Bathsheba is Informed of Uriah's Death; David Weds Bathsheba; A Son is Born; The Lord is Displeased with 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. 42v)
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.
Bathsheba is Informed of Uriah's Death
A messenger arrives in Jerusalem with news of Uriah's death. Bathsheba and a member of her household express their great dismay. In this illustration, the outline of Bathsheba's house has been traced from that of David's palace on the preceding page. (2 Kings 11:26)
David Weds Bathsheba
The period of mourning having passed, David brings Bathsheba to his house and weds her. The thirteenth-century painter has depicted Bathsheba crowned like a contemporary queen. (2 Kings 11:27)
A Son is Born
Bathsheba gives birth to a son. As Bathsheba directs a maidservant from her bed, another woman rocks the infant in his cradle. (2 Kings 11:27)
The Lord is Displeased with David
David's misdeeds have enraged the Lord. Bathsheba, holding her newborn son in her lap, listens as the priest Nathan reproves David on the Lord's behalf. Because of his sins, strife will arise from within David's own household, and his infant son will die. The king begs the Lord to spare the child, but the Lord will not listen. (2 Kings 12:7–14)
Folio 42v (Latin)
Upper left: How, upon hearing about the death of her husband, his wife mourns for him. (2 Samuel 11: 26)
Upper right: How, when the mourning was over, David led Bathsheba to his house and made her his wife. (2 Samuel 11: 27)
Lower left: How Bathsheba, once Uriah’s wife, now king David’s, gives birth to a son. (2 Samuel 11:27)
Lower right: How Nathan the prophet came to David and told him a fable about a rich man who, although having many sheep and cattle, had deprived his poor neighbor of his sheep, little indeed, but dearly beloved and used to eat and drink and sleep with him. Having thus made the seriousness of his sin manifest to him, he revealed God’s many grave threats to him. At length, David confesses to his sin and hope of forgiveness is not denied to him. (2 Samuel 12: 1–14)
Folio 42v (Persian)
Persian foliation: 2
Upper left margin: The commander dispatched the news that the woman’s husband has been killed in battle.
Upper right margin: After the king heard that the woman’s husband was dead, he married her and his mind was free of discord.
Lower left margin: After sometime, that pregnant woman delivered.
Lower right, above and below Latin inscription: [Their] son fell ill after sometime and the prophet said, "Why have you acted thus?" He [David] wept and implored God [forgiveness] for his sin and God the Exalted said, "I have forgiven his sin because his son shall die."
Folio 42v (Judeo-Persian)
Upper left margin, furthest left: David’s sending Uriah off to war with the Ammonites.
Lower right margin: In Samuel 2, chapter 11, [is related] the tale of the death of Uriah the Hittite in the war against the Ammonites and David’s marrying of Bathsheba.
Lower left margin, furthest left: The tale of Bathsheba’s pregnancy and the birth of Solomon.
Lower left, above Latin: The tale of the death of that child.
Lower right, beneath Persian: The tale of the death of that son who was first born to David and Bathsheba [as it is written] in Samuel 2, chapter 12.
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