Today was an absolutely amazing, even chilling, day. I walked in places where Abraham and Sarah walked, stood where Samuel and Hannah stood, prayed where Jesus met the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well! Let me try to share with you some of my excitement!
We travelled north of Jerusalem by bus for 45 minutes, and were transported back in time as we visited sites that are so very rich in biblical history. Our first stop was Shiloh. When we visited here, they were doing an archaeological dig, and they had found evidence of this site being used as a cultic site as early as 1750 – 1550 BC. When the Israelites came into the Promised Land around 1250 BC, out of the Wilderness and out of slavery in Egypt (Joshua 18:1), this was the place they chose to set up the Tabernacle, the tent where sacrifices where to be made, and where the Ark of the Covenant was located, the most treasured possession in all of Israel. The Tabernacle was a precursor to the Temple, which would be built by Solomon around 950 BC on Mount Moriah, which is today known as Jerusalem. However, the Ark of the Covenant was foolishly taken into battle against the Philistines, and was captured by the Philistines, and the Philistines went on to destroy Shiloh in 1050 BC. The Ark was eventually reclaimed (1 Samuel 5 & 6), eventually coming back to the City of David. Shiloh drops out of the biblical story at that point.
It was the place where the Israelites gathered to cast lots for the 7 remaining tribes to be allotted their tribal lands (Judah and Joseph, two powerful tribes had already received their apportionment, the tribe of Levi did not receive land, and Gad, Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh had already received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan River, just prior to them entering the land. The Levites were appointed cities.).
It was at Shiloh that the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh departed from the land of Canaan to go back to the east side of the Jordan River to claim their inheritance.
There was a yearly festival at Shiloh that is mentioned in Judges 21:19, but by the time of the writing it appears that Shiloh’s location was no longer well known to the readers.
A touching fact is that it was here at Shiloh that we meet Hannah. The story of told in 1 Samuel 1 – 4. Elkanah has two wives and loves them dearly, but is tender towards his wife Hannah because she cannot have children. She goes with her husband to Shiloh to make sacrifice to God and pours out her soul to God. Eli the priest assumes that she is drunk, but she assures her that it is the earnestness of her prayers. God hears her prayer, and she returns some years later with her son, Samuel, leaving him at the Tabernacle with the priest Eli to be raised by him. Samuel, of course, goes on to become the great prophet is Israel who anoints Saul as king, and also anoints David as king.
Next post will be about Samaria.
Signing off – Father Wismer