But no proof for King David?

Alleged mention of the "house of David" could be a misinterpretation

On the Moabitic Mesha stela (left) the word "House of David" should be mentioned in line 31, but there the letters are damaged. © historical
Read out

Balak instead of David? One of the few references to the real existence of the biblical King David could now turn out to be wrong. Because on the so-called Mesha Stele from the Jordanian Dibon is obviously not "House of David" as previously thought. Instead, the heavily damaged name is probably "Balak" - and this was about 3, 000 years ago a king of Moab, as scientists now report.

Was the biblical King David a historical figure or just a legend, a symbolic figure? To this day there is no clear answer to this question because there is no clear evidence of its existence. So far archaeologists know only three inscriptions mentioning the name David in connection with a tribe or royal house - and even these are disputed because of the poor state of preservation of the stelae.

What is really on the Mesha stele?

Now, a new analysis provides clues that one of the three mentions of House David is based on a misinterpretation. It is a passage on the so-called Mesha stele, which was discovered near Dibon near the Dead Sea. This basalt carved memorial stone dates from the ninth century BC and reports in Moabite scripture on the liberation of the Moabites from Israel.

In the 31st line of this inscription there is a passage which has been interpreted as "House of David". The problem however: The stele was broken shortly after its discovery, so that parts of the inscription were lost - also the first letter of the name was damaged. Fortunately, however, there is an imprint of the stele, which was made shortly before the destruction. This copy and high-resolution photographs of the stele itself have now been further analyzed by Israel Finkelstein from Tel Aviv University and his team.

"B" instead of "D"

The result: The passage, which was previously read as "House of David", most likely names a very different name. Because in the inscription copy the researchers deciphered as the first letter of the name the Hebrew character "Beth" for the letter "B". However, if there were "David" this letter would have to be a "Daled", as Finkelstein and his team explain. display

"The new photographs of the Mesha stele and the imprint indicate that the reading 'House of David', which was common for two decades, is no longer an option, " say the researchers. In addition, according to the inscription, the named tribe or ruler should have stayed in Horonen at that time. The place Horonen, however, was in the middle of Moabitischem area kein for a king of Israel not a very probable location.

Moabiterk nig instead of King of Israel

According to the archaeologists, the Mesha stele does not name the Israeli King David at this point, but possibly a Moabite ruler King Balak. "With all due care, we interpret this passage as the name of the Moabite King Balak, who, according to the biblical story of Balaam, wanted to bring a divine curse on the inhabitants of Israel, " say Finkelstein and his colleagues.

Similar to David, it was unclear whether the biblical Moabite king Balak has a historical equivalent. If the new interpretation of the passage on the Mesha stele proves to be correct, this could be the first evidence of its existence. "Balak could have been a historical person, " say Finkelstein and his colleagues. King David, on the other hand, believes that doubts are appropriate. (The Journal of the Institute of Archeology of Tel Aviv University, 2019: doi: 10.1080 / 03344355.2019.1586378)

Source: Taylor & Francis Group

- Nadja Podbregar