Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Tel Dan Stele and "the House of David"

THE TEL DAN BEYT DAVID INSCRIPTION is another old discovery that has received some new attention recently. The attention is not because of Christmas this time; rather, it is because the stele is currently on display at a major museum exhibition in New York:
Ancient rock adds evidence of King David’s existence
Stone slab with earliest reference to House of David, on display at Met, said to be ‘one of the most important Biblical artifacts ever found’

By Menachem Wecker December 16, 2014, 2:52 am 54

NEW YORK (JTA) — Dimly lit, the stone slab, or stele, doesn’t look particularly noteworthy, especially when compared to the more lavish sphinxes, jewelry and cauldrons one encounters en route to the room where it is installed.

Indeed, in a Twitter post this fall, art journalist Lee Rosenbaum described the nearly 13-by-16 inch c. 830 BCE rock, as “homely.”

What’s significant about this stone — on view at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of its “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age” exhibit running through January 4 — is its inscription: the earliest extra-biblical reference to the House of David.

“There is no doubt that the inscription is one of the most important artifacts ever found in relation to the Bible,” Eran Arie, curator of Israelite and Persian periods at the Israel Museum, wrote in the exhibit catalog.

Some background to the whole question of the historicity of David and Solomon is here and links.