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Poster Commentary
"Man's life depends on the trees of the field."Adapted from Deuteronomy 20:19
Poster design:George Tscherny


by Erica Brown

On the surface, this biblical verse makes sense. We must nurture nature if for no other reason than our dependency upon it. If we do not take care of trees, we will not be able to enjoy their shade, their fruit or their beauty. If we are poor stewards of nature, it will not be around for future generations.

This verse, however, has an important contextual meaning. Chapter 20 of Deuteronomy describes the end of the ancient Israelites’ 40-year journey in the wilderness. Moses had to instruct them on what it would mean to be landowners. It would be thrilling, and it would come with great responsibilities.

The land of Israel also came with heartache in the form of war. And this chapter warns that in times of war, trees often become unfair casualties. Soldiers hide behind them or destroy them for fortification. War is a short-term problem, but trees are a long-term investment.

Some commentators even punctuate this verse with a question: “Is not a tree of the field like a human?” Do we not see in the form of a tree—the roots, trunk and fruit—the shape of a human being? We face a paradox. When at war, do not treat a tree like a mortal enemy. At the same time, remember that the tree is like a human being and needs protection and care. Sometimes, we must see the trees for the forest.

Conversation Guide


Two different lessons were drawn out from this verse in the commentary: On the one hand, humankind must act responsibly toward trees/nature because our lives depend on them. At the same time, the trees/nature needs mankind to tend and protect them. Humankind and trees/nature are, thus, engaged in a mutual relationship: if we care for the earth and its resources, the earth will care and provide for us. 

Can you think of current examples of the mutuality and partnership between mankind and earth?

How would you describe the major challenges in preserving nature, versus needing the resources of nature?

What are you personally inspired to contribute toward the mutual relationship between humankind and nature?



Each image calls out to us to examine it, to note our thoughts and feelings, and relate these impressions to the quotation. Often clues in the artwork suggest meaning and invite interpretation.

Designer George Tscherny’s composition interprets the Deuteronomy verse with minimal but thought-provoking imagery.

How does the image present the quotation? Was this how you interpreted the quotation without the image?

Why do you think Tscherny chose a pear to depict this quotation? How would the effect be different had he used the image of a tree?

Why do you think the artist put a human face on the pear?

What emotions does this image evoke? 


Copyright© 2012 Harold Grinspoon Foundation

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Masters Series©2012, George Tscherny, Quote: Adapted from Deuteronomy 20:19,

Harold Grinspoon Foundation, West Springfield, MA