[b-hebrew] question re: Tel Dan stela

George Athas gathas at hotkey.net.au
Thu May 27 08:00:15 EDT 2004

Hi Peter!

Thank you for mentioning the biblical examples. You'll notice that neither 2 Sam 2.11 or 1 Kgs 20.31 refer to dynasties -- they refer to state entities (Judah and Israel respectively). They actually count as evidence against seeing the phrase [ML]K.BYTDWD in the Tel Dan Inscription as referring to a dynasty. Similarly, the example from Josh 12.16 sees someone dubbed as the king of a geographical location (Bethel). It is this type of construction that the Tel Dan Inscription preserves.

Best regards,

Lecturer in Biblical Languages
Southern Cross College
Sydney, Australia

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Peter Kirk 
  To: George Athas 
  Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org 
  Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 9:45 PM
  Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] question re: Tel Dan stela

  On 27/05/2004 03:50, George Athas wrote:

  > ...
  >>This type of argument doesn't hold water. The Bush family is not a dynasty
  >>(sorry for stating the obvious) whereas the Bible shows the Kings
  >>descended from David ruled Judah for over 400 years in an unbroken line.
  >>Assuming, for a moment, that is true, calling the King ``King of the House
  >>of David'' would appear a perfectly reasonable thing to do, even to 21st
  >>century people accustomed to electing their leaders.
  >I know what you mean, Bill. The problem is, however, that such terminology has no analogy in the Ancient Near East, either in inscriptions, archives, or even in the Bible. Nowhere is someone called the king of a dynasty -- they are always named as the king of a state. It's a slight difference, but a key difference. To argue that the Tel Dan Inscription identifies a 'king of the House of David' is to go against seemingly unanimous evidence. However, to identify someone as the king of a particular geographical entity has a lot of backing from the Ancient Near East. This means that if you opt for understanding the phrase as 'king of the House [dynasty] of David', you must be doing so on some other grounds. The only real grounds for doing this is to find the Davidic dynasty in the phrase. This is not the best methodology, and it's also unnecessary.

  Well, in the Bible we do have David identified as MELEK ... `AL-BEYT 
  YEHUDAH, 2 Sam 2:11. Not quite the same thing, I know, because of the 
  `AL, but he is king of a BAYIT although here more a tribe than a 
  dynasty. Similarly but without `AL, there is MALKEY BEYT-YISRAEL in 1 
  Kings 20:31, cf. also Jer 2:26 and Ezk 43:7 where again BEYT-YISRAEL is 
  the "possessor" of MELAKIM.

  There is also MELEK BEYT-'EL at Joshua 12:16.

  Peter Kirk
  peter at qaya.org (personal)
  peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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