Shiloh was an ancient biblical city located north of Beth El in the West Bank.
The Biblical Period --
The site of ancient Shiloh, a city in the Ephraim hill-country and the religious capital of Israel in the time of the Judges, is
situated north of Beth-El, east of the Beth El-Shechem highway and south of Lebonah in the hill-country of Ephraim (Judg.
21:19). It has been identified unambiguously with Khirbet Seilun by American philologist E. Robinson in 1838. The location had
been established long before by the Roman writer Eusebius and Nestorius ha-Parhi.
Shiloh is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an assembly place for the people of Israel where there was a sanctuary containing the
Ark of the Covenant until it was taken by the Philistines from the battlefield at Aphek (probably Antipatris).
At Shiloh, the "whole congregation of Israel assembled...and set up the tabernacle of the congregation...", (Joshua 18:1) being
the tent built under Moses' direction to house the ark. According to Talmudic sources, the Tabernacle rested at Shiloh for 369
years. (Zevachim 118B ) The Mishkan left Shiloh when Eli HaCohen died. At some point during its long stay at Shiloh, the
portable tent seems to have been enclosed within a compound or replaced with a standing structure with "doors" (1 Samuel 3:15) a
precursor to the Temple.
Shiloh was the center of Israelite worship. The people assembled here for the mandatory feasts and sacrifices, and here lots
were cast for the various tribal areas and for the Levitical cities. This was a sacred act, as lots were cast revealing how God
would choose to parcel out the land within the tribes.
Generations later, Samuel was raised at the shrine in Shiloh by the high priest Eli. Samuel began prophesying at a young age and
continued to serve in the Tabernacle, but not as a priest because he was not from the family of Aaron.
When the Philistines defeated the Israelites at Aphek, one contingent of Philistines carried the Ark of the Covenant off to
Philistia, while another contingent apparently marched on Shiloh and destroyed the shrine (1 Samuel 4, Psalms 78:60 and
Jeremiah 7:4 ). Apparently the Tabernacle was removed before the Philistines arrived, and it was shipped to Gibeon, where it
remained until Solomon's time. The Ark was soon returned to Israel, but was subsequently kept in Kiryat-Yearim until David had
it brought to Jerusalem. It never returned to Shiloh.
When Solomon died, ten of the tribes seceded, and their religious leaders built local worship sites. At this
time, Shiloh was probably revived as a holy shrine; it was home to Ahijah HaShiloni, who announced the secession of the ten
tribes after Solomon died (1 Kings 14:6-16 ).
Isaac b. Joseph Chelo of Aragon, author of "Shibhe di-Yerushalayim", reputedly visited the site in 1334...