The Mesha Stele

“Like a lucky actress or singer, it took us by storm.  Not in the universities only, but in the metropolis — not in learned circles merely, but in fashionable ones — it was the topic of the day.  Politicians, lawyers, statists, men of business, nay ladies — ladies, moreover, never previously suspected of having in their mental colouring the faintest tint of blue — talked of it, discussed it, argued about it, expressed opinions as to its age and its contents, and smiled if they met with any one who confessed to complete ignorance on the subject.” (Rawlinson, 1870, on “The Moabite Stone”)

The Mesha Stele (also called the Moabite Inscription) attracted enormous attention after an Anglican missionary in modern Jordan saw it in 1868.  England, France, and Prussia all fought to buy it from its Bedouin owners, and when the Ottoman Empire began to interfere, the Bedouin broke it into fragments and hid them, rather than hand it over.  When the inscription was deciphered, thanks to a copied impression of the stone and the recovery of some fragments, it proved hugely important to the field of biblical studies.

Moab was one of Israel’s closest neighbors, and King Mesha himself, subject of the inscription, appears in the Hebrew Bible.  The Mesha Inscription thus both supported the Bible’s historicity and diminished its uniqueness.  Like the Israelite god YHWH, Kemosh watched over Moab as his special nation, and their military success was based on his favor or displeasure.  Like the biblical histories, King Mesha’s account of his triumphs serves as propaganda, using a bit of creative license and hyperbole to achieve a positive spin.

I am Mesha [1], son of Kemoshyat, king of Moab, the Daibonite.
My father ruled over Moab for thirty years.

But then I ruled after my father.
I made this shrine [2] for Kemosh in Qarḥoh.
(It is) a shr[ine of deli]verance, [3]
       because he delivered me from every king (?),
       and because he raised me above all my enemies. [4]

Omri was the king of Israel,
       and he oppressed Moab for a long time,
       because Kemosh was angry at his nation.
Then his son succeeded him,
       and he declared, “I will oppress Moab,” too.
He said that during my reign,
but I rose above him and his family.
Israel was destroyed — completely destroyed! —
even though Omri had conquered the land as far as Mehadaba.
He stayed there through his reign and half his son’s reign,
       forty years,
       but Kemosh returned it during my reign.

I built Baalmaon,
       and I made a reservoir in it,
       and I built Qiryaten.

The population of Gad had always lived in the nation of Aṭarot,
       and the king of Israel had built up Aṭarot.
But I attacked the city and seized it.
I killed the city’s entire population as tribute (?) for Kemosh and Moab;
I plundered the altar of its patron god [5],
       and I relocated it (to be) before Kemosh in Qiryat.
I settled the populations of Sharon and Maḥarat in (Aṭarot).

Kemosh then said to me, “Go and seize Nabo from Israel.”
So I went out at night, and I fought with them
       from the break of dawn until past noon.
I seized it, and I killed everyone —
       seven thousand male citizens, male immigrants,
       female citizens, female immigrants, and fertile girls — [6]
because I had devoted them to destruction for Ashtar-Kemosh. [7]
Then I took the vessels of YHWH from there,
       and I relocated them (to be) before Kemosh.

The king of Israel had built Yahaṣ,
       and he stayed there while he was fighting with me.
But Kemosh drove him out for me.
I took two hundred men from Moab — their entire unit.
I brought (the unit) up to Yahaṣ,
       and I seized it to enrich Daibon.

I am the one who built up Qarḥoh, [8]
       the garden’s walls and the citadel’s walls.
I am the one who built its gates,
       and I am the one who built its towers.
I am the one who built the palace,
       and I am the one who made the retaining walls of the reservoir
       for the spring in the city center.
(There had been no cistern in the city center of Qarḥoh,
       so I told all the people,
       “Each household should make their own cistern.”)
I am the one who dug ditches for Qarḥoh,
       using the captives from Israel.
I am the one who built Aro’er,
       and I am the one who made the road by the Arnon River,
       and I am the one who built up Bet Bamot after it was destroyed.
I am the one who built Beṣer back from rubble,
       using the population of Daibon —
       for everyone in Daibon obeyed me.
I am the one who ruled over hundreds
       in the cities I added to the nation.
I am the one who built Mehadaba, Bet Diblaten, and Bet Baalmaon,
       and I brought up there the l[ambs? …]
       […] sheep (?) of the nation.

(As for) Ḥawronen, the House of David had lived in [it …]
Then Kemosh told me, “Go out to fight Hawronen.”
So I went out and [attacked the city, and I seized it,
       and it was restored by] Kemosh during my reign.

[The remaining couple of lines are very fragmentary.]

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British Non-Regulation Officer’s Sword with Presentation Inscription

A Presentation Cavalry Officer’s Sword

83.5cm slightly curved unfullered blade double edged towards the point, proved by Wilkinson, Pall Mall, and etched with presentation inscription within two scrolls, regulation steel honeysuckle hilt, with squared wire bound fish skin covered grip, with leather finger loop at the base, in its leather scabbard with large steel chape, and complete with sword knot of leather strap and acorn, old calling card of Lady Rawlinson attached states ‘Sabre worn when in command of Methuen’s Horse, Bechuana Land, 1884/5.


The inscription reads: Paul Methuen from George Chapman.
Paul Sanford, Third Baron, Methuen was born in 1849 and entered the Scots Fusilier Guards in 1864. He served in the Ashanti Expedition and was present at the battle o f Amoaful. From 1878-1881 he was Military Attache in Berlin. In 1882 he went to Egypt, and was present at Tel-El-Kabir (M.I.D). In 1884/5 he commanded the 1st Mounted Rifles in Bechuana Land. He held the rank of Lieutenant General, when given command of the 1st Division at the start of the Boer War, and was the only British General to be captured by the enemy. He attained the rank of Field Marshal in 1911, and died in 1932. Sold with further research including details of his march to Modder River during the Boer War, and copies of photographs of Methuen.

October 15, 1916 - The Somme: British Hold Schwaben Redoubt against German Counter-Attacks, Weather Worsens

Pictured - British machine-gunners pause for a quick lunch in a shallow trench, their weapons ready in case of a German attack.

After capturing the Schwaben Redoubt on October 14, the 39th Division was forced to hold it against constant, desperate German counter-attacks the next week.  German soldiers attacked with flamethrowers on the 15th, but Royal Flying Corps observation planes overhead relayed target coordinates back to the artillery, which smashed up successive German assaults, demonstrating the prowess the British had gained in the last few months of battle on the Somme.

Pleasant summer weather had turned by October into a week of rain, transforming the Somme battlefield into a sludgy mess. General Rawlinson wrote in his diary that day about the weather, which he hoped would not prevent him from dealing a few more blows to the Germans while they had them on the back foot:

“The bad weather which has forced us to slow down has given the Boche a breather. His artillery is better organized, and his infantry is fighting with greater tenacity, but deserters continue to come in; and, the more we bombard, the more prisoners and deserters we shall get. I should like to be more or less aggressive all winter, but we must not take the edge off next year.” Over the next week the British would take another 1,000 German prisoners.