The grisaille image in the margins of f. 5r show the prefigurations of the betrayal and arrest of Christ according to the Biblia pauperum, hence on the right-hand side is a scene taken from I Mac. 12: 39-48 of two warriors, Tryphon and Jonathan holding hands whilst surrounded by soldiers. Tryphon, in his desire to seize control of Asia, rose up against Jonathan, whose army was larger. Hence, whilst on Bethsan where the king’s army, which was larger than his, was waiting for him, he plotted how to rid himself of the king. He offered him his services and convinced him to send his troops to Judea, promising to hand Tolemaide over to him in return. No sooner did the king arrive in that town, however, than he was executed along with the rest of the army accompanying him. The Biblia pauperum and Speculum humanae salvationis compare Tryphon with Judas who betrayed Christ with his treacherous kiss. The grisaille at the bottom depicts Abner, in front of the gate of Hebron, having been stabbed in the back by Joab (2 Kgs. 3: 27), a deceptive act comparable with the kiss that Judas betrayed his Master with. Although the Bible says that Abner was wounded in the stomach, Simon Bening establishes a parallel between the betrayals by Judas and Joab by depicting the latter embracing Abner whilst stabbing a dagger in his back, as can also be seen in the Prayer Book of Albert of Brandenburg (f. 103r).
Carlos Miranda García-Tejedor
Doctor in History