Three Oriental Figures, 1641 by Rembrandt

A survey of Rembrandt's biblical doorways might conclude with one that remains even more inscrutable, the figures gathered around it being themselves unknown. Three Oriental Figures of 1641 depicts three men in oriental dress standing outside the portal of a house and conversing with a similarly clad man looking out from a half-open door. It has been suggested that the two main figures are Jacob and Laban, the former seeking permission to return to Canaan after years of tending Laban s sheep (Genesis 30:25-34). If so, who are the other two men, who are unmentioned in the biblical account? All that can be said for certain is that the doorway seems to demarcate two sides to a story, whether a physical or emotional divide, or both.