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Hints of Shiloh’s location?


Recent archaeological work being done at the West Bank Shiloh site: Credit: Vimeo Video screen capture/Tim Velasco

Recent archaeological work being done at the West Bank Shiloh site: Credit: Vimeo Video screen capture/Tim Velasco

Archaeologists have uncovered some interesting artifacts at what is believed to be the ancient Israeli site of Shiloh located in the West Bank.

After entering the Promised Land under Joshua, the Israelis eventually set up the Tabernacle of Moses at Shiloh around 1400 BC (Joshua 18:1). It stood here for 369 years. The site in the West Bank is considered one of four possible locations of Shiloh.

Inside the tabernacle, a large colourful tent, was the gold-plated Ark of the Covenant on which the Presence of God sat leading to the Tabernacle being called the “dwelling place of God” (Exodus 25:8-9).

A large Jewish community eventually built up around the most important religious site in Israel during this period.

The Tabernacle sat within a larger fenced-off compound where the altar stood on which the Jewish priests made sacrifices on behalf of Israel.

There are some indications from ancient non-Biblical Jewish writings that the tent and the walls of the compound originally made of cloth and skins for easy transportation around the wilderness were eventually replaced by a more permanent stone structure.

There is no direct mention of this in the Biblical record, but the Bible describes the Tabernacle of Moses as both the House of God (1 Samuel 1:24) suggesting a more permanent structure and as a tent (Psalm 78:60). Some believe these verses reflect its gradual transition from tent to stone.

Recently archaeologists from a group called the Associates of Biblical Research started doing excavation at the West Bank site.

The group, led by Dr. Scott Stripling, started excavating on May 21 and continued for a month looking for evidence this was Shiloh’s location.

Though nothing was conclusive, during the month-long excavation, they found three things that suggest a possible connection to the Tabernacle of Moses:

First they found a large quantity of animal bones. Since animals were regularly sacrificed at the altar, their appearance would be expected. More importantly, the bones belonged to young animals, the type used for sacrifices.

Secondly, they discovered two nearly intact stone vessels (kobaats) that were used for religious purposes and pieces of 15 others. These are rare finds and their discovery suggests the site held religious importance as they were traditionally used for purity rites.

They also found thousands of artifacts including tools, weapons, jewelry, coins and pottery. They averaged about 2,000 pieces of pottery every day.

But Israeli archaeologists, who were also working at the site, uncovered a building showing evidence of fire and destruction containing 10 enormous intact clay pots.

Because of the value of these large pots, the inhabitants would not have left them behind unless they were forced to flee the site. This backs up the Biblical record that tells how the Philistines attacked Shiloh, destroyed the town and captured the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 4:1, 1 Samuel 6:1-2).

The Israelis eventually recovered the Ark and rebuilt the Tabernacle at Kiriath Jearim (1 Samuel 7:1).

The Ark of the Covenant which was the heart and soul of the Tabernacle was eventually moved to a Tent set up by King David in Jerusalem and from there to a Temple constructed by David’s son Solomon.

Prior to the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah cited the destruction of Shiloh (Jeremiah 7:14), when he told the Jews to to repent. Some believed that God would not allow Jerusalem to fall because it had the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant. Jeremiah cited what happened to Shiloh as evidence this would not protect them.

The Ark of the Covenant disappeared during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. In the list of items the Babylonians stole from the Temple (Jeremiah 52:17-23), there is no mention of its most important piece of furniture — the ark of the covenant. Many believe it was hidden before the Babylonians entered the city.

Sources:

 

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