Digging Ditches in the Desert
The mid-1800s was a time of great archaeological investigation and discovery. At that time, amateur explorers and archaeologists were scouring the middle east for evidence proving the Bible’s historical accuracy. Frederick Augustus Klein, an Anglican missionary, was serving at the site of ancient Dibon (on the eastern side of the Dead Sea). A local Arab Bedouin man had told Klein about an ancient stone inscription, and Klein found the stone lying in the ruins of the city. The stone was very well preserved, about 4’ long and 2’ wide, with 34 lines of Moabite text. Klein didn’t think much of the find, but he reported it to a local official. A bit later, a French archaeologist in Jerusalem heard about the stone and commissioned a “squeeze” (a papier-mâché impression) of it. Once news of the find got out, officials from France, Britain, and Germany sought to acquire the piece.
The stone at this time was under the control of a local Bedouin tribe. As pressure mounted for them to hand over the stone to the Europeans, they decided to destroy it. They heated it up in a bonfire, threw cold water upon it, broke it to pieces, and distributed the pieces among themselves. After that, the “squeeze” or impression they had previously made became very important. The French archaeologist later managed to acquire the fragments of the stone and piece them together thanks to the impression made before the stone’s destruction.
Today the stone, now called the Moabite Stone/Mesha Stele, is on display in the Louvre museum in Paris. And the reason I’m talking about it today is that the contents of that engraving follows the Scriptural account from 2 Kings 3 fairly closely. It mentions the Moabite king, Mesha, Israel and king Omri (Ahab’s father and Jehoram’s grandfather), the Moabite false god Chemosh, and even the God of Israel, Yahweh. (see the back of the outline for a pix and map)
Although the Moabite Stone is a valuable historical artifact, we didn’t really need it to verify what the Bible tells us in 2 Kings 3. Even though this is an ancient text, it still has practical things to teach us today.