(The Moabite Stone)



Moabite (very similar to Hebrew)


Basalt stone stele

Height: 1.15 meters

Width: 60-68 centimeters

35 lines of writing


Mesha, king of Moab


1868 in Dhiban [in modern Jordan]

Current Location

Paris, France



by K. C. Hanson

(Adapted from Albright 1969)

I am Mesha, son of Kemosh[-yatti], the king of Moab, the Dibonite. My father was king over Moab for thirty years, and I became king after my father. And I made this high-place for Kemosh in Qarcho . . . because he has delivered me from all kings, and because he has made me look down on all my enemies. Omri was the king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab for many days, for Kemosh was angry with his land. And his son reigned in his place; and he also said, "I will oppress Moab!" In my days he said so. But I looked down on him and on his house, and Israel has been defeated; it has been defeated forever! And Omri took possession of the whole land of Medeba, and he lived there in his days and half the days of his son: forty years.

But Kemosh restored it in my days. And I built Baal Meon, and I built a water reservoir in it. And I built Qiryaten. And the men of Gad lived in the land of Atarot from ancient times; and the king of Israel built Atarot for himself, and I fought against the city and captured it. And I killed all the people of the city as a sacrifice for Kemosh and for Moab. And I brought back the fire-hearth of his uncle from there; and I brought it before the face of Kemosh in Qerioit, and I made the men of Sharon live there, as well as the men of Maharit. And Kemosh said to me, "Go, take Nebo from Israel." And I went in the night and fought against it from the daybreak until midday, and I took it and I killed the whole population: seven thousand male subjects and aliens, and female subjects, aliens, and servant girls. For I had put it to the ban for Ashtar Kemosh. And from there I took the vessels of Yahweh, and I presented them before the face of Kemosh. And the king of Israel had built Yahaz, and he stayed there throughout his campaign against me; and Kemosh drove him away before my face. And I took two hundred men of Moab, all its division, and I led it up to Yahaz. And I have taken it in order to add it to Dibon. I have built Qarcho, the wall of the woods and the wall of the citadel; and I have built its gates; and I have built its towers; and I have built the house of the king; and I have made the double reservoir for the spring in the innermost part of the city. Now the innermost part of the city had no cistern, in Qarcho, and I said to all the people, "Each one of you shall make a cistern in his house." And I cut the moat for Qarcho by using Israelite prisoners.

I have built Aroer, and I constructed the military road in Arnon. I have built Beth-Bamot, for it had been destroyed. I have built Bezer, for it lay in ruins. And the men of Dibon stood in battle formation, for all Dibon were in subjection. And I am the king over the hundreds in the towns which I have added to the land. And I have built Beth-Medeba and Beth-Diblaten and Beth-Baal-Meon, and I brought there . . . flocks of the the land. And Hauranen, there lived ...Kemosh said to me, "Go down, fight against Hauranen!" I went down ...and Kemosh restored it in my days... And I built ... the temple of Diblaten...

The final lines are the most difficult to read. They have also become the subject of a heated controversy:

"And the house [of Da]vid dwelt in Horanaim" (line 31).

In 1993 a stela was discovered at Tel Dan in northern Israel mentioning the "House of David." This mid-ninth century BC inscription provided the first mention of

David in a contemporary text outside the Bible. The find was especially significant since liberal scholars had been questioning the existence of David.

At about the same time the Dan stela was found, French scholar Andre Lemaire was working on the Mesha Inscription and determined that the same phrase appeared there in line 31. Lemaire was able to identify a previously indistinguishable letter as a "d" ( ) in the phrase "House of David." This phrase is used a number of times in the Old Testament for the Davidic dynasty.

Lemaire believes we only have about half of the original memorial. The missing half would have told how Mesha regained the southern half of Moab from Judah. The complete text regarding Horanaim reads as follows:

And the house [of Da]vid dwelt in Hauranen! [...] and Chemosh said to me: "Go down! Fight against Hauranen!." And I went down, and [I fought against the town, and I took it; and] Chemosh [resto]red it in my days (lines 31-33).

Hauranen is mentioned in Isaiah’s prophecy against Moab (transliterated as "Horonaim" in Isaiah 15:5). He says that fugitives would lament their destruction as they travelled the road to Horanaim. Jeremiah says much the same in 48:3, 5, and 48. The town is located south of the Arnon.


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