Charles Clermont-Ganneau and the Moabite Stone

Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau was born in France, on February 19, 1846 and became a member of the French Diplomatic Corps.

A skilled translator, Clermont-Ganneau became Professor of Oriental Languages including Hebrew and ancient Aramaic. He took specific interest in the archaeological evidence for Bible history. In 1873-74 he engaged in archaeological investigations in Palestine, especially around Jerusalem. He sought to link the names of Arab villages with the Bible names of towns. He also excavated tombs, studying ossuaries (burial coffins) used from the time of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. He found many New Testament names and also the symbol of the cross on some ossuaries.

Clermont-Ganneau is best remembered, however, for his translation of the Moabite Stone. That story commences in 1868 when a German medical missionary named Klein discovered an inscribed stone “four feet high, two feet wide and 14 inches thick” in the village of Dhibon (This is the Bible town of Dibon cited in Joshua 13:9), in Moab. Recognising the value of this Mesha Stele, although unable to decipher the writing, Klein offered to purchase the stone. But the German Consul also heard of the find and wanted to buy it.

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Then the young Frenchman, Charles Clermont-Gammeau, hired a local Arab to go and examine the stone. The poor copy of the inscription this fellow brought back was enough to convince Clermont-Gammeau of the stone’s historical value. Next he sent Ya’qub Karavaca, an Arab, and two companions to make a ‘squeeze’ of the inscription, by pressing wet paper on the stone and peeling it off when it was dry.

But the Bedouins who owned the stone caused trouble. A fight broke out.

“One of Karavaca’s companions was speared in the leg, but the other, as he fled, snatched the still wet squeeze off the stone and stuffed it inside his tunic…” (Diggings, January, 1995).

Suffice to say it is to Clermont-Gammeau we are indebted for the ‘Moabite Stone’, which is dated from about 850BC and now in the Louvre Museum in Paris –and the translation that speaks of Mesha, king of Moab rebelling against Omri, King of Israel … just as the Bible says it did! (II Kings 3:4-5).

Once again the spade had vindicated the Book of books.

Clermont-Gammeau continued to have a significant role in archaeological investigation, including the ossuaries mentioned earlier. He also functioned as the most reliable authority on antiquities following the discovery of the Moabite Stone.

A Jerusalem antiquities dealer, Moses Shapira, tried to cash in on the Moabite excitement, producing a multitude of fake Moabite artefacts including clay figurines, large human heads and clay vessels. He had them inscribed with texts copied from the Mesha Stele. The Germans, stung by missing out on the Moabite Stone, bought 1700 of Shapira’s artefacts for the Berlin Museum.

Clermont-Gammeau was convinced the pieces were forgeries and was able to expose the modern manufacture of the pieces.

Then in 1883 Shapira presented fragments of supposedly ancient parchment claimed to come from near the Dead Sea. Clermont-Gammeau not only suspected forgery but was able to show how Shapira had taken the fake strips from a Deuteronomy scroll he had previously sold to the British Museum. Shapira’s attempted sale for a million pounds fell through and he later shot himself.

Clermont-Gammeau died on February 15, 1923, just days before his 77th birthday.

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at:

Marriage Counselling

When I give Marriage Counselling advice to couples or Marriage Counsellors there are a few basics which I always cover. Let me share them with you.

Marriage brings two different people together to establish a working relationship. When the marriage relationship breaks down, people feel hurt, betrayed, unloved, insecure, fearful, angry, bitter, or a range of other emotions. Those emotions not only challenge the marriage but they also tap issues from the background of the couple. Having a sense for this interplay empowers marriage counseling to be more effective.

The Individual

Marriage brings two individuals together for a mutually rewarding relationship. Who they each are, as individuals, affects what they can achieve as a couple. An unstable person will hardly be able to build a stable relationship. A fearful person will not be able to build a trusting relationship. An angry person will not be able to build a loving relationship.

So, before a marriage counselor becomes too distracted with the relationship issues they are wise to consider the individual qualities of the husband and wife. The weaknesses, attitudes, past experience and personal skills of each spouse will impede or assist the building of a strong relationship.

