A Massing of Malcontents; Ahimelech Executed
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. 32v)
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.
A Massing of Malcontents
David escapes to the wilderness. At the cave of Adullam, his distressed brothers and other poor people of the kingdom gather to the young leader and proclaim him their prince. All told, David's ragtag company will number four-hundred men. (1 Kings 22:1–2)
Saul has discovered how Ahimelech and his priestly house provided David with aid. Ahimelech reminds Saul that David is a faithful servant, but the paranoid king will not listen to reason: the priest and his entire family are violently killed. (1 Kings 22:11–18)
Folio 32v (Latin)
Upper half: How Saul sends for Ahimelech and for his family members who were all priests. (I Samuel 22:11)
Lower half: How, when Ahimelech and the other priests, all eighty-five of them, had come to the king, he had them all killed and their city so utterly destroyed, that hardly one man escaped. (I Samuel 22: 6–19)
Folio 32v (Persian)
Persian foliation: 12
Upper left margin: The king sent [someone] and had the priest and his brethren brought forth.
Lower left: Then the king ordered the priest and his people slain.
Folio 32v (Judeo-Persian)
Lower right, above Latin: Doeg, having informed the king, the king ordered, "Go, bring Ahimelech and the rest of the priests." They brought them and they [the priests] were all killed. This also belongs to the tale [of?]
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