Shiloh was an ancient city in Samaria, and is believed to be currently located to the west of the modern town of Shilo in the West Bank. Shiloh was was the place where the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle was set up after Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land (Joshua 18). Shiloh became the major worship center for all of the Tribes of Israel, as we see in the book of Samuel. Shiloh was located in the city of Ephraim (son of Joseph), on the North side of Bethel.
The name Shiloh means “Place of rest”. The Ark of the Covenant rested in Shiloh for 369 years until it was taken by the Philistines in a battle with the Israelites. Because of Israel’s disobedience and idolatry (spiritual adultery), God gave the Ark over to her enemies. The book of Jeremiah later details what had happened at Shiloh and why. Jeremiah 7:12 takes on an even deeper meaning when we understand more about the name Shiloh.
Jeremiah 7: 12 “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.
For 369 years Shiloh was the home of the Ark of the Covenant and the Worship Center for the scattered Israelites during the period known as the Judges. Because of Israel’s idolatry and wickedness, the Lord devastated Shiloh and gave the Ark of the Covenant over to the Philistines. The Bible does not record exactly when Shiloh met its final destruction, but what is known for certain is that it was completely devastated, and remains so to this day. You can go and stand there at the very place of its ruins, although after so much time there is not much left even of them to see.
The Ark of the Covenant rested at Shiloh during the time of the Judges; however, this is not the first time that the world “Shiloh” is used in the Bible. The word “Shiloh” appeared in the Bible way back in Genesis 49.
Just a quick Genesis refresher…Abraham was the 10th generation after Noah and the flood. God made a Covenant through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that there would be a “Promised Seed” through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed. This prophecy actually had its origins in the Garden of Eden! The Covenant of the Promised Seed moved from Abraham, to his son Isaac, and to Isaac’s son Jacob. YHWH gave Jacob a new name, the name of Israel. Israel had 12 sons, who became the 12 Tribes of Israel. In Genesis 49, Jacob (aka Israel) was about to die, so he blessed each of his 12 sons.
This is the blessing that Israel gave to Judah, his 4th son.
Genesis 49: 8-12
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
9 “Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He couches, he lies down as a lion,
And as a lion, who [dares rouse him up?
10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
This Blessing was given to Judah, one of Jacob’s 12 sons, hundreds of years before the Ark of the Covenant came to rest at the place called Shiloh. The name Shiloh means a place of rest, the Peaceful one, or “The One who is to be sent”.
In Genesis 49, Shiloh is not a city, but a Messianic Title referring to the “Promised Seed” that had been promised to Eve in the Garden of Eden, and later to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the Abrahamic Covenant. The Promised Seed would be the One through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed. Through Jesus, we have victory over sin and death (permanent separation) and through Him we have the promise of Eternal Life.
Jacob’s Blessing was basically stating that the tribe of Judah, represented by the Lion, would be the Tribe with the most authority, the one who would take the lead in most of the battles, and his brothers (the other tribes) would “bow down to him”.
In the wilderness, the tribes were pretty scattered, but the tribe of Judah was well respected. However, the time that this Blessing would really come to fruition was after the time of the Judges, and into the time of the Kings (we haven’t detailed this time yet). King David, Israel’s foremost King, was from the Tribe of Judah . As a matter of fact, even after the time of the exile up until the time of Jesus, the Scepter (authority) remained with Judah in one way or another, be it through an actual King or through the Governor of Jerusalem, Zerubbabel.
Israel (Jacob)’s blessing detailed that the Scepter would remain with Judah until Shiloh comes. At the time of Jesus, the Scepter departed from Judah because Rome overtook Jerusalem and established King Herod (an Idumean from the lineage of Esau) as “King” over Jerusalem. The Scepter departed from Judah at the time of the Promised Seed, Shiloh. Jesus is Shiloh, “The One who would be sent”, the Promised Seed, the Word of God made Flesh. The cool thing is; however, that Shiloh Himself was also from the Tribe of Judah, from the lineage of King David!
- In the body of Jesus (Shiloh/”The One who is to be sent”), we have a type of “Ark”, housing God’s Holy Spirit, His Divine Glory.
- In the town of Shiloh, God’s Glory rested on the Physical Ark that housed His 10 Commandments during the time of the Judges.
“Until Shiloh comes, And to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
The term Obedience can also be translated “gathering”. After Jesus’ first coming, His Holy Spirit has been on this earth gathering His people unto Him, both Jew and Gentile. Jesus has written His laws on the hearts of His people causing them to desire to be obedient to Him. Eventually, Jesus will literally gather His children to Himself at the time of the Rapture and His 2nd Coming. Jesus will reign from Jerusalem for 1000 years (Rev. 20), where there will be a time of Shiloh, A Sabbath’s peace and rest, for His people. Jesus’ 1000 year reign on earth will be FREE from the interference of satan, who will be locked up in a pit for 1000 years (Revelation 20). This is GOOD NEWS INDEED!!!