Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Before Jerusalem We Had Shiloh

Nadene Goldfoot                                                 


After Joshua led the Israelites of the Exodus to the Promised Land after Moses died at the border, he had to lead these former slaves  into taking the land.
The first CENTER for them was Shiloh, which was 25 miles North of Jerusalem in the mountains of Ephraim. This was their first capital.  


The Tabernacle or mishkan was the portable sanctuary set up by Moses  in the wilderness according to Divine instructions as found in Exodus 26-7.  Moses had help from his chief architects, Bealel and Oholiah.  For the frame they used acacia wood overlaid with gold.  Many layers of curtains and animal skins made it look like a tent which is why it was called another name;  an ohel moed, or TENT OF MEETING.  It stood there for 369 years!  The USA is only 242 years old!  It's the same as if it were placed there in 1776 until 2145 when we could be invaded by outer-space aliens!  

The most important part of the tent was the HOLY OR HOLIES,  a very sacred part that was separated from the rest by a curtain.  It contained THE ARK, THE SEVEN-BRANCHED MENORAH, THE TABLE OF SHEWBREAD, AND THE GOLDEN ALTAR FOR INCENSE.  

The Ark of the Covenant was the chest where the 2 tablets of the Law were kept.  It was made of acacia wood, both inlaid and covered with goldl.  A molding of gold surrounded it and 4 gold-overlaid wooden staves were placed through 4 rings on its sides.

  Then over it was a cover of gold, 2 golden cherubim with wings that screened the ark cover.  

Shewbread were the 12 loaves of fine white flour which were laid in 2 rows on the golden table in the inner shrine of the temple.  

They were put on chalices filled with spices and remained there from one Sabbath to the next when they were divided among the priests. (Lev 24:1-9).  

Before the people had a king, they had Judges that made decisions between people of right and wrong.  They were chosen by G-d and must have been well versed in the lessons from Moses of our 613 laws of what to do and not to do.  

The Benjaminites attacked Jabesh-Gilead at Shiloh and took 400 virgin women as captives for their own wives.  Jabesh Gilead was an ancient city in the Gilead region of Transjordania.  The native people of this area had refused to join the Israelite tribes in the war with Benjamin.  These natives were all put to the sword with the exception of the 400 virgins who were given to the remnants of the Benjamites in order to perpetuate the tribe.  They lived in land between Ephraim and Judah which included Jerusalem.  Saul, son of Kish and the first king of Israel who lived in the 11th century BCE , was a Benjaminite.  Eventually, his land was partitioned between Ephraim and Judah.  

During this period, the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle were kept in Shiloh.  They served as the central national shrine and were objects of pilgrimage, especially during the long priesthood of Eli.  He was one of the last Judges of the 11th century BCE, and was the mentor of Samuel.  He was elevated to the high priesthood at age 58 and died 40 years later as a result of falling from his chair after hearing of the Philistine capture of the Ark (I Sam. 4:13).  His family heirs was kept out of the priesthood because of the immoral conduct of his sons, Heophni and Phinehas.  
Remains of ancient synagogue in Shiloh
Shiloh and the Tabernacle were destroyed by the Philistines after the battle of Aphek in about 1050 BCE when the Ark was captured.  It had stood here in Shiloh for 369 years.  Aphek could have been where Afula is today.  In about 1000 BCE, the AIsraelites suffered from this crushing defeat by the Philistines.  The Philistine camp was near Petah Tikvah and they had captured the Ark from the Israelites.   This means that Moses received the directions on making it in 1419 BCE.  They traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land for 40 years, so that could have started in about 1450 BCE.  

Shiloh just sunk into history.  It was settled from the Hellenistic Period when Alexander the Great was the conquerer and brought the Greek civilization to the Middle East at the end of the 4th century BCE  to the 12th century CE.  Judah had been surrounded by a ring of hellenized cities.  Jews were moving out into the Diaspora of Egypt, Cyrenaica, Syria and Asia Minor, all Greek places.  The site was excavated by a Danish expedition in 1926 and is regoing more searches with today's archaeologists who are still turning up important things.  

Today  "Dr Scott Stripling, the director of the excavation (sponsored by Associates for Biblical Research) is leading the dig.  He explained that "Jews would come up from all over Israel and bring their sacrifices at the Tabernacle. The pottery that was used to eat the sacrifices with were then broken into pieces. That is why everywhere you walk on the site, you find pottery shards from that period."

With over 20 years of experience, "Dr. Stripling and his team of about one hundred volunteers excavate over 2,000 pieces of pottery. Approximately 10% of that is kept for further study."  They have found coins with RETURN TO ZION, (with Zion meaning Jerusalem) etched on them from Aluf Bar Kokhba in 132CE who made a 3 year stand against the Romans, but lost against their higher technology warfare and numbers of soldiers.   It was the longest battle the Romans had to fight which angered them so much that they decided to name the land for the very long-time enemies of the Jews, the Philistines.  Thus, we have the new name from Herodotus, the Greeks called Eretz Yisrael after the Philistines, Syria Palaestina Under Hadrian the Roman, the Romans gave the name officially to the former land land of Judah as Syria Palaestina.  Americans before 1948 called it Palestine.  

Resource:  The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia  email about Shiloh

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