Did King David Actually Exist? Extraordinary Artifact Confirms Biblical Account

Tel Dan StelaNEW YORK – A nearly 3,000-year-old artifact currently on display in New York City confirms the historicity of King David and contradicts the secular belief that the biblical monarch never actually existed.

In recent years, some historians and archaeologists have claimed that King David of the Bible was an entirely fictional character. Others contend that the narratives of David’s kingdom found in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles are inaccurate embellishments of history.

“The most popular legends about David are the creation of generations who lived long after him,” wrote Jacob Wright of Emory University in an online article. “David’s slaying of Goliath, his exploits in the court of Saul, his relationship to Jonathan and Michal, his fate as a fugitive, his military triumphs abroad, his affair with Bathsheba, his civil war with Absalom, his succession by Solomon—all these colorfully depicted episodes were created by later generations of writers.”

However, an artifact currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York directly challenges these allegations. Known as the Tel Dan Stela, the artifact is a ninth-century B.C. stone slab that features carefully-incised Aramaic text. The artifact’s inscriptions commemorate an Aramean king’s military expeditions and reference both the “king of Israel” and the “king of the House of David.”

Experts say the relic, which was discovered in 1993, provides nearly incontrovertible proof of King David’s existence. Henry Smith, Jr., Director of Development for the Associates for Biblical Research, told Christian News Network that the inscription provides “powerful extra-biblical evidence that is in accord with the biblical presentation of David as the King of Israel.”

According to Smith, the Tel Dan Stela is “highly significant,” because it corroborates the Bible’s historical accounts. However, Smith said the artifact is not the only archaeological evidence that supports the scriptural narrative of David’s reign.

“In the 19th century, the Mesha Stela (also known as the Moabite Stone) was discovered in Jordan, and references ‘the house of David,’” he stated. “This important discovery is often ignored or dismissed by liberal scholars and skeptics across the board. Further, Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen has identified an inscription in the Temple of Amun at Karnak that he believes reads ‘the heights of David.’”

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All these discoveries point to one conclusion: King David actually existed.

“The Tel Dan Stela not only mentions the ‘house of David’ as well, but is a hostile witness to David’s historicity,” Smith added. “That is, it was inscribed by enemies of Israel from Aram. Further, it shows that kings who were enemies of Israel from later periods after David’s death recognized that the kings of Israel were of David’s lineage.”

Despite the historical evidence, many scholars and archaeologists still reject the Bible’s historical accounts. Smith suggested this rejection is due to several factors.

“First, they often ignore the actual chronology that the Bible provides for the events it reports,” he asserted. “Thus, they try to incorrectly correlate events in the Bible with archaeological evidence that is not from the actual period when the biblical events took place. We find this especially with respect to the book of Joshua and the conquest of Jericho, Ai and Hazor.”

“Second,” he continued, “their foundational presupposition is that the text of the Old Testament was redacted, amended and changed by editors and compilers with human-centered agendas, political and otherwise. These extensive redactions supposedly took place over many centuries.”

According to Smith, “there is not one shred of proof” for these elaborate, anti-biblical theories.

Smith further told Christian News Network that archaeological evidence is subject to a wide range of interpretations, which can often be biased or inaccurate.

“The problem is that archaeology yields much more material culture than it does actual written texts, and material culture is subject to wide arrays of interpretation,” he said. “Material culture does not ‘speak’ in the same way a written text can speak, and thus, it requires us to be cautious about the way we understand the material culture of antiquity.”

Smith encourages Christians to consider the reliability of the Bible and to realize that the gospel message is grounded in history.

“The God of Scripture is the Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign Lord of all history,” he stated. “The Bible is filled with references to real people, real events and real chronology. Christians must take Scripture seriously in this regard. After all, Jesus Christ was born into this fallen world to redeem His people and the entire cosmos, at a particular time and in a particular place. He is the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament revelation. We should be reminded of what Paul wrote to the Galatian church: ‘When the time had fully come, God sent His Son…’”

Editor’s Note: The Tel Dan Stela will be on display through January 4 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age” exhibit. For more information about the artifact, please visit the website of the Associates for Biblical Research.

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  • James Grimes

    Was there ever any doubt about King David among believers?

  • Neiman

    These antagonists to the Christian faith, these alleged scholars think that if they can sow the seeds of doubt, they can defeat the Christian faith, they are wrong. Let God be true and every man a liar.

    Why is the archeological record of David and Solomon so thin? (a) Over time everything recorded in the Bible has been proven true and not one thing has objectively been proven to be false. (b) The Old and New Testaments remain the most complete historical record of the human race, with more ancient texts, fragments and documents extant than almost any other records. (c) The Bible was given to the Jews, a people that established incredibly complex rules for copying texts wherein the slightest dot or tittle caused entire pages to be burned. (d) God made sure that the Bible remained accurate through the ages and will never be found to be in error.

