David's Greatest Triumph; The Ark Enshrined in Jerusalem; David Blesses 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. 39v)
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's Greatest Triumph
David retrieves the Ark of the Covenant from Obed-Edom's house, and a jubilant celebration ensues as the triumphant king, playing upon his harp, leads it into Jerusalem. Once the Ark has come six paces into the city, a sacrifice is made of an ox and a ram. No one is more overjoyed than the king himself, who dances and leaps before the procession. David's wild behavior embarrasses Michal, who points accusingly at him from her window. But the king is unconcerned, wishing only to give thanks and humble himself before God. (2 Kings 6:12–16)
The Ark Enshrined in Jerusalem
The Ark of the Covenant is placed in the new tabernacle David has built for it. Sacrifices and peace offerings are made to the Lord. (2 Kings 6:17)
David Blesses Israel
Having given thanks, the king blesses the people and distributes food to all. (2 Kings 6:18–19)
Folio 39v (Latin)
Upper half: How, upon hearing that the Lord had blessed Obed-edom and all that he had because of the ark which had stayed with him for three months, David carried it to his city with great joy, playing the harp and cheering with all the people so much so that they sacrificed an ox and a bull every six paces. And as the people were rejoicing, the trumpets were sounding, and the king was dancing, Michal, the king’s wife looked out through the window and despised him in her heart. (2 Samuel 6: 12–16)
Lower left: How, the ark having been set in the midst of the tabernacle, David offers many sacrifices in that place. (2 Samuel 6: 17)
Lower right: How, having completed the sacrifices, David blesses the people, distributing bread and other foods among them. (2 Samuel 16: 18–19)
Folio 39v (Persian)
Persian foliation: 5
Upper left margin: For three months, the Ark remained in the house of the servants of God and his wealth increased daily. And when His Excellence David saw this, he asked that the Ark be transported to his own castle.
Upper right margin: His Excellence David transported the Ark from there with music, pageantry and joy and at every six paces he sacrificed a sheep.
David’s wife was observing from the window and was joyous.
Lower left: And when he had the Ark installed, he sacrificed much.
Lower right: After the sacrifices, [David] called on the assembly and gave them food and also prayed.
Folio 39v (Judeo-Persian)
[The Judeo-Persian text is entirely illegible.]
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