SHILOH (shī'lō, Heb. shīlōh). 1. The person referred to in the prophecy of Jacob in
a. The passage is messianic. The difficulty of this interpretation is that nowhere else in the OT is Shiloh found as a personal name, and none of the ancient MSS apply the word personally to the Messiah. This application is not older than the sixteenth century (apart from the fanciful passage in the Talmud).
b. Shiloh was the town in central Palestine where Joshua placed the tabernacle after the conquest of Canaan (
c. Shiloh is not regarded as a proper name at all. It is thought to be a compound word meaning “whose it is.” This is apparently the reading presupposed in the LXX, the Peshitta, and the Jewish Targums, and seems to be alluded to in
2. A city in the tribe of Ephraim, about twelve miles (twenty km.) north and east of Bethel and about the same distance south of Sychar where Jacob’s well was, just east of the highway from Bethel to Shechem (
From the time of the removal of the ark, Shiloh gradually lost its importance, especially when David made Jerusalem the capital of the kingdom of Israel. This loss of importance was principally because God “abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent he had set up among men” (
In the days of Jeremiah, Shiloh was a ruin (
The city, identified with Tell Seilun about thirty miles (fifty km.) north of Jerusalem, was excavated by a Danish expedition in 1926, 1929, 1932, and 1963, directed by H. Kjaer and others. Basically the results confirm the biblical data. Shiloh was prosperous in the period of the judges (twelfth to tenth centuries b.c.) when it was fortified. It was destroyed and burned, probably by the Philistine invasion, and revived in the Israelite period. It reached its height in the Roman period from which a villa with a bath and a city wall were uncovered. A Byzantine basilica with a mosaic pavement from the fifth century a.d. was found there.——SB and ABF
SHILOH shī’ lō (usually שִׁלֹ֔ה; sometimes שִׁלֹ֜ו or שִׁילוֹ; LXX Σηλώ, Σηλώμ; meaning uncertain).
A city in the territory of Ephraim located by
Shiloh was identified with Seilun on the basis of surface explorations and the similarity of names by E. Robinson in 1838. Danish expeditions in 1926, 1929 and 1932 confirmed this identification. There were traces of occupation in the Middle Bronze period (c. 2100 to 1600 b.c.) but no evidence of Canaanite occupation was found for the Late Bronze period (c. 1600 to 1200 b.c.). Evidence was found, however, for the occupation of the site again beginning about 1200 b.c. and continuing to about 1050 b.c. when Shiloh or parts of it were destroyed, prob. by the Philistines. The Israelites were evidently the first to build extensively at the site. No sign of the Temple of Jehovah which played a central role in the life of Samuel was found (
The location of Shiloh was well suited to be a quiet place of worship. It was surrounded by hills on all sides except the SW, and pasture lands and a water supply were nearby. The position is not strategic, however, and did not lend itself to defense nor to control of highways and land areas.
Shiloh in the Bible.
After the conquest, Joshua first dwelt at Gilgal and then at Shiloh (
The importance of Shiloh as a center for Israelite worship continued into the time of the Judges. The Biblical writer remarks upon the length of time that the house of God was there (
While shiloh held the place of prominence in Israelite worship during this period, other places began to assume some importance as well. Thus we see that the Ark of the covenant was in Bethel at least for a time (
Shiloh continues to figure largely in the religious life of Israel during Samuel’s time. Elkanah, Samuel’s father, went to Shiloh year by year to sacrifice to Yahweh. Eli and his two sons,
The reference to Shiloh, rendered “until Shiloh come” by the KJV and ASV, has been the occasion of a great deal of discussion and difficulty. This is in the blessings of Jacob and is contained in the particular blessing given to his son Judah. It seems impossible to give a truly satisfactory explanation of the problem.
Shiloh in this passage has been taken traditionally as a reference to the Messiah. The name would then have to be derived from shālâ, “to be at ease,” and would mean something like “the peace-giver.” This derivation, however, is linguistically difficult. Shiloh is not elsewhere in the Bible as a personal name and, significantly, the passage is not cited Messianically in the NT. Interestingly, the Qumran compilation of Patriarchal Blessings paraphrases the word “Shiloh” as “the rightful Messiah” or “the Messiah of righteousness,” rather than taking it as a personal name. In support of this rendering,
A second interpretation suggests that Shiloh does refer to the city mentioned above, and the passage indicates that Judah or Judean rule was to continue until it extended as far as Shiloh. If Shiloh is understood as being the center of Israelite worship and therefore as representative of Israel as a whole, the passage would find fulfillment in the prominence which the tribe of Judah gained and in the extension of her sovereignty by David. If in patriarchal times, Shiloh was reckoned as a kind of foe to be conquered, this interpretation would be beset by perhaps the least difficulties.
Two other suggestions, each involving a minor emendation, have been given. Shiloh could be read shellô, “to whom,” or “that which is,” being a contraction of ’asher lô. This is evidently the LXX understanding of the word and support from
Another emendation has been suggested, making the word mōshelô, “his ruler.” Interestingly, the Akkad. word for “prince” or “ruler” is shêlu or shîlu. This would read “his ruler” when repointed as shayyālô. Other Assyrian technical terms are found in the OT (e.g. Rab-shakeh; Tartan) and this may be a possible solution. It should be noted, however, that other Assyrian technical terms occur in the OT, only in the lit. dating from the time that Assyria was in contact with the Hebrews, namely the 9th cent. and later.
On the city and its excavations, see: W. F. Albright, BASOR, IX (1923), 10, 11; “The Danish Excavations at Seilun—A Correction,” PEQ, LIX (1927), 85-88; H. Kjaer, “The Danish Excavation of Shiloh. Preliminary Report,” PEQ, LIX (1927), 202-213; “The Excavation of Shiloh 1929,” JPOS, X (1930), 87-174; “Shiloh. A Summary Report of the Second Danish Expedition, 1929,” PEQ, LXIII (1931), 71-88. On the interpretation of Shiloh in
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The prophecy in
(1) From the earliest times the passage has been regarded as Messianic, but the rendering in the text, which takes "Shiloh" as a proper name, bearing a meaning such as "peaceful" (compare
(2) The rendering, "till he come to Shiloh," where Shiloh is taken as the name of a place, not a person, is plausible, but is felt to yield no suitable sense in the context. It is, therefore, now also set aside by most recent scholars.
(3) The 3rd rendering, which regards Shiloh as representing the Hebrew shelloh = shiloh for ’asher low, "whose (it is)," has in its favor the fact that this is evidently the reading presupposed in the Septuagint, the Peshitta, and the this is evidently the reading presupposed in the Septuagint, the Peshitta, and the Jewish Targums, and seems to be alluded to in
See also PROPHECY.
The position of Shiloh is indicated in
The ruins on the hill are of comparatively modern buildings. At the foot of the hill is a mosque which is going quickly to ruin. A little distance to the Southeast is a building which seems to have been a synagogue. It is called by the natives Jami` el-`Arba`in, "mosque of the Forty." There are many cisterns.
Just over the crest of the hill to the North, on a terrace, there is cut in the rock a rough quadrangle 400 ft. by 80 ft. in dimensions. This may have been the site of "the house of the Lord" which was in Shiloh.