The God Who Is In Dan


Dan Inscription


Dan Inscription Drawing

Discovered in 1976 at the royal bamah, this stone bearing an inscription incised in Greek and Aramaic confirms the identity of Tel Dan. The inscription, which dates to the first half of the second century BCE, contains three lines of Greek and one line of Aramaic. The Greek text proclaims that a man named Zoilos offered a vow “to the god who is in Dan.” The one line of Aramaic text is more puzzling, since a few letters are missing from the beginning and end of the line. Most probably, the line reads- “In Dan Zilas [the Aramaic version of Zoilos] made a vow to the god.” The inscription confirms that the royal bamah of Jeroboam’s time served as a sanctuary well into the Hellenistic period.

It was in Dan that Jeroboam set up a golden calf for worship, following Solomon’s death in the late 10th century (see 1 Kings 12 and 2 Kings 10-20). Although the Dan inscription dates from a much later period (3rd–2nd century B.C.), it perhaps goes back to an earlier tradition of idol worship or a special god of Dan at this site. The inscription mentioning Dan also places this site among the handful of sites whose identification has been confirmed by a written document found on the site. (Others are Gezer, Beth-Shean, Arad and Hazor; as to the last, see “American Tourist Returns ‘Hazor’ Tablet to Israel After 13 Years,” BAR 02-02).

Sacred Spaces, Avraham Biran, BAR 24-05, Sep-Oct 1998.

“David” Found at Dan, BAR 20-02, Mar-Apr 1994.

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