Fol. 31r

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Michal Delays the Soldiers; A Trusted Friend; Saul Learns of David's Whereabouts; Saul's Officers Struck by the Spirit of the Lord

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

France, Paris
390 x 300 mm

Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1916

MS M.638 (fol. 31r)
Item description: 

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.

Page description: 

Michal Delays the Soldiers
Michal has warned David of her father's new plot to kill him. While David scrambles through a window, his wife delays the king's assassins. My husband is ill, she explains, and must stay in bed. She has arranged a dummy in the bed and covered its head with a hairy goat skin. The suspicious soldiers are about to discover Michal's ruse. (I Samuel 19:11–17)

A Trusted Friend
David flees to Ramah and takes refuge with Samuel and other prophets. The priest listens intently as David explains his plight. (I Samuel 19:18)

Saul Learns of David's Whereabouts
A field hand arrives at court and informs the king that David hides in Ramah with Samuel. Saul immediately dispatches officers to arrest David. (I Samuel 19:19–20)

Saul's Officers Struck by the Spirit of the Lord
Saul's officers arrive in Ramah. As they approach Samuel and David, the spirit of the Lord descends upon them in the form of a dove. David watches in amazement as his would-be captors begin to prophesy and wildly dance about. (I Samuel 19:20)


Folio 31r (Latin)

Upper left: How, as they were coming to David’s house, the king’s guards discovered that Michal, his wife, had sent him out through the window and had laid an image in his bed and a goat skin with the hair at the head of the bed and she had covered it with clothes. (I Samuel 19: 11–13)

Upper right: How David ran away and came to Samuel. He told him all that the king had done to him and stayed with him. (I Samuel 19: 18)

Lower left: How, upon hearing where David was, Saul sends armed men to capture him. (I Samuel 19:19, 20)

Lower right: How when the king’s messengers had reached the place where Samuel was with a company of prophets, the spirit of God came upon them and they began prophesying. (I Samuel 19:20)

Folio 31r (Persian)

Upper left margin: David’s wife became aware that a group was coming to kill him; she laid a statue in his place and sent David out through the window. That group came in and found a statue instead of David and David was saved.

Upper right margin: When David had left through the window, he went before the prophet Samuel and told him of his situation and sat before the prophet.

Lower left & lower left margin: When the king heard of David’s escape and of where he was, he armed a company and dispatched them to capture David.

Lower right margin: David was praying amongst the prophets and the company that had come to capture him also raised their arms in prayer, by Divine Mystery, they forgot David and did not arrest him.

Folio 31r (Judeo-Persian)

Upper left margin, corner: It happened that Michal saw that a group [of men] had arrived to kill David. She let David out through a window and laid a sheep in his place [in bed].

Upper right, below Latin: When David fled he came before the prophet Samuel, related to him what had happened and remained with him.

Lower left, below Latin: When the king heard about David’s flight, he sent a group [of men] after him to capture him.

Lower right margin, furthest right: The group[of men] that came to capture David became capable of prophesying [...and the same happened] the second and third time. In the end, Saul himself came and prophesied [but was unable] to take David, as it is written in Samuel [chapter] 19.


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 /