Individual Complexity

People are complex, so the range of personal issues they carry could be quite extensive. A wise counsellor seeks to uncover those things which are most relevant to the person’s ability to enter into and maintain a strong marriage relationship. Issues of trust, forgiveness, correct view of marriage and relationship, willingness to change, flexibility, selfishness and fear might be among the relevant matters to uncover.

People’s behaviour is often crafted by their reactions to past experience. For example, a person who has suffered injustice will tend to be very sensitive about justice issues. A person who has been denied loving acceptance may idolise the input of their spouse and feel let down when the spouse does not meet their idealised expectations. A person who has been spoiled may find it hard to give up their will to fit in with their spouse. I refer to this individual complexity as the “baggage” which the couple brings along on their honeymoon and into their marriage. Most often the person does not know their own baggage, since it seems normal to them. Their spouse is most likely completely oblivious to this baggage.

In time this baggage will trip up the marriage relationship. These hidden things will become obvious, over time, and they will prompt a new set of problems as each spouse reacts to the issues for better or for worse. The joke goes, “Love is blind, but Marriage is an Eye-Opener!” And that’s true. Relationship brings to light the hidden things. How skilled the couple are in dealing with those revelations will impact where their marriage goes.

Relationship Skills

Because marriage is a relationship it is vital that each person has good relationship skills. If one has good skills they can save the marriage from much trouble, but it is better if both work together than that one exploit the strengths of the other.

Relationship skills are not so much ‘skills’ as attitudes. Selfish attitudes are contrary to the spirit of relationship. Inflexibility makes demands on the other party in a relationship. Unforgiveness is a cruelty which violates relationship. Independence is contrary to relationship. Stubbornness is a road-block to relationship. Self assertiveness violates others. Pride is an offence to others. Self-determination is contrary to the spirit of cooperation.

People with the wrong attitudes have the wrong skills. Yet some people need to be trained in the practical expression of good relationship skills. Listening, caring, cooperating, sharing, committing time for each other, fitting in with the other’s plans, negotiating equitably, repenting, forgiving, adapting, standing firm on moral principles and being consistent are practices which may have to be learned and practiced by today’s dysfunctional society.

Proper Modelling

When a couple does not know what they are trying to build they will have less success than they could otherwise have. A clear understanding of the godly model for marriage, as I present in my books, Marriage Horizons and Mending Marriages, empowers a couple to build the most stable and effective kind of relationship. A good counsellor is attentive to the concept of marriage the couple are working with. If it is flawed then the couple needs to be instructed and directed toward the model of marriage that actually works and works most effectively.

God’s Grace

Humans are limited creatures and they don’t have the ability to save themselves. Even the best possible help from the most skilled Marriage Counsellor is not enough. Each person and each couple needs to have the grace of God released into their lives and relationships.

Good Marriage Counseling releases God’s grace into each individual spouse. That’s why Christian Marriage Counselling is so very important in the lives of couples who need help. Secular assistance can give good advice and sound wisdom, but it cannot release God’s divine touch into the lives of the couple.

If a couple cannot access Christian Marriage Counselling then they should find a Bible-believing church where they can get prayer and ministry to release God’s grace into their personal lives and into their marriage relationship.

Un-Charming Prince – Forgiven

This is yet another instalment in the investigation of how to deal with the ugly reality most marriages confront, of the husband or wife not being what we want them to be. Susan and I have both experienced this in our marriage and I have spoken to many men and women who have their own story to tell of this phenomenon. At some point in most relationships we come to realise that the other person is less than we hoped and thought them to be. They may prove to have qualities far below what we expected.

I believe that the most powerful Repair Mechanism in marriage is forgiveness. So let me tell you about my own experience of having to forgive Susan. When she proved to be a Tainted Cinderella I struggled, but eventually resolved the situation by applying forgiveness. I think this experience will be instructive and helpful.

In the early years of my marriage to Susan, which took place almost 35 years ago, I was surprised to find that she was not the ideal wife I had expected. I did not realise I had specific expectations until they were not fulfilled. I simply thought that Susan would have the same ideas of marriage as me and would naturally do the things I thought she would. I was mistaken. Susan had her own ideas and her own determination to be and do what she thought was best. When I suggested she do things my way or fit in with my expectations she showed that she had no inclination to do so. She could tell me why her ideas were better and why mine should be rejected.

