The King is Displeased; The Tribes under One King; The Conquest of Jerusalem
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. 38v)
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.
The King is Displeased
Rechab and Baanah, bearing the head of Ishbosheth, arrive at David's house and seek his favor. The king is far from pleased; he reminds the traitors of the fate of the messenger who sought royal favor for having slain Saul. How much greater a crime to have killed a an innocent man asleep in his bed! The assassins will pay for the outrage with their own blood. After cutting off their hands and feet, three servants hang the traitors' bodies from a rickety gallows. (2 Kings 4:8–12)
The Tribes under One King
The remaining tribes of Israel, now without a ruler, arrive in Hebron and proclaim David king. David removes the crown of Judah and is anointed. With great acclamation from the assembled elders, David will receive the crown of a united Israel. (2 Kings 5:1–3)
The Conquest of Jerusalem
David leads the Israelite army to Jerusalem and there attacks Zion, the fortress of the Jebusites. Battle-ready Israelite soldiers scale the walls of the stronghold, but David halts their assault when an elder of Zion emerges and surrenders the keys to the city. The king establishes his house in the fortress of Zion; henceforth, Jerusalem will be called the city of David. (2 Kings 5:6–9)
Folio 38v (Latin)
Upper half: How those two murderers of Ish-bosheth offer his head to David, as if they had done him a great service. Nevertheless, the king, having cursed their crime, has them killed and later hanged with their hands and feet amputated. (2 Samuel 4: 8–12)
Lower left: How, after the death of Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, all the tribes and all the elders of the people unanimously come together to David and anoint him to be a king over all of Israel. (2 Samuel 5: 1–3)
Lower right: How David goes to Jerusalem and takes the citadel of Zion which was thereafter known as the city of David. (2 Samuel 5: 6–9)
Folio 38v (Persian)
Persian foliation: 6
Upper left margin: When those two slew Saul’s son, they brought his head to the court of David thinking that David would be pleased with this deed. He ordered to have their hands and feet cut off and to hang them.
Lower left margin: Since King Saul with his children were slain, the Israelites, young and old, came to His Excellence David and made him their king. Afterwards the priest anointed His Excellence David.
Lower right: After that, His Excellence David went tot the citadel of Jelusalem [Jerusalem] and since then that citadel is named after his Excellence.
Folio 38v (Judeo-Persian)
Upper left margin, furthest left: Those who killed Saul’s son bring his head to David’s assembly. David orders the hands and feet of those murderers cut off and that they be hanged.
Lower left margin, furthest left: After Saul’s death David becomes king.
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