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Tel Shiloh

Nestled in the Samaria Mountains, Shiloh was a religious center in the early Israelite period. The Israelites set the Tabernacle in its northern end, whose most sacred item was the Ark of the Covenant. Identified at Khibet Seilun, Tel Shiloh yielded many archaeological finds, some relating directly to the Tabernacle. With its innovative visitor center, Shiloh is one of Israel’s most interesting biblical sites in the Holy Land.

History and Archaeology of Shiloh

Shiloh is mentioned several times in the bible, and according to the Talmud, the Tabernacle was in Shiloh for 369 years (Zavachim 118B). Judges 21 records an annual dance of maidens among its vineyards, perhaps part of early Israelite rituals. The book of 1 Samuel 1-3 records a woman called Hannah bearing a child after a prayer at the site. She named him Samuel and dedicated him to serve in Shilo’s tabernacle. During the Even Ha’ezer battle, the Israelites took the ark from Shiloh to the battlefield, yet the Philistines captured it. Moreover, they raided and destroyed Shiloh. Samuel became a prophet and was later known for anointing both Saul and David as kings. Shiloh was resettled again only in the Byzantine period when five churches were built there. Later the Muslims converted one the the churches into a mosque.

Several archaeological expeditions excavated in Tel Shiloh. They uncovered significant finds, especially from the early Israelite and Byzantine periods. Along the site’s western edge, archaeologists uncovered evidence to the destruction of Shiloh in the 11th century BCE. This probably happened after the Israelites lost the Ark to the Philistines at Aphek. Furthermore, a big rectangular area recorded in in the northern edge of Tel Shiloh might be where the Tabernacle once stood.

Tour to Shiloh

shiloh sears towerTel Shiloh is along road 60, about 30 miles north of Jerusalem. Since 2013, a new visitor center stands over its summit, replacing a previous watchtower. Named “The Seer’s Tower,” it provides an audio-visual presentation of the site’s biblical history as well as panoramic views of the site.

A tour of Shiloh can be combined with a day tour to Samaria.

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