A Stately Funeral; Rechab and Baanah; Traitors
Old Testament miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1916
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.
A Stately Funeral
David and his fellows grieve for Abner and prepare his burial in Hebron. Abner's richly draped coffin is set on a bier with projecting handles and is surrounded by four enormous tapers set on tripods. (2 Samuel 3:31–34)
Rechab and Baanah, Traitors
News of Abner's death has spread throughout Israel, and Ishbosheth fears for the safety of his kingdom. Two of Ishbosheth's captains, Rechab and Baanah, decide to defect. They are certain that if they slay Ishbosheth they will gain great favor in David's eyes. Here, the long-haired rogues, swords drawn, arrive at the king's house to find the doorkeeper asleep, exhausted from sifting grain. The traitors creep to the sleeping Ishbosheth in his chamber and kill him. (2 Samuel 4:1–7)
Folio 38r (Latin)
Upper half: How David, ordering all to honor Abner with a magnificent funeral, follows the bier himself, weeping loudly and praising the dead Abner admirably. All the people weep with him. (2 Samuel 3: 31–39)
Lower half: How, as Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son was sleeping in his bed in the middle of the day and the portress who was winnowing the grain had fallen asleep, two men, that is Rechab and Baanah, came secretly into his bed chamber and killed him. (2 Samuel 4:1–2, 5–7)
Folio 38r (Persian)
Upper left margin: His Excellence David ordered the slain commander to be brought to the court and he [David] was exceedingly saddened and wept; they began mourning him and the necessities for the mourning were prepared and they performed the mourning ritual as was the custom.
Lower right: That same day, the son of Saul was sleeping and two persons came in with drawn swords, and the gatekeeper was asleep, and they slew Saul’s son in bed.
Folio 38r (Judeo-Persian)
Lower half, beneath Persian: The killing of Saul’s son in his bed.
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