The Tel Dan Inscription: The First Historical Evidence of King David from the Bible

Few Biblical archaeology discoveries have attracted as much attention as the Tel Dan inscription, or “House of David” inscription

The fragmentary Tel Dan stela, containing the Tel Dan inscription (or “House of David” inscription) provided the first historical evidence of King David from the Bible. The Aramean king who erected the stela in the mid-eighth century B.C. claims to have defeated the “king of Israel” and the “king of the House of David.” Photo: Zev Radovan/www.biblelandpictures.com.

Few modern Biblical archaeology discoveries have caused as much excitement as the Tel Dan inscription—writing on a ninth-century B.C. stone slab (or stela) that furnished the first historical evidence of King David from the Bible.

The Tel Dan inscription, or “House of David” inscription, was discovered in 1993 at the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel in an excavation directed by Israeli archaeologist Avraham Biran.

The broken and fragmentary inscription commemorates the victory of an Aramean king over his two southern neighbors: the “king of Israel” and the “king of the House of David.” In the carefully incised text written in neat Aramaic characters, the Aramean king boasts that he, under the divine guidance of the god Hadad, vanquished several thousand Israelite and Judahite horsemen and charioteers before personally dispatching both of his royal opponents. Unfortunately, the recovered fragments of the “House of David” inscription do not preserve the names of the specific kings involved in this brutal encounter, but most scholars believe the stela recounts a campaign of Hazael of Damascus in which he defeated both Jehoram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah.

What made the Tel Dan inscription one of the most exciting Biblical archaeology discoveries for scholars and the broader public was its unprecedented reference to the “House of David.” The stela’s fragmented inscription, first read and translated by the renowned epigrapher Joseph Naveh, proved that King David from the Bible was a genuine historical figure and not simply the fantastic literary creation of later Biblical writers and editors. Perhaps more important, the stela, set up by one of ancient Israel’s fiercest enemies more than a century after David’s death, still recognized David as the founder of the kingdom of Judah.
 


 
For more on the Tel Dan inscription and other exciting Biblical archaeology finds reported in BAR, get the free eBook Ten Top Biblical Archaeology Discoveries.
 

 
The “House of David” inscription had its skeptics, however, especially the so-called Biblical minimalists, who attempted to dismiss the “House of David” reading as implausible and even sensationalistic. In a famous BAR article, Philip Davies argued that the Hebrew term bytdwd referred to a specific place (akin to bytlhm for Bethlehem) rather than the ancestral dynasty of David. Such skepticism aside, however, most Biblical scholars and archaeologists readily accepted that the Tel Dan stela had supplied the first concrete proof of a historical King David from the Bible, making it one of the top Biblical archaeology discoveries reported in BAR.

Even though the “House of David” inscription has confirmed the essential historicity of King David from the Bible, scholars have reached little consensus about the nature and extent of his rule. Was David the great king of Biblical lore who founded his royal capital at Jerusalem and established an Israelite kingdom? Or was David a ruler of only a tribal chiefdom, as Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University contends? Questions like these often arise from Biblical archaeology discoveries and lie at the heart of the complex relationships among archaeology, history and the Bible.

Based on “Issue 200: Ten Top Discoveries,” Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August September/October 2009.


 
Eilat Mazar’s excavations in Jerusalem’s City of David uncovered massive structures from the era associated with King David. Read “Did I Find King David’s Palace?” by Eilat Mazar online for free as it appeared in the January/February 2006 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
 

 
Originally published in 2011, updated in 2013.

Posted in Artifacts and the Bible, Biblical Artifacts, Inscriptions.

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  1. David says

    One correction: The Bible is historical evidence, just as other ancient writings are evidence, regardless of their accuracy or bias. The Tel Dan inscription is the first non-Biblical or archaeological evidence of David’s existence.

