January 28th 2014
In ancient times, Tel Shiloh was the capital of Israel and the center of religious worship for the Jewish people. It held that special status for close to 400 years. The Biblical city of Shiloh was the place where the Tabernacle, which preceded the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, stood for 369 years.
Tel Shiloh is located on a hill nearly half a mile above sea level. Access is from the Visitors’ Center which lies south of the Tel. Your tour guide can take you to the exact place where many believe that the Tabernacle stood. The Visitors’ Center offers an audiovisual presentation to help visitors better understand the significance of the Tabernacle in its day. There is also a replica of the Tabernacle that helps makes the history of Tel Shiloh come to life.
Located northeast of Jerusalem, Tel Shiloh stands adjacent to the modern community of Shiloh. In fact, there has been an uninterrupted presence in Shiloh since the 18th century BCE. Remains from Shiloh’s inhabitants of the Bronze Age and the times of the Canaanites, Romans and Byzantines have been excavated on the Tel.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 residents live in Shiloh today. The modern Mishkan Shiloh synagogue was designed to resemble the original Biblical Tabernacle that stood on Tel Shiloh. The community here also hosts a special yeshiva that combines advanced Jewish studies with service in the Israel Defense Forces.
Tel Shiloh is a gathering place for the locals as much as for tourists. On this site, weekly study sessions are held, the school’s 8th grade girls put on a play each spring, women from all over Israel gather at the beginning of each Hebrew month and children from the community hold their Bar and Bat Mitzvah services.
Tel Shiloh is also rich with Biblical history. It was place where young women came out to the fields during the grape harvest in late summer to dance. The men from the tribe of Benjamin would come to the dances, hoping to find wives. There is also a famous story of Hannah, the barren wife, who came to the Tabernacle to pray for a child. The answer to her prayer came in the form a son she named Samuel, who eventually became the most important prophet in Judea, anointing Saul and David as kings.