We hit the road yesterday with some 20 friends to travel the “spine” of Israel, the mountain range running north and south through the middle of the country. This is early Old Testament bible country, the places Abraham and his heirs tread in the book of Genesis. Incredibly, there are evidences of their presence that still remain thousands of years later.
Pre-Roman history and Biblical tradition
The old city of Shechem dates back to about an estimated four thousand years. At Shechem, Abram “built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him … and had given that land to his descendants” (Gen 12:6-7). This Biblical account, considered by some to be the first place Abraham, Sarah, Lot and their party stopped upon their entry to Canaan. The Bible states that on this occasion, God confirmed the covenant he had first made with Abraham in Harran, regarding the possession of the land of Canaan.Owing to its central position, no less than to the presence in the neighborhood of places hallowed by the memory of Abraham (Genesis 12:6, 7; 34:5), Jacob’s Well (Genesis 33:18-19; 34:2, etc.), and the tomb of Joseph (Joshua 24:32), the city was destined to play an important part in the history of Israel. The city, including its Bronze Age temple, fell to the Israelites sometime before 1000 BC. (Wikipedia)
At the dig site, we met the principal archaeologist heading up the group from Holland that is working here. They allowed us to worship on a kind of table top high area, maybe where Abraham set up an altar to God?
Archaeological site at ancient Shiloh. The ground the group is standing on is believed by many to be the site where the tabernacle stood for 369 years. We had an awesome time here, singing and worshiping and adding our voices and prayers to those of thousands of years ago.
Shiloh is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an assembly place for the people of Israelwhere 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, theTabernacle rested at Shiloh for 369 years. (Zevachim 118B) The Mishkanleft 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.
The Tabernacle (Hebrew: משכן, mishkan, “residence” or “dwelling place”), according to theHebrew Torah/Old Testament, was the portabledwelling place for the divine presence from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. Built to specifications revealed by God (Yahweh) to Mosesat Mount Sinai, it accompanied the Israelites on their wanderings in the wilderness and their conquest of the Promised Land, and was eventually placed in the First Temple in Jerusalem, which superseded it as the dwelling-place of God among the Israelites. There is no further mention of the Tabernacle after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians in c. 587 BCE.
The Tabernacle was during the Exodus, wandering in the desert and conquest of Canaan a portable tent draped with colorful curtains called a “tent of meeting”. It had a rectangular, perimeter fence of fabric, poles and staked cords. This rectangle was always erected when the Israelite tribes would camp, oriented to the east. In the center of this enclosure was a rectangular sanctuary draped with goat-hair curtains, with the roof made from rams’ skins.
Inside, the enclosure was divided into two areas, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. These two areas were separated by a curtain or veil. Inside the first area were three pieces of furniture: a seven-branched oil lampstand on the left (south), a table for twelve loaves of show bread on the right (north) and an altar for incense-burning (west), straight ahead before the dividing curtain.
Beyond this curtain was the cube-shaped inner room known as the (Holy of Holies) or (Kodesh Hakodashim). This area housed the Ark of the Covenant (aron habrit), inside which were the two stone tablets brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses, on which were written the “10 Commandments.” (Wikipedia)