Shiloh is mentioned 33 times in the Old Testament. It is a biblical site that served as the religious capital of Israel from the time the Israelites entered the land until David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Throughout scripture, Shiloh serves as an example and parable of God’s relationship and dealings with Israel. It is also used once in reference to Yeshua. Shiloh is located north of Jerusalem, in what is known today as the West Bank territories.
The Tabernacle was set up at Shiloh from when the Israelites settled the land until the Temple was built—about 300 years later (Joshua 18:1). The Ark of the Covenant was kept in the Tabernacle until it was taken captive by the Philistines during battle. Shiloh is surrounded by small mountains, and the terrain is rugged. However, it is fascinating that in the midst of the uneven ground, there is one level plain that could hold the dimensions of the Tabernacle—about 400 feet by 77 feet. It is likely that this is the place where the Tabernacle sat.
While the Tabernacle was at Shiloh, multiple noteworthy biblical events happened: Hannah (Samuel’s mother) praying earnestly for a child, Samuel hearing the Lord call him, the death of Eli when he heard the Ark of the Covenant had been captured, and the Benjamites snatching wives for themselves from the young women of Shiloh (Judges 21).
In Psalm 78:60 and Jeremiah 7:12, Shiloh is used as a symbol for how the Lord can and will remove His presence from the ungodly. Shiloh was once a place where the presence of the Lord dwelt, yet He abandoned it because the Israelites provoked Him to anger by worshiping idols.
Out of the 33 references to Shiloh in the Old Testament, one is used as a name—specifically a name for Yeshua as Messiah. In Genesis 49:10 it says “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” The word Shiloh has various interpretations such as “the sent,” “the seed,” or the “peaceable or prosperous one,” meaning the Messiah. Before Shiloh arrives, the rule will belong to the tribe of Judah; this was fulfilled through the Davidic line of kings. Then, when Shiloh comes, the rule is transferred to Him—the King of Kings—and remains with Him to this day.
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