David's Response; David Anointed King of Judah; Ishbosheth Made King of Israel
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. 36r)
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.
David, having wept and mourned the entire day for Saul and Jonathan, gathers his composure and turns to deal with the messenger who killed Saul. He is furious that the man unashamedly and without fear slew the king, the Lord's anointed, and so orders his death. The messenger kneels in an attitude of prayer as his executioner aims a second blow at his neck. (2 Kings 1:13–16)
David Anointed King of Judah
The man praying in the foreground converses with the Lord. According to the biblical text, this should be David, but the figure depicted does not resemble him. David, his wives, and followers go to Hebron in accordance with the Lord's will. There, David is met by men of Judah and anointed king. A priest pours the sacred oil on the head of the new king, and he is presented with the crown. (2 Kings 2:1–4)
Ishbosheth Made King of Israel
Saul's son Ishbosheth still lives, and Abner, Saul's general, makes him king of Israel. Abner, guiding the king's horse, presents the new king to men of the tribes of Israel; only the house of Judah withholds support, for they follow David. The Latin and Persian scribes who later added inscriptions to the Picture Bible misunderstood this scene as the acclamation of David by the men of Judah. (2 Kings 2:8–10)
Folio 36r (Latin)
Upper left: How David ordered that the one who had told this be killed, for he had not feared to put out his hand to kill the Lord’s anointed. (2 Samuel 1: 13–16)
Upper right: How David is anointed and crowned to be king of Juda. (2 Samuel 2: 1–4)
Lower half: How king David rules over Juda and, upon hearing that the men of Jabesh had buried Saul, blesses them and encourages them to be virtuous. (2 Samuel 2: 5–7)
Folio 36r (Persian)
Upper left margin: David drew his sword against that person who brought the news of the slaying of Saul and had said, "I killed Saul." [David] said, "What gave you the right to aim at the king?" [David] slew him.
Upper right margin: And after that His Excellence the prophet made David the king of that realm and he blessed the oil and anointed David.
Lower left: Davis ascended the throne and called people to justice.
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