Shiloh (2)


The archaeological remains at Seilun are minutely described in the Memoirs accompanying the Ordnance Survey (2:367 sq.). The following particulars from Conder's Tent Work (1:81 sq.) are of interest:

"We approached Shiloh from the south, by a mountain road of evident antiquity, from the little plain. The ruins of a modern village here occupy a sort of tell or mound. On the east and north the site is shut in by bare and lofty hills of gray limestone, dotted over with a few fig-trees; on the south the plateau looks down on the plain just crossed. A deep valley runs behind the town on the north, and in its sides are many rock-cut sepulchres; following its course westward, we again reached the main road, thus avoiding a steep pass, and turning northwards found the village of Lebonah perched on the hillside to the west of the road and north of Shiloh, as described in the Bible.

Bible concordance for SHILOH.

"Shiloh was for about four hundred years the chosen abode of the tabernacle and ark. It is a question of no little interest whether this was the first spot selected after the conquest or the hills by Joshua. That Shiloh became the gathering-place after the conquest of Shechem there is abundant proof (Jos 22:12), and it may be inferred that the Tabernacle was placed there early; but, on the other hand, we find Sanctuary of the Lord (or Holy Place of Jehovah) mentioned, by the oak near Shechem (Jos 24:26), and we may perhaps gather that, though not recognized by the doctors of the Mishna, there was a time when the Tabernacle stood, as is believed by the Samaritans, near Shechem. The date which they give for its transference to Shiloh, in the time of Eli, whom they consider to have been the first schismatical leader of the children of Judah, does not, however, accord with the Biblical account, and the story no doubt originated in consequence of religious hatred.

"The site being so certainly known, it becomes of interest to speculate as to the exact position of the Tabernacle. Below the top of the hill, on the north of the ruins, there is a sort of irregular quadrangle, sloping rather to the west, and perched above terraces made for agricultural purposes. The rock has here been rudely hewn in two parallel scarps for over four hundred feet with a court between, seventy-seven feet wide, and sunk five feet below the outer surface. Thus there would be sufficient room for the court of the Tabernacle in this area, and it is worthy of notice that the measurement north and south agrees very closely with the width of the court (fifty cubits), which was also measured north and south. From the MishDa we learn that the lower part of the Tabernacle erected at Shiloh was of stone, with a tent above.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

"There are, however, two other places which demand attention as possible sites, one being perhaps a synagogue, the other a little building called the 'Mosque of the Servants of God.'

"The building which I have called a synagogue is situate on a slope south of the ruins of Shiloh. It is thirty-seven feet square, and built of good masonry. The door is on the north, and is surmounted by a flat lintel, on which is a design in bold relief, representing vases and wreaths. Inside there are pillars with capitals, seemingly Byzantine. A sloping scarp has been built against the wall on three sides, and a little mosque sacred to El-Arbain — the Forty Companions of the Prophet — is built on to the east wall. There is a pointed arch on the west wall. Thus we have at least three periods — that of the old synagogue, represented by the lintel, which is similar to the lintels of Galilsean synagogues, that of a later Christian erection, and finally the Moslem mosque; built, probably, where the apse of the chapel would have been placed.

"The Jamia el-Yeteim, or 'Mosque of the Servants of God,' is situated at the southern foot of the tell. It is shaded by a large oak- tree, and is of good masonry, like that of the last: there was nothing very remarkable in the little low chamber within, but the name seems to preserve a tradition of the position of the Tabernacle.

"The only water close to the village was once contained in a little tank with steps, south of the lower mosque. There is, however, a fine spring placed, as is often to be observed in Palestine, at a distance of no less than three quarters of a mile from the town, at the head of the valley which comes down behind the ruins from the east. A good supply of water here issues into a rocky basin, and was once carried by an underground aqueduct to a rockcut tank, but is now allowed to run waste.

"The vineyards of Shiloh have disappeared, though very possibly once surrounding the spring, and perhaps extending down the valley westwards, where water is also found. With the destruction of the village desolation has spread over the barren hills around.

"A yearly feast was held at Shiloh, when the women came out to dance in the vineyards (Jg 21:21). It is possible that a tradition of this festival is retained in the name Merj el-'Aid, 'Meadow of the Feast,' to the south of the present site."

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