November 28, 2011 Leave a comment
Writes George Athas:
I recently returned home from the annual Society of Biblical Literature conference in San Francisco. While there I heard a very interesting paper by Andrew Knapp (Johns Hopkins University), in which he gave a new take on part of the text of the Tel Dan Inscription. This Old Aramaic inscription is perhaps best known for containing the phrase House of David (or something close to this). Knapp’s paper focused not on this phrase, but on another section of the inscription. He argued that the word קדם in line 4 of the inscription, which scholars usually translate by the adverb formerly, is actually a toponym, Qedem. He pointed to other sources in which there appears to be a place called Qedem in the northern Transjordan in the general vicinity of Damascus…
… This extra letter stands in addition to the other major flaws of the general consensus view of the inscription, such as the claim that Fragments B1 and B2 belong to the immediate left of Fragment A. This claim and the text reconstructed on the basis of this configuration is virtually physically impossible. Furthermore, the authorship and dating of the inscription were pegged to Hazael in c.840 BC, but this was concluded before the find site at Tel Dan was fully excavated. Subsequent seasons of excavation at Tel Dan show that this is slightly too early for the relevant strata. In addition to this, it seems that the consensus view largely sidesteps the fact that Hazael was a known usurper of the Damascene throne. That is, his father was not the previous king of Damascus. In fact, the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III refers to Hazael as ‘the son of a nobody’, implying that he was not part of the previous ruling dynasty. This fact is further reflected by the biblical tradition that Hazael murdered his predecessor to take the throne (2 Kings 8.15). And yet the Tel Dan Inscription (at other points) refers to the author’s father as though they were the reigning monarch. The general consensus view of the inscription simply does not make sense. The much more likely candidate for authorship is Hazael’s son, Bar Hadad.
There are many other flaws in the general consensus view of the Tel Dan Inscription, which I won’t enumerate here…
Read the whole post here.
HT: Dr Jim West