Archaeologists working at Atarot, located in Jordan, recently uncovered a large cylinder shaped altar dated to the 9/8 the century BC. It was created by an ancient king of Moab, one of the dreaded enemies of Israel mentioned several times in the Old Testament.
Archaeologists believe the altar, found inside an ancient shrine, was used for burning incense. But as they deciphered the seven lines of script written on the altar, they discovered the oldest reference to the “Hebrews” outside the Bible.
The inscription is linked to a Biblical battle mentioned in 2 Kings 3. According to the Biblical record, Israel had conquered Moab and were forcing the country to pay an annual tribute to Israel.
However, when the Israeli King died (Ahab), the Moabite King decided to take advantage of the political instability to break free from Israel’s control by refusing to make the annual payment.
When that happened, the new Israeli King, Jehoram, contacted Judah’s King Jehoshaphat and an unnamed King of Edom to bring Moab to heel. If the King of Moab was able to regain some type of control of his country, it would undoubtedly pose a threat to everyone, so the two kings agreed to join Jehoram in the battle.
Initially, things went fine. The three armies quickly defeated King Mesha’s army and had him surrounded in his castle where he was hiding with the 700 men. It should have been a quick defeat, but something strange happened.
King Mesha took his oldest son up on the battlement walls and sacrificed him to a Moabite god.
What happened next was even stranger.
We are told at that moment a “great wrath” came upon the Israeli army, and they were forced to with draw.
This is a difficult passage to understand. Mesha was down to 700 men and was surrounded by three armies numbering thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of men.
The great wrath that Israel experienced certainly didn’t come from an army of 700 men hiding in a castle. Some speculated the Israeli army was so offended seeing a human sacrificed on the wall that they left. But if you are angered or offended would that be incentive to withdraw or would it cause you to obliterate your enemy.
But whatever happened, in the end Israel ultimately lost.
The newly found altar also confirms the accuracy of the Mesha stele discovered in 1868 and later destroyed, but not before they were able to get a paper-mache impression of it.
On this stele, King Mesha boasts how he defeated Israel with the help of their god. The stele read “Chemosh drove them out before me.” Chemosh was the national deity of Moab and Ammon, and the name is though to mean destroyer or subduer.
Additionally, this stele not only provided a reference to Jehovah, but also refers to the House of David and even names the Israeli King, Omride, who first subjugated Moab confirming the accuracy of the Biblical record.
The newly discovered altar describes what happened after Moab’s initial victory recorded in the Bible and on the Mesha stele, indicating that they were able to retake some territory previously seized by Israel including Atarot where the altar was discovered. Some speculate the shrine was actually dedicated to that victory.
Though we don’t know exactly what took place, I am convinced that satanic forces, not human, were unleashed on the Israeli army by Mesha’s sacrifice.
We know a similar thing happened a few decades earlier, when godly angels defended Israel and strangely the nation of Moab was involved in that altercation as well:
When King Jehoshaphat heard that there were three armies coming against him, he called on God and a prophetic word declared God would give Jehoshaphat the victory.
The next day, the king sent out the singers and worshipers before his army, and we are told that God set ambushes routing their enemies.
Again we are not exactly sure what happened, but it seems godly angels played a role in Israel’s victory.
We see a similar thing happening in King David’s battle with the Philistines, where David was told to watch for signs of angels marching in Israel’s defense in the rustling of the tree tops:
Is it possible, that evil spirits were unleashed on Israel’s army as they surrounded the Moabite castle. Though under spiritual attack all Israel needed to do was stand firm and resist (1 Peter 5:8-9).
- Newly deciphered Moabite inscription may be first use of written word ‘Hebrews’: Times of Israel
- Recently discovered Moabite Altar: Proof of Biblical battle in Kings: Breaking Israel News