Archaeological Evidence for the Davidic Kingdom
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- History of The Davidic Kingdom
- Confirmation of Hebrew Writings & Israel’s Kingdom at 1000 b.c.
- The Amarna Letters
- Is King Saul in the Amarna Letters?
- Tel Dan Stele Slab
- The Moabite Stone
- Priests During King David’s Reign
- King Solomon
- City of Tel Meggido
- City of Gezer
- Solomon’s Son- Rehoboam & Shishak’s InvasionRecords
- Temple of Solomon – Ostracon
- Davidic Kingdom Administrations
- Royal Clay Seals
- King Uzziah’s Burial Plaque
- King Ahaz Bulla
- Assyrian Rise
- Sennacherib Prism
- End of Davidic Kingdom, Fall to Babylon
[TIMELINE: circa 1000 – 700 b.c.]
History of the Davidic Kingdom
Some 400 – 600 years after God commanded Moses to free the people of Israel from Egypt, the people wanted to establish a monarchy as their form of government. They asked God to give them a man who should be king, and God gave them Saul. After Saul was King David, a man after God’s own heart.
King David’s kingdom, or the Davidic Kingdom, came to unite the middle eastern countries about the 10th century b.c. ( circa 1000 b.c.; known to archaeologists as Iron Age IIA),
Hebrew University archaeology professor Yosef Garfinkel announced the discovery of a tiny, but potentially invaluable, piece of pottery at the site of the ruins of an ancient fortified city, south-west of Jerusalem, dated to the time of King David.
Yossi Garfinkel displays the ceramic shard bearing a Hebrew inscription that may be evidence supporting the biblical story of David and Goliath.
Garfinkel said that it carried one of the earliest-known Hebrew inscriptions, some 850 years earlier than the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Scholars are still trying to decipher the full text of the inscription, but Garfinkel said they are excited at the prospect of a link to David because they have already translated the words for “king,” “judge,” and “slave” , which he said suggested it was some sort of official note from the time of his reign.
Goliath’s home town of Gath was unearthed just a few miles away to the south.
CONFIRMATION OF HEBREW WRITINGS
Israel’s Kingdom at 1000 b.c.
Prof. Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa has deciphered an inscription dating from the 10th century BCE (the period of the Davidic Kingdom), and has shown that this is a Hebrew inscription. The discovery makes this another of the earliest known Hebrew writing.
The significance of this breakthrough relates to the fact that at least some of the biblical scriptures were composed hundreds of years before the dates presented today in research and that the Kingdom of Israel had already existed at the time corresponding with the biblical text.
Prof. Galil also notes that the inscription was discovered in a provincial town in Judea. He explains that if there were scribes in the periphery, it can be assumed that those inhabiting the central region and Jerusalem were even more proficient writers.
“It can now be maintained that it was highly reasonable that during the 10th century BCE, during the reign of King David, there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex historiographies such as the books of Judges and Samuel.” – Prof. Galil
He adds that the complexity of the text discovered in Khirbet Qeiyafa, along with the impressive fortifications revealed at the site, add additional refutation to the claims that deny the existence of the Kingdom of Israel at that time (1000 b.c.).
The translation of the inscription reads as following:
1′ you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2′ Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3′ [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4′ the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5′ Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.
This inscription is similar in its content to Biblical scriptures found in various Bible verses (Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, Exodus 23:3, and others),
The Amarna Letters written in cuneiform, an ancient Sumerian hieroglyphic writing style, are archaeological artifacts revealing a correspondence between the rulers of the cities of Levant (Palestine and Mesopotamia) and the Pharaoh of Egypt.
Archaeologists currently date these artifacts to the time frame of circa 1400 – 1300 BC, or the 18th Egyptian dynasty. Therefore we do see a conflict in dating the eras (Conventional timelines vs. Biblical timelines), although recent research in Egyptology may prove the timelines to be closer than originally believed.
- see Conventional Egyptian Chronology (Apolo – Abram)
The Amarna Letters represent political issues of that time and region in a time frame relatively close to pertaining to king Saul’s time, during the rise of the Israelite monarchy.
Much of the text deals with the Hiparu [ also called: SA.GAZ, Habiru, Hapiri, Apiru, Apiri – or specifically the Hebrews, as is the translation of most scholars] people whom were a threat to all surrounding inhabitants, and how they gained control over Shechem.
This proves Israel exercised control over parts of the land in the 14th century b.c. (or the timeline found content with the artifacts which maybe closer to 1000 b.c.).
The Amarna tablet have a great deal of prejudice when referencing this people, specifically the Hebrews.
Is King Saul in the Amarna Letters?
Correlating the timelines, the Amarna Letters log the whole process beginning in the time with the Hebrew revolt in the central hill country of Palestine. This was at the beginning of King Saul’s reign, and ending with the assault upon Jerusalem in the eighth year of the Davidic Kingdom.
