A 3,000-year-old stone tablet that was discovered in 1968 held secrets for nearly 150 years.
Now a recent new study of this ancient artifact is shining new light on Biblical history.
Archaeologists contend the stone contains a specific piece of evidence that support the Truth of Scripture.
The stone tablet in question dates back to 840 B.C. and is known as the Mesha Stele, the Moabite Tablet, or Moabite Stone.
The tablet has been saved for posterity after almost being lost and had “to be reconstructed after Bedouin tribesmen shattered it in the 1860s during sales negotiations with Western buyers.”
The tablet currently resides at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The three head researchers, Israel Finkelstein, Nadav Na’aman and Thomas Römer, are making a new case for how the writings on the stone tablet verify certain facts in the Bible.
“It is now clear that there are three consonants in the name of the monarch mentioned there, and that the first is a ‘beth.’ We cautiously propose that the name on Line 31 be read as Balak, the king of Moab referred to in the Balaam story in Numbers 22–24.”
This new analysis counters a previous misreading of the tablet.
Western Journal reports: “Previous readings done by researchers such as Andre Lemaire proposed reading ‘House of David’ into Line 31 due to the presence of a ‘B’ prior to a break in the tablet.”
Lemaire’s argument stemmed from the opinion that the “B” may indicate the word “beth”, which is Hebrew for “house”. However, after recent review of photographs and something called a “squeeze” taken off the tablet, new findings render this inaccurate.
They “dismiss the reading of (House of David) for Line 31.”
“We are dealing with a three-consonant word which is most probably a personal name: it starts with a beth, followed by a space for two missing letters that is followed by the vertical stroke, and then begins a new sentence.”
“What personal name with three consonants, starting with the letter beth, could the stele have been referring to? A variety of names might fit here … but one name stands as the most likely candidate, i.e., Balak.”
Some of the opposition remains on the side of Lemaire. Part of the issue, they want to call the Balak suggestion “just a guess”, which is another sticky detail.
Berkley Professor of Hebrew and Religious Studies Ronald Hendel brings up a necessary point: “…the Bible places King Balak about 200 years before this tablet was created, so the timing doesn’t make sense”.
The Western Journal outlines the three-teamed response: “It seems, however, that Finkelstein, Na’aman and Römer have accounted for such things, suggesting that the scribe who created the tablet was likely including figures and other ‘elements borrowed from the ancient reality’ to flesh out the plot.”
Finkelstein brings contextual light to the argument by explaining “the study shows how a story in the Bible may include layers (memories) from different periods which were woven together by later authors into a story aimed to advance their ideology and theology.”
Truly this exemplifies the necessity to read the Bible … and everything else in literature … with context in mind. The culture, the timeline, the layers of assumptions that a writer builds off of can be drastically important to the understanding of their words.
We should seek deeper understanding as we ourselves read the Scriptures.
Commentaries and academic sources should absolutely be part of our study of the Word.
Through these tools, we can be immersed in a whole new dimension of faith and understanding.