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House of David inscription

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The "House of David" is inscribed on this victory stele. Tel Dan, Israel, 9th Century BC. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

David is the most famous king in the Bible. He was very wealthy, successful in building a great kingdom, very successful as a military leader, and was known as a great poet who was responsible for many of the Psalms as well as a musician. David was also the most righteous king of Israel, as seen in 1Samuel 13:14 , David was "a man after God's own heart.

With a king as great as David it seemed strange that he did not have any non biblical references. This caused much debate as to whether David ever lived. David's life is not only crucial to the authenticity of the Bible but is also important because Christ comes through the house of David. Many secularists used the lack of non biblical evidence for David to say that the Bible was not completely accurate, that is until a stele was discovered in 1993 during excavations in the city of Dan that mentioned the House of David.

A stele is a stone monument usually with writing on it. The city of Dan stele is thought to have been put up by the Syrian king Hazael to tell of his victory over Jehoram, king of Israel and Ahaziah, king of Judah. The stele was smashed sometime in history and is believed to have been done so by the Israeli king Jehoash when he retook the city of Dan in his campaign against the Syrians years after the city had fallen to Syria. This discovery was a monumental discovery in the area of biblical archeology because it sheds light on a part of biblical history sometimes referred to as the "Biblical Dark Ages" and puts to rest the debate as to whether David and his family ever existed outside of the Bible.

House of David Inscription

The House of David Inscription is a series of basalt stone fragments, the largest of which is 32x22 cm. Thirteen lines of text written in ancient Aramaic have been somewhat preserved. The fragments were discovered by Avraham Biran while excavating on behalf of the Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem from 1993-1994 at the ancient city of Dan.[1] The fragments were found in some rubble being used as fill in one of Dan's famous gates. The stele was likely erected by the Aramaean king Hazael, commemorating his defeat of Jehoram, king of Israel and Ahaziah, king of Judah.[1][2] What is left of the stele reads: (The [....] means that the inscription was too damaged to read these parts.)

1'. [.....................].......[...................................] and cut [.........................]

2'. [.........] my father went up [....................f]ighting at/against Ab[....]
3'. And my father lay down; he went to his [fathers]. And the king of I[s-]
4'. rael penetrated into my father's land[. And] Hadad made me—myself—king.
5'. And Hadad went in front of me[, and] I departed from ...........[.................]
6'. of my kings. And I killed two [power]ful kin[gs], who harnessed two thou[sand cha-]
7'. riots and two thousand horsemen. I killed Joram son of Ahab
8'. king of Israel, and I killed [Achaz]yahu son of [Joram kin]g
9'. of the House of David. And I set [.......................................................]
10'. their land ...[.......................................................................................]
11'. other ...[......................................................................... and Jehu ru-]
12'. led over Is[rael...................................................................................]
13'. siege upon [............................................................]
[3]

It is believed that the stele was smashed by the Israeli king Jehoash who fought and retook many of the cities lost by the Israelis in generations past to the Syrians, including the city of Dan. The House of David Inscription is the first reference to King David found outside of the biblical texts. This is significant because it puts to rest much of the secular speculation that King David and his bloodline never existed.[3]

The City of Dan

The city of Dan lies on a caravan route used in ancient times between Egypt and Syria, which passes by the Dan Spring which flows from the Jordan River. The city was originally named Leshem or Laish as can be seen in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian texts. The city was renamed after the Israeli tribe of Dan conquered the city and settled it in the 11th century BC as seen in Judges 18:29 "They named it Dan after their forefather Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish" The city became prominent in the divided kingdom after the death of King David's son, King Solomon. The enemy of Solomon, Jeroboam, who took over the northern kingdom, erected two golden calves, one in the city of Beit-El which was on the border between the northern and southern kingdoms, and the other in Dan (see 1_Kings 12:25-32 ). He erected these statues for the people in the northern kingdom to worship them to avoid the masses from these cities making pilgrimages to Jerusalem to pay homage to God at the temple there. The City of Dan thrived until destruction by the Assyrian invasion in 732 BC and the city remained uninhabited until the 4th century BC. [4]

The Kings Involved

King Hazael

A statue found of the Syrian King Hazael

The Lord was displeased with the actions of the Israelites so God told Elijah to appoint the Syrian Hazael over Syria as seen in 1 Kings 19:15:[5]1Kings 19:15 ""The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram." King Hazael rose to power after he killed the Syrian king Hadadezer and took over the throne. Hazael then went to war against the northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribes of Judah.[5]

King Jehoram

King Jehoram (also known as Joram),the son of Ahab, was the king of Israel as seen in 2Kings 3:1 "Joram son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned twelve years.". During his reign he fought the Syrians continuously until he was killed by Jehu after he went to visit Ahaziah who was injured in battle and who he had allied with against Hazael. [6]

King Ahaziah

King Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram, only reigned for one year as seen in 2Kings 8:25-26a "In the twelfth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year." He was influenced to do evil in the eyes of the Lord by his mother Athaliah. The Lord punished Ahaziah by having Jehu, who God had appointed to kill the family of Ahab by Elisha, kill Jehu after he had been injured in a battle with the Syrians.[7]

King Jehoash

King Jehoash, son of King Jehoahaz, was the 12th king of the northern kingdom of Israel. He reigned over Israel for 16 years and experience great success as a military leader. King Jehoash went to war with the Syrians and retook the cities the kings who came before him had lost to them. One of these cities included the city of Dan, the site where the House of David Inscription was found. It is for this reason that many believe that it was King Jehoash who smashed the House of David Inscription when he retook the city for the Israelis.[8]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tel Dan Stele Bible History Online, Accessed May 25, 2010.
  2. THE STELE OF DAN BIBLE LANDS AND CITIES, Accessed May 27, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tel Dan Stele. House of David Inscription Former Things, Accessed May 25, 2010.
  4. Tel Dan Jewish Magazine, Copyright 2002
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hazael King of Syria Bible History Online, Accessed May 27, 2010.
  6. Jehoram, King of Israel About Bible Prophecy, Copyright 2001-2009.
  7. Ahaziah, king of Judah About Bible Prophecy, Copyright 2001-2009.
  8. Jehoash, or Joash, King of Israel About Bible Prophecy, Copyright 2001-2009.