Spoils of War; Saul Decapitated; Trophies; A Grisly Parade
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.
Spoils of War
Following the battle, the Philistines find Saul's body on Mount Gilboa and strip it of the armor. (I Samuel 31:8)
Having collected the king's armor, the Philistines decapitate his corpse. (I Samuel 31:9)
The Philistines place Saul's armor—including his shield, sword, and crowned helmet—on the altar of their god, Ashtoreth. (I Samuel 31:10)
A Grisly Parade
The king's head, shown crowned, is shamefully affixed to a pike and paraded throughout the Philistine lands. (I Samuel 31:9–10)
Folio 35r (Latin)
Upper left: How the victorious Philistines strip the bodies of Saul and his sons. (I Samuel 31: 8)
Upper right: How the Philistines cut off Saul’s head. (I Samuel 31: 9)
Lower left: How the Philistines put Saul’s arms in the temple of Ashtaroth, their god. (I Samuel 31: 10)
Lower right: How Saul’s head is sent into the land of the Philistines round about. (I Samuel 31:9)
Folio 35r (Persian)
Upper left margin: When King Saul was slain, they stripped him.
Upper right margin: And they cut off King Saul’s head.
Lower left margin: The idolaters brought King Saul’s garment to the temple of idols and laid it before the idol.
Lower right margin: The idolaters placed King Saul’s head atop a spear and paraded it all over the kingdom.
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