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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary


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(sshi' loh) Place name perhaps meaning, “tranquil, secure.” About thirty miles north of Jerusalem sat the city which would be Israel's religious center for over a century after the conquest, being the home of Israel's tabernacle (Joshua 18:1 ). See Tabernacle .

Judges 21:19 described Shiloh's location as “on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.” Twelve miles south of Shechem, Shiloh was in a fertile plain at 2,000 feet elevation. This is apparently modern Seilun, where archaeologists have unearthed evidence of Canaanite settlement by 1700 B.C. Perhaps when Israel chose a spot for the tabernacle, Shiloh was available for Joshua to use as the place to allot land to the tribes ( Joshua 18:1 ).

Tribal annual pilgrimages to the tabernacle set the scene for another incident in Shiloh. The tribe of Benjamin had a dilemma in that no other tribe would give them their daughters for wives (Judges 21:1 ). Because of this, the men of Benjamin waited in the vineyards (Judges 21:20 ) until the dancing women went out of Shiloh where they were then captured and taken as wives.

Samuel's early years provided another connection with Shiloh (1 Samuel 1-4 ). At the tabernacle, Hannah vowed to the Lord that if He would give her a son she would give him back to God (1 Samuel 1:1 ). After the birth of Samuel, Hannah brought him to Shiloh in gratitude to God (1 Samuel 1:24-28 ). Thus, Shiloh became home for Samuel as he lived under the care of Eli, the high priest, and his two wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Later, Samuel received the Lord's message that the priesthood would be taken from Eli's family (1 Samuel 3:1 ). Years later, following a defeat at Aphek, the Israelite army sent for the ark of the covenant from Shiloh. Mistakenly thinking that the ark would bring victory, the Israelites lost the second battle of Aphek to the Philistines. Results included losing the ark; the deaths of Hophni, Phinehas, and Eli; and the apparent conquering of Shiloh (1 Samuel 4:1 ).

No explicit biblical reference was made to Shiloh's final fate. According to archaeological evidence, Shiloh apparently was destroyed about 1050 B.C. by the Philistines. Supporting this was the fact that when the Philistines finally returned the ark of the covenant, it was housed at Kiriath-jearim rather than Shiloh (1 Samuel 7:1 ). Also, Jeremiah warned Jerusalem that it might suffer the same destructive fate as Shiloh (1 Samuel 7:12 ).

Centuries later, Jeremiah used Shiloh and the tabernacle as illustrations to warn Jerusalem that it was not safe merely because it housed the Temple (Jeremiah 7:12-14 ). Hearing the same message again, the people sought to kill Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:6-9 ). Jeremiah mentioned some men from Shiloh as late as 585 B.C. (Jeremiah 41:5 ), indicating some occupation at that time. See Joshua; Eli; Samuel .

Larry McGraw

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Shiloh'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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