ISRAEL - 3,000-Year-Old Tablet Identifies Biblical King Balak

Arno Froese

The study of an ancient tablet that dates back nearly 3,000 years suggests that the biblical King Balak may have been an actual historical figure.

Published in Tel Aviv: The Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, the study looks at the Mesha Stele and makes the determination that after looking at new photos of the cracked tablet, Balak existed, though the researchers are not 100 percent certain of it.

“It is now clear that there are three consonants in the name of the monarch mentioned there, and that the first is a beth. We cautiously propose that the name on Line 31 be read as Balak, the king of Moab referred to in the Balaam story in Numbers 22–24,” the researchers wrote.

The Mesha Stele, which is also known as the Moabite Stone, is an inscribed tablet that dates back to 840 B.C. and was discovered in 1868 by researcher Frederick Augustus Klein.

It had previously been theorized that Line 31 was a reference to the House of David. However, the researchers, led by the study’s lead author, Israel Finkelstein, believe the letter “B” is there and it is not a reference to “beth,” the Hebrew word for “house,” but rather Balak.

Although the study’s authors, Finkelstein, Nadav Na’aman and Thomas Römer, have theorized that Balak may have been an actual person, their “proposal is very tentative,” Ronald Hendel, a professor of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, told Live Science. Hendel was not involved in the study.

The researchers have acknowledged this discrepancy, with Finkelstein telling Live Science: “[T]he study shows how a story in the Bible may include layers (memories) from different periods which were woven together by later authors into a story aimed to advance their ideology and theology. It also shows that the question of historicity in the Bible cannot be answered in a simplistic ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.”

Researchers have attempted to reconstruct the tablet, which was smashed after a dispute between its previous owners, Bedouins, and a group that was attempting to purchase the stone, Live Science adds, but time and destruction have made it hard to read. It’s now housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

-www.foxnews.com, 2 May 2019

Arno's commentary

Quite surprisingly, it is the heathen prophet, Balaam, who reveals Israel’s position among the nations of the world. In Numbers 23:9, he proclaims the coming of the Lord and that Israel is separate from all nations of the world: “For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.”

But there is more: this heathen prophet reveals to the world how Israel should be viewed: “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them…Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!” (Numbers 23:21, 23). That describes a virtually perfect nation; it is Israel’s position from God’s perspective.

Yet other verses clearly show Israel’s stubborn disobedience. Exodus 32:9: “And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people”; or, Numbers 14:22: “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice.”

What is the lesson? God protects His people, calls them His own; and we—that is, the world—should not interfere, much less judge the nation. That is the message of Balaam to the nations.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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