A Reunion; A Family Feast; Good News; A Blessing for Pharaoh
Old Testament miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions
390 x 300 mm
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1916
MS M.638 (fol. 6v)
The Crusader Bible, also known as the Morgan Picture Bible, the Maciejowski Bible, and the Shah ‘Abbas Bible, is not only one of greatest medieval manuscripts in the Morgan, it also ranks as one of the incomparable achievements of French Gothic illumination.
The miniatures represent one of the greatest visualizations of Old Testament events ever made. Some of the stories and their heroes are well known, but there are also accounts of other Israelites who fought for the Promised Land—stories that resonate to this day. There are incredibly violent battle scenes where the implements of war are so accurately depicted they could be replicated. And there are scenes not only of murder, everyday life, and love, but also of hate, envy, adultery, and rape—all set in the scenery and customs of thirteenth-century France.
Joseph can no longer maintain the charade and confesses his identity. The brothers, struck with amazement and fear, are unable to speak. But Joseph is overcome with emotion; he weeps and embraces Benjamin. After many years, the brothers are reconciled. (Genesis 45:1–15)
A Family Feast
Joseph welcomes his brothers into his house and holds a feast for them at a rich table. (Genesis 43:31–34)
The brothers return to Jacob with amazing news. Joseph is alive and ruler of Egypt. This seems impossible! The brothers present their proof: wagon loads of presents Joseph has sent to his father. But the elderly Jacob is unconcerned with riches; all that matters is that Joseph still lives. (Genesis 45:21–28)
A Blessing for Pharaoh
Jacob and his sons arrive in Egypt with all that they possess, and Joseph happily presents his family to Pharaoh. Jacob kneels before the king and blesses him. "How old are you?" Pharaoh asks. "The days of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years, few, and evil," Jacob humbly replies, "and they are not come up to the days of the pilgrimage of my fathers." (Genesis 47:1–10)
Folio 6v (Latin)
Upper left: How, as these returning in great fear, Joseph, unable to contain himself any longer, embraces Benjamin his brother with many a tear (Genesis 44: 13 – 45:14)
Upper right: How Joseph feasts with his brothers (Genesis 43: 32–34)
Lower left: How, after they have received many presents as well as a chariot to bring their father with all his household to Egypt, the sons return to Jacob telling him all that they have seen, as he is stupefied and hardly willing to believe. (Genesis 45: 19–28)
Lower right: How Joseph introduces his father and brothers before Pharaoh the king. (Genesis 48: 1–10)
Folio 6v (Persian)
Persian foliation: 38.
Upper left margin: When they brought the brethren accused of theft before Joseph, they were extremely fearful and shaken and the ransom (Joseph’s blood brother) was exceedingly frightened. Joseph embraced him and kissed his face. It became apparent then that he was Joseph’s blood brother.
Upper right margin: And Joseph’s reception for the brethren.
Lower left margin: Joseph sends off his brothers with a wealth of offerings and requests his father [to come].
Lower right: The arrival of Jacob in Egypt and Joseph’s presentation of Jacob and his brethren to the king of Egypt.
Folio 6v (Judeo-Persian)
Upper left margin, furthest left: The brothers are bought before Joseph on account of the theft [of the goblet]. Benjamin was very frightened, [but] Joseph pulled Benjamin toward him and kissed him.
Upper right margin, bottom: Joseph shows hospitality to his brothers.
Lower left margin, furthest left: Joseph sends off his brothers with many favors to seek out [their] father.
Lower right, below Latin: Jacob’s arrival in Egypt and Joseph’s petitioning of the King on behalf of his brothers’ coming to Egypt.
Content consultant: Richard Leson
Persian translated by Sussan Babaie
Judeo-Persian translated by Vera Basch Moreen
Latin translation by Eran Lupu
After the commentary volume accompanying the Fine Art Facsimile edition by Faksimile Verlag Luzern / www.faksimile.ch