Tel Dan Stela

Tel Dan Stela, ninth century B.C.E. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

The Tel Dan Stela. Basalt, 9th century B.C.E. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

The Tel Dan Stela is a royal lapidary inscription erected at the site of Tel Dan to commemorate the military victory of a Syrian king (probably King Hazael of Damascus ruled circa 842–806 B.C.E) over Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah. Hazael was a powerful regional monarch in the region in the ninth century B.C.E.

The inscription is written in the Old Aramaic language. Within this inscription, Ahaziah (whose name is partially restored) is referred to as the “ king of byt dwd,” literally “King of the House of David,” that is, the standard term for the Davidic dynasty in Judah.  If this reading is correct, the inscription contains the earliest known epigraphic reference to the Davidic dynasty.  The text differs from the account in the book of Kings, which states that Joram and Ahaziah were killed not by Hazael but by Jehu, who would seize the throne of Israel.  Note, however, that the biblical text does refer to a close an alliance between Jehu and Hazael so this difference may, or may not, be significant.

A sequence of rulers from the same family.

Relating to ancient inscriptions

A sovereign head of state, usually a king or queen.

An early dialect of Aramaic, a Northwest Semitic language spoken and written until 612 B.C.E.; it was the diplomatic language of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

An upright stone slab usually inscribed or carved for commemorative purposes.

Literally "mound," a small hill-shaped site containing numerous occupational layers of a town or city built on top of one another over millennia.

A fragmentary stone inscription found in the northern Israelite town of Dan; dating to the late ninth or early eighth century B.C.E., the stela contains the earliest reference to the biblical "house of David," though some scholars contest this reading.

 NEH Logo
Bible Odyssey has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.