The Moabite Stone

Smith's Bible Dictionary

Mo’abite Stone, The.

In the year 1868 Rev. F. Klein, of the Church Missionary Society at Jerusalem, found at Dhiban (the biblical Dibon), in Moab, a remarkable stone, since called the Moabite Stone. It was lying on the ground, with the inscription uppermost, and measures about 3 feet 9 inches long, 2 feet 4 inches wide and 1 foot 2 inches thick. It is a very heavy, compact black basalt.

An impression was made of the main block, and of certain recovered parts broken off by the Arabs. It was broken by the Arabs, but the fragments were purchased by the French government for 32,000 francs, and are in the Louvre in Paris. The engraved face is about the shape of an ordinary gravestone, rounded at the top. On this stone is the record in the Phoenician characters of the wars of Mesha, king of Moab, with Israel. ( 2 Kings 3:4)

It speaks of King Omri and other names of places and persons mentioned in the Bible, and belongs to this exact period of jewish and Moabite history. The names given on the Moabite Stone, engraved by one who knew them in daily life, are, in nearly every case, identical with those found in the Bible itself, and testify to the wonderful integrity with which the Scriptures have been preserved.

"The inscription reads like a leaf taken out of a lost book of Chronicles. The expressions are the same; the names of gods, kings and of towns are the same."
--(See Rawlinson’s "Historical Illustrations;" American Cyclopedia ; and Bibliotheca Sacra , Oct. 20, 1870. --ED.)

Companion Bible Appendix #54

The Moabite Stone

A Study by E.W. Bullinger


This ancient monument was discovered by the Rev. F. Klein in 1868 at Diban (the Dibon of the O.T.) in Moab.

The inscription consists of thirty-four lines (the last two being undecipherable), and was written by Mesha king of Moab to commemorate his successful revolt from the yoke of Israel, recorded in 2Kings 1:1 and chapter 3; and to honor his god Chemosh, to whom he ascribed his successes.

The writing is in the ancient Hebrew characters, which continued in use down to quite 140, 139 B.C., but was gradually replaced by the modern square Hebrew characters which are in use to-day.

The inscription is proved to be genuine by the Bible account, the two throwing light on each other.  See the notes on 2Kings 3.

The following translation, by Dr. Neubauer, is taken from Records of the Past (New Series), Vol. II, pp. 200, &c. :

1.  "I, Mesha son of Chemosh-Melech king of Moab, the Di-

2.  bonite.  My father reigned over Moab thirty years and I reign-

3.  ed after my father.  I made this monument to Chemosh at Korkhah.  A monument of sal-

4.  vation, for he saved me from all invaders, and let me see my desire upon all my enemies.  Om-

5.  ri [was] king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with his

6.  land.  His son followed him, and he also said :  I will oppress Moab.  In my days Che[mosh] said;

7.  I will see my desire on him and his house.  And Israel surely perished for ever.  Omri took the land of

8.  Medeba (*1) and [Israel] dwelt in it during his days and half the days of his son (*2), altogether forty years.  But there dwelt in it

9.  Chemosh in my days.  I built Baal-Meon (*3) and made therein the ditches; I built

10.  Kirjathaim (*4).  The men of Gad dwelt in the land of Ataroth (*5) from of old, and built there the king of

11.  Israel Ataroth; and I made war against the town and seized it.  And I slew all the [people of]

12.  the town, for the pleasure of Chemosh and Moab :  I captured from thence the Arel (*6) of Dodah and tore

13.  him before Chemosh in Kerioth (*7) :  And I placed therein the men of Sh(a)r(o)n, and the men

14.  of M(e)kh(e)rth.  And Chemosh said to me :  Go, seize Nebo (*8) upon Israel; and

15.  I went in the night and fought against it from the break of dawn till noon :  and I took

16.  it, and slew all, 7,000 men, [boys?], women, [girls?]

17.  and female slaves, for to Ashtar-Chemosh I devoted them.  And I took from it the Arels (*6) of Yahveh, and tore them before Chemosh.  And the king of Israel built

18.  Jahaz (*9), and dwelt in it, while he waged war against me; Chemosh drove him out before me.  And

19.  I took from Moab 200 men, all chiefs, and transported them to Jahaz, which I took,

20.  to add to it Dibon.  I built Korkhah, the wall of the forests and the wall

21.  of the citadel :  I built its gates, and I built its towers.  And

22.  I built the house of Moloch, and I made sluices of the water-ditches in the middle

23.  of the town.  And there was no cistern in the middle of the town of Korkhah, and I said to all the people, Make for

24.  yourselves every man a cistern in his house.  And I dug the canals for Korkhah by means of the prisoners

25.  of Israel.  I built Aroer (*10), and I made the road in [the province of] the Arnon.  [And]

26.  I built Beth-Bamoth (*11), for it was destroyed.  I built Bezer (*12), for in ruins

27.  [it was.  And all the chiefs] of Dibon were 50, for all Dibon is subject; and I placed

28.  one hundred [chiefs] in the towns which I added to the land :  I built

29.  Beth-Medeba and Beth-diblathaim (*13), and Beth-Baal-Meon (*14), and transported thereto the [shepherds]?...

30.  and the pastors] of the flocks of the land.  And at Horonaim (*15) dwelt there

31.  ...And Chemosh said to me, Go down, make war upon Horonaim.  I went down [and made war]

32.  ...And Chemosh dwelt in it during my days.  I went up from thence..."

(*1)  Num. 21:30; Isa. 15:2.
(*2)  "son" = successor.
(*3)  Now, Tell M'ain, Num. 32:38.  Josh. 13:17.
(*4)  Num. 32:37.  Josh. 13:19.
(*5)  Num. 32:3.  Josh. 16:2.
(*6)  Arel, two lions, or, lion-like men (?) Cp. 2Sam. 23:20.
(*7)  Now, Khan el Kureitin (?); Jer. 48:24.  Amos 2:2.
(*8)  Num. 32:3, 38.  Isa. 15:2.
(*9)  Isa. 15:4.
(*10)  Now, 'Ar'air, Deut. 2:36; 3:12; 4:48.
(*11)  Num. 21:19.  Isa. 15:2.  (A.V. "high places"), cp. Josh. 13:17.
(*12)  Deut. 4:43.
(*13)  Jer. 48:22.
(*14)  Josh. 13:17.  Jer. 48:23.
(*15)  Isa. 15:5.  Jer. 48:3, 5, 34.

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