Tel Dan Inscription

George Athas gathas at
Tue Dec 28 04:05:21 EST 1999

> >(Yes, I know the evidence is equivocal on
> >this one, but for example the Tel Dan inscription seems to tell us
> >that David really existed, or at least that the traditions about him
> >are very much older than the 2nd century.)
> The Tel Dan inscription is so far from being of any use that there is no
> point in mentioning it other than for the propaganda value for those who
> already believe. Garbini has argued that the text is a fake. A certain
> professor from Copenhagen has brought people's attention to chisel marks on
> the fragments indicating the manufactured nature of the fragments. Others
> have asked what bytdwd actually means. The one meaning you seem to support
> is not the only one. It's just convenient.

I agree with Ian, here. The Tel Dan Inscription does not tell us that David really
existed. It might hint at the possibility of a "David" person, but even if it does, it
says nothing about that person. Anything you infer from the inscription is coloured by the
biblical texts.

I've just submitted my PhD thesis on the TD inscription and I've concluded that the lexeme
_bytdwd_ should not be translated "House of David", but as a toponym, "Bayt-Dawid." This
might refer to a "David" figure in a round-about sort of way, but it's inconclusive. (BTW-
I also concluded that Hazael could not possibly have been the author. As such, the
inscription does not put a spin on Jehu's assassinations and coup. The arrangement of the
fragments is also incorrect.)

Best regards,
George Athas
 Dept of Semitic Studies,
 University of Sydney
Tel Dan Inscription Website
< gathas@ >

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