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The Tel Dan inscription (aka The Beth David inscription)

While this inscription does not refer to "Israel" it has become such an important "proof" to many since its discovery in the early 90's that it must be included here. Davies' book does not discuss this late ninth century bce inscription since it was only discovered after the publication of Davies' work. While many have jumped to the conclusion that this inscription proves the historical existence of King David, scholars who have studied it the most closely warn that it does no such thing. One of the leading authorities on the Tel Dan inscription is George Athas who has noted that other scholars (Knauf, Römer and de Pury) have "demonstrated that it cannot be a dynastic label, such as BIT-HUMRI in Assyrian inscriptions." Athas himself has shown that the inscription is actually a place-name. Read his recent e-mail to peers on an academic discussion group. The "BYTDWD" in the inscription is actually the place name of a minor town, not unlike other village names such as Bethlehem (meaning "House of Bread") and "Bethel" (meaning "House of God"). Bethdavid would be a village name meaning "House of Praise". Other leading scholars such as Peter Neils Lemche, Thomas L. Thompson and Keith W, Whitelam have made the same observations.



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