And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them. (Joshua 18:1)
Our Bible Reading Plan for today is Joshua 16-20. There is a lot of land-giving and border-setting in these passages. The Land is extremely important. But even more interesting to me is the mention of Shiloh.
This mention of the city 25 or so miles north of Jerusalem intrigues me. This is partly because it was the location of the tabernacle for 400 years. From this point on and for the next 4 centuries. the Israelites worshiped here.
And I’m intrigued partly because it could be a prophetic, Messianic title for Jesus. Genesis 49:10 KJV has the prophecy-
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
For some reason the phrase “till Shiloh come” moves me. I certainly have no real knowledge of either the city of Shiloh nor the prophecy as stated in Genesis 49. So let’s dig in. Here is what we know about the place of Shiloh-
SHILOH A town in Mount Ephraim. Its location is described in the Bible as ‘a place which is on the north side of Beth-El, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Beth-El to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah’ (Judg. 21:19). Shiloh was a religious center of the tribes and after the conquest of the country by Joshua the tabernacle of the congregation was set up there (Josh. 18:1). It was there also that Joshua distributed allotments to the tribes who had not previously received them (Josh. 18:2–10). The house of God (Judg. 18:31) in which Eli and his sons officiated was at Shiloh, and God appeared there before Samuel (1 Sam. 1:19; 3:1 ff.). Source: Negev, A. (1990). In The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land
Shiloh itself as a name or a word has been difficult to interpret with lots of academic discussion.
The only possible mention of Shiloh in the Pentateuch is at Gen 49:10, where the word occurs within Jacob’s blessing of Judah. However, the interpretation of this word is contested. There are five interpretations of this word (Fitzmyer, The One, 29):
• It is a personal name.
• It is the name of the city.
• It is an Akkadian loanword meaning “ruler” or “prince.”
• It means “to whom it belongs,” referring to the scepter.
• It should appear as two words meaning “tribute to him.”
If the occurrence in Gen 49:10 is a reference to the city of Shiloh, then it is spelled differently here than elsewhere in the Old Testament. Source The Lexham Bible Dictionary.
And one more:
The book of Psalms contains one reference to Shiloh (Psa 78:60), and the book of Jeremiah contains five. Besides the passing geographical reference in Jer 41:5, all of the references in these two books indicate that Yahweh purposely rejected Shiloh as the place where He would make His name dwell, choosing Jerusalem instead (Psa 78:60; Jer 7:12, 14; 26:6, 9). Schley suggests Psalm 78 refers to Yahweh’s abandonment of Shiloh with the loss of the ark (Psa 78:60–61), while Jeremiah refers to the later destruction of the city (Schley, Shiloh, 171–72). Finkelstein disagrees, arguing instead that they refer to the same incident (Finkelstein, Shiloh, 385–387). Ultimately, both texts speak of the theological reality of the importance of Jerusalem. Source: The Lexham Bible Dictionary.
What happened to the city of Shiloh?
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 Kiriathjearim rather than Shiloh (1 Sam. 7:1). Also, Jeremiah warned Jerusalem that it might suffer the same destructive fate as Shiloh (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 (7:12–14). Hearing the same message again, the people sought to kill Jeremiah (26:6–9). Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
That was Shiloh the place. What about Shiloh the Messiah, if that is how the word is to be interpreted?
“nor a lawgiver from between His feet until Shiloh come,” that’s the messianic promise. Shiloh means the one who is right it is or the one to whom it belongs. There’s going to be a king and He’s going to hold the sceptre and He’ll be from the line of Judah. Now watch the end of the verse, “unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” Listen to me, the first time Jesus came was the gathering of the people to Him. No, John says He came unto His own and what? His own received Him not. He was in the world, the world was made by Him and what? The world knew Him not. That prophecy has not yet been fulfilled beloved. Therefore He must return. ~John MacArthur
Praise God for the soon return of Shiloh, the messiah, Jesus the Christ.