Labaya the King over Shechem, is mentioned in the Amarna letters, would seem to relate to King Saul of Israel when comparing historical data of both people:
- NAME– In the Amarna letters the name Labayu appears which means “Great Lion of N(god)” where “N” represents the name of a deity. King Saul was known as the “lion of YHVH” in the bible. (Ps. 57 – describes Saul’s body guards as lebaim – Great Lions; ref. 1 Sam 1-4 with Ps 22.1,13 David calls King Saul a lion.)
- DEATH– Both Saul and Labayu died at Gilboa.
- BATTLES– In the letters to Pharaoh Akhenaton, Biridiya of Meggido complains that Labayu was attacking his lands; Meggido being in the Jazreel valley that Saul fought in.
- DECENDANTS -Saul’s son Ish-bosheth and Labayu’s Son Mutbaal; both names translate as “man of baal”. Mutbaal then identifies three men in a latter Amarna letter, Dadua, Ayab, and Yishaya. If Mutbaal is actually the son of Saul, then these three names could be reconciled with David, Joab, and Yishai. (David was actually Saul’s son-in-law, but be heavily recognized as one of Saul’s son by their enemies, especially by his great reputation).
- KING DAVID– Abdu-Heba is worried after Labayu’s death fearing for the loss of his own city, U-ru-sa-lim (Jerusalem) because Labayu’s sons Dadua (David) is taking cities and giving them to the Hibiru. (2 Sam 5.7- Zion is Jerusalem)
TEL DAN STELE SLAB
Discovered by Israeli archaologist, Avraham Biran (1909 – 2008) at Tel Dan in northern Israel by his team of scholars in 1993. Its author was a king of Damascus, Hazael or one of his sons.
An inscription containing the words “house of David” was found on a black basalt stone slab called the Tel Dan Stele, from Tel Dan, Israel, 9th Century B.C. (the time of king David).
This discovery at Tel Dan of a fragment of a stele containing a reference to the “House of David” (that is, the dynasty of David).
Inscriptions coincide with 2 Kings 7-8, and describe the kings of the Bible Jehoram, Ahab, Ahaziahu.
The Moabite stone, also known as the Mesha Stele was discovered at the site of ancient Dibon, now known as Dhiban, Jordan, in August 1868, by Rev. Frederick Augustus.
The inscription was set up about as a memorial of Mesha’s victories over “Omri king of Israel” and his son, who had been oppressing Moab. This directly corresponds to the Biblical king Omri in 1 Kings 16.15-28:
… Wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp. – 1 Kings 16.16
Made of black basalt, the Mesha Stela stood about 3 feet high. The 34 lines of Moabite script in the Moabite language (very close to Hebrew) make the Mesha Stela one of the longest monumental inscription ever found in Palestine.
In 840 B.C.E., the king of the land of Moab, Mesha, commissioned a royal inscription to commemorate the Moabite rebellion against Israelite domination, and also mentions the ‘house of David’.
PRIESTS OF THE DAVIDIC KINGDOM
Tomb of the Hezir Family
In the Kidron Valley an elaborate tomb complex was found. There is a Hebrew inscription indicating and identifying the burial cave of the descendants of Hezir, a family of priests found in 1 Chronicles.
King David allotted certain jobs and measure to each of the priests and their sons] And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the LORD in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the LORD… – 1Ch 23:31
The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses… – 1 Chron 24:15
[the lists of priests that sealed the covenant written in Ch.9]
… Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir… – Neh 10:20
History of King Solomon – Davidic Kingdom
CITY OF TEL MIGGIDO
Meggido, long inhabited by Canaanites, was conquered by King Solomon and made to be one of his fortresses.
Many architectural discoveries have been made that shown similar architecture throughout its complexes to those of Israeli design from the time period of King Solomon. This could reflect the Israeli King’s influences and design and after they took control of the city.
And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer. – 1Ki 9:15
CITY OF GEZER
Gift to Solomon
Gezer is a prominent 33-acre site that overlooks the Aijalon Valley and the road leading to Jerusalem. In 1871 C. Clermont-Ganneau identified the site, and two years later found the first of many boundary stones inscribed with the city’s name.
Before Israel occupation this city, it was a Canaanite development. It was given as a gift to King Solomon by the Egyptians when he married one of Pharaohs daughters.
It is yet another city bearing the remains of the ancient architectural structures pointing to King Solomon that would have been built after he gain control over it.
The remains show evidence of Egyptian destruction and conquest to it. Remains also reveal evidence pointing to the Solomon gate at its entrance and defensive walls that eventually become a fortress for King Solomon.
