The Mesha Stele, also known as the Moabite Stone is a black basalt stone. The inscription on it deals with Mesha, the king of Moab, from the 9th century BCE. It was discovered in 1868 at Dhiban [the biblical Diybon], the capital of Moab, what is now Jordan. The stone was broken up into many pieces and distributed to tribal leaders, which is why the text is broken in places. Most of the pieces were recovered and assembled. Thankfully, an impression was made by an archaeologist prior to its breaking. The Mesha Stele is considered one of the oldest inscriptions with the name YHWH in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One note about names in the translation, there are a few names that scholars do not know of from biblical texts or otherwise; these names are transliterated in capital letters.

 

 

Translation

 

I am Mesha, son of Kemosh, king of Moab, the Diyboniy. My father reigned over Moab 30 years, and I reigned after my father. And I made this high place for Kemosh in QRChH...because of deliverance of Mesha, for he saved me from all the ShLKN (?) and because he caused me to look on all my foes. Omriy [was] king of Yisrael, and he afflicted Moab many days, for Kemosh was angry with his land. And his son succeeded him, and he said, I will afflict Moab. In my days he said so, and I looked on him and his house. And Yisrael perished utterly forever. And Omriy possessed the land of Mehedeba. And he dwelt in her, his days and half the days of his sons, 40 years. And Kemosh restored it in my days. And I built Baalmeon, and I made a reservoir in it, and I built Qiryathin. And the men of Gad dwelt in the land of Ataroth from forever. And the king of Yisrael built Ataroth. And I fought against the city and took it. And I slew all the people [from] the city, RYTh (?) to Kemosh and to Moab. And I brought from there the arel [hero, lion] of DWDH [DWD is Dawid (David)], and I dragged it before Kemosh in Qiriyyoth. And I settled in it the men of ShRN and the men of MChRTh. And Kemosh said to me, Go, take Nebo against Yisrael. And I went by night and fought against it from the dawn to the noon. And I took it and slew all of it, 7,000 men, boys, women, girls, and pregnant women, for I had devoted it to Ashthar Kemosh. And I took to me YHWH, and I dragged them before the face of Kemosh. And the king of Yisrael had built Yahats, and dwelt in it while he fought against me. And Kemosh drove him out from before me and I took from Moab two hundred men, all the chiefs there, and I brought them up against Yahats and I took it to add to Diybon. I built QRChH, the wall of the woods and the wall of the acropolis. And I built the gates, and I built the towers. And I built the house of the king, and I made the two reservoirs for water in the middle of the city. And a well there was none in the middle of the city, in QRChH. And I said to all the people, Make to you, every man, a well in his house. And I cut from the cutting for QRChH by prisoners of Yisrael. I built Aroer, and I made the high road by the Arnon. I built Beth Bamoth, for it was destroyed and I built Betser, for [it was] ruins. [And the me]n of Diybon were fifty, for all Dibon was obedient. And I reigned hundred of cities which I added to the land. And I built [the house of Mahede]ba and Beth Diblathin and Beth Baalmeon. And I established there ... the sheep of the land. And Choronin there dwelled ... and Kemosh said to me, Go down. Fight against Horonin. And I went down, and ...And Kemosh [resto]red it in my days. And ... from there....

 

 

 

For those of you comparing this translation with others online, you will probably notice that I did not translate anything about altar or vessels of YHWH, which Mesha states that he took. That is because there is no word prior or after about vessels.

 

 

 

 

Biblical Account of Mesha

 

Below is the biblical account of Mesha, king of Moab. In the stele, the king of Yisrael mentioned is Omriy, who controls the land of Moab and during half the days of his sons, which takes us into the time of Achab. In the biblical accounts, when Achab ben Omriy [Ahab son of Omriy] dies, Mesha revolts from the control of Yisrael, under Yahuram, and no longer pays tribute.

 

 

II Melekiym [Kings] 3:4-27, and mesha the king of moab was a sheepmaster. and he paid a hundred thousand lambs to the king of yisrael and a hundred thousand rams with wool. 5 and it happened when achab [ahab, whose father was omriy] died, the king of moab rebelled against the king of yisrael. 6 and king yahuram [jehoram] went out in that day from shomron [samaria], and called up all yisrael. 7 and he went and sent to yahushafat [jehoshaphat] the king of yahudah [judah], saying, the king of moab has rebelled against me. will you go with me to moab to battle? and he said, i will go up. i am as you; my people as your people; my horses as your horses. 8 and he said, which way will we go up? and he answered, the way through the wilderness of edom. 9 and the king of yisrael went, and the king of yahudah, and the king of edom. and they made a circuit of seven days' journey. and there was no water for the army, and for the livestock that were at their feet. 10 and the king of yisrael said, woe, that YHWH has called these three kings to deliver them into the hand of moab. 11 and yahushafat said, is there not here a prophet of YHWH, that we may inquire of YHWH by him? and one of the servants of the king of yisrael answered and said, here is eliysha` ben shafat [elisha son of shaphat], who poured water on the hands of eliyahu [elijah]. 12 and yahushafat said, the word of YHWH is with him. and the king of yisrael, and yahushafat, and the king of edom went down to him. 13 and eliysha` said to the king of yisrael, what have i to do with you? go to the prophets of your father, and to the prophets of your mother. and the king of yisrael said to him, no, for YHWH has called these three kings in order to give them into the hand of moab. 14 and eliysha` said, as YHWH of hosts lives, before whom i stand, surely, if i did not regard the face of yahushafat the king of yahudah i would not look toward you, nor see you. 15 and now, bring a minstrel to me. and it happened when the minstrel played, the hand of YHWH was on him. 16 and he said, so says YHWH, make this valley full of ditches. 17 for so says YHWH, you will not see wind nor will you see rain. yet that stream bed will be filled with water, so that you may drink, both you and your livestock, and your animals. 18 but this is a light thing in the eyes of YHWH; he also has given moab into your hand. 19 and you will strike every fortified city, and every choice city. and you will fell every good tree, and you will stop all the fountains of water. and you will mar every good lot with stones. 20 and it happened in the morning, when the food offering was caused to go up, look, water came by the way of edom; and the country was filled with water. 21 and all moab had heard that the kings had come up to fight against them. and they were called together, everyone able to gird on a girdle, and upward. and they stood by the border. 22 and they rose up early in the morning. and the sun was shining on the water, and the moab saw the water on the opposite side as red as blood. 23 and they said, this is blood. the kings fighting have fought one another, and they each man struck his neighbor. and now to the plunder, moab. 24 and they came to the camp of yisrael. and yisrael rose up and struck moab. and they fled from before them. and striking they struck moab. 25 and they broke down the cities; and they each man cast his stone on every good piece of land, and filled it. and they stopped every fountain of water. and they felled every good tree, until there was left only qiyr charaseth [kir haresheth] with its stones. but the slingers surrounded it and struck it. 26 and when the king of moab saw that the battle was too strong for him, then he took with him seven hundred men who drew swords to break through to the king of edom. and they were not able. 27 and he took his son, the firstborn who would reign in his place and caused him to go up for a burnt offering on the wall. and there was great wrath against yisrael. and they left him and returned to the land.

 

 

 Kathryn QannaYahu