Fol. 34r

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David Spares Saul a Second Time; Kidnapped

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. 34r)
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: 

David Spares Saul a Second Time
Saul's army has encamped outside of the wilderness of Ziph. David, followed by his commander Abishai, slips into the pavilion where the king is sleeping and steals the royal cup and spear. Later, from the safety of a mountain top, David calls to Saul and the commander of his army, Abner. He displays before them the stolen cup and spear and berates Abner for his carelessness in protecting the king. (I Samuel 26:7–25)

David's wives and the families of his followers have been taken captive by the Amalekites, along with all of the inhabitants of Ziklag. With six-hundred men, David sets out to rescue them. On the way, he meets an Egyptian boy, abandoned by the Amalekites, who agrees to guide David to the enemy. (I Samuel 30:5–15)


Folio 34r (Latin)

Upper half: How, when Saul, pursuing David, had encamped in the desert, David entered his tent at night with one companion, as all were sleeping deeply. Although he could have killed him, he did not wish to do so, but took only a spear which lay at the head of his bed and a cup, and, without anyone’s knowledge, carried them and went to the nearest mountain. Crying from there, he aroused the king and Abner, the captain of his army, showing them what had happened. Then, rebuking the king’s guards for their lack of care, he told them to send someone to bring back the spear. Moved by this, the king asks David to come back to him. (I Samuel 26)

Lower half: How David, perceiving the king’s implacable hatred toward him, decides to yield to him and go, and thus goes out of the borders of Israel with his men, to live in the land of the Philistines. (I Samuel 27: 1–4)

Folio 34r (Persian)

Upper right margin: One night, King Saul was sleeping in the tent and the guards were surrounding the tent. David crept into the tent and removed the king’s spear with the cup from the scene. He went atop the mountain and cried, "Is this how you protect the king? If it were anyone but me, he would have slain the king; I removed the king’s cup and spear from the residence and you did not know."

Lower half, below Latin inscription: Regardless of David’s increasing good deeds, the king’s enmity did not diminish. [David] rose and set out for another province.

Folio 34r (Judeo-Persian)

Upper right margin, furthest right: The king was sleeping in the tent surrounded by his guards. David came into the king’s tent accompanied by Abishai and skillfully brought out his [the king’s] spear. [Then] they went to the top of a hill and, shouting, informed the king [of their deed].

Lower half, above Latin: [Since] David saw that the king’s vengefulness continued, he moved from the land he was in and traveled on another road.


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 /