For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’s wife. And Solomon built Gezer… – 1Ki 9:16-17
SOLOMON’S SONS – Davidic Kingdom
Rehoboam & Shishak’s Invasion Records
A record of Pharaoh Shishek has been discovered, commemorating Egypt’s victory over King Rehoboam circa 950-900 b.c. during his 50 year reign.
Israel and Judah where both victims of Egyptian raids, and the Bible describes this event as Gods punishment because of the transgressions of the king and the people against the Lord.
And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. – 1Ki 14:25-26
TEMPLE OF SOLOMON
During excavations in Arad from 1962-1967, Archaeologists found more than 200
inscribed objects, most of them where ostraca (pottery used for writing).
Some are written to Military commanders, some deal with drink or wine dispersment to different units or people.
One of the ‘House of Yahweh Ostracon’ reads “To my lord Elyashib, may the Lord seek your welfare… and as to the matter which you command me – it is well; he is in the House of Yahweh [God].” – Letter 18 (IAA 1967-669)
Other House of YHVH Ostracon are found, some are simple clay tablet piece found as reciepts from the temple of Solomon for 3 shekels of silver to the donors.
All this evidence point to the existence of the temple of King Solomon within the time period which the Bible references.
Davidic Kingdom Administrations
There are many pieces of evidence alluding to administrations and offices being held and ran during the rule of the ‘Davidic kingdom,’ ‘right before Babylon came in to overthrow and destroyed Jerusalem.
CLAY ROYAL SEALS
Two years after the discovery of the tiny clay bulla, or stamp, bearing the name of Yehuchal ben Shelemiyahu, Mazar’s excavation brought to light a similar stamp from the same location.
In ancient Hebrew script, it reads “Gedaliah ben Pashur.” Ben Pashur’s name appears in the same verse of the Book of Jeremiah (38:1) as ben Shelemiyahu’s. Both men, according to the Bible, served as ministers in the court of King Zedekiah, who reigned from 597–587/6 b.c., just prior to the destruction of the First Temple and fall of Jerusalem
Gemaryahu ben Shaphan was mentioned in the Bible as a minister and scribe during the reign of King Jehoiakim (608-597 BCE).
Various other seals have been found attributed to other Hebrew kings such as:
- Uzziah’s royal seal
- Hosea’s Royal Seal
- Hezekiah’s Royal Seal
- Solomons Royal Seal
KING UZZIAH – Davidic Kingdom
The Plaque of King Uzziah’s burial was discovered which read:
“To this place were brought the bones of Uzziah (also known as Azariah) the king of Judah—do not open!”
God struck Uzziah with Leperacy for his disobedience until the day of his death. He was cut off from the house of the Lord. His son Jotham was in charge of the people and governed the land in his stead, and succeeded him as king. (2 Chronicles 26:21,23)
King Uzziah’s bones where relocated to the place of this inscription warning against removing the bones of King Uzziah.
KING AHAZ – Davidic Kingdom
King Ahaz was the reigning King of the southern Kingdom of Israel during the rise of the Assyrian army.
And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it – Isaiah 7.1
In the mid-1990s a bulla appeared on the antiquities market. This bulla measures 0.4 inches (10 mm) wide. The back of the bulla bears the imprint of the papyrus it once sealed, as well as the double string which held it together. It contains a fingerprint on the left edge.
Like many bullae, it was preserved due to being baked by fire, presumably incidentally (house or city was burned), as in a kiln. The inscription reads: “Belonging to Ahaz (son of) Yehotam, King of Judah.” Given the process that created and preserved bullae, they are virtually impossible to forge. Most scholars believe this bulla to be authentic. It bears the seal of King Ahaz of Judah, who ruled from 732-716 BC.
This Relief was carved into stone to commemorate Sennacherib’s (705-681 BC) victory over Lachish (701 BC), a fortified city of southern Israel.
He was the Assyrian king who challenged but did not take Jerusalem, a fact the Bible attributes to Hezekiah’s prayer (2 Kings 19).
This relief was found in the Assyrian palace near modern Mosel, Iraq. It was taken to the London Museum.
END OF DAVIDIC KINGDOM
Fall to Babylon
The Davidic kingdom or dynasty in Jerusalem ended circa 580 b.c., after the Babylonians, led by King Nebuchadnezzar, attacked the city and destroyed the temple Solomon had built. The people of Judah, the Bible refers, were carried away as captives out of their own land (Jeremiah 52:27) to Babylon.
References – Davidic Kingdom
Daily Mail – Proof David Slew Goliath – Archaeologists unearht oldest hebrew text
Bible History – House of David Unearthed
PBS.org – Palace of King David
Archaeological Project – the Relief of Shishak
Center for Online Judaic Studies – Uzziah Burial Inscription
IsraelaHistoryOf.Com – The Amarna Letters
Think to Believe – Thinktobelieve.com – Ahaz Bulla
Historical Illustrations of the Old Testament, 1873, p. 145