Merneptah Stele

September 9, 2010

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.

Merneptah Stele. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

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:

http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/bolen357916.shtm

“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.”[i]


Editor, H. S. (2004; 2004). BAR 16:05 (Sep/Oct 1990). Biblical Archaeology Society.


Herodian Temple Inscription

April 1, 2010

Recent posts have featured biblically related artifacts from the Archaeology Museum at Istanbul. Yet another very important exhibit housed there is an inscription from the Herodian temple, (so called because of extensive renovations by Herod the Great, renovations which continued after his death). Stones with inscriptions (written in both Latin and Greek) such as this featured below were posted at regular intervals within the temple, to designate the point at which Gentiles could proceed no further:

Herodian Temple Inscription. Istanbul. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Thus far only one complete and two fragmentary copies (all in Greek) of this inscription have been discovered.  The inscription translates as follows:  “No foreigner is to enter within the balustrade and embankment around the sanctuary.  Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his death which follows.”

Visitors to the temple in Jesus’ day, and in Paul’s time, would have seen this stone and others like it. Paul in mind this separation of Jew and Gentile, symbolized by this inscription, when he wrote to the Ephesians, telling what a difference the Gospel had made.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation [emp. mine, L.M.], having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,  in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,  in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:14-22).

So the separation of Jew and Gentile no longer exists in Christ; Jew and Gentile are on an equal footing; both are sinners and must be reconciled unto God through the cross, in one body.  This is the temple referenced in our text; a building made of people, living stones, Jews and Gentiles who have come to the Lord for salvation.


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