The Lord's Remorse; The Kingdom Torn from Saul; Samuel Enforces the Lord's Will
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. 25r)
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.
The Lord's Remorse
Following Saul's disobedience, the Lord speaks to Samuel from the heavens, sharing His regret at having made Saul king. Samuel, kneeling beneath a tree and with his hands raised in grief, cries to the Lord throughout the night. (1 Kings 15:10–11)
The Kingdom Torn from Saul
Samuel has come to Saul with news of the Lord's displeasure. The prophet will hear none of the king's excuses and condemns Saul. As Samuel turns to leave, Saul takes hold of his mantle, tearing it. "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today," Samuel says as he points at the tear, "and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you." (1 Kings 15:24–28)
Samuel Enforces the Lord's Will
Samuel orders Saul to bring forth the prisoner Agag. The fearful Amalekite king, still wearing his crown, pleads for mercy. Samuel, intent only on the Lord's command, decapitates the king and severs his body at the waist. Raising a bloodied sword, the enraged priest prepares to strike yet another blow. (1 Kings 15:31–33)
Folio 25r (Latin)
Upper left: How God, angry at Saul’s disobedience, speaks to Samuel, saying that he regretted making Saul a king, which grieved Samuel and he cried to the Lord all night. (I Samuel 15: 10, 11)
Upper right: How, when Samuel had come to the king, and having announced God’s order and threat, he wished to go, Saul caught the tip of his mantle and it was torn. Seeing this, Samuel says, prophesying, that God will thus tear his kingdom from him. (I Samuel 15: 13–28)
Lower half: How, when Samuel had stayed at Saul’s entreaties, he orders Agag, the king of Amalek whom Saul, had been ordered to kill but had taken captive, to come to him. When this was done, Samuel himself cuts him into pieces with his own hands. (I Samuel 15: 30–33)
Folio 25r (Persian)
Upper left margin: God inquired of the prophet Samuel, "Why did Saul not perform Our command? Now I regret to have given him the kingship; henceforth, I do not want him to rule." Then, Samuel prayed and asked God to forgive his sin.
Upper right margin: Samuel said to king Saul, "Why have you not obeyed God’s command?" Saul made an excuse and Samuel asked him to leave him. He reached forth and grabbed Samuel’s skirt and in that grip, Samuel’s skirt tore and [a piece of it] remained in his hand. Samuel said, "Just as my skirt tore, so shall your kingdom be torn from you."
Lower half: Saul was alarmed and said, "You part not with me!" And Samuel said, "Bring to us that king you did not kill." He went and brought him. Samuel drew his sword and slew him in pieces.
Folio 25r (Judeo-Persian)
Upper left, beneath Latin: Here it is that God informs Samuel that, "I regret having made Saul king." Samuel prays on behalf of Saul.
Upper right margin, furthest right: In Samuel [chapter] 15 it is written that Saul reached out aggressively and grabbed hold of Saul’s mantle; the mantle tore. Samuel said, "The kingship has been cut off from you."
Lower right, beneath Latin: Here it is that Samuel kills Agag, king of the Amalekites, with his own hand.
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