The picture has a hidden story and acts as a narrative of the whole massacre event. Firstly, the characters in the picture are in a sorrowful and worried mood. The painter has used the facial expressions to reveal sad moods that prevailed in the city after King Herod ordered the killing of all the male infants. It had happened after his appointment as King of the Jews. From the use of facial characteristics, one can also tell that the female gender suffered from most of the stress after the death of their children. The women and children are hiding from Herod’s soldiers while trying to keep the baby girls silent for their own safety. According to the background, it is because most of the men had either peacefully of forcefully joined Herod’s army after he became the king. From the window, one can also see the soldiers trying to struggle with women so that they would search the houses for male children. Joseph has also used the portrait to show that a prophecy from the Old Testament had been fulfilled where Christian martyrs had to be executed. It also reveals the fear in the female children most of whom did not understand the whole occurrence.
The work can be based on the Bible as the only source. The massacre has been highlighted in the Book of Mathew in the New Testament. He has also used knowledge from the book to reveal his characters in the painting. By analyzing the portrait, one can tell that Joseph was emotionally. Additionally, he also had a specific reason as to why he chose the massacre by King Herod. The physical positions of the characters represent what they were saying based on the Bible. From the portrait, one can tell that Elizabeth is the lay dressed in yellow because after hearing the news on the executions, she hid her child in an ox-stall.
On close examination, one can tell that the painting has been worked on by an expert.