House of David

At Tel Dan in upper Galilee in Northern Israel a fragment of an inscription on basalt stone has been uncovered. It was part of the paving near the entrance of the outer gate of the ancient city of Dan. In 1992, in order to tidy up the site for presentation to visitors, a heap of debris was removed which dated from the time of the Assyrian destruction of the city by Tiglath-pileser lll – no doubt a legacy of his campaign against northern Israel. (2 Kings 15:29). Unexpectedly, a hitherto unknown gateway to the city was uncovered The entrance led to a courtyard where stood a low stone platform large enough to take a throne. This possibly marked the place where the king would sit on ceremonial occasions. The Scriptures allude to such a custom when Ahab king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah sat in the gate of Samaria (1 Kings 22:10). The inscription is a section of a victory stela (commemorative stone) about the conquests of one of the kings of Aram, recording the defeat of his foes, sometime in the 9th century BC. The inscription is written in Aramaic (a language closely related to early Hebrew) and is unique because it is the first reference found outside the Bible to ‘The House of David.’

The conquests recorded on the stone are related to the events written in the first book of Kings, where Asa, king of Judah, bribed king Ben- hadad to go to war with Baasha king of Israel (1 Kings 15:16-20) When Israel recaptured the city of Dan, possibly after Ahab king of Israel’s defeat by Ben-Hadad as described in 1 Kings 20, this Aramean victory stela could well have been destroyed by the Jews and its fragments used in the construction of the area surrounding the entrance gate to the city. It had lain there for many centuries until it was uncovered in 1993 by a team of Israeli archaeologists who are now eagerly searching for the other pieces. Who knows what may yet be found to add to this confirmation of the Biblical records.

This find has also prompted the re-examination of other inscriptions and it has now been suggested that the famous Moabite Stone which describes the rebellion of Mesha king of Moab, against Israel, also goes on to describe an attack on the kingdom of Judah. In a poorly preserved portion of this Moabite stone is probably another reference to`Beth David’ or the House of David which was a way of describing the kings of Judah (1Kings 12:19; Isaiah 7:15; Jeremiah 21:12).