A Successful Day; Naomi's Counsel; Boaz Compromised
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. 18r)
The Crusader Bible, also known as the Morgan Picture Bible, the Maciejowski Bible, and the Shah ‘Abbas Bible, is not only one of the 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 less familiar Israelites who fought for the Promised Land—tales that resonate to this day. There are incredibly violent battle scenes in which the implements of war are so accurately depicted they could be replicated. And there are scenes of everyday life, love, hate, and envy, as well as adultery, rape, and murder—all set in thirteenth-century France.
A Successful Day
Ruth threshes the gleanings that Boaz gave to her, collects them in her skirt, and brings them home to Naomi. In this illustration Ruth carries an empty sack on her head. Naomi, seated in an archway before her house, inquires as to where Ruth found work. Naomi is pleased to learn that Boaz, her kinsman, has taken Ruth under his wing. (Ruth 2:17–19)
Naomi conceives of a plan to win Boaz as a husband for her daughter-in-law. This evening, Boaz will sift barley on the threshing floor. Therefore, she advises Ruth, wait until after the work is over and Boaz has gone to sleep, then lay down at his feet. Ruth, obedient, replies, "All that you say to me I shall do." (Ruth 3:1–5)
As Boaz's men continue threshing the barley, their master has found a comfortable place to sleep among the stacks of sheaves. Ruth, unnoticed by a man sifting barley, quietly creeps under a fold of Boaz's mantle. (Ruth 3:7)
Folio 18r (Latin)
Upper left: How Ruth threshes her sheaves and, showing her mother-in-law the barley which was thus extracted, tells her about all of Boaz’s kindheartedness toward her. (Ruth 2: 18–22)
Upper right: How Naomi, having devised a good plan for Ruth, tells her to wash herself, put on nicer clothes and go, at night, to Boaz in the threshing floor, and to hide under his mantle as he sleeps, for thus he will take her to be his wife following the law of kinship according to the Hebrews’ custom. (Ruth 3: 1–6)
Lower half: How, as the reapers winnow the grain and Boaz sleeps on a heap of sheaves, Ruth, following her mother-in law’s plan, hides herself under her mantle. (Ruth 3: 7)
Folio 18r (Persian)
Upper left margin: Ruth gathered the wheat and brought it to her husband.
Upper right margin: Ruth’s mother-in-law counseled Ruth, "Go to that person who used to give you wheat; and since he is your kinsman, sleep by his side."
Lower right margin: And Ruth accepted the advice and slept next to the man whose name was Bar [Boaz] and when the man awoke, he saw her sleeping beside him.
Folio 18r (Judeo-Persian)
Right margin, furthest right, middle: These pages also belong to the Tale of Ruth.
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