Joab Reproaches David; David Greets the People; Sheba's Rebellion; Judah Remains Loyal
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. 43r)
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.
Joab Reproaches David
The Rebellion crushed, David and his people return to Jerusalem. A Cushite arrives at the gates with the news of Absalom's death, and the king is greatly distraught. Joab, wearing a blue tunic, is angered to find the king so aggrieved and condemns David. He is weary of the compassion his lord has shown to his enemies over the years. Rather than mourn the traitor Absalom, Joab suggests, give praise to the household and servants who have remained loyal. (2 Kings 18:32 – 2 Kings 19:6)
David Greets the People
David is shamed by Joab's words. Servants set up an ivory throne in the gateway of the palace, and the king greets the people, assuring them that all is well. (2 Kings 19:7–8)
Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite, sounds his trumpet and rallies men of Israel to his side. He labels David a usurper and conspires to wrest the throne from him. (2 Kings 20:1–2)
Judah Remains Loyal
The men of Judah, David's oldest supporters, will not abandon their king for the greedy Sheba. The loyal supporters rally to David in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 20:2–3)
Folio 43r (Latin)
Upper left: How, when Tamar had come to Amnon, her brother, he ordered those who were standing by her to leave. When they had left, he ravished her violently, although she was asking him not to do it but rather, as his wish would not be denied, to ask father to have her for his wife. (2 Samuel 13: 8–14)
Upper right: How Amnon, the incest committed, hated his sister so much that his hatred was greater than his love. Wherefore he ordered at once that she be taken out of his bed chamber and that the door be locked. She went out, weeping and crying, and found her brother, Absalom, who consoled her, telling her not to lament nor to afflict herself on account of what her brother had wished to do. (2 Samuel 13: 15–20)
Lower half: How, in the house of her brother, Absalom, Tamar is consumed by tears and sorrow remembering her injury. Now, Absalom, having hidden his sorrow for two years, at last called his father and brothers to a feast. When his father had refused to go, but, pressed by Absalom, allowed Amnon, his firstborn to go there, in the middle of the feast Absalom ordered that his brother be killed. (2 Samuel 13: 20–29)
Folio 43r (Persian)
Upper left margin: Here, the son of David pretended to be ill and when the girl brought drink and food, he took hold of her and they lay together in pleasure.
Upper right margin: And after he separated from the girl, he became indignant of her and affection turned into enmity and he threw the girl out of the house.
Lower right margin: The girl had a brother and she told [him] her story. Enmity surfaced in his heart and he planned a feast. [The brother] cut some stalks of wheat and began feasting and he invited His Excellence David to the banquet. David declined. He said, "Send your son." He accepted. And the girl’s brother set up his own servant [saying], "When the son of David sits at the meal, strike a dagger in his belly and kill him." The servant did as he had been told.
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