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Ancient Shiloh

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Places of Interest





1. Shiloh is about 20 miles (32 km.) north of Jerusalem on Hwy. 60. 


2. It was on a major north-south travel route that linked Beersheba in the south to Shechem and the northern cities of Israel.


3. Shiloh was located on a hilltop which made it defensible.


4. It had hills surrounding it, so when the nation gathered at Shiloh for feasts, they could camp around it and partake of the events. As a result, many pieces of pottery have been found on the hills around Shiloh.


5. Tel Shiloh is at an archaeological park called "Ancient Shiloh," located at the entrance to modern-day Shiloh.


6. Shiloh was in the hill country of Samaria within the tribal allotment of Ephraim.


7. It was likely chosen as the capital and military base of Israel due to its central location within the country.


Historical Background


1. Shiloh was the religious and military capital of Israel during the times of the Judges, and the tabernacle resided here for 369 years.


2. It was the first place where the tabernacle became a permanent structure.


3. Two million Jews would gather at Shiloh on the main festivals and would camp on the surrounding hills.


4. The Ark of the Covenant resided here within the tabernacle. The ark contained the following 3 items:


  • Tablets of the 10 Commandments.


  • Aaron’s staff, or rod that budded.


  • Jar of Manna


5. During the Byzantine Period, at least three churches were built to commemorate Shiloh.


6. The first Byzantine church dates to around 386 AD. It is likely this church was built over the ruins of an ancient synagogue. 


On the mosaic floor at the entrance of this church is an impressive inscription stating: “Lord Jesus Christ, have pity on Shiloh and its inhabitants. Amen.” This is one of the ways we know this place is the authentic Shiloh.

7. On top of the first Byzantine church, a reconstructed 6th-century Byzantine church was built.

8. Southeast of the northern churches, there is another 6th-century Byzantine church called the Basilica Church. 


A Danish team in the 1930s added the building over the southeastern 6th-century Byzantine church base seen today.

9. A Mosque was built on the west side of the ruins of the first two 4th-century Byzantine churches and named Jamia el Arbain.


Places of Interest


1. Oil Press

2. Building with Hologram of the tabernacle 


3. Southeastern 6th-century Byzantine church (Basilica Church)


4. Northern 4th and 6th-century Byzantine Church Ruins (The 4th-century church contains the inscription with the name "Shiloh.")

5. Ruins of the mosque built on the west side of the northern 4th and 6th-century Byzantine Church Ruins

6. Stone of four-horned altar

7. Baptistry

6. Visitor Tower

7. Tabernacle Location

8. Cisterns

9. Storerooms

10. Canaanite Wall

11. Winepress


Shiloh In the Bible


1. During the conquest of the Promised Land (7-year period), the Tabernacle resided principally at Gilgal (Josh. 4:19–24).


2. After the conquest of the land was basically complete, the Tabernacle was set up in Shiloh, where it would reside for 369 years.
oshua 18:1: Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them.


3. At Shiloh, lots were cast to divide the land among the 7 tribes who had not yet received their inheritance on the west side of the Jordan River. Ruben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had already received their portion on the east side of the Jordan, and Judah and Joseph had already received theirs on the west side.
Joshua 18:2–3: There remained among the people of Israel seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. 3 So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?


Joshua 18:8–10: So the men arose and went, and Joshua charged those who went to write the description of the land, saying, “Go up and down in the land and write a description and return to me. And I will cast lots for you here before the Lord in Shiloh.” 9 So the men went and passed up and down in the land and wrote in a book a description of it by towns in seven divisions. Then they came to Joshua to the camp at Shiloh, 10 and Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord. And there Joshua apportioned the land to the people of Israel, to each his portion.


4. From Shiloh, Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh departed for their homes east of the Jordan River.
Joshua 22:9: So the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned home, parting from the people of Israel at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, their own land of which they had possessed themselves by command of the LORD through Moses.


5. After departing from Shiloh to return home, the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar at the Jordan River. The rest of the tribes misunderstood their purpose for the altar and met at Shiloh to go and fight against them.
Joshua 22:12: And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.


The intent of the 2 ½ tribes was to erect an altar as a witness to future generations that they were part of the 9 ½ tribes on the west side of the Jordan River. When the 9 ½ tribes understood their purpose, they returned home in peace.


6. During a dark time in the book of Judges, the Benjamite tribe was almost wiped out by the other tribes of Israel because of their severe disobedience to God. In order to revive the population of Benjamin, wives were provided for them at Shiloh.
Judges 21:19–21: So they said, “Behold, there is the yearly feast of the Lord at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.” 20 And they commanded the people of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in ambush in the vineyards 21 and watch. If the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and snatch each man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.


7. At Shiloh, Hannah prayed for a son. God heard her prayers and blessed her with Samuel.
1 Samuel 1:3–5: Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah, he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.


1 Samuel 1:9–11: After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”


8. To Shiloh, Hannah brought Samuel and consecrated him to the Lord’s service. 
1 Samuel 1:24–28: And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child, I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.


9. The sanctuary in Shiloh was called a "temple," as noted in 1 Samuel 1:9, 3:3. It had doorposts and doors as seen in 1 Samuel 1:9, 3:15. It was, therefore, a more durable structure than the old Tent of Meeting (tabernacle). 


10. The tabernacle at Shiloh was presided over by Eli and his wicked sons. Then, through the prophet Samuel, the doom of their house was announced.
1 Samuel 3:11–13: Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.

3 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.


11. In a battle with the Philistines, the ark was captured. As a result, the fall of Hophni and Phinehas, and the death of Eli happened near Shiloh.  

1 Samuel 4:16–18: And the man said to Eli, “I am he who has come from the battle; I fled from the battle today.” And he said, “How did it go, my son?” 17 He who brought the news answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great defeat among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18 As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.


12. The Ark of the Covenant was returned to Beth Shemesh by the Philistines and wound up staying at the house of Abinadab for 20 years (1 Sam. 7:1).


13. Eventually, King David would take the ark to the City of David (1 Chron. 13, 15), and then it would be moved to the temple Solomon built (2 Chron. 5:2). The tabernacle was taken to Gibeon (1 Chron. 21:29) but didn’t have the ark in it. After the temple was instituted, the tabernacle at Gibeon went by the wayside.


14. After the Kingdom of Israel was divided, Jeroboam, King of the Northern Tribes, erected golden calf altars in Bethel and Dan for the worship of false gods. Over time, Shiloh fell into ruins and came under judgment from God.


Psalm 78:59–61: When God heard, he was full of wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel. He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt among mankind, and delivered his power to captivity, his glory to the hand of the foe.


Jeremiah 7:12: Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel. 


Faith Lesson from Shiloh


1. Shiloh was a place of rich blessing and rejoicing when the Israelites obeyed God. Do we understand that obeying and serving God brings life and fulfills our souls?


2. Because of the sins of Eli and his sons, God judged Shiloh. What kind of leaders are we, and do we realize how our leadership affects our families and ministries?

3. The prophet Samuel was raised by the same father as the sons of Eli. Regardless of our past and the baggage and problems we might have, God's grace is enough to give us victory over our past. What about us? Do we have victory over our past, or do we use our past as an excuse for our problems?


3. Hannah prayed for a child at Shiloh, and God heard her. Like Hannah, do we pray for our needs, and do we pray with the right motives?


4. Shiloh was also a place of deep disaster with a bitter ending. Its end was judgment because of the continual sin of God’s people. Do we realize the danger of allowing sin in our lives and the consequences it can bring?

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