The Moabite Stone is also called the ‘stèle
de Mesha’ (French) or Mesha Stele. What is special about
this archaeological discovery is that it was not found during
digging. When the stone was found it was laying on the surface.
Facsimile made by B. Bonte
There are several stories about its history.
According to the book "On stone and clay" by Henri
Michaud, the stone was discovered by German missionary F. A.
Klein in Dibon (now Dibhan) in the year 1868. But, evidently
the true finder must have been Clermont-Ganneau. At that time
he was working for the French consulate in Jerusalem. He had
heard people talking about the stone and ordered a copy to be
made of part of the text. This copy can now be seen in the Louvre,
together with the Moabite stone. He understood that the stone
must have been of great value and so ordered the imprint to
be made. Although it was done, the imprint was torn to pieces
by a fight amongst the population. Clermont-Ganneau wanted to
buy the stone but the Arabs were suspicious. He was too eager.
The population could not understand why he wanted to buy a 'worthless'
stone. They thought there must be a treasure hidden inside it.
In search of the treasure, they lit a fire around the stone.
When the stone was very hot, they poured cold water over it.
The difference in temperature broke the stone to pieces. There
was no hidden treasure. Clermont-Ganneau was able to buy the
pieces and they are now in possession of the Louvre museum.
The stele is now made of both original pieces and pieces made
out of plaster, according to the copy that had been made.
The material of the stone is basalt, 3½ feet long
by 2 feet wide. The language is Phoenician. The stone is dated
around 800 B.C. On this stone Mesha, king of Moab, relates
the story of his uprising against Israel. In order to better
understand the account, it should be mentioned that Chemosh
is the God whom he worshiped.
The stone reads:
“I am Mesha, son of Chemosh king
of Moab, the Daibonite. My father reigned over Moab for
thirty years, and I reigned after my father. And I made
this high-place for Chemosh in Kerekhoh a high-place of
salvation, because he had saved me from all assailants,
and because he had let me see my pleasure upon all them
that hated me. Omri was king of Israel and he afflicted
Moab for many days, for Chemosh was being angry with his
land. And his son succeeded him, and he also said, I will
afflict Moab. In my days said he thus, and I saw my pleasure
on him and his house. And Israel perished with an everlasting
destruction; now Omri had taken possession of the land
of Mehdeba. And it dwelt there in his days and half the
days of his son, forty years; and Chemosh restored it
in my days. And I built Baal Meon and I made in it the
reservoir, and I built Kiryathen. Now the men of Gad had
dwelt in the land of Ataroth from of old. And the king
of Israel built for himself Ataroth. And I warred against
the city and seized it. And I slew all the people of the
city, a gazing-stock to Chemosh and to Moab. And I captured
thence the altar-hearth of Daedoh and I dragged it before
Chemosh in Keriyyoth . And I settled there in to men of
Sheren and the men of Makharath. And Chemosh said unto
me, “Go, take Nebo against Israel”. And I
seized it, and slew by night and warred against it from
the break of dawn unto noon. And I seized it, and slew
all of it, 7,000 men and male sojourners and women and
female sojourners and maidens. For to Ashtor-Chemosh had
I devoted it. And I took thence the vessels of JHWH, and
I dragged them before Chemosh. Now the king of Israel
had built Jahas and dwelt in it, when he warred against
me. And Chemosh drove him out from me. And I took of Moab
200 men, all its chiefs. And I brought it against Jahas,
and seized it, to add it into Daibon. I built Kerekhoth,
the wall of the Woods and the wall of the Mound. And I
built its gates and I built its towers. And I built the
King’s house, and I made the two reservoirs of water
in the Midst of the city. Now there was no cistern in
the midst of all the city, in Kerekhoth, and I said to
all the people, make you every man a cistern in his house.
And I cut out the cutting of Kerekhoth with the prisoners
of Israel. And I built Aroer, and I made the highway by
the Arnon. I built Beth-Bamoth, for it was overthrown.
I built Beser for ruins had it become. And the chiefs
of Daibon were fifty, for all Daibon was obedient. And
I reigned over one hundred chiefs in the cities which
I added to the land. And I built Mehdeba and Beth-Diblathen.
And Beth-Baal-Meon. And I took thence the sheep-masters...
the sheep of the land. And as for Horonen, there dwelt
there in...And Chemosh said unto me, Go down, fight against
Horonen. And I went down...And Chemosh restored it in
Further than that the text is too damaged to translate.
In ancient Hebrew words were made up of
consonants separated by dots. A sentence was separated by two
vertical dots. One read from the right side to the left. The
language of the Moabite stone looks very much like Hebrew. This
is to be expected because the Moabites where descendants of
Abraham's nephew Lot.
As concerns the Divine Name, the right side of the stone
is very important. On the 18th line we see written 'YHWH'. The
Divine Name in the form of YHWH was well known too Mesha and
It is interesting that the Bible account
found in 2 Kings chapter 3 happened during the same time. Mesha
is even mentioned in verse 4: "And Mesha king of Moab was
a sheep-master, and he rendered to the king of Israel a hundred
thousand lambs, and a hundred thousand rams, [with] wool"
(Young's Literal translation).
To quote the book 'Het verhaal van de bijbel'
(translated: 'The story of the Bible') page 32-34 (published
by the Belgian Bible Society 1985): "In 2 Kings 3 it is
mentioned that an allied army from Israel, Judah and Edom enters
the land of Moab, when Mesha was uprising. According to this
story Moab was destroyed and Mesha was locked in a stronghold.
Only by sacrificing his son, could he prevent a total defeat".
The Biblical account is very different
with the report Mesha put on his stone.