A rare miniature Bible dedicated to the first president and founding father of the United States, George Washington, can now be viewed online thanks to the National Library of Israel. The George Washington “thumb Bible” which includes a shortened version of both the Old and New Testaments, was originally penned by John Taylor, a 16th century English poet.
The full, enclosed dedication reads: “To his Excellency G. Washington, President of the United States of America. Most hopeful George, into thy hands we give, The sum of that which makes us ever live,” adding: “And tho’ the volume and the work be small, Yet it contains the sum of all in all.”
The tiny text is extraordinarily rare. Experts believe that less than a dozen copies of the 2 x 1.375-inch special edition remain in the public domain. “The term ‘thumb Bible’ refers to abbreviated Bibles like this, which were popular in early 19th-century America, where they were used to educate children,” said Dr Aviad Stollman, head of collections at the National Library of Israel, as reported by The Times of Israel.
The minuscule book contains several early American woodcuts depicting various biblical scenes and figures.
The preamble of the Bible contains quaint little poems, such as:
“And with great reverence have I cull’d from thence, All things that are of greatest consequence. All all I beg when thou tak’sk it in hand, Before thou judge be sure to understand.”
Following the conclusion of the book Revelation, Taylor includes two beautifully poetic prayers, and they make really do make for wonderful reading:
“Glory to thee, my God, who safe hast kept, And me refresh’d while I securely slept. Lord, this day guard me, lest I may transgress, And all my undertakings guide and bless. And since to thee my vows I now renew, Scatter by my past sins as morning dew. That so thy glory may shine clear this day, in all I either thing, or do, or say. Amen.”
The prayers address themes of sin, redemption and grace:
“Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear Son, the ill that I this day have done, that with the world, myself, and thee, I, ere I sleep, at peace may be,” the last prayer reads, taken from the hymn “All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night.”
“Teach me to live, that I may dread the grave as little as my bed.”
Finally, the text concludes: “Keep me, O keep me, King of kings, secure me under thine own almighty wings. — Amen.
A digitized version of the full text can be viewed here. It is very cool – and well worth a quick look.