Tel Dan Inscription

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Wed Dec 29 12:07:25 EST 1999

Dear George,

"Bethel" may be a single concept, but in Hebrew orthography it is two 
words, usually joined by maqqef, of which the first is a construct 
("Beth" not "Bayith"). So it's not a very good example for your 

Later you wrote: "The Bible, which dates much later than the Tel Dan 
Inscription, writes "House of David" as _byt dwd_ -- two words, not a 
single word like _bytdwd_. If there were two words in the Tel Dan 
Inscription, then we probably would have had "House of David"." Not 
strictly true: in some cases (e.g. 1 Kings 12:20) Beyt Dawid is 
written with a maqqef, in other cases as two separate words. So the 
situation is the same as with Bethel. In both cases the writing 
depends on phonology, not on semantics. Of course we don't know much 
about the criteria on which the Tel Dan inscription writers divided 
words, but perhaps they also used phonology rather than semantics as 
the criterion, and I guess they didn't have that convenient device 
maqqef in their orthography.

Also, can you justify your statement that the relevant parts of the 
date to much later than the Tel Dan inscription? There is a danger of 
circular argument here as this discussion of the inscription came out 
of a discussion of the evidence for such a statement. I accept of 
course that the Masoretic pointing with maqqef is much later than the 

You have treated the Tel Dan inscription "on its own merits firstly". 
When will you compare it "with other texts, like the Assyrian annals"?

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator 
Subject: Re: Tel Dan Inscription
Author:  <gathas at> at Internet
Date:    29/12/1999 07:39


You're correct about the Bit Humri concept. However, the Tel Dan Inscription is 
different inscription and must treated on its own merits firstly, and then compa
red with
other texts, like the Assyrian annals. Within the Tel Dan Inscription itself, th
orthography employed does not allow _bytdwd_ to be a construct phrase, such as "
House of
David" or "Temple of Dod" or anything else like that. The orthography of the ins
suggests that it is to be read as a single word and concept. A toponym is the on
ly real
possibility in this case, much like the toponym "Bethel"...


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list