A prophet and the second greatest king of Israel, the founder of the Davidian Dynastyand a Temple singing. He is credited with uniting the kingdoms of Israel and Judea – the empire spreading from Egypt to Mesopotamia. David reigned for 40 years, 7 years and 6 months of which he was the king of Judea in Hebron, and 33 years ruled in the whole Israel and Judea in the conquered and rebuilt Jerusalem (2 Kings 5: 4–5, 2: 11; 3 Kings 2: 11). All Biblical accounts agree on the fact that David is the younger son of an Ephrathite named Jesse from Bethlehem of Judah (1 Kings 16: 11; 17: 14 and others).

The earliest images of David are encountered on the frescoes in the house of assembly in Dura-Europos in today’s Syria (244 – 245). The mosaics of the altar in the catholicon of the Grand Martyr Catherine Monastery on Sinai (560 – 565) preserved the images of David, depicting him shoulder-length in a round medallion, as a dark-haired and dark-eyed middle-aged man with a thin strip of mustaches and a beard; he is dressed in royal vestments – a purple mantle with a golden clip on the shoulder; upon his head is a golden stemma decorated with green and yellow stones, crowned with a Greek cross made of precious stones, with pendants made of two big stones. There are two iconographic types of David – a shepherd of his father’s flock, the victor of Goliath and the lion, and a prophet and a king, an old bearded man, as described in The Herminia by Dionysius of Fourna (18th century). The former type is more spread on the miniatures of Psalm-books. The Psalm-book from the British Library (ca. mid-11th century) is the earliest example of a manuscript containing illustrations to the texts. The image of David as a king and a prophet was especially spread on the icons, murals and temple mosaics. The iconography of King David is unvaried and easily recognizable: a gray-haired or dark-haired man with curly short hair and a neat full beard, in a crown, wearing royal vestments (a blue mantle fixed with a clip on the right shoulder and a red or brown tunic or dalmatic with golden edging, and red boots). The colors of David’s garment are almost invariable; what does vary is a shape of his crown shape and footwear type. The image of David is noted for royal dignity and reserve. The traditional attribute of David the prophet is the Ark of the Covenant depicted as a dome-like or a double-gable rood building with an icon of the Theotokos on the wall. In his hand Davind holds an open (less often folded) scroll with an inscription or (even less often) and an open book. The examples of the inscriptions on the scroll: Psalm 131: 8 on an icon from the Assumption Cathedral of the St. Cyrill of Belozersk Monastery (ca. 1497), Psalm 132: 8 on The Kykkos icon of the Theotokos. Christ in Glory with the images of the prophets and saints on Sinai (11th -12th centuries) and others.

In Russian churches, the figures of the saints were often placed on the wall arches under the central drum. The figure of David was often depicted near the altar space, often as full-length figures (such as in the St. George Church in Starya Ladoga, ca. 1167), half-figures (on the icon of the Laudation of the Mother of God in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, 1481), shoulder-length figures in medallions (such as the frescoes of the Assumption Church on Volotovo Pole and the Assumption Cathederal in Vladimir, 1408).

The icon of David is placed right to the Mother of God or in the central part of the prophets’ row of the high iconostasis.

The feast day of David is celebrated on the Afterfeast of the Nativity of Christ.


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