Merneptah, son of Rameses II, ruled Egypt 1213-1203 B.C. The Merneptah Stele is an inscription of great archaeological and biblical importance. It contains the first mention of Israel in a source besides the Bible.
The stele was discovered in 1896 at Thebes. It is 7.5 feet high, and made of black granite. It is displayed now in the Egyptian Museum at Cairo. The inscription includes the lines:
“The princes, prostrated, say ‘Shalom’;
None raises his head among the Nine Bows.
Now that Tehenu has come to ruin, Hatti is pacified.
Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe. Ashkelon has been overcome.
Gezer has been captured.
Yano‘am was made non-existent.
Israel is laid waste (and) his seed is not.
Hurru has become a widow because of Egypt.
All lands have united themselves in peace.
Anyone who was restless, he has been subdued by the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ba-en-Re-mery-Amun, son of Re, Mer-en-Ptah Hotep-her-Ma‘at, granted life like Re, daily. (BAR 16:05, Sept/Oct 1990).
Note: italics are supplied to emphasize the portion of the inscription that references the area of Canaan and Israel.
The date of this inscription would be about 1207 B.C. By that point in time, Israel was established in the land of Canaan to such an extent that it would be included in a listing of nations defeated by the world’s most powerful monarch.
Many “scholars” deny that Israel even existed as a nation by this point in time, but the inscription proves them to be wrong.
For further reading I recommend Todd Bolen’s article in The Bible and Interpretation. He wrote on his blog, “I thank God every day for the Merneptah Stele.” Go to: