The Allied Expedition against Moab—Recent Discovery of “the Moabite Stone”—Lessons of its Inscription—The March through the Wilderness of Edom—Want of Water—Interview with Elisha—Divine Deliverance—Defeat of Moab and Advance of the Allies—The Siege of Kir-haraseth—Mesha offers up his Son—Withdrawal of the Allies
THE first public act of Elisha’s wider ministry is connected with an event of which the most strange and unlooked-for confirmation has been brought to light within the last few years. When in August, 1868, the Rev. F. Klein, of the Church Missionary Society, was traveling in Moab, his attention was directed by a friendly Sheik to a black basalt stone, about three feet ten inches in height, two feet in width, and fourteen and a half inches in thickness. The stone bore an inscription of thirty-four straight lines (about one and a quarter inches apart), which on learned investigation was found to be in the ancient Phoenician characters. The place where this memorial-stone, or column, was found was Diban, the ancient Dibon, the northern capital of Moab, north of the river Arnon. So far as can be judged from the shapeless mass of ruins (comp. Jeremiah 48:18) that cover the twin hills on which the ancient city had stood, surrounded by a wall, “it was quite within the old city walls; near what, we presume, was the gateway, close to where the road has crossed it.” 1Canon Tristram, The Land of Moab, p. 134. Whether it had originally stood there, is another and not easily answered question. 2Tristram, u.s.
Before referring to the important evidence derived from this discovery, we shall in a few sentences, give the melancholy history of this stone. It may teach us a lesson about “our unhappy divisions.” The unexpected discovery of this stone led, in the first place, to jealousies for its coveted possession among the European communities in Jerusalem. In the end, in their eagerness to make as much profit as was possible out of these contentions, the Arabs quarreled among themselves - and broke up the stone. Happily, most of the fragments have been secured, and some “squeezes” on paper had previously been taken, so that all the important parts of the inscription can be read, and have—with but slight variations—been interpreted by critics