MS M.638, fol. 23r

Download image: 

A Plea for Help, Marshaling Forces

Old Testament Miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions

Paris, France
ca. 1244–1254
390 x 300 mm

Purchased by J.P. Morgan (1867–1943) in 1916

MS M.638, fol. 23r
Page description: 

A Plea for Help
As Saul drives oxen in from the fields, he is met by anguished messengers from Jabesh-Gilead. Nahash the Ammonite has encamped outside the city and threatened to gouge out the right eye of every inhabitant. The king, enraged, slaughters two oxen and cuts them into pieces. The pieces are sent throughout Israel with a message: either follow Saul and Samuel into battle or expect the same to be done to your oxen. (1 Kings 11:1–7)

Marshaling Forces
Saul, crowned, bearing a scepter, and seated on an ivory throne, greets the warriors of Israel. The foremost kneel before the king and pledge their fealty. A standard bearer rides along in a supply cart. Behind Saul, a royal attendant assures a messenger from Jabesh-Gilead that help is at hand. (1 Kings 11:7–9)


Folio 23r (Latin)

Upper half: How when Nahash the Ammonite began waging war against Jabesh-gilead and the people of Jabesh were finding no equity in him except this term by which he offered to pluck their right eyes, they, terrified by such threats, were telling all of this to the people of Israel, so that all the people were moved to tears and pity. Now, Saul was then coming out of the field with his oxen and upon hearing about the savagery of Nahash, great anger overtook him and he cut his oxen into pieces, sending them throughout the borders of Israel, making it known to all that whoever did not come forth and follow Saul and Samuel so would it be to his oxen. (I Samuel 11: 1–7)

Lower half: How three hundred thousand of the children of Israel and thirty thousand of the tribe of Judah unanimously came together to the king. (I Samuel 11: 7–8)

Folio 23r (Persian)

Upper right margin: And they sent the idolaters before Saul’s assembly [saying], "Each one of you, branding [yourself], send the right eye, otherwise I will gather troops [and] come to annihilate you." Saul demanded a cow and cut it to pieces and sent each piece to a city [threatening], "if you do not fall upon the enemy, just as I tore the cow I shall do onto you the same."

Lower right: After that time, Saul gathered three hundred and thirty thousand persons and attacked the enemy.

Folio 23r (Judeo-Persian)

Upper right margin, corner: Here Nahash the Ammonite, having sent [a message] to the Children of Israel [saying], "If each one of you will pluck out your eye, well and good, otherwise I will come and destroy you," [when] Saul was informed of this, he chopped up an ox [and sent a piece to every (Israelite) city].

Lower right, beneath Latin: Here Saul assembles three hundred and thirty thousand people and leads [them] against the enemy.

Italicized words are in Hebrew.


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