    • James Grimes

      Thanks for a great explanation. Have a blessed Christmas.

      • Neiman

        I wish you and your family the very best Christmas season.

  • pax2u

    Bless those of the Christian faith and protect them from the hate of those who are willing to lie about their beliefs

  • pax2u

    Merry Christmass to all Christians here

    • The Lone Ranger

      And Merry Christmas to all sinners here.

      • pax2u

        all Christians are sinners

        • Phipps Mike

          except for me……yuk yuk yuk :o)

  • James Grimes

    Blessings to all; Merry Christmas to all; I wish everyone here on Christian News.net the best of health, the enjoyment of the salvation we enjoy in God’s mercy, and a spirit – filled end of 2014.

  • pax2u

    Merry Christmass to all Christians

  • The Lone Ranger

    If you need an explanation or proof that King David existed then what would be the purpose of faith ? If you can’t believe that , you can’t believe none of the word of God. Might as well eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die . However we have a witness, I don’t need the archaeologist record of proof . It is by faith
    1 John 5:10
    He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son….Romans 1.:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith…….
    Romans 3:30
    Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. ………Merry Christmas to everyone who is a Christian and to everyone who Ain’t !

    • jazzmac03

      Its not about “Needing” to have proof but its about the FACT that supporting proof is there. Read Psalm 19 or Luke 1:1-5… Both these texts speak of some sort of physical proof or evidence of God or Christ. Also the fact that we have a “Bible” is an historical account preserved to reassure our knowledge of the truth.

      If “faith” was all that was necessary then we wouldn’t need a written text but would only need the aural tradition like for example the spiritual beliefs of Native Americans. In fact there are parts of the world where Christians exist (thanks to missionaries) and are functioning in the faith and they don’t have access to a Bible at all. Does that mean the Bible is necessary and should be forsaken. I don’t think so… So, the fact is proof and evidence are not a must but I think you can see some sort of value in these kinds of findings.

      They also help us convince and persuade people (that struggle to believe) of the historical validity of the scriptures which could influence people toward faith and that should NOT be a problem.

      Let’s not be so quick to judge and condemn things that support and encourage the Christian faith and our Scriptures. Lets rejoice in these findings whether we need them or not…

    • jazzmac03

      Also, the scriptures you site about “faith” are not about faith in the accounts of the Old Testament but about faith in Jesus Christ alone. The just shall LIVE by faith (in CHRIST)… not faith in David. “He that believeth on THE SON OF GOD (Jesus)”. “The record that God gave of HIS SON…

      No reference to Old Testament…

      Again I want to reiterate, it looks bad when we come against things that are out there in support of OUR Bible and OUR beliefs. Why are we as believers so quick to judge and come against things that agree with us???

      Knowledge, evidence, and proof are not the enemy of FAITH…

      Lack of knowledge (Hosea 4), Legalism (Gal 3), and the Lie (Rom 1:25) are the enemies of FAITH… This archaeological find is not…

  • Why doesn’t this article have any citations. As Christians, your duty is to truth and therefore, proof. You can’t just say ‘in an online article’.

    • bowie1

      Try this source mentioned in the article: Henry Smith, Jr., Director of Development for the Associates for Biblical Research,

    • fran duffy

      As Christians we do not need “Proof” We have the
      faith that
      God gave us.
      It is like the birds that sing just before the sun rise.
      they have faith it will rise. And The Son of God is our faith

      • Fran Duffy, God does not call people to be ignorant, but truthful and enlightened. Asking for proof (what this article is all about) is not lacking faith.
        Birds don’t begin singing because of ‘faith’ — they begin singing because their internal clocks (plus they sense a change in temperature as more light hits the earth) alert them to the sunrise. Your example is really not a good one.

  • railhead

    No surprise to us who believe the Bible, but to those who do not believe, no evidence is great enough. The vast majority of people who saw actual miracles take place in Egypt and in the wilderness still doubted God’s word.
    Those of us who believe in Christ by faith have a special blessing pronounced on us by our Lord:

    John 20:29
    Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

  • Jacob L. Wright

    Thanks for quoting me, but I never claim, in that article or my book, that King David did not exist. The Tel Dan Stele, which was found almost two decades ago (!) and is now making its first appearance in the US, proves only that he existed, not that all the stories are factual. As people who take the Bible seriously we must ask what the stories are attempting to tell us and why they were written. It is wrong to assume that they are reporting factual events as if they were newspapers. This is didactic literature, some of the best that has ever been written. To make it simple history is to miss its point.
    Best wishes,
    Jacob Wright,
    Emory University

    • EWZS

      Dear Prof. Wright

      I saw you posted part II of your essay on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh on thetorah.com but not only have they blocked comments on the site, but they removed comments on part I and censored the follow up comment that I had made in response to you. I don’t understand why thetorah.com is so keen on censoring commentary when it is presumably committed to upholding academic/scientific norms, and I also don’t understand why you largely rehashed the Supputu thesis, without noting that this is a very old thesis that has long been discredited– or more importantly, *why* scholars such as Tigay, Sarna and many others did not find it to be convincing.

