Fol. 17v

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Ruth Meets Boaz; Ruth Eats with Boaz and the Workmen; Stacking Barley

Old Testament miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions

France, Paris
1240s
390 x 300 mm

Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1916

MS M.638 (fol. 17v)
Item description: 

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.

Page description: 

Ruth Meets Boaz
Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of Ruth's deceased father-in-law, rides forth to survey his fields. He asks his foreman about Ruth and learns that she is the Moabitess who returned with Naomi. Impressed by Ruth's hard work and loyalty to Naomi, Boaz promises her his protection. At right, he addresses his workmen. A field hand directs a worker who carries two sheaves on his back. Three reapers busily cut the grain, followed by Ruth and another young woman, who gather the grain. (Ruth 2:4–9)

Ruth Eats with Boaz and the Workmen
At mealtime, Ruth is invited to eat with Boaz, the foremen, and the field workers. The company spreads a cloth over their knees and dips bread into a bowl of vinegar supported on a golden vessel. (Ruth 2:14)

Stacking Barley
At the end of the day, Boaz's field hands bind and expertly stack the sheaves of wheat in the barns. The stories depicted on this folio provide exemplary pictorial information about daily agricultural practice in the thirteenth century. (Ruth 2:23)

Translation: 

Folio 17v (Latin)

Upper half: How, at her mother-in-law’s permission, Ruth went to glean the ears of corn and by chance entered the field of some rich man, Boaz by name, who was related to Naomi. Now, when, coming from the city, he had seen Ruth among the reapers and heard where did she come from and who she was, he ordered the reapers to treat her well, while telling her not to turn to others. (Ruth 2: 1–8)

Lower left: How Ruth ate together with the reapers, as Boaz himself had ordered. (Ruth 2:14)

Lower right: How, as the reapers were heaping up the sheaves, Ruth carried with her what she had gleaned freely and with none preventing her. (Ruth 2:15–17)

Folio 17v (Persian)

Persian foliation: 27

Upper left margin: There was a woman named Ruth; she went to the fields to plant wheat.

Lower left margin: And a servant accompanied Ruth during the harvesting of the wheat.

Folio 17v (Judeo-Persian)

Upper right margin: Both these pages contain the tale of Ruth and Naomi.

Credits: 

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