Posted by: Rob Lester | April 25, 2011

Tel Dan tells of David

When cities were destroyed in ancient times, it was common for it to be rebuilt right on top of the ruins. The builders could reuse stones and whatever was left from before. Over time, a ‘hump’ grows as the city is rebuilt again and again. Archaeologists refer to these humps as “tels.”  By digging down through successive layers, one can discover things about different periods of the city’s history (architecture, pottery, foods, utensils). They use this method to date the levels. One such example is Tel Dan in northern Israel. George Athas describes the significance of this discovery: “Critics once claimed King David did not ever exist since they could find no record of him outside the Bible. The common idea was that sometime after the Persians came to power in the sixth century BC, David and Solomon were invented by Jewish scribes in order to boost the morale of the Jews in [Babylonian] exile. In July 1993 at Tel Dan in northern Israel, a broken basalt inscription was found, which is dated by archaeologists to the eighth century BC [pre-captivity—RL]. The inscription claims that the king of Damascus (Ben-Hadad of Syria) killed the king of Israel (that would be Jehoahaz) and the king of the “house of David” (that would be Joash of Judah). The account is found in 2 Kings 13:1–25. This means that [not only was David real, but] the dynasty of King David was known 250 years before the scribes supposedly invented him in the sixth century BC! 

Nelson Glueck, Jewish Rabbi and respected archaeologist: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever [contradicted] a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.” As Archibald Sayce, another world-renowned archeologist, puts it, “Every turn of the spade has furnished corroborative evidence of the minute truthfulness of Scripture history.”

George Athas, The Tel Dan Inscription, (London: T & T Clark, 2003).

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