Goliath; A Father's Concern; David Entrusts Jesse's Flock to Another
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.
Saul and his army ride forth to face the Philistine army once more. The king, astride a horse adorned with orange trappings, glances uneasily over his shoulder: on the opposite side of the battlefield, he has spied Goliath, the Philistine giant. Goliath carries a gigantic shield on his back and leans on a spear nearly twice the height of a man. A huge sword is girt round his waist. As his armor-bearer and fellow soldiers confidently look on, the giant taunts the Israelite army, demanding that an opponent face him in single combat. (I Samuel 17:3–8)
A Father's Concern
Three of David's brothers have followed Saul into battle against the Philistines. Jesse sends David to the Israelite camp with supplies for his brothers and charges him to return with news of the war. (I Samuel 17:14–19)
David Entrusts Jesse's Flock to Another
David, wearing a wreath of flowers, instructs a fellow shepherd to look after his father's flocks in his absence. (I Samuel 17:20)
Folio 27r (Latin)
Upper half: How, the Philistines having encamped against Israel, king Saul rushed with his army to resist them and Jesse’s three elder sons, David’s brothers, were following him among others. Now, in the army of the Philistines there was one, Goliath by name, a man of marvelous stature six cubits and a span tall, laden with heavy and astonishing arms, who was calling daily to the army of Israel, inviting, with many reproaches, one single man to fight with him hand-to-hand. (I Samuel 17: 1–13)
Lower left: How, Saul having gone to war, David returned home to tend the flock, as he was accustomed. Once there, his father ordered him to go to the camp, carrying parched grain and loaves of bread for his brothers as well as cheese for their captain, and to inquire how are his brothers doing. (I Samuel 17: 15–18)
Lower right: How, following his father’s orders, as David is about to go to the camp, he gives the charge of his flock to another keeper. (I Samuel 17:20)
Folio 27r (Persian)
Upper right margin: Saul’s army came before the army of the enemy and a man from the army of the enemy, whose height was twelve cubits, stepped onto the [battle] field and called for a warrior. Everyday he would come and demand a warrior and would utter invectives. And there was no one in Saul’s army to match him.
Lower left, above and below Latin inscription: David’s three brothers accompanied King Saul and David’s father sent with David a ration of cheese and bread to carry for his brothers and to inquire about their health.
Lower right: Saul turned his attention to the army of the enemy; David returned to his house.
Folio 27r (Judeo-Persian)
Upper right margin, furthest right: Here it is that Goliath came every day in the field of the enemy [perhaps] someone from Saul’s army would draw lots and come out into the field [to fight him].
Lower left, beneath Persian: Here it is that David’s father sends David to the king’s camp so that he may bring news of his brothers.
Lower right, beneath Latin: While Saul set out against the enemy, David came to his house.
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