Prof. Itamar Singer has been kind enough (thanks Itamar!) to bring to me attention a very interesting article by C. Steitler (“The Biblical King Toi of Hamath and the Late Hittite State of ‘P/Walas(a)tin'”. Biblische Notizen 146 : 81-99) in which the author claims that one can identify the recently identified King Tatais, king of P/Walas(a)tin (from new inscriptions in Syria), with Toi, king of Hamath, mentioned in II Sam 8, 9-10; I Chr 18, 9-10.
This is the summary of the article as published:
“David’s alliance with Toi, king of Hamath (2Sam 8,9-10) can be anchored in the historical context of Syria. Recent archaeological and philological studies have demonstrated the continuity between the Hittite Great Empire and the late Hittite kingdom, P/Walas(a)tin, to which Hamath belonged. Based on historical and onomastic analyses, the biblical Toi should be identified with a king of P/Walas(a)tin, Taitas.”
Needless to say, if this is so, this is quite a sensational discovery, since this would provide the first extra-biblical textual evidence, seemingly contemporary with the reign of David, of a historical figure mentioned in the biblical narrative regarding David. If this withstands the scrutiny of the scholarly world, this may be of outstanding significance for giving historical basis for at least some of the biblical narratives relating to the early monarchy in Israel. Thus, if the Tel Dan stele demonstrated that the kingdom of Judah and its founder, David, were known in the mid-9th century, this evidence may provide evidence of the existence of a king mentioned in the Davidic cycle, who was previously unknown from any other extra-biblical sources.
Very interesting and of potential immense importance for the understanding of the early monarchy in Israel. Can’t wait to follow the opinions about this – I’m willing to bet that this won’t be accepted by all (but on the other hand, there were those who refused to accept the Dan Stele for many years…).