative. I have witnessed their evolution, bearing testimony to their voyage and documenting it with my paints and brushes.

Fifteen years ago, I embarked on the odyssey of illuminating the Torah. When I began illustrating Genesis, I had no idea how long this project would last. More than 4,000 days and 40,000 hours of work later, I am about to reach my destination.

The Book of Deuteronomy is last of the Five Books of Moses, the end of the Israelites’ voyage to the Promised Land, and also the conclusion of my own artistic undertaking. The present book is the one that brings it all together.

Deuteronomy – Devarim in Hebrew – is mainly a recap. It restates the rules that God handed down to His chosen people, and retells the trials that they endured on the long path to the land of Canaan. Biblical language is economical, saying only what is necessary. Repetition does not create redundancy, but builds concepts and breeds symbolism.

My art has followed this same arc as it evolved from Genesis onward. The book posed an artistic challenge: acknowledging this repetition without repeating myself.

The images I created to illustrate Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers formed a comprehensive concordance of drawings that expanded from visual interpretations of events to symbolism. Each reiteration added another layer of meaning, and those in Deuteronomy contain all those that accumulated from the very beginning. For example, to illustrate the scene in which Moses reminds the Israelites of the commandment of tefillin and Shema, I painted a mosaic of fifteen images – based on the individual words that comprise the Shema – which I had previously used in different books and contexts.

The evolution of the biblical narrative is also mirrored in my technique. The early images were laboriously etched, erased and traced with watercolor and gouache. As my work progressed, I no longer traced drawings and literal stories, but created my own symbolic interpretation. Increasingly, I added gold-leaf, both as an artistic element and an iconic statement in creating a truly illuminated manuscript.

The journey from Genesis to Deuteronomy is a passage. It is the transformation of one individual, Abraham, into a nation whose members are bonded by a shared narrative. I have witnessed their evolution, while creating my own. I bear testimony to their voyage, documenting it with my paints and brushes.

As Moses stood at the threshold of the Promised Land, he was no longer needed. The People of Israel had come into their own. In the same way, my Illuminated Five Books of Moses now stand on their own as an independent work of art, and a body of interpretation.

I have been a working artist for more than forty years; nearly one-third of these have been dedicated to this project. Between Genesis and Deuteronomy, I grew fourteen years older. But personally, I grew by a full lifetime. And the final result is as much a self-portrait as it is an illumination of the biblical text.

This work has taught me perseverance, patience and tolerance. The deeper you go into the biblical text, the more amazing it is. I have learned how to turn a narrative into a symbol, and how to distill an image to its minimal details. I also have learned that not everything has an explanation. And that the economy of biblical language offers space to express oneself. I found joy in my work and creation. And above all, I have learned that at the end of the day, creation and time heal. I embarked on this journey at a time of deep personal pain for my wife Andy, who was battling leukemia. Although she did not make it to the Promised Land, my own travels through the desert with the Israelites has brought healing to my soul.