Mesha Stela, circa 840 B.C.E.

Mesha Stela, circa 840 B.C.E. Louvre Museum, Paris.

The Mesha Stela (a stela is an inscribed stone) was erected by King Mesha of Moab (modern day Jordan) as a record of his victory against Israel. The inscription is one of the earliest known nonbilbical references to Israel and attests to the rivalry between the Moabites and the kingdom of Israel. The stela identifies Mesha, king of Moab, and Omri, king of the northern kingdom of Israel, and the narrative parallels the story in 2Kgs 3. The inscription is written using an early form of the West Semitic alphabet in the Moabite language, a language closely related to Hebrew.

A stone inscribed in the Moabite language, commissioned by the Moabit king Mesha to celebrate his accomplishments, including a successful revolt against the kingdom of Israel (see 2 Kings 3).

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

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

A written, spoken, or recorded story.

The kingdom consisting of the northern Israelites tribes, which existed separately from the southern kingdom of Judah. According to the Hebrew Bible, all the tribes were part of a unified kingdom under David and Solomon, but the northern kingdom under Jeroboam I rebelled after Solomon's death (probably sometime in the late 10th century B.C.E.), establishing their independence. The northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C.E.

West Semitic (aka Northwestern Semitic) is a group of Semitic languages belonging to the region of the Middle East. West Semitic languages include all forms of Aramaic, Syriac, Amorite, Ugaritic, and the Canaanite languages such as Hebrew and Phoenician.

2Kgs 3

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