King David's name found in Biblical Archeology

A stone erected to pay tribute to a Syrian king, and a record of his victories over Israel, was uncovered during excavations in the Biblical city of Dan in 1993.

The stone mentions the name "House of David.

According to the Bible, the city of Dan was the northernmost city of Israel and was named after Dan, the father of one of Israel's twelve tribes. A description of how the city was first taken is found in Joshua 19:47 which says:

"And the border of the children of Dan went beyond these, because the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem and took it; and they struck it with the edge of the sword, took possession of it, and dwelt in it. They called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father."

Evidently, the tribe of Dan must have lost control of the city, and later on had to retake it, because the Bible records in Judges 18:27-29:

"So they took the things Micah had made, and the priest who had belonged to him, and went to Laish, to a people quiet and secure; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no ties with anyone. It was in the valley that belongs to Beth Rehob (Syria). So they rebuilt the city and dwelt there. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel. However, the name of the city formerly was Laish."

In 1994, two more fragments from the inscription were found at Tel-Dan. The following is a translation of the text that was written in the early Aramaic language, similar to script found on pottery dating back to the ninth century B.C.

In this translation, the letters found in brackets represent a suggested reconstruction of what the words may have been.

1) ... my father went forward ... he made battle at

2) ... and he died, he went to ... king of [Is-]

3) rael of old was in my father's land ... Hadad appointed me king.

4) And Hadad went before me ... I embarked from seven ...

5) of my kingdom ... And I killed ... kin[gs] ... [cha-]

6) riots and horsemen numbering two thousand ... [He (or I) killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab].

7) the king of Israel. [He (or I)] killed [Ahaz]iahu son of [Jehoram kin-]

8) g of the House of David. And I turned

9) their country into ...

10) other [...Jehu ru-]

11) led over Is[rael]

12) siege upon...

Stone Mentioning 'House of David'

Although the text doesnt mention the name of the king who wrote the inscription, a little bit of detective work with the Bible seems to point to King Hazael of Syria.

First of all, since the inscription was found at Dan, the city had to be under Syrian control at the time it was written. According to 1Kings 15:20, Ben-Hadad was the first Syrian king to take control of the city.

So Ben-Hadad heeded King Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel. He attacked Ijon and Dan ..."

The city also remained under Syrian control during the reign of Hazael, the one most likely to have written the inscription.

Lines 3&4 of the inscription mentions one by the name of Hadad. It is possible that the name Hadad may refer to a pagan god by the same name that was worshiped by the Syrians during this period of history.

It is also possible that Hadad may refer to the Syrian king Ben-Hadad.

Line 4 states that Hadad went before Him. Hazael may be giving credit to his god Hadad for victories against Israel. This is interesting because in 1King19:15; God tells Elijah the prophet to send Elisha to anoint Hazael as king over Syria, as punishment for Israels sins. Since Hazael worshiped Hadad, he probably thought his pagan god was giving him victory over Israel, although it was the one true God of Israel who allowed him to punish His people.

Hazael may also be referring to Ben-Hadad, who went before him (preceded him) as king. Hazael became king after killing Ben-Hadad. The historian Josephus records how Hazael came to power in the following paragraph:

God began to put fear into the Syrian army. The Syrians began hearing things which were not real, the sounds of a great army of chariots and horses. The soldiers informed Ben-Hadad that Jehoram (king of Israel) must have sent for the king of Egypt, his ally. Ben-Hadad also heard the sounds of chariots echoing in his ears and he and his army fled from battle . . . Ben-Hadad fled to Damascus. He became sick after learning God had caused the defeat of his army and not the enemy . . . The prophet Elisha came and spoke to Hazael . . . Then Elisha began to weep, and Hazael asked him why? Elisha told him, I weep for Israel my people, and for the suffering they will endure at your hands. For you will destroy their best men and their strongest towns. . . .

Hazael asked, By whose authority will I be able to do these things?

Elisha answered, God has declared that you will be king of Syria.

The next day Hazael spread a thick wet cloth over the kings face suffocating him. Hazael then came to power.

Lines 6,7,10 & 11 refer to King Jehu and states that he killed Jehoram son of Ahab, king of Israel, and Ahaziah son of Jehoram, king of the House of David, during a time when Hazael was attacking Israel. This backs up the Bible completely. In 2 Kings 9:14-27 the following events took place:

So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Jehoram. (Now Jehoram had been defending Ramoth Gilead, he and all Israel, against Hazael king of Syria. But King Jehoram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds which the Syrians had inflicted on him when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) . . . So Jehu rode in a chariot and went to Jezreel, for Jehoram was laid up there; and Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to see Jehoram . . . Then Jehoram said, "Make ready." And his chariot was made ready. Then Jehoram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot; and they went out to meet Jehu, . . . Now it happened, when Jehoram saw Jehu, that he said, "Is it peace, Jehu?" So he answered, "What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?" Then Jehoram turned around and fled, and said to Ahaziah, "Treachery, Ahaziah!" Now Jehu drew his bow with full strength and shot Jehoram between his arms; and the arrow came out at his heart, and he sank down in his chariot . . . But when Ahaziah king of Judah saw this, he fled by the road to Beth Haggan. So Jehu pursued him, and said, "Shoot him also in the chariot." And they shot him at the Ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there.

Some translations of Line 6 and 7 say I, instead of He, meaning Hazael says he killed these two kings, not Jehu. Even though this was not true, Hazael, according to 2Kings 9:15, did wound king Jehoram in battle. Since Jehoram died shortly afterward, Hazael probably thought it was from his battle wounds. And since Ahaziah died at the same time, Hazael probably assumed he was also at the battle and died from his injuries as well.

Lines 7 & 8 of the Tel Dan stone states that Israel was a divided kingdom because it mentions the "king of Israel" and the king of the "House of David." This is exactly how the Bible describes Israel as being divided after the death of King Solomon. Here is found one of the oldest references outside of the Bible to King David and his descendants. Thus proving wrong the allegations made by liberal scholars that King David was just a myth.


'In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, And Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which he will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.' "For thus says the LORD: 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel. Jeremiah 33:15-17

"Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead " 2 Timothy 2:8

"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star." Revelation 22:16             

This article on King David is taken from our 4 volume book series "Bible Believer's Archaeology" which can be downloaded for your ebook reader by visiting our resource download page by Clicking Here.

Next Chapter - God & The House of David

Sources used in compiling data and illustrations for this article:

Tel Dan Inscription (House of David)Photo Link

The Holy Bible, Author: The Lord God. Scripture is taken from the New King James Version unless noted.

Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1994 Issue, Pg.26-39 (Tel Dan Inscription)

Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1994 Issue, Pg.31-37 (Mesha Stela)

Archaeology and Bible History, Author: Joseph P. Free, ISBN 0-310-47961-4

Pg.161 (Hadad, Pagan god)

Artwork: Pen and ink reproduction of the "Tel Dan Inscription" Illustration copyright © 1997 John Argubright

Illustration: David slays Goliath from Holy Bible (1880) Holmans Edition - Artist: Gustave Dore, Publisher: A.J. Holman and Company.

Copyright © 2021 All Rights Reserved. No permission is granted to download these images.