This is the promise that has stood firm for our fathers?’ The hybrid figures raising their cups at the top of the page might reflect the ritual gesture of raising wine glasses at this point in the ceremony. These two strange creatures, with snouts, wings, paws, and tails that sprout long leaf patterns that flow as borders down both sides of the page, hold their glasses above the initial word ‘This [is the promise]’. The foliate forms terminate with leaves, rather than with the acorns seen earlier in the manuscript. The decoration in the upper part of fol. 39b suggests an interpretation of the text appearing on it that begins: ‘Go [and learn what Laban the Armanean tried to do to our father Jacob]’, and continues to recount Laban’s ruthlessness. Above the initial word panel is a triple-faced head, providing simultaneous views in front and to both sides, a motif common in medieval manuscripts. Here, however, flanked by two club-wielding hybrid figures, the figure illustrates the circumspection required to protect oneself from external enemies.
The lower margin contains a more traditional illustration of this text, in which Jacob walks staff in hand, followed by two sinister soldiers each with a sword and one with a lance. Sharon Liberman Mintz has pointed out that the staff may be Jacob’s attribute, since midrashim for Genesis 32, 10 describe Jacob leaving Isaac’s house with just a stick. The present figures offer further examples of how the faces of evil men were later obliterated. Similar mutilation is found in other Hebrew and Latin codices.
The decorative border of this page shows that the transition from the acorn motif to the flat leaves was the work not of the master illuminator, who apparently here drew an outline that included the same acorn patterns as he did in previous quires, but of the assistant who added the colour and was perhaps unable to carry out the design, and converted the forms into awkwardly executed foliage.
Leaf size is approximately 255 x 190mm (10 x 7.5in)