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An Ancient 3,000-Year-Old Tablet Suggests a Biblical King was Real

Written down on an ancient 3,000-year-old tablet, researchers have discovered the name of King Balak, a Biblical character who is thought to have persecuted Jews after they escaped from Egypt.

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This has led archeologists to say that the biblical King of the ancient Hebrews may have been an actual historical figure.

As explained in the Old Testament, King Balak made countless attempts to curse and persecute the Jews. Balak was the ruler of Mob and reference of his life appears in the Old Testament in Numbers 22-24.

As noted by Livius.org, the ancient tablet is noted for describing events from the history of Israel that are also mentioned in the Bible.

The ancient stone table, referred to as the Mesha Stele, describes various conflicts and conquests that happened during the 9th century.

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The Mesha Stele is a one-meter tall black basalt stone that is believed to date back to the second half of the ninth century BC. The stone was discovered intact by Frederick Augustus Klein, an Anglican missionary, at the site of ancient Dibon (now Dhiban, Jordan), in August 1868.

Interestingly, the ancient stele is the longest Iron Age inscription ever found in the region constitutes the major evidence for the Moabite language and is a “corner-stone of Semitic epigraphy.”

The Mesha Stele in its current location: The brown fragments are pieces of the original stele, whereas the smoother black material is Ganneau's reconstruction from the 1870s. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
The Mesha Stele in its current location: The brown fragments are pieces of the original stele, whereas the smoother black material is Ganneau’s reconstruction from the 1870s. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A damaged ancient text

Like many other historical stelae, this tablet too is damaged and eroded, making it difficult for experts to read the inscriptions.

Despite this, line 31 of the Mesha Steele is beleived to make reference to House of David’, and experts say that it actually may be describing King Balak.

Reachers from the University of Tel Aviv believe they have discovered as many as three consonants in the ancient text, the first of which is a Hebrew letter referred to as ‘beth,’ which sounds like the modern-day letter ‘B’, after studying high-resolution images of the tablet and the stele itself.

Although the researchers can't be one hundred percent certain, they believe the stele actually makes reference to King Balak.
Although the researchers can’t be one hundred percent certain, they believe the stele actually makes reference to King Balak.

Although they can’t be one hundred percent certain, the researchers argue it is more than likely that the inscription written down on line 31 on the ancient tablet makes reference to the Biblica figure.

“We are dealing with a name that has three characters, starting with a B. We know from the bible that Balak was the king of Moab and that he ruled from a location in southern Moab—as described in the Stele,” Israel Finkelstein from Tel Aviv University explained in an interview with NewsWeek.

But despite a good analysis, it’s hard to be one hundred percent certain.

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“At the end of the day, the reconstruction of the name ‘Balak’ is circumstantial,’ the researcher revealed.

This is of great importance since outside the Bible itself and apart of the Stele, scholars have not found any reference to King Balak.

Writing in their researcher paper, the experts explain:

“The new photographs of the Mesha Stele indicate that the reading, House of David—accepted by many scholars for more than two decades—is no longer an option.”

“The reading ‘Balak’ instead of ‘House of David’ dismisses the possibility that Judah ruled over Moab. And it makes Balak a historical figure,” Finkelstein revealed.

The study was published in Tel Aviv: The Journal of the Institute of Archaeology.