Fol. 35r

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Spoils of War; Saul Decapitated; Trophies; A Grisly Parade

Old Testament miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions

France, Paris
1240s
390 x 300 mm

Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1916

MS M.638 (fol. 35r)
Item description: 

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.

Page description: 

Spoils of War
Following the battle, the Philistines find Saul's body on Mount Gilboa and strip it of the armor. (1 Kings 31:8)

Saul Decapitated
Having collected the king's armor, the Philistines decapitate his corpse. (1 Kings 31:9)

Trophies
The Philistines place Saul's armor—including his shield, sword, and crowned helmet—on the altar of their god, Ashtoreth. (1 Kings 31:10)

A Grisly Parade
The king's head, shown crowned, is shamefully affixed to a pike and paraded throughout the Philistine lands. (1 Kings 31:9–10)

Translation: 

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.

Credits: 

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