The Isabella Breviary

The Isabella Breviary f. 132r, David cursed and stoned by Shimei


f. 132r, David cursed and stoned by Shimei

A twenty-four line framed miniature over both columns of text of David cursed and stoned by Shimei (II Kings 16 vv 5-13 in the Vulgate, II Sam 16 vv 5-13 in modern bibles) with the inscription, Semei, above him at the top and 2 R(e)g 16 in the bottom right hand corner, giving the biblical reference to the event, as in the psalm 26 picture. The biblical text refers to this man cursing and throwing stones at David and his servants, calling David a “man of blood”. The event takes place at the time of Absalom’s rebellion against his father David. David, on horseback, is restraining his followers from violence against Shimei, including Abisai to whom he speaks the following words: “Let him alone and let him curse: for the Lord hath bid him curse David”. To the right of the rock a man on horseback coming with soldiers may be Absalom. This incident is referred to by Nicholas of Lyra.
Other than the influence from Nicholas of Lyra it is possible that the Semei incident may have been known to the advisor and the artists from its occurrence in both the Speculum humanae salvationis and Concordantiae caritatis manuscripts as a parallel to Christ’s Mocking and Crowning with Thorns for the former, and in the latter for Christ’s reply to Peter’s question (Mat 18 vv 21-22): “Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times, but till seventy times seven times”.181 The cursing and stoning of David by Shimei is the illustration for psalm 38 in the Breviary of Eleanor of Portugal, although it is unique in that book in showing the influence of Nicholas of Lyra’s commentary. There is a full border of the first category with silver-white acanthus scrolls, flowers, fruit and birds on a yellow-gold ground with gold stippling.

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