  2. links says

    It’s difficսlt tto find exoerienced people about thiѕ topic, but yyou soujոd like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanks

  3. tapani says

    Good, I believe the Holy Bible, and archaelogy brings proof from below the earth. Christan churches are too indolent when they do not demand own workers keep the Word.

  4. sams says

    It is good that Archaelogists have come up with evidence to prove that King-DAVID of the Bible existed. The “Tel Dan inscription” which was discovered in 1993 in Northern Israel is non-biblical or archaelogical evidence that King-David existed. In short, the “Tel Dan inscription” is the historical-proof that King-DAVID existed and it is also a confirmation that most of the things written in the Bible (especially the Old-Testament) are true. Going by “Isaiah 9:6-7″, the both the “DAVIDic-Kingdom” & the “DAVIDic-Throne” will be restored and globalized and the “Globlalized-DAVIDic-Kingdom or the DAVIDic-Kingdom-globalized” will be the “Kingdom-of-GOD i.e the 5th-World-Kingdom” (of Daniel 2:44-45) to be called the “JEWish or J/UDAic World-Empire” whilst the “Globalized-DAVIDic-Throne” will be the “Globe-Throne i.e the World-Throne” and the “Almighty-God or Prince-of-Peace” (of Isaiah 9:6-7) who is the “Son-of-DAVID or Son-of-God i.e Immanuel” called “JESUs-CHRIST” will seat on King-DAVID’s Throne and, going by “Rev.12:5″, rule all-nations or the world with an iron-scepter. Humanity is ‘irreverseably’ moving towards the “JUDAization-of-the-World”, and ” ‘J/UDAism’ (to be led by the Pope) WILL RULE THE WORLD”. In short, “TIME HAS COME FOR ‘HOLY-PEOPLE’ OR ‘GOD’s PEOPLE’ CALLED ‘JEWs i.e J/UDAists’ TO RULE THE WORLD” after the World has been ruled by “BABYLONians” (who ruled the “1st-World-Kingdom i.e the Babylonian World-Empire” represented by the “Head-of-Gold” of the human-Statue of Daniel 2); then “MEDIA-PERSIAns” (who ruled the “2nd-World-Kingdom i.e the Media-Persian World-Empire” represented by the “Chest-&-Arms-of-Silver” of the human-Statue of Daniel 2); then “GREEKs” (who ruled the “3rd-World-Kingdom i.e the Grecian World-Empire” represented by the “Belly-&-Thighs-of-Bronze” of the human-Statue of Daniel 2); & then “ROMANs” (who ruled the “4th-World-Kingdom i.e the Roman-World-Empire” represented by the “LEGs-of-Iron” of the human-Statue of Daniel 2). And now it is time for “Holy-People or GOD’s People i.e ANTISATANists” to rule the world (and “JEWs or J/UDAists i.e ANTISATANists” will rule the “5th-World-Kingdom or the DAVIDic-Kingdom-globalized i.e the JEWish or J/UDAic World-Empire” represented by the “ROCK” of Daniel 2). In line with “GOD’s Law-of-Circumcision” (of “Genesis 17:9-27″ which states that “ALL MALE PERSONS ON EARTH MUST BE CIRCUMCISED”), “ALL UNCIRCUMCISED MALE PERSONS IN THE WORLD MUST BE CIRCUMCISED” because neither “Red-DEVILs i.e DEVILists/SATANists” nor “Uncircumcised-People” will be part of “GOD’s Kingdom or the DAVIDic-Kingdom-globalized i.e the 5th-World-Kingdom” (of Daniel 2:44-45 & Isaiah 9:6-7) to be called the “JEWish or J/UDAic World-Empire” or “GOD’s Religion i.e One-World-Religion” (which will be “>14% CHRISTianity & 86% JUDAism” to be led by the Pope) to be called “J/UDAism”. “J/UDAists” (i.e “JUDAists” or “UDAists”) are “Holy-People” or “GOD’s People” and these-people (i.e “J/UDAists”) will possess or inhabit “GOD’s Kingdom” (of Daniel 2:44-45 or Isaiah 9:6-7) which is the “5th-World-Kingdom or the DAVIDic-Kingdom-globalized i.e the JEWish or J/UDAic World-Empire”. “JEWs” (of which I’m a “black-Jew”) are “Holy-People” whilst “ANTISATANists i.e JESUits/JESUitists” are “GOD’s People”. Equally, “Red-DEVILs or Red-DRAGONs i.e DEVILists/SATANists” are “People/Followers of the ‘Red-DRAGON’ (Rev. 12:3) who is ‘SATAN’ (Rev.12:9)”. JUDAism is derived from JUDAh (one of 12 sons-of-Jacob who later became 12 tribes-of-Israel). “Kings/Presidents” are “Political-Figures” whilst “Prophets/Priests” are “Religious/Spiritual-Figures” and yet “JESUs” is “KING-of-Kings” (Rev.19:16) & “CHRIST” is “PRIEST-of-Priests or High-Priest” (Hebrew 5:5-10). Like JUDAh, LEVI is one of 12-sons-of-Jacob. The “Tribe-of-LEVI” used to produce “Religious-Figures or Prophets/Priests” (such as “Prophet-Moses, High-Priest Aaron, Prophet-Samuel, Prophet-Nathan, Prophet-Daniel, Prophet-Elijah etc”) whilst the “Tribe-of-JUDAh” used to produce “Political-Figures or Kings” (such as “KING-of-Kings JESUs, King-DAVID, King-Solomon etc “). Political-Figures or Politicians from the tribe-of-JUDAh formed the “Holy-Religion i.e JUDAism”. Iniatially, “JUDAism” was “Political-Movement i.e JUDAh-Movement” (formed by political-figures/politicians from the tribe-of-JUDAh) which later tranformed into a “Religious-Movement” called “JUDAism”. Just like the “Holy-Religion i.e JUDAism”, formed by political-figures or politicians from the Tribe-of-JUDAh via the “Political-Movement” called “JUDAh-Movement”, started in the “Holy-Land i.e ISRAEL”, “GOD’s Religion i.e UDAism”, to be formed by “ZAMBIan-Politicians” (i.e “PF1/NAREP1/NRP1/APP1, FDD1, HP1, ULP1, ADD1, PDP1/NMP1, ABZ1, MMD1, UNiP1 & UPND1″) via the the “Political-Movement” called “UDA-Movement”, will start in “GOD’s land i.e ZAMBIa”. To overcome “Red-DEVILs i.e DEVILists/SATANists” and form “GOD’s Government/Religion”, let PF/NAREP/NRP/APP, FDD, ULP, ADD, NMP/PDP, ABZ, MMD, UNiP & UPND joinly-restore the “Holy-Alliance i.e UDA”, adopt “FDD-Leader Edith NAWAKWI” or a “Circumcised-man who must not be a SATANist e.g UPND-MP Hon.Highvie HAMUDUDU, UPND2-to-be ex-Chawama-MP ‘uncle’ Geoffrey SAMUKONGA, MMD2-to-be Hon. Lucky MULUSA, MMD-MP Hon. Vincent MWALE or PF1-to-be ex-Veep ‘uncle’ Enoch KAVINDELE” as 2016/2021 G10-UDA SH-Candidate and then implement the “J/UDAic PG-SYSTEM” (which is the “System of Government run by ‘Provincial-Governors i.e J/UDAic-PGs’, who must be ‘Party-Presidents’, & ‘Members-of-UDA i.e UDAists’ “) in “GOD’s Land i.e ZAMBIa”. Once both the “Holy-Party i.e JESUs-CHRIST’s Political-Party” called “United Democratic Party i.e UDP” and the “Holy-Alliance i.e ZAMBI-GOD’s Political-Alliance” called “United Democratic Alliance i.e UDA” are restored and the “J/UDAic PG-SYSTEM” (i.e “10-Party-GNU”) is implemented in ZAMBIa, each “Provincial-Governor i.e J/UDAic-PG”, who must be “Party-President”, “Chief-Minister”, & “Member-of-UDA i.e UDAist”, will have 10% State-Powers to appoint two (2) full Cabinet-Ministers, three (3) deputy-Ministers, all