SHILOH


SHILOH
SHILOH (Heb. שִׁלֹה, שִׁלוֹ, שִׁילֹה), the amphictyonic capital of Israel in the time of the Judges, situated north of Beth-El, east of the Beth-El-Shechem highway and south of Lebonah (Judg. 21:19), in the mountains of the territory of Ephraim. Under Joshua, the tabernacle was erected at Shiloh (Josh. 18:1). Here lots were cast for the various tribal areas (Josh. 18) and for the levitical cities (Josh. 21:2) and here Israel assembled to settle its dispute with the tribes beyond the Jordan (Josh. 22:9, 12). Shiloh was the center of Israelite worship. During one religious celebration, the daughters of the city danced in the vineyards, an occasion used by the Benjamites, who could not get wives in any way except by abducting them (Judg. 21). Elkanah and his wife Hannah came there to worship and Hannah vowed her child Samuel to the Lord, whom he served as a servant of the sanctuary at Shiloh (I Sam. 1–2). In this sanctuary, the sons of Eli the priest sinned and the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel (I Sam. 3). When the Ark was taken from the city on its fateful journey to Eben-Ezer, never to return to Shiloh, a Benjamite brought news of the disaster to Eli, causing his death there (I Sam. 4). The destruction of Shiloh is alluded to in Jeremiah (7:12, 14; 26:6, 9; cf. Ps. 78:60). However, its priestly family retained its importance for some time after moving to Nob (I Sam. 21:1–9). Ahijah the son of Ahitub, a priest from Shiloh, appeared with the ephod in the camp of Saul before the battle of Michmas (I Sam. 14:3). The priestly family of the city was finally deposed by Solomon (I Kings 2:27). Ahijah the Shilonite prophesied the future kingship of Jeroboam the son of Nebat (I Kings 11:29–31; 12:15; 15:29; II Chron. 9:29). It was apparently in Shiloh that Jeroboam's wife consulted the prophet and heard the doom of the dynasty (I Kings 14:2–16). Jeremiah refers several times to the destruction of the city as a warning (7:12, 14; Ps. 78:60); his comparison of the fate of Shiloh with that foreseen for the Temple led to his being accused of blasphemy (Jer. 26:6–9). After the destruction of the Temple, the people of Shiloh were among those Ephraimites who came to sacrifice at Jerusalem (Jer. 41:5). Shiloh is identified with Tell Seilun, 30 mi. (48 km.) north of Jerusalem, south of the ascent of Lebonah. The identification of biblical Shiloh with Saylūn was established by E. Robinson and is generally accepted; the topographical position, the remains on the mound, and the name all support this identification. However, the position of the sanctuary within the ancient site is still a subject of dispute. Conder and Kitchener in the Survey of Western Palestine (1881–83) suggested the terrace north of the mound, a position unsupported by other evidence. The area south of the mound, with its ancient road leading to Turmus Aiya, the sanctuaries of Wali Yetim and Wali Sittīn, was seen by some scholars to be a much more likely spot for an open-air sanctuary around a tabernacle; a pre-Christian sanctuary can be assumed to have been located in a valley in which there are now a number of Muslim holy places and which, in Byzantine times, contained several churches. Nonetheless, it is quite possible that the sanctuary stood inside the city proper (see below). Archaeological excavations there were undertaken by a Danish expedition directed by H. Kjaer (1926, 1929), A. Schmidt (1932), and S. Holm-Neilson and B. Otzen (1963). New excavations were conducted at the site by I. Finkelstein between 1981 and 1984. These excavations exposed eight strata, ranging from MB II–Middle Ages. The MB III city was heavily fortified (the MB II village was unwalled), with a massive wall (3–5.5 m. wide), with remains   standing to a height of up to 8 m. Supporting this wall on the precipitous eastern slope was an extensive glacis (25 m. wide), which incorporated a supporting wall (3.2 m. tall) in its structure. Among the remains of the city from this period were storage rooms and cultic vessels, indicating the presence of a shrine. This level was destroyed. The LB I remains consisted primarily of vessels with remains of animals, cast over the wall of the city and then buried. These remains are likely the remnant of cultic offerings. Given that there were no architectural remains discovered at this level, the site may have existed solely as a shrine. Given that the top of the tell has exposed bedrock, the presence of shrines here is based almost entirely on circumstantial evidence. Iron I remains were attested throughout the site. More than 20 silos were discovered (including one that had carbonized wheat). Pillared public buildings were unearthed in one section of the tell, adjacent to the MB wall. These buildings had two levels, divided by a terrace wall. One building had a paved courtyard. More than 20 collared rim jars were discovered in a number of buildings. It is likely that these buildings were part of the shrine complex. The Iron I structures were destroyed in a conflagration, possibly the work of the Philistines. A village reappears in Iron II. More extensive villages are attested in Roman and Byzantine times (see below). The evidence for sacred continuity at the site from MB III–Iron I is instructive for the history of Israel. Surveys done by Finkelstein in the region of the central hills established that Shiloh was indeed in the heart of a settlement landscape that had greatly expanded in Iron I. The area surrounding Shiloh was perhaps three times as densely populated as any other region in the hills. Given that the top of the tell was long ago exposed, the nature of the shrine constructed by the Israelites is not ascertainable, whether it was a permanent building (cf. I Sam. 3:15) or a portable shrine (cf. II Sam. 7:6f). A Roman villa with a bath and a city wall were uncovered in the earlier excavations at the site. In the fifth century (the Byzantine period), a mosaic-paved basilica, measuring 25 × 12 m., was erected south of the tell; further north was a smaller chapel. Shiloh is also known from later sources. Eusebius places it in the toparchy of Acraba, which in his time belonged to Neapolis (Onom. 156:28ff.). Jerome found an altar there (Epistula 108; PG, vol. 25, p. 1953). On the Madaba Map, it appears west of Gilgal, following the tradition recorded by Josephus (Ant., 5:68), with the addition of a historical note: "there once the Ark." The site of Shiloh was well known to talmudic sages; R. Yose b. Karḥa recorded the saying of an elder who visited the place and still inhaled the odor of incense between its walls (Sanh. 103b). Jews continued to visit Shiloh to pray at the Masjad al-Sukayma, the Māʿida ("Stone of the Table") and the tomb of Eli until the 14th century, as is recorded by Eshtori ha-Parḥi. At the wali ("Marabout") known as al-Sittīn or al-Arabʿīn, a lintel, perhaps of a synagogue, is still extant and shows an amphora between two rosettes flanked by two jars. In the last century an ancient sarcophagus, supposedly that of Eli the priest, was being shown there. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Albright, in: BASOR, 9 (1923), 10–11; Kjau, in: PEFQS, 60 (1927), 202–13; 64 (1931), 71–88; Eissfeldt, in: VT Supplement, 4 (1957), 138ff.; Aharoni, Land, index; M. Buhl and S. Holm-Nielsen, Shiloh: the Pre-Hellenistic Remains (1969). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. IudaeaPalaestina. Maps and Gazetteer (1994), 232, S.V. "Silo"; I. Finkelstein (ed.), Shiloh: The Archaeology of a Biblical Site (1993). (Michael Avi-Yonah / Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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