Tel Dan Inscription
verifies "The House of David".
In 1993 a discovery was made at Tel Dan (at the
foot of Mount Hermon) which became the most
significant artifact in the modern State of Israel.
It is now regarded as a national treasure since it
proves, irrespective of the Bible, that the House
of David was an historic reality.
Excavations began at
Tel Dan, Northern Israel, in 1966 under the
direction of archaeologist Avrham Biran. After a few
years of digging, a monumental mud-brick gate was
unearthed, with an arch constructed by the
Canaanites in around 1850 BC - long before the
Israelites arrived in the region. In those times the
Dan location was called Leshem (Joshua 19:47) or
Laish (Judges 18:27). The Canaanite Gate is now a
conservation project of the Israeli Antiquities
Also revealed, before
cessation of the 33-year dig in 1999, were the city
walls, an Israelite sanctuary, sacred pillars, a
tomb and various artifacts.
The Canaanite Gate
Among the city ruins,
in front of the Gate were found the remnants of a
large basalt stele - the largest fragment of which
is 32 x 22 cm (12.5 x 8.75 inches). On this,
thirteen lines of Aramaic script are partially
preserved from around 825 BC, soon after the time of
King Ahab of Israel and David's lineal descendant,
King Jehosaphat of Judah.
The inscription was
created by King Hazael of Aram-Damascus in about 825
BC, and it relates to his father, Hadad II, being
victorious in battle against Jehosaphat (c. 860 BC).
The most important aspect of the text, however, is
that it specifically relates to Hadad defeating the
"foot soldiers, charioteers and horsemen of the King
of the House of David".
The much prized Tel
Dan Inscription now resides in the Israel Museum,
The House of David
The Moabite Stone
Another kingly stele boasting of conflict with
the House of David
is the Moabite Stone from about 860 BC. This 42 by
24 inch black basalt monument (107 x 61 cms) was
discovered in 1868 at Dhiban, 20 miles east of the
Dead Sea (across from En-gedi) and is now housed in
The Louvre Museum, Paris. As reported in Time
Magazine, December 1995, it is the most extensive
inscription ever recovered from ancient Palestine.
The Moabite Stone contains 36 lines of Phoenician
script which relate to the rebellion of King Mesha
of Moab against King Jehoram of Israel and King
Jehosaphat of Judah. This battle is recounted in the
Old Testament 2-Kings 3:5-27.
Discovered by the German missionary, F.A. Klein,
the Moabite Stone caused another battle when the
Berlin Museum expressed an interest in removing it
to the West. The Jewish Encyclopedia relates that,
on hearing of this, local Arabs heaved it out of the
earth, lit fires around it and doused it with cold
water so that it fragmented. Mediation was
subsequently conducted by the French Consulate in
Jerusalem, whose conservators restored the artifact,
while offering enough money to purchase the House
of David Moabite Stone and placate the
inhabitants of Dhiban.
House of the Lord
The Jerusalem Temple of David's son, King
Solomon, was something of an enigma until the 1970s.
Prior to that, no physical evidence had been
discovered in respect of the Temple itself - the
House of Yahweh or House of the Lord, as it
was more correctly called (1-Kings 3:1, 6:1).
The Old Testament book of 1-Kings 6:2-38 gives
details of the construction, which was demolished by
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon 400 years later in 586 BC.
A new, larger Temple was built on the same site by
Prince Zerubbabel of Jerusalem from 535 BC, and this
was later extended by the Seleucid Kings, the
Hasmonaeans, and finally by King Herod the Great in
the 1st century BC.
In his 1st-century Antiquities of the Jews,
Flavius Josephus described Jerusalem in the Gospel
era, stating that the Herodian Temple was
"incredible". Set within a complex of over 35 acres,
where the El-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock
now stand, it was the most magnificent construction
of the era - far bigger than the Acropolis in
Athens. However, the mighty edifice was demolished
by the Roman legions of General Titus in AD 70.
Archaeologists, working from the middle 1800s,
established the foundations of the second and third
Temples (those of Zerubbabel and Herod), but it was
not until 1973 that a concerted attempt was made to
reveal the first House of the Lord - the
Temple of King Solomon. The archaeological project
was led by Prof. Benjamin Mazar of the Hebrew
University, with field architect Dr. Leen Ritmeyer,
who wrote up the account for the Biblical
With the aid of records from the Greek historian,
Strabo (64 BC - AD 21), the team worked on site for
five years, making many new discoveries, among which
(at the lowest course level) were the original
footings of King Solomon's Temple, with masonry
quite different to that of the later periods. Also,
to their astonishment, in the floor of the Holy of
Holies above was the carved rectangular depression
(48 inches by 31 inches), where the Ark of the
Covenant once stood (1-Kings 8:6).
