A Happy Ending; Journey to Shiloh
Old Testament miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1916
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 Happy Ending
Boaz has married Ruth, and she has given birth to a son. Here, Ruth sits up in bed and gestures to the doting Naomi, who holds her grandson to her cheek. At the right, women of Bethlehem praise the Lord for providing the family with a successor. Also, they give thanks for Ruth, who has loved Naomi better than seven sons. Obed, Ruth's son, will become the father of Jesse, who will become the father of David, slayer of Goliath. (Ruth 4:13–17)
Journey to Shiloh
The family of Elkanah has traveled to Shiloh to give thanks to the Lord. Elkanah kneels before the temple entrance with a lamb; the two sons of Eli, the high priest, accept the offering. Atop the draped altar is a golden reliquary chest, a Gothic painter's interpretation of the Ark of the Covenant. Elkanah is followed by his two wives: Peninnah, who has many children, and the sorrowful Hannah, who has none. (I Samuel 1:1–3)
Folio 19r (Latin)
Upper half: How, after the person who had the option of having Ruth first had refused and Boaz had taken her to be his wife, he begat Obed of her who was the grandfather of king David, of whom Naomi, the mother-in-law, was taking care as his nurse. Moreover, her women neighbors were congratulating her as if he was her son. (Ruth 4: 13–17)
Lower half: From the first book of Kings [I Samuel]. How Elkanah had two wives, of whom the first, Hanna, was barren while the second, Peninnah, had many children, and on certain days he used to go with them to the temple, bearing an offering to God in the presence of the priests. (I Samuel 1:1–3)
Folio 19r (Persian)
Upper left margin: At last, Boaz took Ruth to wife and she bore a son.
Lower right margin: There was a man [Elkanah] who had two wives and he had a son from one wife and none from the other. He went to the temple and offered a sacrifice.
Folio 19r (Judeo-Persian)
Upper left margin, furthest left: This is Ruth giving birth to Obed. Upper right margin: This is Naomi taking Obed, Ruth’s son, into her arms.
Lower right margin, furthest right: This is the tale of Elkanah arriving with a ram for sacrifice.
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