>The Archaeological Evidence for David and Solomon


Image: The Tel Dan Stele

Norman Hammond, the archaeology correspondent for the Times has a review of Eric Cline’s new book, Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction, in which Cline introduces the discipline of biblical archaeology and the results of archaeological work in the lands of the Bible.

The following is a short excerpt from Hammond’s article.

Until 15 years ago, Professor Eric Cline notes in a new book, there was no extra-biblical documentary mention of even the House of David as ruling in Judea. The fragmentary Tel Dan Stele, found reused as building material at a site in what is now northern Israel in 1993-94, provided the first evidence outside the First Book of Kings.

Dating to about 842BC, the Tel Dan inscription describes the defeat of Joram, king of Israel, and Ahaziyahu, king of Judah, by a ruler of Aram-Damascus earlier in the 9th century BC. The Israelites had invaded his territory, located somewhere in Lebanon or southern Syria, but he “slew seventy kings, who harnessed thousands of chariots and thousands of horsemen. And I killed Joram son of Ahab, king of Israel, and I killed Ahaziyahu, son of Joram, king of the House of David.”

“However, we are still lacking any contemporary or near-contemporary inscriptions that mention Solomon: at the moment we do not have a single one,” Professor Cline says. “Moreover, there is still very little archaeological evidence for the existence of David.”

The status of Jerusalem at this period is also debated, with some scholars arguing that the Bible account of a powerful capital city is true, others that it was, two millennia after its first settlement in the Bronze Age, what Professor Cline dubs “a small ‘cow town’. In fact, it is still not clear where David is positioned along the continuum from tribal chieftains to might kings.”

Hammond has presented a good review of Cline’s book. In the article there is a photo of the Tel Dan Stele. However, the caption of the photo misspelled Tel Dan; it reads “The Ten Dan Stele.”

Notwithstanding this obvious mistake, Hammond has written a good article.

You can buy the book on Amazon.com.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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