Archaeologists say they have discovered evidence of what may be biblical Shiloh and the resting place of the ancient Israelite Tabernacle which held the Ark of the Covenant.
According to the Bible, when the ancient Israelites led by the prophet and leader Joshua entered the Land of Israel, the city of Shiloh became the resting place of the Tabernacle which held the Ark of the Covenant. Recently, archaeologists doing excavations in Shiloh have discovered holes carved into the the rock which may indicate that the site was the location of the ancient Israelite tabernacle. These holes are similar to what could have been used to prop up temporary beams utilized for a temporary structure like the Tabernacle. Near the holes, artifacts were unearthed dating to Joshua’s time, of which one contained clay vessels and three large clay ovens. The archaeologists claimed the southwestern corner of the wall of ancient Shiloh was also unearthed.
“This is not something that was common in private residences and therefore we do not believe these structures served as family dwellings,” explained Hananya Hizmi, staff officer for archaeology in the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria. Between the finding of the wall and these other findings, archaeologists believe that they will be able to locate the very spot where the Tabernacle once stood although the archaeologists remain cautious in drawing conclusions until their study is completed.
In the past, archaeologists discovered bones of sacrificed animals near the location where the Tabernacle was believed to have stood in Shiloh, with the dating of the bones corresponding with the Hebrew Bible. In the area of Shiloh, ceramics and Egyptian figurines were discovered, as was a beautiful ancient mosaic with a Star of David, wine and olive oil presses dating back thousands of years, remains of raisins, bathing pools and cisterns. The bathing pools are believed to have been used by the High Priests before they entered the Tabernacle.
THE TABERNACLE AT SHILOH
According to Joshua 18:1, “The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh and erected there the Tent of Assembly, and the land was conquered before them.” The Tabernacle was located within Shiloh for 369 years. The Talmud claims that during those years a more permanent structure was built to house the Ark of the Covenant. The Mishna states, “And in Shiloh there was no roof but a building of stone below and cloth above, and it was a resting place.”
The significance of Shiloh in biblical Judaism is emphasized in Deuteronomy 12:4-7, “You should not do any [act of sacrificial worship] to G-d your G-d other than at the site which G-d your G-d will choose, to place His Name there, from amongst all your tribes. You should seek out His dwelling [place in the Tabernacle at Shiloh] and come there. You should bring there your burnt-offerings, and your [obligatory peace] offerings, your tithes, [your first fruits—which are] lifted from your hand [by the priests]—your vows, your pledges, and the firstborn of your cattle and of your sheep [which are to be given to the priests.] [It is] there that you should eat [your sacrifices] before G-d your G-d. Then you and your households will rejoice in all the work of your hands. [You should bring offerings according to the means with] which G-d your G-d blesses you.”
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United with Israel