It transpired that the Solomonid footings had
actually been logged some time previously by the
Palestine Exploration Fund, but the information had
not become widely known. It was known however that,
in the tunnels beneath, a British military
expedition had made a significant discovery in 1894.
There, in the labyrinthine complex of arched
corridors and cisterns, they discovered a
12th-century Templar cross, a broken Templar sword
and other related artifacts. These were remnants
from the early 1100s, when the Knights Templars
excavated for the Ark and the secreted treasures of
Ostracons and the
There are a few archaeologically discovered
artifacts from the first Temple's operative era
which make specific reference to Solomon's House
of the Lord. One of these is known as the Temple
Ostracon, which resides in the Israel Museum,
Jerusalem. This pottery shard from about 800 BC (in
the Jerusalem reign of King Joash of Judah) clearly
mentions, in old Hebrew, the Temple of the 'Bayit
Yahweh' - the Jerusalem
House of the Lord.
House of the Lord
Another ostracon referenced by the Biblical
Archaeology Review (November/December 1997) is a tax
receipt written on a clay tablet in respect of a
subscription of 3 shekels to the House of the
Lord. It comes from much the same period as the
Temple Ostracon, when the Jewish people were obliged
to contribute towards the House of Yahweh's
infrastructure by way of a Temple tax.
A particularly interesting artifact from the
Solomon Temple reign of King Uzziah of Judah, c. 750
BC, is a small ivory pomegranate - vase shaped with
a long neck and petals. Around its shoulder, in an
early Hebrew script, is inscribed "Sacred donation
for the priests of the House of the Lord ".
Like the Temple Ostracon and the David Tablet, this
item is also held at the Israel Museum.
The Joash Tablet
The Joash Tablet
Recently, the press and media have been
discussing another inscribed tablet that was
discovered in the summer of 2000 at Jerusalem's
Temple Mount. The find was made by Islamic Trust
renovators of the El-Aqsa mosque which occupies part
of the Haram el Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) site, and
the tablet is know held by an Israeli collector.
Partially broken, the Arkosic Dead Sea sandstone
tablet measures 31 x 24 x 7 cms, and carries 15
lines of text written in ancient Hebrew with
elements of Aramaic and old Phoenician. It describes
repairs to Solomon's Temple as ordered by Solomon's
descendant, King Joash of Judah in the 9th century
Joash (Jehoash) reigned about 839-799 BC and, in
accord with this, carbon-14 dating by Israel's
Geological Institute, under Shimon Ilani, has
authenticated the inscription as being around 2,800
years old. The Institute's director, Amos Bean,
reported that they had discovered flecks of gold
burnt into the stone, indicating that it was
probably in the Temple when the building was
destroyed by invading Babylonians in about 586 BC.
In line with the Bible text of 2-Kings 12:1-6 and
11-17, the tablet describes how the King instructed
the priests to "take holy money … to buy quarry
stones and timber and copper and labour to carry out
the duty with faith."
The Vessel and the
In the header graphic of this page are two
Jerusalem coins from the distant BC years - one
which bears a chalice, and the other a bunch of
From around 3500 BC, a chalice (or ceremonial
cup) was the hereditary symbol of the Mesopotamian "Gra-al"
- the royal bloodline of the ancient kings and
queens. In subsequent Israelite times, the
descending family line (which became the dynasty of
the House of David) was classified as The Vine.
Psalm 80:8 reads, 'Thou hast brought a vine out of
Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted
it'. In the New Testament Gospel of John 15:1 Jesus
states, "I am the true vine".
Hence it was that, the concept of the Grail (Gra-al)
bloodline was romantically symbolized as the Vessel
(female) and the Vine (male). The fruit of the vine
is the grape - and from the grape comes wine. In
this respect, the symbolic elements of the chalice
and the vine coincide, and this tradition sits at
the very heart of the Eucharist (Holy Communion)
From Mesopotamian and Israelite foundations the
Grail customs moved westwards into both Pagan and
Christian lore, but notwithstanding this it is
interesting to note that following the latter-day
reinstatement of the State of Israel in 1948, these
old emblems of the Royal House of Judah - the
dynasty of David and Solomon - were brought back
into play on newly introduced coins that replicated
their originals in times long before.