District-Governors (DGs) in his/her Commanding-Province and 10% of all Foreign-Diplomats (i.e Ambassadors & High-Commissioners). Once the “J/UDAic PG-SYSTEM” (i.e “10-Party-GNU”) is implemented in ZAMBIa, the “UDA-Presidency” & “GRZ-VEEPship” will simultaneously be rotating amongst “Top-10-Party-Presidents of UDA i.e 10-J/UDAic-PGs” bi-annually so that whichever Party-President is leading the “Holy-Alliance” as “UDA-President” will also occupy Government-House (GH) as “GRZ-Veep i.e Republican Vice-President” for six (6) months. Because “UDA” is embedded in the “Holy-Religion i.e J-UDA-ism”, “UDA” is “Holy” or “Holy-One”, and it (i.e “UDA”) is the ‘irreplaceable’ name of the “Holy-Alliance” (which will comprise “Top-10-Political-Parties of ZAMBIa”) whilst “J/UDAism” (i.e “JUDAism” or “UDAism”) is also the ‘irreplaceable’ name of the “Holy-Religion” or “GOD’s Religion” and it is indeed the ‘irreplaceable’ name of “One-World-Religion” (which will be “>14% CHRISTianity & 86% JUDAism” to be led by the Pope). Just like “Members of UNiP” are called “UNiPists”, “Members of the ‘Holy-Alliance i.e UDA’ ” will be called “UDAists” but one can not be a “UDAist” if one is a SATANist because “Red-DEVILs i.e DEVILists/SATANists” will not be part of the “Holy-Party i.e UDP” or the “Holy-Alliance i.e UDA”. The “Holy-Party” is the “Party of Holy-People or GOD’s People” whilst the “Holy-Alliance” is the “Alliance of Holy-People or GOD’s People”. The “Holy-Party i.e UDP” or the “Holy-Alliance i.e UDA” is the ONLY SH-Successor of the ruling “Patriotic-Front i.e PF” of ZAMBIa, and failure to restore UDP or UDA, PF will continue rule “GOD’s land i.e ZAMBIa” indefinately but ZAMBI-GOD won’t allow a SATANist or Uncircumcised-man to take-over State-House (SH) and rule ZAMBIa after PF-Leader His Excellency Michael Chilufya Sata (PF1-MCS) leaves power or Plot1 (SH). Mankind is at the toes of the “Human-Statue” (of Daniel 2) living in the transitional-period from the “4th-World-Kingdom i.e the ROMAN-World-Empire” (represented by the “LEGs-of-Iron” of the human-Statue of Daniel 2) to the “5th-World-Kingdom or the DAVIDic-Kingdom-globalized i.e the JEWish or J/UDAic World-Empire” (represented by the “ROCK” of Daniel 2). In other words, humanity is living in the transitional-period from the “ROMAN-Rule i.e Men’s Rule” to the “JEWish-Rule i.e GOD’s Rule”. More to follow. JESUitist-J/UDAist (+260977926306).

  5. Hector says

    This is cool because it points out a time when there were two kings. One of Israel, and the house of David. This is shortly after the battle with Goliath and the defeat of the Philistines where the people started to call David king instead of Saul. That whole “Saul has killed his thousands, but David has killed his tens of thousands.” Very pivotal point in biblical history. Jonathan was still alive and David was not yet King, but he was alive and well and working towards his destiny.

  6. Adeleke says

    Tel Dan Inscription was the confirmation and establishment the fact that Bible is not a myth nor literature book but the truth of the people of God in the past till this present time as inspired by God.

Continuing the Discussion

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