Tel Dan Stele Spills The Beans

Tel Dan sign, tb052504962
Tel Dan Sign (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

If the world were to experience a modern Pompeii-like disaster and you met your demise with your new IPhone in hand, archaeologists in future centuries could reconstruct your existence, time and story in full detail….your IPhone would spill the proverbial beans. Coins and pottery are the IPhones of the past. Pottery fragments fairly shout out the era of history to which they belong. Coins have dates, names or pictures on them that can be directly identified with people, places and times. Reconstructing the life and social customs of a society is significantly easier when these items are unearthed at an excavation site.

The Assyrians Leave Their Mark

While the above are extremely helpful, many ancient societies also found the time to record momentous occasions on walls, gates, stone slabs and other easily preserved items, thus leaving us evidence of not only their greatest achievements but their very existence. Lucky for us, the Assyrians, prominently featured in 2nd Kings Chapters 15 – 18 and unabashedly proud of their accomplishments, left evidence of themselves and others for future archaeologists.

Tel Dan Stele with “House Of David” carved on it
A Battle Makes The News

It seems that one of their kings, most likely King Hazel of Damascus, in order to guarantee his place in history, chronicled his spectacular defeat of the “House of David” on a stele or stone slab and attached it to the city wall that surrounded the Biblical city of Dan in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. King Hazel’s boast, written for the world to see and posterity to find, is considered one of the Top 10 Biblical Archaeology Discoveries.

Tel Dan Walls and Fortifications (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
David Is No Myth

Until the discovery of the Tel Dan Stele, inscribed with those words “House of David”, many claimed that David, the shepherd boy who fought Goliath and king who united Israel, was a mythical figure, a Biblical figment of our collective Jewish and Christian imaginations! The stele, discovered in 1993 at Tel Dan in northern Israel, provided the world with the first historical evidence of David, the man who wrote numerous Psalms and whom God called “a man after His own heart.”

Charlie, May 2016 Tour, Standing in the middle of a Tel Dan Road
Minimalists and Maximalists

Archaeologists who reject the Bible and make the claim that many accounts recorded in Scripture never happened, are called minimalists and hold that the biblical story must be read as fiction unless it can be confirmed by the science of archaeology. On the opposite side are the maximalists and their position states that biblical passages are considered correct unless archaeologists find proof that contradicts the accounts.

Aerial View of Tel Dan Altar (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
God’s Pure Word

Even as we stand on the sidelines of Biblical Archaeology, cheering and taking satisfaction in each discovery that supports the Bible, we know that God did not mean for the Bible to be primarily a book of history. It is above all concerned with true religion, a God inspired Book that reveals the unchanging, just and faithful character of God, the divine truth of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, and the gift of salvation and eternal life with Him. The Bible is only secondarily concerned with narrating history. In addition, even if this secondary purpose was compromised with faulty translations or embellishments, the Bible’s crucial message would not or could not be diminished.

Headwaters of Jordan River at Tel Dan (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
God’s True Word

Finally, Nelson Glueck, an American Rabbi and pioneer in biblical archaeology whose expertise resulted in the discovery of 1,500 ancient sites, writes “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted 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.” Today, as we look upon archaeological discovery after discovery, the Pontius Pilate Stele, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Pool of Bethesda, the Lithostrotos, and many more, it is apparent that the Bible has an incredibly correct historical and geographical memory. Yes….the Bible is true, God is real.  Travel to the Holy Land on a faith-based trip, you will come back changed!

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