A visit to Tel Shilo, the remains of the ancient Israelite city of Shiloh as well as several structures from later periods is next on the agenda. Remember that Shiloh is the spiritual center for the tribes of Israel as they settle in this new land of Canaan. It is the place where the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant reside for centuries (essentially during the period of the Judges, with some unspecified length of time where it was moved to nearby Bethel [Judges 20:27]) until, after a few other brief adventures and relocations, it is moved to Jerusalem and, ultimately, the Ark of the Covenant finds a new home in Solomon’s newly constructed temple.
First, our local guide for the day tells of some of the events that took place in the ancient tribal territories of Benjamin and Ephraim.
At the horizon, you can see a valley between two hills. This is the location of the events of 1 Samuel 14, between Michmash and Geba. Jonathan, King Saul’s son, and his armor bearer scale the hill and attack a Philistine garrison.
Meanwhile, inside the winery on the hilltop, Margi socializes with Israel’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Hotovely.
Cat of the tribe of Benjamin.
Several layers of occupation can be found at Tel Shilo. Here you see a Muslim period mosque built above the remains of a Byzantine era structure (note the mosaic floors).
Here is a Muslim era wine press. Somewhere below these ruins would be the more ancient remains of Israelite era Shiloh.
These ruins are mostly of the newer occupation levels, however, an Israelite period wall can just be seen beyond the rooms in the foreground. Between the path on the left and the larger tree just right of center is a “step” in the land. The Israelite era Shiloh wall is just to the right of the pathway creating the step.
Most interesting of all at Tel Shilo, are the ruins at the bottom of this path that Richard is going to investigate. No artifacts or other evidences have been found, but this may well be (where the flags are near the edge of the hilltop) the very location of the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant during its time in Shiloh. The reason why this may be is that we know this site is ancient Shiloh; we know that the Tabernacle was kept here for centuries; and, there are cut outs in the bedrock that are the same dimensions of the Tabernacle that are given in the Scriptures. We also know that this site is on the far side of town from the main city entrance and in 1 Samuel 4, when the Philistines defeat the Israelites and capture the Ark of the Covenant, we are told that before the messenger can report the news to Eli, he already hears the whole town crying out, suggesting the messenger already passed through the rest of the town before reaching Eli.
Walking across the Tabernacle site, where God’s people gathered 3400 years ago to offer worship, praise, and sacrifice?
It just may be.