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The Christadelphian | January 2014

In the magazine this month:

  • Editorial Service
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Sunday morning A life of prayer | Kevin Charlesworth
  • Studies in Matthew’s Gospel 01 – Introduction | John Benson
  • Archaeology in focus 01 – The House of David | James Andrews
  • The parable of the potter 01 – Jeremiah 18:1-10 | Peter Heavyside
  • 100 years ago
  • When did Jesus die? | Paul Cresswell
  • Challenges for preaching in the UK | Thomas Gaston
  • Bible Companion | John Hingley
  • Enhancing our worship Suggestions for January | John Botten
  • Writing in The Christadelphian Some questions answered | Andrew Bramhill
  • Book Review Thoughts at the breaking of bread | Geoff Henstock
  • Faith Alive! Coming back to God | Andrew Bramhill
  • Signs of the times Realignment in the Middle East | Tony Bradshaw
  • Israel and their Land A stalled nuclear programme?
  • Epilogue Coming home | Hamilton Wilson
  • The brotherhood near and far

A sample article from this edition:

Archaeology in focus

01 The House of David

Fragments of the now famous “House of David” inscription once formed part of a large stone stele (monument), situated at the ancient site of Dan in northern Israel. Discovered in excavations in 1993–1994, the stele dates to the ninth century BC and provides the earliest reference to the Davidic dynasty outside the Bible.

In the surviving Aramaic inscription, the unnamed author – who can be identified as Hazael king of Syria – boasts of his military victories over Jehoram (i.e., Joram) king of Israel and Ahaziah king of the “House of David” (i.e., of Judah). It should be noted that the names of the kings of Israel and Judah are only partially preserved in the inscription, and there is some scholarly disagreement about the precise identity of the individual rulers referred to.

In addition, if Jehoram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah are the kings concerned, the stele would appear to contradict the account of 2 Kings 9:21-29. In this passage, both Jehoram and Ahaziah are described as being killed by Jehu, who then proceeds to order the death of Jezebel and to take the throne of Israel for himself. The apparent discrepancy between the Biblical account and the stele could be explained by hyperbole on the part of Hazael of Syria, whose military victories over the kingdoms of Israel and Judah may have led him to claim responsibility for the death of their rulers.

Despite debate and uncertainty over details, the most significant aspect of this archaeological discovery – its reference to the “House of David” – is almost undisputed. Before this inscription was found, some scholars argued that David and Solomon were likely to be fictional characters, and that even if they did exist there was no kingdom of Israel reaching back to the tenth century BC.

The ‘Tel Dan Stele’, as it is known, dating to a little over a hundred years after the death of David, is evidence not only that a royal dynasty descended from a king called David did rule in Judah, but also that the influence of this dynasty stretched far to the north of Judah and Jerusalem. The fragments of the stele were found, after all, at what was once the northernmost city in David’s kingdom (see, for example, 2 Samuel 3:10).

The stele is also evidence of the pattern of shifting alliances between the kings of Judah, Israel, Syria, and other smaller nations of the ancient Levant, and the alternating states of peace and war which existed between them. A similar picture emerges from the books of Kings and Chronicles, and the book of Kings specifically records the incursions of Hazel of Syria into the territory of Israel (2 Kings 10:32,33).

Whilst the history of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah very often seems characterised by warfare and bloodshed, it is not to the ancient dynasty of David that we look for our hope or salvation. It was something much greater which God ultimately had in mind when He promised to David, “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me” (2 Samuel 7:16, ESV).

James Andrews

 

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