I don’t recall the detail of a lot of this now; since it was three decades ago and we have worked through many things since then. I do know that I found myself so bewildered and hurt by what Susan turned out to be that I would cry silent tears into my pillow. One day at church my pastor prophesied as he prayed for me and he said, on the Lord’s behalf, “I know the tears you shed at night”. That was an amazing prophetic revelation. I had told no-one of my situation and inner pain. I feared for a while that Susan would ask me about the tears. I didn’t want to tell her that she made me cry.

The problem was resolved very simply. I finally realised that I was despising Susan for being ‘Susan’. OK, she wasn’t the person I thought she was. She wasn’t the person I thought I was marrying. But I did marry Susan. Susan was my bride. I was rejecting and despising her for being ‘Susan’, because I wanted her to be someone else. I wanted a warm and devoted wife whose whole focus was to please me. I even coined the term, ‘Country Kitchen Mum’, to describe the idea of a loving woman who made you feel special and who made you the focus of her life. Susan was not a Country Kitchen Mum.

I finally came to the place, without me ever discussing it with Susan, of forgiving her for being ‘Susan’. I told God that I forgave Susan for not being the woman I wanted her to be. I committed myself to be Susan’s husband, to love her unconditionally, even though she was not the bride I thought I was marrying. I guess I felt a bit like Jacob must have felt being married off to a different person to the one he thought he was marrying.

Once I forgave Susan for being Susan something wonderful happened in my heart. It seemed that my fantasy ideas about the ideal wife I wanted Susan to be just evaporated and all the disappointment and hurt feelings I felt evaporated with them. I found myself on a journey of discovery, to build a very real relationship with a very real person; my wife Susan. At first I had been building a fantasy relationship with a person who did not exist. My season of struggle with the Tainted Cinderella was a vital step toward removing the fantasy notions.

Please note that it is possible for the dream to die and for bitterness and resentment to grow instead. If I had not forgiven Susan for being Susan I could have spent the rest of my life resenting Susan for being Susan. So the journey from the Honeymoon Phase to the Happy Reality Phase requires God’s grace, not just realisation. Forgiveness is the very powerful Repair Mechanism in marriage. Never hold back from using it. And the internal transformation you can enjoy will often surprise you.

This is part of a series of posts on the theme of the Un-Charming Prince:

Extra Baggage on Your Honeymoon

Is your wife addicted to buying shoes?

At a recent Valentines Day session I presented to married couples from the Philippines, one wife admitted she has a weakness for buying shoes. I called it the “Imelda Marcos Anointing”, after the wife of Philippines President Marcos, famous for her many shoes. A huge shoe collection, however, is not the worst of what people bring into their marriage. Often far more subtle things have more profound impact.

At a recent Parenting Course a pastor confided that one of his members had recently wed and has married badly. The couple were both very talented and seemed to work well together in the area of their skills. That fact gave them confidence their marriage would work well. One of them, however, brought unexpected baggage into the marriage. Past drug taking and unwise lifestyle choices had taken a large toll, and the person was not yet properly restored in their inner life. Their ability to perform well in areas of their talent did not mean they could perform well in responsibility, commitment, and the challenges of married life.

Each person entering marriage brings their hopes, fears, expectations, pre-conceived ideas, family programming, attitudes, values, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and pain on the Honeymoon and into the marriage. Some of those things are not even understood by the people themselves, let alone by their spouse.

However, God designed marriage to be robust enough to survive these surprises. Proper respect for God, faith in God, humility before God, godly character, godly wisdom, application of God’s grace, willingness to put “self” aside, and the application of Biblical principles empower people to work through the unexpected baggage.

I encourage you to recognise the baggage which you and your spouse brought into the marriage. It’s no use ignoring it or pretending it isn’t there.

Then seek godly wisdom for dealing with each thing. Fears can be dealt with through God’s love, since “perfect love casts out fear”. Pride can be dealt with by humbling yourself. Pain can be dealt with by letting God heal the broken heart and bind up the wounds.

Understanding that baggage exists and what your baggage is does not bring fear, but gives direction to your spiritual journey as you work through the challenges, with God’s wisdom and grace.

If you are facing challenges in these areas and would like some additional input, email our team to see what we would suggest in your situation.

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