THE MESHA STELE (The Moabite Stone)

HOME | Story

"Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder;
and he had to deliver annually to the king of Israel a hundred thousand lambs,
and the wool of a hundred thousand rams.
But when Ahab died,
the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. ... "

The story (in part): 2 Kings 3.1-27.

Moabite Stone. c.890bce. Height 1.1metre. Mus.du Louvre, Paris.
It is the only royal inscription written in Hebrew yet discovered.
The MOABITE STONE, bearing an inscription of Mesha, king of Moab, who reigned at the beginning of the ninth century BC.
He here records his wars with Israel, and other deeds.
The Moabite stone was discovered by the Rev. F Klein, at Dibhan, in the land of Moab, on August 19th, 1868.
It measures 3ft. 10in. by 2ft. by 1ft. 2in., and is inscribed with thirty-four lines of text, each word of which is separated by a dot.
About a year after its discovery the Arabs, hearing of its contemplated removal, broke it into a number of fragments; but a paper squeeze of the inscription had already been made, and thus, fortunately, almost the whole of the text has been preserved.
A copy of the inscription in Hebrew letters, as transcribed by Prim and Socin, and a translation are here given:- 


  1. I am Mesha,
    son of Chemosh-Khan,
    King of Moab,
    the Dibonite.
  2. My father reigned over Moab thirty years,
    and I reigned after my father.
  3. And I made this High Place for Chemosh in Kir-haresheth,
  4. For he had saved me from all my foes. ...
  5. Omri was King of Israel,
    and he afflicted Moab many days,
    for Chemosh was angry with Moab.
  6. And his son (i.e. Ahab) succeeded him,
    and he too said, 'I will afflict Moab.'
    In my days he said it.
  7. And I looked upon (i.e. defeated ) him and upon his House:
    and Israel perished everlastingly.
  8. And Omri possessed the land of Medeba.
    And Israel dwelt therein,
    his days and half the days of his son,
    forty years.
  9. And Chemosh restored it in my days. ...
  10. Now the men of Gad had dwelt in the land of Ghatarot from of old:
    and the King of Israel built for himself Ghatarot.
  11. And I fought against the city and I took it.
    And I slew all the people of the city,
  12. A gazing stock for Chemosh and for Moab.
    And I captured from thence the ariel

    [It is interesting to find that Jehovah at this date had His sacred cult object that,
    like the effigies of foreign gods, could be carried off.]

    (i.e. shrine) of the god,
  13. And I dragged it before Chemosh in Cherioth. ...
  14. And Chemosh said unto me,
    'Go, seize Nebo against Israel.
  15. And I went by night,
    and fought against it from dawn unto noon.
  16. And I seized it, and slew all of it. ...
  17. For to Chemosh I had devoted it.
  18. And I took from thence the Vessels of Jehovah,
    [Jehovah - Yahweh = the earliest indubitable mention of the Divine Name outside the Bible.]
    and dragged them before Chemosh.
  19. Now the King of Israel had built Yahash,
    and dwelt therein while he fought against me.
    And Chemosh drove him away from before me.
  20. And I took from Moab two hundred men,
    and I brought them up against Yahash,
  21. And seized it to add unto Dibon. ...
  22. Now cisterns there were none in the middle of the city of Kir-haresheth.
    And I said unto the people,
  23. 'Make you every man a cistern in his house.'
  24. And I cut the watercourse for Kir-haresheth by means of prisoners captured from Israel.
  25. I built Aroer and I made the high road by the river Ar-non. ...
  26. And I ruled over one hundred [princes] in the cities which I had added to the land. ...
[Mesha - Mesha; Moab - Moab; Dibonite - Da-ibonite; Chemosh - Kemosh; Kir-haresheth - Kerekhah ; Omri - Omri; Israel - Israel; Medeba - Mehedeba; Cherioth - Keriyyot.]

Illustration - (Left): 'Picture Archive of the Bible.' Lion Publishing Plc. 1987. (Right): 'New Bible Atlas.' IVP. 1985.
Description: 'Helps to the Study of the Bible.' Oxford University Press. Undated.
Mesha Stele (2)