The Tel Dan Inscription
(a.k.a. The Bytdwd Inscription)
(a.k.a. The House of David Inscription)




DESCRIPTION
Language: Aramaic
Medium: basalt stele
Size: Frag. A:
32 centimeters high
22 centimeters wide
Frag. B1:
20 centimeters high
14 centimeters wide
Frag. B2:
10 centimeters high
9 centimeters wide
Length: A: 13 lines of writing
B1 + B2: 8 lines of writing
Genre: Victory Stele?
Approximate Date: 9th—8th centuries BCE
Place of Discovery: Tel Dan, Galilee
Dates of Discovery: Frag. A: 21 July 1993
Frag. B1 & B2: 20 June 1994

Chief excavator: Avraham Biran
Current Location: Israel Museum
(Jerusalem)

                                                                 (Image located at: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)



TRANSLITERATION
.
TRANSLATION
FRAGMENT A
. . .] TR . c[. . . 1. . . .] [. . .
. . .]. 'BY . YS[Q . . . 2. . . .] my father[. . .
WYKB . 'BY . YHK . 'L[. . . . 3. [. . .
R'L . QDM . 'RQ . '?BY[. . . . 4. [. . .
'NH . WYKH . HDD . QDMY [. . . 5. [. . .
Y . MLKY . W'QTL . [ML . . . 6. [. . .
KB . Q'LPY . PR . [. . . 7. [. . .
MLK . YR'L . WQ[. . . 8. [. . .
K . BYTDWD . W'M . [. . . 9. [. . .
YT . 'RQ . HM . L[. . . 10. [. . .
'HRN . WLH [. . . 11. [. . .
LK . cL . Y[. . . 12. [. . .
MSR . cL[. . . . 13. [. . .
FRAGMENTS B1 + B2
. . .] WGZ[R . . . 1. . . .] [. . .
. . .]LHMH . B'[. . . 2. . . .] [. . .
. . .] . WYcL . MLKY. [. . . 3. . . .] [. . .
. . .] HMLK . HDD [. . . 4. . . .] the king Hadad [. . .
. . .]'PK . M[N] . B[. . . 5. . . .] [. . .
. . .] . 'SRY . '[. . . 6. . . .] [. . .
. . .]RM . BR . [. . . 7. . . .]ram son of [. . .
. . .]YHW . BR[. . . 8. . . .]-yahu son of [. . .




DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. What are the issues in the controversy over reading BYTDWD as "House of David"?
2. What is the historical significance of the correlation between the contents of this stele and the location of its discovery?
3. What are the possible correlations between this stele and the narratives in 1 Kings 20–22?
4. What are the possible functions of this stele in its ancient context?
5. What methods are available to date such a document? What are the limitations of each method?





SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
Ben Zvi, Ehud. "On the Reading 'bytdwd' In The Aramaic Stele from Tel Dan." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 64 (1994) 25-32.
Biran, Avraham and Joseph Naveh. "An Aramaic Stele Fragment from Tel Dan." Israel Exploration Journal 43 (1993) 81-98.
Biran, Avraham and Joseph Naveh. "The Tel Dan Inscription: A New Fragment." Israel Exploration Journal 45 (1995) 1-18.
Cryer, Frederick H. "On the Recently Discovered 'House of David' Inscription." Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 8.1 (1994) 3-19.
Cryer, Frederick H. "A 'Betdawd' Miscellany: Dwd, Dwd' or Dwdh?" Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 9.1 (1995) 52-58.
Cryer, Frederick H. "King Hadad." Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 9.2 (1995) 223-35.
Cryer, Frederick H. "Of Epistemology, Northwest-Semitic Epigraphy and Irony: The 'BYTDWD/House of David' Inscription Revisited." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 69 (1996) 3-17.
"Dan: The Biblical City." Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website.
Demsky, B. I. "On Reading Ancient Inscriptions: The Monumental Aramaic Stele Fragment from Tel Dan." Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society 23 (1995) 29-35.
Lemche, Niels Peter and Thomas L. Thompson. "Did Biran Kill David? The Bible in the Light Of Archaeology." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 64 (1994) 3-22.
Rendsburg, Gary A. "On the Writing of bytdwd in the Aramaic Inscription from Tel Dan." Israel Exploration Journal 45 (1995) 22-25.
Sasson, V. "The Old Aramaic Inscription from Tell Dan: Philological, Literary and Historical Aspects." Journal of Semitic Studies 40 (1995) 11-30.
Schniedewind, William M. "Tel Dan Stela: New Light on Aramaic and Jehu's Revolt." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 302 (May 1996) 75-90.
Thompson, Thomas L. "'House of David': An Eponymic Referent to Yahweh as Godfather." Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 9.1 (1995) 59-74.
Thompson, Thomas L. "Dissonance and Disconnections: Notes on the bytdwd and hmlk.hdd Fragments from Tel Dan." Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 9.2 (1995) 236-40.



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Last Modified: 3 May 2002