Archaeology and the Kings of Israel
Dr. J.R. Price notes that “The person of King David looms large on the pages of both the Old and New Testaments, being mentioned some 1,048 times.”[i] Such an individual is pivotal to understanding the Bible story and even the lineage and coming of the Messiah—Jesus Christ—who will set up His earthly kingdom to rule and reign from the Throne of David. Needless to say there is much at stake both historically and theologically speaking.
For many years it was claimed that King David never existed. For example, Dame Kathleen Kenyon wrote:
“To many people it seems remarkable that David and Solomon still remain unknown outside the Old Testament or literary sources derived directly from it. No extra-Biblical inscription, either from Palestine or from a neighboring country, has yet been found to contain a reference to them.”[ii]
In 1868 the Mesha Stele or Moabite Stone was discovered at Dibon which is in modern Jordan. Epigrapher Andre Lemaire believes that a disputed reading in the text, based on the Tel Dan inscription, can be understood as the “house of David”. In 1993 and 1994 an Aramaic monumental inscription, commissioned by a Syrian king, was discovered in Tel Dan, Israel.
The portion of the text that has been preserved lists eight Biblical kings dating it to about 841 B.C. The names “Joram” and “Ahab” which are mention in 2 Kings 3 were found. Joram was King of Israel from roughtly 852 to 841 B.C. and Ahab was King of Israel from roughly 874 to 853 B.C. The names Ahaziah and Jehoram (See 2 Kings 8:250, both Kings of Israel, were also found on the inscription. These inscriptions vividly demonstrate with extra-Biblical accounts that such Biblical figures are more than legend or myth but real figures in history.