How The Moabite Stone Corroborates A Prophecy In Genesis 49 -- By: James J. S. Johnson

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 027:3 (Summer 2014)
Article: How The Moabite Stone Corroborates A Prophecy In Genesis 49
Author: James J. S. Johnson

How The Moabite Stone Corroborates A Prophecy In Genesis 49

James J. S. Johnson

Much has been written about the Moabite Stone since its discovery in 1868. This article will not attempt to summarize its importance but will instead provide additional contextual information. Particular attention will be given to one very interesting and important sentence from Line 10 of the monument: “And the man of Gad dwelt in the land of Ataroth from time-indefinite.”

What Is The Moabite Stone?

The Moabite Stone is a monument with a political message. It is made from black basalt, is about 3 ft (1 m) high and 2 ft (0.6 m) wide, and looks like an engraved tombstone. It displays a lengthy text in the Moabite language. Excluding the miraculously preserved text of the Hebrew Bible, the Moabite Stone contains the largest ancient Semitic text ever found in modern times: almost three dozen lines. The Moabite text, like other Semitic languages, reads from right to left. (An original translation is provided later in this article.) The monument is dated to the middle of the ninth century BC, matching its message, the professed political achievements of Moab’s king Mesha. The monument’s official author, Mesha, identifies himself as a Dibonite, referring to the Moabite town that the Bible calls Dibon, and in modern times is called Dhiban. This is the location where the monument was discovered. The primary relevance of the Moabite Stone, to Christians, is the fact that the official author of the stele (i.e., an inscribed stone monument) is the same Moabite monarch who is named in 2 Kings 3:4 as a “sheepmaster” (i.e., sheep breeder) who paid tribute to the northern kingdom of Israel before he rebelled against Israel.

Wikimedia Commons

Drawing of the Mesha Stele (or Moabite Stone) by German author and archaeologist Mark Lidzbarski. The shaded areas represent pieces of the original stele, while the plain background represents Ganneau’s reconstruction from the 1870s based on the squeeze of the inscription.

That we even have most of the Moabites Stone’s text in recognizable form, is a providential miracle in itself:

The [Moabite] stone was found on 19 August 1868, by the Rev. K.[A.] Klein, a German missionary working with the Church Missionary Fellowship. An Arab sheikh named Zattam showed him an inscribed slab stone 120 cm high, 60 cm broad and 6 cm thick, rounded at the top and containing thirty-four lines of writing. Klein copied a few words and reported his find to Dr. Petermann the German consul, who began negotiations to obtain the inscription for the Berlin Museum [of Germa...

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