Biblical Archaeology Review 25:1, January/February 1999

Has David Been Found in Egypt?

By Hershel Shanks

A leading Egyptologist has recently suggested that the name of the Biblical king David may appear in a tenth-century B.C.E. Egyptian inscription. If correct, this mention of David dates a hundred years earlier than the mention of the “House of David” in the now-famous stele from Tel Dan and fewer than 50 years after the great king’s death!

According to Egyptologist Kenneth A. Kitchen of the University of Liverpool, in England, “David” is the probable reading of one name in a hieroglyphic list carved on the exterior south wall of the great Temple of Amun in Karnak, Upper Egypt.1

This is the third possible mention of David in ancient inscriptions. The clearest reference is in the much-heralded Tel Dan inscription from the ninth century B.C.E., which refers to the “House of David” (bytdwd, or Beit David). Carved in Aramaic on what appears to be a victory stele celebrating the victory of an Aramean king over Judah and Israel, this inscription was found in 1993 by Israeli archaeologist Avraham Biran.2

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