Zev Radovan

Made of black basalt, the Mesha stela stood about 3 feet high before it was smashed following its discovery in 1868. (The darker areas in the photo are reconstructed.) The text of its 34-line inscription records the Moabite king Mesha’s victory over the Israelites in the ninth century B.C.E. As author Halpern notes, the stela also attests to permanent settlement in Moab in the mid-ninth century. On the other hand, Exodus 15, often called the Song of the Sea (or the Song of Miriam), does not characterize Moab as a permanently settled area. Exodus 15 must predate the time of Moab’s settlement, Halpern reasons, making it one of the very oldest parts of the Hebrew Bible.