Hannah Honors her Vow; Recreant Priests
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.
Hannah Honors her Vow
Gratefully, Hannah has returned to the temple in Shiloh and to Eli, the high priest. As thanks to the Lord, she has her servants bring three calves, three bushels of flour, and a bottle of wine. But her most important gift is her son, Samuel, whom she vowed she would consecrate to the Lord. Eli, seated behind the altar and the Ark of the Covenant, accepts these gifts on behalf of the Lord and receives Samuel into the ranks of the priesthood. (I Samuel 1:21–28)
At Shiloh, whenever a pilgrim makes a sacrifice, Eli's corrupt sons send a servant to fetch a portion. The servant's three-pronged fork guarantees that the priests will always take a large part of the sacrifice; at left, the frustrated man who made the offering raises his hands in disgust. The enormous cauldron seen here is suspended from a device that functions like a chimney-crook; its metal teeth enable it to be raised or lowered. (I Samuel 2:12–14)
Folio 20r (Latin)
Upper half: How Hannah leads her weaned son to the temple together with three calves, three measures of flour, and a bottle of wine, saying to the priest that ’Here is the boy whom I have formerly asked from the Lord.’ (I Samuel I: 24–28)
Lower half: How there was a shameful habit that when someone had offered a sacrifice, the servant of the priest was thrusting a fish hook of three teeth into the caldron where the flesh was boiling and whatever he drew up belonged to the priest. (I Samuel 2: 12–17)
Folio 20r (Persian)
Upper right margin: And since the woman’s wish was granted, she kept her vow and brought the son to the temple and offered him [in service].
Lower right margin: And the priest of that temple had two sons and they became sinners because of having violated the [laws of] sacrifice; the father had seen them sin and had said nothing.
Folio 20r (Judeo-Persian)
Upper right margin, furthest right: Hannah brings Samuel and entrusts him to Eil, the High Priest.
Lower right margin, furthest right: The tale of the sons of Eli, the High Priest, as it is written in [chapter] 2 of Samuel.
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