ARCHAEOLOGICAL evidence testifying to the Bible’s historic reliability has come to light, according to a scripture expert who believes an ancient Aramaic inscription found in northern Israel proves King David was a man of fact and not just myth.
PUBLISHED: 07:14, Mon, Feb 15, 2021 | UPDATED: 07:14, Mon, Feb 15, 2021
Very little is known about the life and reign of King David beyond what is written in the Bible. The archaeological record of his life is poor, although not entirely non-existent. According to the Hebrew Bible, young David slew the Philistine giant Goliath after which he was anointed King of the United Kingdoms of Judah and Israel.
David went on to establish the Davidic Dynasty or the House of David, of which the Gospels claim Jesus Christ was a descendant.
Historians agree David lived during a golden era of prosperity in Israel’s ancient past, likely between 1010 and 970 BC.
David’s successor, King Solomon went onto become a mighty figure in his own right and the Bible credits him with the construction of Jerusalem’s First Temple in 957 BC.
But what evidence is there to support the Biblical narrative outside of scripture?
According to Tom Meyer, a professor of Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, a major piece of evidence was uncovered by archaeologists at the ancient city of Dan or Tel-Dan in 1993.
The archaeological site, which sits near Israel’s border with Lebanon, was an Iron Age settlement built about 4500 BC and abandoned in 733 BC.
It was at Tel-Dan that researchers found a nearly 3,000-year-old inscription on the so-called Tel Dan Stele – stone slab – mentioning the fabled House of David.
Professor Meyer told Express.co.uk: “Up until 1993 to 1994 not one shred of archaeological evidence existed outside the pages of the Bible that mentioned the name of one of the most central figures of the Old Testament: King David.
“Though he is mentioned over 1,000 times in the Bible and is the author of 73 psalms, David didn’t show up outside the record of the Bible.
“This absence of evidence emboldened many to state that King David never existed and was a figment of the imagination of a post-exilic Jewish community who, after returning to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity in the fifth century BC, invented King David as a national figure which the fledgeling nation could rally around as they rebuilt their country.”
Philip R. Davies, the British biblical scholar, famously likened the myth of King David to the myth of King Arthur of Camelot.
But all of this changed when archaeologists identified the site of Tel-Dan at the foot of Mt Hermon in the Huleh Valley, northern Israel.
The archaeological site covers some 50 acres at an important junction of two ancient crossroads: The Great Trunk Route and the Via Maris.
Professor Meyer said: “In the gate of the city of Dan, three fragments of an Aramaic inscription were found when archaeologists were reexamining the city walls.
“The fragments date to about 100 years after the death of King David.
Archaeology news: The Tel-Dan stele mentions the House of David (Image: OREN ROZEN)
“They are a portion of a monument that was erected by Hazael, King of Damascus which he had inscribed with his proclamation of victory over ‘the House of David.'”
According to the expert, Hazael destroyed Israel and turned the kingdom into a vassal state.
The stele inscription was likely penned as a memorial to the accomplishment.
More importantly, however, it is the first time the term House of David was found outside of the Bible.
Professor Meyer said: “Once the Israelites regained control of Dan, they likely smashed Hazael’s monument.
“Later on, someone placed some of the broken pieces of the stele into the walls of the gate where they remained in their secondary use for over 2,800 years.
“Even though more of the stele is missing than has been found, a reconstruction of lines seven to nine read, ‘I killed Jehoram son of Ahab king of Israel and I killed Ahaz-iahu son of Jehoram king of the House of David.’
“This incredible artefact, now on display at the Israel Museum, testifies to the existence of the founder of the Davidic Dynasty, once again demonstrating the historical accuracy of the Bible.”
There have been, however, some challenges to this interpretation of the stele.
Author Daniel Pioske, for instance, has argued in his book David’s Jerusalem: Between Memory and History, the inscription references a dynasty from the southern Kingdom of Judah that traces its lineage to a founder named David, and not necessarily the Biblical king.