The Mescha stele (also called Moabiterstein ) is a memorial stone with an inscription in Moabite . This basalt stone is the oldest surviving monument in a language and script closely related to Hebrew. In the inscription, the Moabite King Mescha prides himself - in addition to the execution of various building projects commissioned by his empire god Kemosh - the liberation of his people from the dependence and tribute obligations of the northern kingdom of Israel under King Ahab of the Omri dynasty .
The stele was discovered in 1868 east of the Dead Sea near Dhiban (Dibon) by the Alsatian missionary Frederick Augustus Klein , but later deliberately destroyed by Bedouins of that area, the Beni Hamiden. They tried to break it into several pieces after pressure was exerted by the Ottoman Empire to secure the stele for the German Empire. Before that, the French archaeologist and orientalist Charles Clermont-Ganneau had a middleman make a copy of the inscription, which he later succeeded in reconstructing (part of the stele and the inscription were lost).
The restored stone is now in the Louvre in Paris , a copy of it in the British Museum in London , one in the Jordan Museum in Amman and another in the Bible Village in Rietberg. In 1958 another fragment with a similar inscription was found in Kerak for the same event.
The discovery of the Mescha stele triggered a wave of scientific forgeries around 1870, the so-called Moabitica .
Text of the Mesha stele
1. אנך. משע. בן. כש [ית] מלך. מאב. הד
1.'nk. mšʻ. bn. kš [jt] mlk. mʼb. hd
1. I am Mōschiʻ, son of Kamōsch [ijat], King of Moab , the D 2 ajbonit .
2. My father ruled Moab for thirty years, and 3 i 2 ruled 3 te
3. after my father. And I made this height for Kamōsch in Qarchō, as […]
4th [… Rettu] ng, because he saved me from all attackers and let me triumph over all my opponents. Omr 5 i
5 was king over Israel and oppressed Moab many days, because Chemosh was angry 6 his 5 Lan 6 d.
6. And his son followed him. And he also said: "I want to oppress Moab." In my day he spoke (see above). […]
7. But I triumphed over him and over his house. And Israel has surely perished forever. Omri had the gan [zen country] 8 s
possession of eighth Mōdabā'. And he lived there in his days and half the days of his son (or his sons) forty years, but 9 Kamosh 8 woh 9 nte
9 is in my days. And I built Bāʻalmaʻōn and made the cistern in it and I built
10. Qarjatēn. And the people of Gad dwelt in the land of ' Aṭarot from ancient times . And the king of I 11 Israel 10 built 11 ʻAṭarōt 10 for himself.
11. And I fought the city and took it. And I killed all the people,
12. The city belonged to Kamosh and Moab. And from there I took the frying basin of the altar hearth away and I sch [l] 13 eppte (es)
13. before Kamōsch in Qarījōt. And I was there from the people of Sharon and people 14 Macharot 13 reside.
14. And Kamōsh said to me, Go, take Nabō away from Israel. And I
went out at night and fought with him from the break of dawn until noon. And I na 16 hm
16 there and killed everything (in) [him] siebentausen Mar. [n] ner and boys and women and girls [ch] 17 en
17 and slaves ? because I had consecrated it to the 'Ashtour of Kamosh. And I took from there [... the Gerä] 18 th ?
18th JHWHs and dragged them in front of Kamosh. And the king of Israel built the
19th century and camped in it while he fought with me. Kamōsch drove him away from me. And
20. I took two hundred men from Moab, all of its elite ? . And I brought it to Jahṣ and took it,
21st, to attach it to Dibon. I built Qarchō, the walls of the park and the walls of
the citadel. And I built its gates and I built its towers and I 23 ch
23 built the palace of the king and I made the two-part shack for the water in the
24. of the city. But there was no cistern in the middle of the city, in Qarcho. So I said to all the people: Make a 25 and
25 each a cistern in his house. And did I leave the pits ? cut for Qarchō by prisoner 26 ne
26 of Israel. I built ʻArōʻir and I made the road on the Arnon.
27. I built Bēt-Bōmōt because it was a ruin. I built Biṣr because 28 [it] 27 was in ruins,
28th with armed people from Dajbōn, because all of Dajbōn is (the) guard. 29 [I] 28 ruled 29 th
29. [over] a hundred cities which I annexed to the land. And 30 I 29 built
30. [the palace of Mōda] bāʼ and the palace of Dablatēn and the palace of Baʻalmaʻōn and carried there […]
31. […] the flocks of the land. And Bēt [Da] wīd
32 lived in Chawrōnēn [… and] Kamōsch [sp] avenged me: Get down! Fight with Chawronen.
So I went down [and fought with him.] 33. [… And] Kamōsch [brought it] in my days [back] and […] from there twenty [umpteen ? ...]
34. [...] and I [...] "
Almost at the same time as the oldest Assyrian information, the approx. For the first time, Mescha inscription wrote information on the history of Israel that was independent of the Bible. In addition to information on the military conflicts between Israel and the neighboring kingdom of Moab in the southeast, the references to bt dwd (Bet David, the house of David ) and YHWH caused a sensation. The identification of this name of god or king is debatable. Three hypotheses are taken into account in the discussion: The name denotes a King David, a second god of Israel independent of YHWH or in the form of an epithet YHWH himself. According to the first hypothesis, the passage would have to be translated as "I brought Uriel from there, her David" . This interpretation has recently been discarded on the basis of contrary grammatical evidence. In the absence of evidence of the worship of a second god named Dod in Israel, a consensus in favor of a second name Dod for YHWH appears to be emerging by 2019. A reinterpretation of the inscription in 2019 suggests that on line 31 there is a king of Moab with the name Balak, who is mentioned in Numbers, chapters 22-24 .
