Abner Revolts; David's Demand; Abner Takes Michal from Her Husband; Michal Returned to 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. 37r)
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.
Conflict has arisen between Abner and Ishbosheth. Abner, angry with the Israelite king, sends messengers to Judah in the hope that he might form an alliance with David. (2 Kings 3:12)
Abner's messengers arrive in Judah with their master's proposal. David agrees to reconcile with Abner on one condition: he must return Michal, David's wife, whom Saul had given to another. (2 Kings 3:13)
Abner Takes Michal from Her Husband
Ishbosheth has agreed to return Michal to David. Michal's husband weeps piteously as Abner and his soldiers lead her away. (2 Kings 3:14–16)
Michal Returned to David
Abner has fulfilled his end of the bargain. The commander kneels before David and presents the king his lost wife. Michal appears to greet her former husband with some trepidation.
Folio 37r (Latin)
Upper left: How, alienated by his master, Abner, the captain of the army of Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, sends messengers to David, asking for his friendship and promising to bring all of Israel back to him. (2 Samuel 3:12)
Upper right: How David listens willingly to Abner’s messengers and embraces his friendship proposal on the condition that he bring back his wife, Michal, whom Saul, her father, had taken away and had given to another. (2 Samuel 3: 13)
Lower left: How Abner, bringing Michal back to David, told her husband, who was following her, weeping, to go back, and he went back. (2 Samuel 3:16)
Lower right: How Abner, having talked to the elders of Israel and to the people in order that he might again make them all obliged and obedient to David, came to him at last in Hebron, bringing Michal back. (2 Samuel 3: 17–19)
Folio 37r (Persian)
Upper left margin: The commander sent Saul’s son to His Excellence David [saying], "We wish to have friendship and love between you and us and to be in league with one another."
Upper right margin: And His Excellence David accepted the words of the commander and said, "Send me my wife whom you have taken away from me."
Lower left: And the commander went and fetched David’s wife whom they had given to someone else.
Lower right margin: And the commander brought His Excellence David’s wife to David’s court.
Folio 37r (Judeo-Persian)
Upper left margin, bottom: Saul’s son sent a person to David to sue for peace with him.
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