Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
This miniature of the Entry into Jerusalem comes from a Gospel book painted and copied in 1262 at Hromkla, seat of the Armenian Catholicos from 1151 to 1292 CE. It was produced by the workshop of T'oros Roslin, one of the most accomplished Armenian illuminators of the thirteenth century. Instead of grouping images from the life of Christ at the beginning of the manuscript, as was customary in earlier Armenian manuscripts, T'oros Roslin, like other Cilician artists, distributes the miniatures across the manuscript, placing them close to the relevant Gospel passages. The scene shown here was aptly placed next to the section of the Gospel of Mark that describes the Entry into Jerusalem (11:1–10).
This solution, which allows for a closer connection between text and image, shows that Armenian artists used miniatures for interpretative purposes. T'oros Roslin’s awareness of the potential of religious art as an exegetical tool led him to include a bearded figure with a scroll, to the right on top of the city of Jerusalem. The inscription on the scroll—‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!’—is the first part of a verse from Zechariah (9:9), the second part of which is quoted in Matthew (21:5) and John (12:15). It prophesies that the king of Jerusalem will approach the city mounted on a ‘colt’. Since the prophecy is not quoted in Mark, it is likely that T'oros Roslin added this detail to remind the reader of the Christian claim (supported by Matthew and John) that the Entry into Jerusalem was a messianic act in fulfilment of Zechariah 9:9.
Just like the Evangelists, then, T'oros Roslin uses the Old Testament Scripture to interpret the New.
Der Nersessian, Sirarpie. 1973. Armenian Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery), pp. 10–30
21 And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethʹphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If any one says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.” 4This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of an ass.”
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon. 8Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.”
11 And when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethʹphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 2and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat; untie it and bring it. 3If any one says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’ ” 4And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door out in the open street; and they untied it. 5And those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6And they told them what Jesus had said; and they let them go. 7And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it. 8And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. 9And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!”
29When he drew near to Bethʹphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here. 31If any one asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this, ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” 32So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them. 33And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt they set Jesus upon it. 36And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. 37As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
12 The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written,
15“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on an ass’s colt!”
16His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him. 17The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazʹarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. 18The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him.”