David Feasts with Michal and Abner; Abner's Pledge to David; Joab Slays Abner; David Informed of Joab's Crime
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. 37v)
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.
David Feasts with Michal and Abner
At the king's table in Hebron, Michal accepts a cup from David. To her right, Abner and men of his company celebrate the new alliance with Judah. The suspicious, half-hidden bearded figure in the background wearing a green tunic is probably the vengeful Joab. (2 Kings 3:20–21)
Abner's Pledge to David
Upon his departure, Abner embraces David and swears that he will soon rally all of Israel to the king's side. Joab, in green tunic and holding a pair of gloves, awaits his opportunity to seek revenge on Abner at the right. (2 Kings 3:21–22)
Joab Slays Abner
Joab summons Abner to speak with him at the gate of Hebron. Abner, not suspecting any foul play, agrees to the meeting. There, Joab treacherously stabs his rival in the groin and gains revenge for the death of his brother, Asahel. (2 Kings 3:26–27)
David Informed of Joab's Crime
Abner's mournful companions return to David with news of their commander's assassination. Joab's crime and his disregard for authority angers David's; the king curses Joab's house and his progeny. (2 Kings 3:28–29)
Folio 37v (Latin)
Upper left: How David made a feast for Abner and for all those who had come with his wife. (2 Samuel 3:20)
Upper right: How Abner departs from David promising to gather all of Israel onto him and the king escorts him and sends him away. (2 Samuel 3:21)
Lower left: How Joab, the brother of Asahel whom Abner had killed, upon hearing that the latter had come to the king and had left unharmed, sent messengers after him and they brought him back. Then, having taken him aside for a talk, Joab killed him deceitfully, piercing him through with a sword in the middle of the gate in Hebron. (2 Samuel 3: 22–27)
Lower right: How David, having heard about Abner’s death, exculpates himself and curses Joab and his seed with many and various curses. (2 Samuel 3: 28, 29)
Folio 37v (Persian)
Persian foliation: 7
Upper left margin: And His Excellence David showed hospitality to the commander and spread out a banquet.
Upper right margin: When the commander rose from the banquet, he said, "I go to bring forth my people." His Excellence David honored him and accompanied him to the gate of the audience hall and sent him off.
Lower left margin: The commander became envious of His Excellence David [fearing] that harm might come from him. He dispatched his slave and the commander summoned the son of Saul and when they came together, having a dagger hidden in his side, he embraced [the son of Saul] and slew him with the dagger.
Lower right: They informed His Excellence David of the slaying. The commander said, "I do not know [about it] and I have not ordered [it]." Thus he [David] cursed him and became exceedingly angry 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