Well Ahead; David and Michal Wedded; Saul Orders David's Assassination; Jonathan warns David
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. 30r)
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.
David returns victorious to Saul, bearing twice the required dowry. The modest painter has replaced the foreskins in the biblical text with the victims' heads. Saul, disappointed that David survived the battle, feigns appreciation. (1 Kings 18:27)
David and Michal Wedded
David and Michal are joined by the king in the presence of witnesses. Michal, still holding her lapdog, gives David a coy glance. The stern gaze Saul levels at his new son-in-law, however, foreshadows the conflict that is about to erupt. (1 Kings 18:27)
Saul Orders David's Assassination
David has become famous for his unsurpassed military Skill and wisdom. Saul is certain that the Lord favors David and is overcome by fear of the young commander. The king summons his son Jonathan and his servants and orders that David be slain. (1 Kings 18:28–19:1)
Jonathan warns David
Jonathan will not betray his dearest friend and reveals the king's evil plot to David. (1 Kings 19:1–2)
Folio 30r (Latin)
Upper left: How David came back to the king and, although he had asked for only one hundred foreskins, offered him two hundred enemy heads. (I Samuel 18: 27)
Upper right: How king Saul, true to his promise, gives his daughter, Michal by name, to David to be his wife. (I Samuel 18:27)
Lower left: How Saul, growing daily more fearful, orders his son and servants to kill David. (I Samuel 19: 1)
Lower right: How Jonathan, the king’s son, makes his father’s state of mind and plan known to Daivd, warning him to watch out for himself. (I Samuel 19: 2)
Folio 30r (Persian)
Upper left margin: And David brought the heads of the slain to the king.
Upper right margin: The king fulfilled his promise and gave his daughter to David.
Lower left: And after that, the king summoned his son and told him, "Go with a company and slay David."
Lower right: Since the king’s son harbored fondness and friendship for David, he informed him of this event and said, "Rest assured on my account and take care of yourself."
Folio 30r (Judeo-Persian)
Upper left, beneath Latin: David brings the heads [!] of the slain to the king’s palace.
Upper right margin, furthest right: The king kept his promise and gave his daughter [in marriage] to David.
Lower left, beneath Persian: The king summoned his son and said, "Go with this group [of men] and kill David."
Lower right, above Latin: Since there was friendship between the king’s son and David, he [Jonathan] informed David of this news, saying, "Rest tranquil as far as I am concerned, but look out for yourself."
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