The Inscription Of Mesha, King Of Moab -- By: William Hayes Ward

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 027:108 (Oct 1870)
Article: The Inscription Of Mesha, King Of Moab
Author: William Hayes Ward


The Inscription Of Mesha, King Of Moab

William Hates Ward

M. Ch. Clermont-Ganneau, interpreter to the French Consulate at Jerusalem, first brought to the knowledge of the world, in a letter dated Jan. 16th, 1870, the existence of a historical inscription by Mesha, king of Moab, who flourished nearly nine centuries before Christ. He has published two facsimiles of the inscription, each accompanied by a translation. Himself but an amateur, his work has been taken up by De Vogue, the learned palaeographist of France, by Derenbourg, a well-known French student of Phenician antiquities, by Schlottmann, the ablest German commentator on Phenician remains, and in England by Deutsch, in a most tantalizing, fragmentary way. Neubauer has published English and German translations; and notes by Renan, Rawlinson, Senior Sachs, Harkavy, and other writers, have fallen under our notice. As the inscription is in itself of so great interest and value, and has attracted so much attention, and as the original form of it is inaccessible to the American public, while no transcription into the ordinary Hebrew type has been made in this country, except in one or two Jewish newspapers of narrow circulation,, a careful discussion of this manuscript in the light of the best European authorities that have come within our reach, is, we think, called for.

A Prussian, by the name of Klein, was the first to learn,in 1868, that this monument existed in tile ancient Dibon. So far as we can learn, he tried to secure it, and perhaps-in time might have done so. Captain Warren of the Palestine Exploration Survey, represents that he was himself restrained from attempting to secure it by his respect to the prior claim of the Prussian. M. Clermont-Ganneau, who had become

aware of its existence, whether independently or through Klein, does not appear, felt no such scruples. The Bedouins of whom he inquired reported the existence in Dhibân, the ancient Dibon, on the east side of the Dead Sea, of a large block of black rock covered with characters. From the descriptions he received he suspected them to be Phenician; and when a rough copy of part of it was brought by an Arab, proving that such was the case, he resolved to obtain an impression at any price. Accordingly, he sent to Dibon a very intelligent young Arab, Yaqoub Caravacca, accompanied by a couple of horsemen. With some difficulty he obtained leave from the tribe who held possession of it, to take an impression. During the operation, one of those quarrels occurred, so frequent among the Bedouins. Yaqoub was struck with a lance, and the three men, with difficulty, escaped on their horses. But, with an admirable presence of mind, one of poor Yaqoub’s companions s...

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