The mass killing of the inhabitants of Nebo is considered to be evidence of a Canaanite practice of the banning of conquered goods and persons, which is also passed down in the Bible with regard to the land conquest by the Israelites . The complete killing of women, slaves and children is not documented there as a historical practice, but as a commandment from God, which was supposed to exacerbate the actually milder practice in the past.
- Text output
- Charles Clermont-Ganneau : La Stèle de Dhiban ou stèle de Mesa roi de Moab, 896 avant JC Lettres à M. Le Cte de Vogüé. Librarie Polytechnique de J. Baudry u. a., Paris 1870 [first publication].
- Charles Clermont-Ganneau: La Stèle de Dhiban . In: Revue archéologique . NS 21, 1870, , pp. 184-207, 357-386.
- Rudolf Smend , Albert Socin (Ed.): The inscription of the King Mesa of Moab. For academic lectures. Mohr, Freiburg im Breisgau 1886.
- The inscription of King Mesa of Moab (around 840 BC). In: Kurt Galling (ed.): Text book on the history of Israel. 2nd revised edition. Mohr (Siebeck), Tübingen 1968.
- Hans-Peter Müller, The inscription of the King Mesa of Moab. In: Texts from the environment of the Old Testament / TUAT. Volume 1: Legal and business documents. Historical-chronological texts. Gütersloher Verlags-Haus, Gütersloh 1985, ISBN 3-579-00065-9 , pp. 646–650 (= vol. 1, serial 6 with exact line information).
- Manfred Weippert : Historical text book on the Old Testament. , Grundrisse zum Alten Testament, Vol. 10, Göttingen 2010, pp. 244–248 (HTAT 105).
- Secondary literature
- Theodor Nöldeke : The inscription of the king Mesa of Moab. (9th century BC). Schwers, Kiel 1870.
- Konstantin Schlottmann : Mesa's victory column, king of the Moabites. A contribution to Hebrew antiquity. Publishing house of the bookstore of the orphanage, Halle 1870 (Halle-Wittenberg, Univ., Diss., 1870).
- Heinrich Graetz : History of the Jews from the oldest times to the present. Revised from the sources. Vol. 2: History of the Israelites from the death of King Solomon (around 977 BC) to the death of Judah Makkabi (160). Half 1: From the death of King Solomon to the Babylonian exile (586). 2nd increased and improved edition. Leiner, Leipzig 1902.
- Andrew Dearman (Ed.): Studies in the Mesha inscription and Moab ( Archeology and Biblical Studies 2). Scholars Press, Atlanta GA 1989. ISBN 1-55540-356-5
- Andrew Dearman and Gerald Mattingly: Mesha Stele , Anchor Bible Dictionary , New York 1992, IV, 708-709.
- Hubert Irsigler : Large sentence forms in ancient Hebrew and the syntactic structure of the inscription of King Mescha of Moab. In: Hubert Irsigler (Ed.): Syntax and Text. Contributions to the 22nd International Ecumenical Hebrew Lecturer Conference 1993 in Bamberg ( Münchener Universitätsschriften 40). EOS-Verlag, St. Ottilien 1993, pp. 81-121. ISBN 3-88096-540-4
- Christian Molke: The text of the Mescha stele and the biblical historiography. Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2006, ISBN 3-631-55807-4 ( contributions to the study of ancient Moabitis (Arḍ el-Kerak) 5).
- Thomas Wagner: Mescha stele . In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen (eds.): The scientific biblical dictionary on the Internet (WiBiLex), 2006
- Jonathan Stökl: Kings, Heroes, Gods. The History of the Translation of the term 'r'l dwdh in Line Twelve of the Meša'-Stele. In: Small studies on the language of the Old Testament and its environment 8/9 (2008), pp. 135–162.
- Kwang Cheol Park: End of line 11 of the Mesha inscription. Proposal for a new reading. In: Small studies on the language of the Old Testament and its environment 10 (2009), pp. 161–172.
- Hanna Liss : Tanach - Textbook of the Jewish Bible , University Publishing House C. Winter, 3rd edition, 2011, ISBN 978-3-8253-5904-1 , p. 396
- Heinrich Graetz: History of the Jews from the earliest times to the present. Vol. 2.1. Leipzig 1902, pp. 387-392
- Haim Goren, Go and explore the land. German Palestine Research in the 19th Century, Wallstein, 2003, p. 212
- Herbert Donner , Wolfgang Röllig : Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions. Vol. 1: 5th edition, Wiesbaden 2002, pp. 41-42 (KAI 181).
- See Müller, Inscription , 646–650.
- Dearman / Mattingly, Mesha Stele , 708-9.
- Xella and Rainey after Stökl, Kings , 151-2.
- Israel Finkelstein, Nadav Na'aman, Thomas Römer: Restoring Line 31 in the Mesha Stele: The 'House of David' or Biblical Balak? In: Journal of the Institute of Archeology of Tel Aviv University. May 1, 2019, accessed August 15, 2020 .