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Photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem

The House of David Inscription - (9 of 44)

An inscription on a stela proclaiming the victory of the Aramean (Syrian) king over Israel and Judah, probably written by one of the king's military commanders. It was found during the excavations of Tel Dan in 1994. It is a piece of basalt which was originally part of a much larger inscription on a monument. The stone had been reused during building works in later centuries, and was found at the base of a wall. The fragment contains parts of 13 lines in Old Hebrew (paleo-Hebrew), the script used before the Babylonian exile.

It is dated during the ninth century BC, and describes the defeat of King Jehoram of Israel, and King Ahaziah of the house of David (Judah) at Dan by the king of Damascus (probably Hazael) (2 Kg 8:7-15, 28, 9:24-29).

This is the first time that the name David has been found in any ancient inscription outside of the Bible. The inscription refers to the house of David, the dynasty of the kings of Judah. It also refers to the king of Israel, confirming that both Israel and Judah were important kingdoms during the ninth century BC. The names of the kings of Israel and Judah are not present.

The inscription names Hadad, the storm god, worshipped by the Arameans.

Translated into English, the inscription reads as follows: (the words in brackets are suggestions based on the rest of the inscription)
1.   ...
2.   ... my father went up
3.   ... my father died, he went to (his fate ... Is-)
4.   rael, formerly in my father's land ...
5.   I (fought against Israel?) and Hadad went in front of me ...
6.   my king. And I slew of (them x footmen) y cha-)
7.   riots and two thousand horsemen ...
8.   the king of Israel. And (I) slew (the kin-)
9.   g of the house of David. And I put
10.  their land ...
11.  other ... (... ru-)
12.  led over Israel ...
13.  siege upon ...