      Here is the comment I had made on part I, and my response to your short response– which you presumably never read since Steinberg censored it:

      Original Comment:
      The evidence that Prof. Wright provides for the week evolving out of the new moon is circumstantial to say the least. If indeed “the texts explored above suggest that the populations of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah commemorated a Chodesh-Shabbat monthly cycle that revolved around the antipodes of New Moon and Full Moon”, it is curious that the consensus in the academic literature is that there is no connection between the celebrations/marking of the lunar cycle and the full moon. The interested reader should consult the Zerubavel book, which is the most comprehensive treatment of the issue and most sensitive to what is sociologically distinctive about the institution of the Jewish week, and see also Tigay’s essays on the week (in Hebrew) from the Encyclopedia Miqrait, which make essentially the same arguments as Zerubavel and which one can find on his website. They each discuss various attempts to find the origins of the Shabbat/week in lunar cycles or in “market weeks” (regular cycles for which the “peak day” is a market week) and they conclude that the connection is weak at best. (Note that this failure was already well known to Cassutto and Benno Jacob, who discuss it in their commentaries on Exodus)

      For a very useful recent review of the academic literature and its failure to find an institutional precedent for the Shabbat/week, see:

      * pp. 20-24 of Timmer, Daniel C. 2009. Creation, משכן , and Sabbath: The Sabbath Frame of Exodus 31:12-17; 35:1-3 in Exegetical and Theological Perspective.Gotteingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (key sections are readable in google books)

      Another excellent recent treatment (available online) is:

      * Friedman, Allen. 2008/9. “Unnatural Time: Its History and Theological Significance” The Torah u-Madda Journal 15 2008/9: 95-111.

      Response to your response:
      I’m not sure if I understand your response to my comment, Prof. Wright. My main objection was that the evidence you adduced to support your conclusion was circumstantial at best. I then reinforced that point by noting that your conclusion is at odds with that of the existing literature. Implicit in that is a second point, which I’ll take the opportunity to make more explicit– i.e., that there is nothing new in the evidence you supplied or the methods you used to interpret existing evidence (and as you know, you did not touch on a great deal of the evidence that has been fodder for these debates over the last 150 years; this is not a criticism– I’m just clarifying that there is a lot more relevant evidence one could marshal for a comprehensive treatment). Under such circumstances (when one is not offering new evidence or a new method of interpretation), I’m sure you’ll agree that a scholar generally faces a tough road in persuading others as to their conclusions insofar as they are novel. I certainly don’t see that you’ve provided any such reason and am therefore unmoved by your argument.

      Meanwhile, rather than responding to my comment by supplying more reason (either evidence or logic) to have confidence in your conclusion, you responded in ad hominem fashion, by labeling two of the scholars that I referenced (and implicilty, myself) as “conservative.” Besides being ad hominem (surely not your preferred mode of response; after all, you don’t want to be dismissed because of your affiliations or commitments), it’s not even clear what the “conservative” approach to this issue is. Traditional Jewish sources differ significantly in how they discuss the origins of the week/Shabbat, and for the most part they are silent on this question. And Timmer is not Jewish as far as I know. Meanwhile, neither TImmer nor Friedman claim to be saying anything new. They are just updating the literature since Tigay and Zerubavel (whom you implicitly acknowledge are not “conservative”). Finally,I’ll note that there are also other speculations out there on the origins of the Shabbat./week. But as Timmer points out, these speculations (like yours) are poorly supported by the evidence and are all over the place; their very cacophony testifies to the failure by scholars to find such origins.

  • Jim West

    It’s a shame you didn’t actually contact an archaeologist or biblical scholar for your report. Simply citing Wright (out of context one might add and without availing yourselves of his full treatment) to make a point is quite deceitful.

    But all of this is old news- but I suppose necessary to bring to the fore just in time for Christmas. It’s quite the cynical move on your part – and made just in order to toss red meat at those unfamiliar with the technicalities of Aramaic, ancient inscriptions, artifacts, archaeology, epigraphy, and scholarship.

  • And the evolutionist says?

    • fran duffy

      Who cares what they say. think of these two facts
      1. Everyone is going to die
      2. Only God knows the timing of everyone’s death
      NO other facts needed.

  • Phipps Mike

    Of course David existed. If my memory serves me correctly, God told David to be brave and slay Goliath to keep Israel as the owner of their own land. Merry Christmas, everybody.