David Anointed; An Evil Spirit Troubles Saul
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. 26r)
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.
As Jesse and six of his sons look on, David is anointed by Samuel. The Lord gazes down upon the proceedings from the heavens. Those who support David, standing at the right, might also represent David's father and brothers. (1 Kings 16:12–13)
An Evil Spirit Troubles Saul
The Spirit of the Lord, in the form of a dove with a halo, departs from Saul. Its place is taken by a horned and cloven-hoofed devil that flutters over the king's shoulder. Saul's servants suggest the soothing music of a harp as a remedy for his troubled thoughts. The king, restlessly pulling on the collar of his tunic, agrees. David is selected to play for the king, for he is famed for his skill with the harp. Jesse, standing in the doorway of his home, grants the royal servants permission to take the boy to Saul. (1 Kings 16:14–19)
Folio 26r (Latin)
Upper half: How, in the presence of Jesse and all his sons, when the youngest of the sons, David, a boy of a beautiful countenance, was fetched from the fields, God ordered Samuel to anoint him to be a king. This was done, and from that day the spirit of God was with David. (I Samuel 16: 12, 13)
Lower half: How the good spirit departed from Saul and an evil spirit began troubling him, and on this account, following the advice of his men, a man is sought who may play the harp before the king to alleviate the evil. Now, when David’s reputation had spread, that he was skillful in playing and was besides a man of strength, fit for war, comely and prudent, the king’s messengers came to Jesse, his father, asking him to send him to the king. (I Samuel 16: 14–19)
Folio 26r (Persian)
Upper right margin: And Samuel took up a jar of olive oil and prayed and poured it over the head of the younger son whose name was Davud [David]; from that day on one of the angels of God the Exalted remained with David.
Lower half, above and below Latin inscription: King Saul was troubled with the tortures of Satan. And the physicians said, "Your only remedy would be a musician who has a melodious voice." People said, "There is a person named David who is a fair musician." They went and brought him forth.
Folio 26r (Judeo-Persian)
Upper right margin, furthest right: Samuel anoints David on the head.
Lower half, beneath Latin: Saul’s state of mind having become disturbed, they brought David before Saul that he should play his instrument for him.
Upper left margin, corner: When David came before the king, David’s father gave him some gifts to bring to the king. When the king became very fond of David...
Lower half, below Latin: And whenever Satan overpowered Saul, David played [for Saul] and Satan departed.
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